Saturday, May 23, 2020

Stars Upon Thars

We live in a science-fiction world, and the current situation is science fiction come to life. Who could have guessed that this would happen? Who else but an author of fiction, of course, a man of clear vision like Dr. Seuss (1904-1991), who wrote tales of what I think you can call science fiction, fantasy, and weird fiction during his long career--or you can call them that as long as you cast your nets widely enough. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has cast its nets widely enough and has caught Dr. Seuss in its exhaustive lists. Curiously, the ISFDb doesn't list any of the stories you will find mentioned here. But for an example of Dr. Seuss' quasi-science fiction, try Horton Hears a Who! (1954), about a miniature world located on a speck of dust. (It's a nice pro-life allegory, too, if you decide to read it that way.) For fantasy, McElligot's Pool (1947) is worth consideration. And for weird fiction, you should read "What Was I Scared Of?" (1961), a story that will give you the creeps until it doesn't anymore.

There's another tale from the same book, The Sneetches and Other Stories, that is predictive in some ways of what's going on right now. We may not be there just yet, but by indications we soon will be. Soon there will be sharp divides between the two classes of people in America, all in at least three ways. First there are and will be the mask-wearers versus the non-mask-wearers. Masks are demonstrative of your elevated status, your virtue, your great moral and intellectual superiority. Never mind how idiotic it is to wear one when you're in your car--alone--with your windows rolled up! Never mind how ineffective it is to wear one over your mouth but tucked below your nose! Never mind how ridiculous it is to wear one outside--while you're walking in the fresh air and sunshine--alone--with no one else around! (Try to hear Sam Kinison's voice when you read those italicized parts.)

Anyway, not wearing a mask today may relegate you to second-class status in the mind of the mask-wearer. Soon, though, there will be the officially tested versus the officially non-tested, or more specifically, the officially positive-tested versus the officially negative-tested, meaning those who have antibodies to the coronavirus versus those who don't. One will be permitted to go about a normal kind of life while the other will have to remain in lockdown. Eventually testing will become compulsory and the documentation that you have been tested loaded onto your cellphone or your favorite social media platform. And it won't necessarily be just one test. You will actually have to be tested again and again until you have the antibodies necessary for your promotion into the ranks of the immune. In fact, if you keep failing to test positive, the number of tests you must take will become theoretically infinite in number and the intervals between them infinitesimally shorter because our whole society by then will have gone totally insane with OCD and anxiety. You have to have antibodies before you can go anywhere or do anything!

Finally there will be the vaccinated versus the non-vaccinated. The vaccinated will carry around with them a virtual list of all of the vaccinations they have received to date. They will also receive minute-by-minute alerts for all of the new vaccines that are coming on the market and available right now so don't wait to get yours because you deserve it! And yes, vaccinations and vaccines are plural here because why stop with just one brand? It can't hurt to have all of them, right? Anyway, make sure you carry your VaxPort with you everywhere you go, for only it will open doors for you. Or insert your chip-card into the reader for entry. Or allow the scanner at the door a look at your QR code. Or how about this: a ubiquitous advertisement-slash-public-service-announcement featuring a twenty-first-century Karl Malden who commands you: "The Vax-I-Dee App--don't leave home without it!" Meanwhile, the unvaccinated can't leave home with or without anything because their Crazy-Eyes Governor has posted the vaccination police outside their doors, forbidding them to leave foreverHere's a better idea, though: Once you're vaccinated, you should just get a tattoo as a kind of reverse scarlet letter signaling your elevated status. Only don't make it a letter. Make it a star. On your belly. Like a Sneetch. There's your proof.

The mask right now is only a suggestion. But what happens when positive test results (thus antibodies and presumed immunity) are required for you to gain entry to the beaches where the immune may frolic? And what happens when you have to prove that you have been vaccinated by showing your star-belly to the bouncer at your local place of worship? I have one more prediction to make: the Plain-Belly Sneetches will start paying good money for blackmarket stars to be placed upon thars, and from then on chaos will reign.

By the way, the corona is the outer atmosphere of a star. That's not perfectly symbolic, but you can't have everything.

Copyright 2020 Terence E. Hanley

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