Afterlife of the Party Shorts

Pestilence’s Party with Rona

When word trickles down that the Rapture is nigh, Pestilence decides he must break free of the Four Horsemen and usher in one last hurrah: the coronavirus.

“The good old days are long behind us.” You may have heard those born into previous generations spout these words. They may have even escaped your mouth as you shake your head at a society trying to move forward. Throughout history, human society has ushered in many modern marvels, including, as time has moved forward, research and technology—innovations that have brought with them the ability to treat an ever-expanding number of infectious diseases. Certainly, influenza is still capable of sending Death to meet its hosts, for instance, but Death is now making far fewer visits. “The good old days are long behind us,” Pestilence would also mutter.

While the mortal population is largely thankful for the wonders of modern medicine, if you happen to be a designated punishment of God whose specialty is infectious diseases, you are entirely likely to be less thankful; this innovation makes your time that much more difficult. At a grand total of one, Pestilence himself is a relatively small sample size. However, this sample includes the entire cohort of Divine Retributions responsible for disease, so making decisions on behalf of this group isn’t difficult. Decisions like creating a new strain of virus that will take the world by storm, for instance.

As Father Time’s skin sagged and his joints ached with the pain telling him the time to hand over the reins to Baby New Year 2020 was approaching, Pestilence arrived in Wuhan, China. After spending some time mingling with the city’s eleven million residents, he coughed. While this action itself was rather innocuous, he didn’t cover his mouth. Instead, this well-timed and expertly timed lung spasm caused his spittle to float through the atmosphere until it met its target. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or COVID-19 as the mortals would simplify it to, was born.

“What have you done?” An elderly hand gripped Pestilence’s shoulder.

As he watched the virus’ first victim cough and violently gasp in a desperate attempt for air, he turned his head and gave Father Time a giddy smile that stretched from ear to ear. “Relax, old man. Retire into the night; let the baby deal with this.”

Soon, revellers around the world celebrated the birth of Baby New Year, oblivious to the future Pestilence had wrought upon them. By the end of January, the spectre’s ploy had infected almost ten thousand people across the continent. The rest of the world shook their heads at this Chinese virus, failing to take heed of the song, “It’s a Small World After All,” particularly one connected through easy travel between its lands. As a hundred cases escaped through China’s borders, Pestilence’s fun was about to begin.

By the end of February, the world cursed the extra day the leap year brought the year as Pestilence’s spread increased to almost fifty thousand. On the eleventh day in March, the spectre’s heart sang as the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic. And by the time April Fool’s Day came around, this number had increased another fifteen-fold to three quarters of a million people. The world could no longer simply wipe its hands and declare Pestilence’s handiwork as China’s problem, with the United States of America, Italy and Spain’s numbers dwarfing China’s. The world truly is a global village!

“Dude, really?”

All over the world, campaigns told the populace to wash their hands as international borders slammed their doors shut, while those within the same country as one another were told to stand at least a metre and a half apart.

“Isn’t it glorious?” Pestilence asked Death.

As the mortals cowered, they were told to hold out hope. This may be an act of God (or, at least, one of his Divine Punishments), but modern medicine, the bane of Pestilence’s existence, was on its way. Vaccines would save humanity, but in the interim, countries locked down. Casual outings, casual cups of coffee and casual sex were all forbidden: instead, mortals were only to leave the house for the barest essentials and to hoard toilet paper.

“Come on, man, why don’t ya take a break?” Death asked. “Let these guys do their thing, and call it done. We can kick back and chill a little until the Rapture comes; trust me, that shit’s gonna be exhausting.”

Before turning away, Pestilence smiled. But if Death had a heart, it would not have sung; it would have recoiled in horror. Modern medicine was indeed on its way to save the day, and in the meantime, all the mortals had to do was listen to the experts. Yet, Pestilence couldn’t contain his smile—nor did he want to, if we’re being completely honest—for the early twenty-first century was an era defined by fake news and alternative facts.

“You know what they say, Death,” Pestilence said as he patted his brother on the back, “There’s no rest for the wicked.”

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