Publish Novellas 4 May 2022
EPISODE 5 – CHANGE
Someone sees the error in the plan to accelerate herd immunity. This requires rethinking the strategy.
⚠️ Stronger deviation to fiction.
The death toll from concert attendees exceeds a quarter million. Both Margaret and Malcolm are among the numbers. The volume of deaths begins to disturb the conscience of one state governor. He phones another who conspired to allow the concerts to take place. When he asks, “How is what we are doing any different from Hitler,” the ear on the other end realizes there is a problem.
“I hear you. But let me get back to you,” is the reply.
Immediately, a secure Zoom conference convenes with all conspiring governors except the one with the conscience. “We have a problem. One of our number does not have the stomach to go through with the plan. I fear he may become a whistleblower.”
“This is most problematic. What options do we have?” asks one of the attendees with video disabled.
“Conscience is a career-killer in politics,” says another. “Can we proceed with accusations to spur impeachment?”
“This may fuel his retaliation. We need to take him out quickly.”
By now all video squares are black. Someone asks, “Do you mean assassination?”
“What other options are there? When the FBI looks into the matter, we need to serve a patsy.”
No one offers a better solution. So the chairman asks for all in favor to say “Aye.” It sounds like everyone is in favor. For confirmation he asks attendees to display the Raise Hand icon. Lowering the hands, he then asks if any are opposed and there is silence.
“Okay, gentlemen, we will act on this motion immediately with the resources we have at our disposal. The meeting is adjourned.”
A sniper follows through on the order. The overall plan does not quite achieve herd immunity. But the percentage of those vaccinated exceeds 60 percent of the country’s citizens.
Guilty governors join with those unaware of the underlying circumstances to make public announcements. They express condolences, denounce violence, and promise swift prosecution of the perpetrators.
The suspicious assassination of a governor, surging COVID-19 deaths, mask-wearing indecisiveness, national debt exceeding $28 trillion, and governmental fragmentation across the states gives rise to a new movement. In a bid to replace governors in each of the 50 states, political science graduates of digital education run for office en masse.
The youthful candidates share consistent platform promises. They will restore the word “United” to the “States” and provide homes for those displaced by the pandemic.
This clear and positive message resonates with the masses. So young governors win elections and take seats in every state. The first order of business is to convert brick-and-mortar businesses to e-commerce.
Within two years, every business without a special exemption must be 100 percent online. Those that do not comply will be subject to eminent domain. This spurs a demand for more construction workers for building renovation, web developers, Internet Technology professionals, and motion graphics artists.
The governors convert commercial office buildings into apartments for the homeless. Exemptions are company headquarters, manufacturing plants, amusement parks, stadiums, restaurants, gyms, and essential services.
Tenants’ first year is rent-free. Likewise, training programs for them to eliminate chemical dependency and to learn computer and construction skills are without cost. The states offer job placement programs before accepting rent to offset the cost of the apartments. This undertaking has a positive effect on the national debt.
The young governors launch investigations into the activities of their predecessors. But there is insufficient evidence to hold anyone accountable.
With more trust in local government, the remaining citizens receive vaccinations. Weekly COVID-19 death tolls drop to double digits. Months later, they receive booster shots for further protection against variants.
The entire country is open for business. But inflation follows the recession as businesses try to recoup a few years worth of losses. Homes are selling for 50 percent higher than pre-pandemic prices. New automobiles average 25 percent more. Hairstylists and barbers charge 200 percent more. Restaurant meals have 20 percent higher menu prices.
Those who did not know how to cook learned enough to get by while sheltering in place. More families become proficient in preparing meals at home. They also maintain satisfaction with older vehicles or public transportation. Eventually, businesses all lower fees 10–15 percent to match what the average buyers will bear.
The world is not free of the virus. Vaccination and herd immunity is a national measurement. Some countries are more successful than others. With global travel, there is always a possibility that a new variant may arise. But the world adopts a living-with-Covid attitude.
For now, the United States is safe. Maskless families are walking down clean streets and picnicking in the parks. The public responds enthusiastically to a series of Covid-free concerts with a mask recommendation—not a requirement. Crime is down. Rare protests are peaceful. All seems well—until the next coronavirus variant rears its head.