Smart Tony walked the street in fear. Everyone was sneezing and wiping their noses.
“They don’t get it,” he said to Jake Tap Dancer one night on CNN. "Omicron is taking over the whole world. The amount of mucus, well, it ain’t good. It ain’t good at all. Soon it’s gonna overwhelm us and it’ll be too late.”
Sure the hospitals weren’t filling up, no one was dying, and people weren’t particularly sick. But cases were escalating, and with the growing cases was coming an almost unimaginable quantity of snot.
This was a catastrophe beyond which even Smart Tony—the guy who conquered all the most dangerous and lethal and terrible bugs that ever attacked the land and had to deal with the likes of people like Ranting Paul too---couldn’t get his hands around it, it was that bad, that scary. “Omicron could be the variant that does us all in,” he said to Tap Dancer. “And they keep saying it ain’t bad. Ain’t bad? You seen the snot meter? It’s off the damned charts!”
“And what happens,” asked the inquisitive and science-minded CNN anchor, “When there’s more snot then we can handle?”
Smart Tony just nodded his head sone to side. “It ain’t pretty, Tap dancer,” he said. “Ain’t pretty at all.”
CNN was tracking snot on its ticker tape. It was now a full-fledged surge, with the number of high, heavy, and even God-damn-that’s-a-lot-of-snot mucus-producing virus reaching historical highs.
“The cases are exploding all over the county,” said Rachel in the Meadow. “You just have to look at the numbers and it is shocking. And yet, the science deniers continue to insist that it’s not a problem, that Omicron is nothing more than a cold, that we don’t have to mask up again and close society. But look at the numbers, the sheer magnitude of mucus production just in the past week. How can anyone be so naïve as to be that blind?”
Smart Tony shook his head. “Rachel in the Meadow,” he sighed. “It ain’t easy for a man of science like me to sit back and do nothing and watch the snot levels grow so much so fast, to watch so many people sneezing and wiping their noses and all the deniers saying it ain’t a problem. And I’m gonna fight it, that you can be sure of. I aim to stop this snot explosion before it’s too late.”
“But how is it even possible, Smart Tony?” asked Joe in the Morning, so angry was he at the snot-deniers who clearly had another agenda. “They say we’re running out of Kleenex, and we may have to resort to off-brand Korean tissues. I mean, do you know what happens to your nose when you use bad tissues? It massacres the skin! It hurts for weeks. Is this what the deniers want? Are they so cruel?”
“And that ain’t even the half of it, Joe in the Moring,” said Smart Tony. “The Robitussum supply, it’s dwindling too, and all they got left is the lemon flavor, which, I gots to tell you, leaves an after taste that no one, no human, wants to experience. . Me and Gates, we stashed some of the good stuff away, I mean, for ourselves and all, because it’s important that we stay snot-free so we can take care of the rest of you's guys. But the rest of the world, I don’t know what they’re going to do.”
“The horror,” Joe said. “The inhumanity. This may be the most egregious and vile act the other side ever perpetrated. All those people sneezing and everyone denying it. And I don’t even know if Korea even makes an off-brand cough suppressant! It’s like they want us to suffer!”
It was true, all of it. Facts were facts. Omicron was producing more snot than any virus in history. People were sneezing and coughing day and night. You couldn’t walk the streets and not see it. In some States, the sneezing could be heard even blocks away. People had no tissues so they had to use other things, even shirts and kitchen rags. And yet, people were saying not to worry. Not to shut down schools, not to stop gatherings and keep people locked in their own homes. “It’s god-damned disgusting,” Smart Tony said. “Some people even is using their hands! And then what? Then where do they wipe it? Just thinking about it makes me sick!”
In Australia, police were shooting anyone who sneezed in public or failed to use a tissue properly; true the bullets were made of paper, but at least they were trying to institute scientific control over their noncompliant misinformers who were threatening everyone else with their snot denial. In China, the Party locked everyone up and denied them water, since without water you can’t make snot. These were sensible measures, and if the US did that—used real bullets and turnedoff the water supply as Smart Tony advocated—then without a doubt the snot levels would go down. But no one in this country had the balls and smarts like Smart Tony to do what it takes.
He had conquered AIDS, and even bashed down early COVID variants. But this scared him the most. He wanted people to at least triple mask until Pfizer released its RNA-Kleen-Vax, which would act as an internal tissue and dry up all the snot before it could get out. The vaccine had never been tested on people, and in mice it dried up the snot and everything else—essentially turning them into dust—but he was confident that in people it would work, and he put a lot of money into the patent.
“Well try it on infants first,” he told his panel of experts. “They’s the ones with the most snot, and they just wipe it everywhere. We’ll do like one or two million shots at first, do a study for 3 days to see if the snot’s better, and then stop the study before any harm is done. That’s science, my friends.”
“We need to do something now though, Smart Tony,” said the brilliant chief epidemiologist at Hopkins, Dr. Congestion. “We’ve been modeling the snot accumulation, as you can see in these slides. If the curve continues at the same slope, then by Christmas there will be more snot than people on earth. I’s possible, by our projections, that in fact snot will take over the world.”
Dr. Doom-and-Gloom—the tenured chief of world health and infections disease at University of Washington’s Scare Center—couldn’t agree more. “Once snot hits a certain threshold, it can go into the water and raise sea levels quickly. It can start to seep into brain tissue and make people its slaves. Soon enough, once the snot gets above the magic threshold, it teaches the body to make even more snot, and the vicious cycle continues until all people are mere walking vats of snot. We know the science, and we have the best doctors and drug-company representatives in our center modeling this hour by hour. And we know that if we don’t do something immediately, earth will be a sea of snot very, very soon.”
“And at that point,” bemoaned Dr. Shut-up-and-listen of Harvard. “It’ll be too late. We’ll be a planet flowing with mucus. How people are blind to this Omicron threat is beyond me. Sure, masking will work for a while, triple masks to hold in the snot and serve as a makeshift three-ply tissue. And sure, we can close society and keep the snot isolated. But people are getting tired of these very scientific and sensible measures, they’re being reckless, and once that happens, there’s very little hope of a mucus free existence for anyone, even for those of us who are being responsible.”
This made Smart Tony very angry. “When the best and smartest expert doctors and scientists say something, people shouldn’t be asking no questions; they should just listen and do what them experts say, period,” he complained to the Science President. “I mean, they’s experts, ain’t that enough for people these days? Most people ain’t wise in science. They don’t know nothing.”
“I’ve been sneezing all day, Smart Tony,” said the Science President. “At least I think I have been. It could have been a different day, but I think it was today. And I tested for Omicron and was positive. But that may have been last month. I’m just not sure.”
“See,” Smart Tony said. “Ain’t that enough reason to suspend Habeus Mucus and force people to get the Kleen-Vax? Now, Science President, anyone who sneezes is suspect. They’s can’t be trusted. It’s possible that the snot already got to their brain. You’s got to do something and do it fast! This Constitution thing gets in the way of science. People can’t live if they got freedom to make bad choices and spit out misinformation. We got to do something different.”
“Maybe,” mused the Science President. “That’s what’s happening with the Supreme Court Justices. Maybe they have Omicron, and the mucus already invaded their brains. I saw Justice Thomas pass a tissue to Alito and Cavanaugh. And in Congress, Ranting Paul has been coughing into his hands. Do you think, Smart Tony, that they…?”
“Yes,” Smart Tony finished the Science President’s question, who started to yawn. “Yes, I do think so. The snot has gotten to them. They is full of mucus. It won’t be long before all of us meet the same fate. You have to fire them all and take charge. George Washington died of a sore throat. You think he would have kept up the democracy thing if he knew that would happen? Sometimes you got to be tough, Science President, and be smart.” But the president had already fallen asleep.
Jake Tap Dancer sat with Smart Tony as the ticker tape of Omicron cases and Snot Production continue to climb. This was breaking news, on 24-7, just like all news. But this, this was really bad.
“I mean, look America,” the Tap Dancer said. “Look at the numbers. Don’t be irresponsible, I beg you. If you must sneeze, stay in your bathroom, sneeze in the toilet. Sneeze in your mask. No beach trips, no birthdays, no family gatherings. Just lock yourself in a room with a big blanket and stay there as long as it takes. How long, Smart Tony, should they stay there?”
Smart Tony thought about it. He thought long and hard. “Well, Tap Dancer, most variants last about six weeks, and Omicron has been around for about four. But that don’t mean it’s going away so soon. It already made so much snot that it may never go away. The snot itself may be in charge now. So what I would say to America is that if we’s going to be safe, we should stay in our rooms forever. Just make sure there’s a TV on all the time, so you can listen to us experts tell you what to do. And by all means, get the Kleen-vax as soon as it comes out. If you wait to long, then we may have discovered life-threatening side effects by then, and you won’t want to take it, and you got to take it cause we said so.”
“So many science deniers, so many anti-vaxers, so many tissue hoarders, so many people blind to the danger of snot,” said the Tap Dancer. “I do think that what we learned from this is that if we’re going to survive as a species, we have to censor misinformation, lock everyone up, force people to get experimental treatments, and keep the ticker tape rolling. I know it’s been good for us to do all that, and it’s been good for you and your friends, Smart Tony. And yet people still complain.”
This, Smart Tony knew, was true. One day, maybe in the future, people would listen to science, they’d trade their lives and joys for blind compliance and captivity, they’d stop complaining every time experts told them to park their lives away for the good of mankind. But until that day came, there was going to be a lot of snot coming their way, and “sometimes there just ain’t enough tissues to clean up human stupidity.”
“Oh, the humanity, the humanity,” he said to his maid.
And then she sneezed into her hands, and stared at the snot in horror, not knowing what to do. At that point, Smart Tony knew that Omicron-denial would never end and that the snot had won as it covered the earth. “Oh the humanity,” he said again.
His maid, who in horror sneezed a second time, couldn’t agree more.