Stratovirus-19: a farcical dystopian prelude

Posted: April 27, 2020 in novel, toil & sound, creative writing, short fiction, writing life

the armies in the north are gearing up, their leaders salivating at our weakened defenses and superior, unused medical resources. a whole division of our troops in that region injected disinfectant a couple days ago. and radio silence from Our Dear Leader, the man who said it could be a good idea. “What do you have to lose?”


photo credit:


photo credit: Valley Vet Supply

but we don’t have any time for those worries, the border is hundreds of miles from here; might as well be a million. especially now that Frenchie is dead. our beloved Frenchie, the youngster with a hell of a fastball—the best opponent could hope for was a dribbler down the third base line for an infield hit; tough to make contact on a 70 mph heater when you’re only 11. but that doesn’t really matter anymore either. I won’t be giving her pitching lessons in her backyard.

my niece is dead after following the advice of Our Dear Sarcastic Leader, a desperate man trying to hold onto his power amidst the national quarantine to combat the spread of the Stratovirus-19, a man whose power was derived from his association with and intimidation of scientists who found the “sociopath” gene and won office on the idea that he—and he alone—could rid the country of sociopathy, “a disease that infects little babies in the womb; but we have no way of knowing until much later, nobody knows, nobody can know who has socio…socioplathy until much much later. One in every 25 people is a socioplath. Orange you glad you know that now?”

A brilliant speaker he is not. yet still he has been able to tap into the conscience of the fearful. some say he’s brilliant, being able to determine that it is people who read books and write newspaper articles have a higher rate of “socioplathy” than any other group of people. “It’s Lizzie who determined all this. a great doctor of medical. a great person; we have a very great friendship; she always tells me what I want to hear. I really like her. and now that we know who’s socioplarthic, we can do something about it. People are saying we should kick them out of the country. Lots of people are saying this, some of the smartest people with the biggest you know whats.”

And this is the kind of talk that wins an election, the last time we had elections. Ten years ago. it is also this kind of talk that distracts me when I’m trying to tell a story about my flame-throwing niece who just died the other day after a lethal cocktail of Tide Pods dissolved in bleach and a deep huff of aerosol disinfectant. Her mother came in from the backyard—the only place she’s allowed to go with her two little ones—and found the aerosol can laying next to the broken shot glass on the kitchen floor. She heard gurgles and ran to the stairs leading to the basement. a horrified scream surely still echoes in the ears of those little kids in tow, Rose age 4, Thomas age 2. and the sight of their sister foaming at the mouth, will play in a loop. they will never get to know her for her prowess on the ballfield, the intimidation she wielded in hurling 70 mph gas right down the pipe. 9 pitches, 3 strikeouts, side retired. a typical refrain for the days she pitched. but all her brother and sister will remember her for is her twisted body at the bottom of the stairs, foam oozing down the side of her face. and their mother’s horrified scream, which itself faded into a gurgle of its own, maybe the last sound they’ll ever hear from Momma Sharon. She hasn’t spoken in 48 hours.

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