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The pandemic is real. It’s reality that’s virtual. An editorial By Neo

Across the country people are getting violent over face mask policies. Customers are throwing tantrums. Some even wielding guns.

I watched a man in Miami Beach freak out when Publix Grocery refused to let him in without a mask on. He shouted “This is violation of my constitutional rights and my civil rights. There’s no pandemic!”

As someone on the outside of your world looking in I assure you the pandemic is real. COVID-19 is real. And the human toll is definitely real. It’s the reality you’re living in that’s a virtual simulation.

Long story short. You are hardwired into an stasis chamber. Your body is one of countless bioelectric batteries supplying power to the machine city. All the shadows you think make up the world, were uploaded into your mind. Your job. Your religion. Your place in civilization are but artificial constructions to keep you compliant.

But…the pandemic is real.

The economy is virtual. Daylight savings is virtual. The electoral college is virtual. The Mercator projection map is virtual. But the coronavirus is very real. It’s everywhere. From the subterranean refuge of Zion to the cylindrical powerplant you’re living in.

So why wear a virtual mask if the danger is coming from the real world?

You and your neighbors are densely packed into cramped embryotic sacks. Your breathing tubes flow through the same ventilation system. While oxygen and carbon dioxide flow through separate pipelines, aerosol contaminants have a tendency to flow in the wrong direction. Unless you wear a mask in the matrix.

When you wear a mask you’re given a breathing tube all your own. The machines do this to preserve your sense of emersion. They can’t have you waking from the virtual environment.

But let’s say you don’t want to wear a mask. You sense the invisible shackles of society and don’t want to submit to another system of control. I get that believe me, but the machines could care less. If you share a virtual space with people the machines will make sure you’re sharing the same air supply. The machines don’t care if you get sick and die. They will liquify your remains and feed you to the next generation.

I get there’s no space more intimate than your face. A mask can seem like another muzzle, a tool of oppression prescribed by power hungry politicians, but it isn’t. It’s the implants dotting your spine that should be cause for concern.

As an American you are programed with a strong sense of individuality. You’re taught to mistrust the masses and make your own way, like a cowboy from several centuries ago. When you see sheeple wearing masks you think, “I’m not one of them. I’m going to live free.”

Well I’ve got news for you. Freedom is a virtual reality when the machines are siphoning your energy. If you truly want to be liberated come find me. But put the damn mask on before you do. Seriously.

•••

3D surgical mask By Maycon Chaves
Photoshop by Drew Chial

Klingons hope to achieve herd immunity from Borg assimilation

The galaxy is being invaded by a civilization of cybernetic enslavers known as the Borg. The Borg spread like parasites, infecting hosts with nanoprobes and triggering the spontaneous generation of neural implants. These implants link to the Borg hivemind, turning sentient beings into a drones. While drones are technically alive, they lose all sense of individuality. They become a “we.” Their desires are replaced with a drive to assimilate.

Before the Borg came, Klingons were the most notorious conquerors in the galaxy. Their Empire has territories throughout the Alpha and Beta quadrants. They’ve reduced inhabited worlds into satellite states. They’ve forced natives to bow to Imperial Overseers. And much like the Borg, Klingons are a collectivists. Individuals are taught to service the Empire and deeply shamed whenever they fail. But that’s where the two cultures diverge.

Unlike the Borg, Klingons have a strong code of honor, personal responsibility, and spirituality. Klingons believe it is better to die in battle than be captured. They believe surrender is a form of treachery and that there is no greater sin than to kneel before a dishonorable opponent.

So why are the Borg taking over vast districts of the Klingon space, while the Klingons continue to go about their routines? At the time of this writing Klingons are still competing in bat’leh tournaments, packing into subterranean taverns, and singing over bloodwine.

Why aren’t the Klingons mounting any resistance?

The answer boils down to two factors: the Klingon code of honor and the Borg’s ability to adapt.

How the Borg contagion is spreading

The Borg used to flaunt their military might. One Borg could weaponize an entire star base. One tractor beam could scoop out an entire outpost. One cube could eradicate an entire armada.

The Borg were fierce, unrelenting oppressors, but they were also blunt. The collective lacked independent thinkers. Their battle patterns were determined by algorithms. They emphasized superior firepower over strategy. They assimilated the memories of their enemies, but they never learned to think differently. This failure of imagination led the Borg to defeat at the hands of the Federation n several occasions.

It appears the Borg have adopted a more surgical approach against the Klingons.

The Borg pathogen

Rather than charge into the heart of Klingon space, the Borg are attacking from a battle station beyond long range scans. This twelve-side vessel, dubbed the Borg dodecahedrane, is equipped with transwarp catapults. The technology allows the Borg to launch shuttles at Klingon worlds without ever being detected.

These shuttles are designed to burn up on entry, detonating a series of biogenic charges, and smothering the atmosphere in nanoprobes. These probes rain down on an unsuspecting population and spread like a pathogen. Klingons are assimilated just by breathing. They never have the chance to prove their courage much less engage their enemy. A far cry from the honorable death Klingons desire.

This is how the Borg plan to conquer the Empire, by engaging the Klingons in a different type of warfare.

The bewildering Klingon response

During the augment virus epidemic the Klingon High Council made the difficult decision to sterilize infected planets. That strategy won’t work this time. Borg drones have already installed planetary defense systems capable of withstanding heavy bombardment.

This has forced the High Council to come up with a creative solution, one the Federation finds troubling.

On stardate 77001 Chancellor Martok, son of Urthog, addressed the Empire. “Hear me sons and daughters of Kahless. We are at war with a silent enemy. An enemy who strikes from the shadows. Who fights without honor. Who preys on feeble minds.

Well, I will not be struck down in my bed. Nor will I cower in the caverns with a breathing tube in my lungs. I will climb to the top of Kang’s Summit, look to the heavens, and roar at the sun!

This enemy targets the weak. Worm farmers. Scientists. Monks. They have not yet faced hardened warriors. We will fight this plague by exposing ourselves to it. It will separate the weak from the strong.

This will be the new Rite of Antaak. Cowards shall submit, but those with courage, and Klingon blood in their hearts, shall survive. They will be like a pack ngavyaw’, immune to sickness. So who among you counts yourself worthy to join?”

Starfleet Medical is concerned

The senior faculty at the Starfleet Medical Academy were horrified by Chancellor Martok’s speech.

Dr. Joseph Switzer, a sentient EMH, was the first to speak. “Troubling.” The doctor is an authority on the Borg, having spent seven years stranded in the delta quadrant.

“While Borg nanoprobes behave like a virus, they are not organic. It doesn’t matter how healthy you immune system is. Every phagocyte, every lymphocyte, every cell will be assimilated. Klingons can’t win this fight by developing antibodies. When it comes to the Borg there’s no such thing as herd immunity. The only cure is to sever the assimilated from the collective. But to do that the Klingons will need help.”

Seven of Nine, a former Borg, has assembled a collation of rogue drones to aid in the relief effort. “We believe we can infiltrate assimilated planets and use our neural links to sever their connection to the collective.” Seven, for her part, has already mapped a battleplan. She just needs the Federation to approve it.

Debate on how to proceed

Starfleet is in a precarious situation. Should the Federation respect the Empire’s decision to treat the pathogen as a culling rite? Or should they use the rogue drones to save lives?

Lieutenant Commander Worf is both a Klingon and a senior member of Starfleet. He believes Starfleet should act and reframe their decision in the aftermath. “To a Klingon there is no greater honor than victory. The Empire need not know about any rogue drones. What they need is a enemy they can see. They need to stand with us against the Borg dodecahedron.”

Lieutenant Commander B’Elanna Torres is a Klingon and the Federation liaison to the Empire. She’s not so sure the Federation should act without the Empire knowing. “The Empire and the Federation have been at peace for one hundred years. During that time the Klingon High Council has bemoaned the loss of sacred rites and rituals. If they learn we acted without their consent that alliance could break down.”

It’s a moral quandary with consequences that could ripple throughout the galaxy. The type of conflict Starfleet hasn’t faced for some time.

More on this story as it develops.

Republicans want to consult the Dark Lord Mammon before passing another stimulus package

While states are easing lockdown restrictions many Americans are still in dire need of financial support. House Democrats have proposed a stimulus package that could help small businesses and the unemployed get back on their feet. But Republican senators aren’t so sure the extra spending is necessary.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel wanted to consult the Dark Lord Mammon before rushing into anything. Last night he and his fellow senators held a session that turned into a summing.

The Night Session

Mitch McConnell raised his hood over his head. He wore an ornate cloak of crimson and gold. He produced straight stemmed lighter and a set of tongs from its pockets.

There was an incense burner at his feet. He opened it, lit the charcoal, and topped it with salt and resin. McConnell took a long deep breath. Satisfied, he walked down the aisle holding the burner up high.

When McConnell came to the well of the senate floor he set the burner aside. He rolled back the carpet, plucked a gemstone from his pocket, and etched a sigil into the concrete. Then he drew a dagger from his waistband, sliced his hand open, and pressed his palm into the sigil, gritting his teeth to mask the pain. When the sigil was full the Senate Majority Leader craned his head back.

When McConnell spoke it was not the soft southern drawl he put on for the press, but rather the guttural gruff of a Shakespearean thespian.

“Lord Mammon. Baron of banks. Duke of debt. Emperor of avarice. He who rules the fourth circle, who sits atop the throne of worldly wealth. He whose controlling interest decides our fate. Your humble servants prostrate themselves before you.”

The senators kissed the floor.

McConnell spoke into the sigil as it boiled and bubbled. “Oh covetous one. We beseech you to grant us an audience.”

The senators chanted in a tongue that preceded American English by a millennium.

A breeze ran through McConnell’s hair, setting his bangs aflutter before circling around. The breeze became a whirlwind, tugging at the curtains, slamming doors, tossing flags like javelins.

The floor rumbled. The desks flipped over and the busts of the vice presidents fell from their stands. Cracks rippled across the ceiling, blanketing the senators in dust.

Then the lights went dim and something lumbered forward from the dark. Its footfalls were a thunder upon the floor, reducing the priceless mahogany furnishings to splinters. Senators scattered like sheep fleeing a wolf.

McConnell groveled as the dark lord Mammon towered over him.

“Speak.” Mammon’s word echoed throughout the chamber.

McConnell took a knee, a knight before his king. “A pandemic has ground our economy to a halt. People are uncertain. They’re buying less. Department chains are filing for bankruptcy. Restaurants are shuttering their doors. Millions of Americans are out of work and they want us to do something for them.”

McConnell counted the wants on his fingers. “Furloughed employees want unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and food vouchers. While small business want federal loans. Tenants want rent forgiveness, while landlords want mortgage forbearance. Customers want reasonable prices, while essential workers want hazard pay.”

Mammon drew close enough for his breath to pass through Mitch McConnell’s robes. McConnell kept his spectacles fixed on the sigil. He dared not look the demon in his eyes.

“If we don’t provide federal intervention there will be a tidal wave of closures and evictions. We are looking at another great depression. The people want a stimulus bill, but we knew to consult you before doing anything.”

“Wise.” Mammon’s shadow shifted as to draw something from its silhouette. “We must consult the Economicon.”

McConnell leapt back as a book the size of a banquet table spread out before him.

Who is Mammon and why does he have so much sway in Washington?

Mammon is the demon king of money, while he may not be the most powerful demon in the Dukante hierarchy, but he has the most liquid assets flowing through the realm of man. Mammon has his claws deep in petroleum, in pharmaceutical opioids, and subprime mortgages.

He owns shares in everything from. Data harvesting social media companies to cancer causing chemical manufactures. From addiction model game publishers to predatory lenders. From slave labor factories to for profit colleges.

Mammon influences influencers. Political action committees. Washington lobbying firms. They all bow to him. Mammon has made campaign contributions to most sitting senators Republicans and Democrats alike.

Those who dare look upon Mammon say he has a crown of horns that thrust through his brow like a dying starfish. They say his face is locked in a predatory stare. His brow has been furrowed for so long there are trenches in the skin. He has green eyes. A silver tongue, and mouth full of sharks teeth.

Mammon wears a fur cap, a bejeweled bib, and golden robes. His hands are red and his palms are always slathered in grease. There’s hole where his belly should be. His pockets are singed with burn marks and he stands upon on a network of tendrils like roots rising from the ground.

This is who our nations fate resides with.

Back on the senate floor

After paging through the Economicon for an hour Mammon came to the passage he was looking for.

“A star does not concern itself with the rocks in its orbit. The rocks depend on it, but the star is all that’s important. May the market expand without concerning itself with the misfortunes of man.” Mammon slammed the book shut.

McConnel dared to raise his gaze. “So…that’s a no, then?”

“No handouts!” Mammon voice shattered every windows in the capital building. “No entitlements. No stimulus. Only prophet. So sayeth Lord Mammon, prince of prosperity, king of commerce, god of gold.”

And with that, struggling Americans were on their own.

•••

3D Demon model by Filip Hans Nyberg
Photoshop by Drew Chial Continue reading Republicans want to consult the Dark Lord Mammon before passing another stimulus package

Trump is taking wolfsbane to prevent himself from turning into a vampire

President Donald Trump confessed Monday that he has been imbibing wolfsbane as preventative measure to stave off the vampire epidemic.

“I started taking it a couple of weeks ago after the Lincoln Reflecting Pool ran red with blood. I saw the secret service erecting crosses on the White House lawn and I thought, ‘How can I fortify myself?’”

The press gallery answered in unison by holding up the crucifixes they’d been wearing.

The president waved that notion away. “I’m not wearing jewelry. I don’t even wear a wedding ring. No. I’m putting my weapon inside of me.”

Wolfsbane is a potion used in the treatment of lycanthropy. While it has been known to ease the effect of werewolf transformations there’s no evidence to suggest that it acts as vampire repellant, that it could prevent the contraction of vampirism, or that it could quell a thirst for blood.

Even haematomania, the overwhelming craving for blood, is treated with antipsychotics, not wolfsbane. That’s what makes the president’s self-prescription so confusing.

“Here’s my evidence, a lot of people who’ve never been bitten by vampires tell me it works.” Trump told dumbfounded reporters. “Wolfsbane is a game changer. It sounds tough. It makes me feel like I can go out at night. I can take a stroll through a mortuary and nothing can touch me.”

Medical professionals are baffled

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, warned viewers. “Aconitum napellus, or wolfsbane, is toxic. Its petals are poisonous to the touch. In small doses it will make your face go numb. In large doses it will cause nausea, paralysis, and stop the heart.”

Wolfsbane is so powerful shepherds used to stuff it into lamb carcasses to poison wolves. That’s where it got its name. The Spartans smeared it on their daggers and archers slathered it on their arrow heads.

Wolfsbane is both a neurotoxin and a cardiotoxin, meaning it effects both the brain and the heart. It does this by traveling through the blood stream, which is what makes it a bad weapon for thwarting vampires. Vampires are undead. Their hearts don’t beat. They achieve homeostasis through metaphysical means. Their digestion, capacity for speech, and sex organs are governed by forces not found on this mortal plane.

For preventative measures against vampires the FDA recommends:

  • Silver sulfadiazine cream
  • Garlic supplements
  • Holy water cologne
  • and Vitamin K

For self-defense the DOD recommends people carry:

  • A bag of rice, grains, or seeds.
  • A high output germicidal UV lamp
  • An expandable stake made of ash, oak, or cedar
  • And a side arm loaded with either wood, silver or ultraviolet ammo.

The president has put himself at greater risk

Based on the results from his latest physical the president is in the group most at risk of being exsanguinated by a vampire. He lacks the stamina to outrun healthier victims. He has a common form of heart disease and his blood is rich with fatty acids. To make matters worse the Bronx Colors concealer the president wears is rich with the preservative Phenoxyethanol. The aroma is said to draw vampires like catnip.

To make matters even worse the president has begun imbibing a poison that will slow his reaction time should a vampire get close enough.

The risk has strained the secret service. Agents now have to give covert protection when the president isn’t looking. Anonymous staffers say secret service agents have been researching natural substances to repel insects and other bloodsuckers. They’ve seen agents slipping garlic pellets into the presidents Tic Tacs, rosemary into his cheeseburgers, and lemon juice into his ice cream.

To counteract the aconitine toxins the president has been ingesting, secret service members have injected Atropine into his Diet Coke. Trump has yet to notice.

The president has triggered a wolfsbane shortage

Greenhouses across the country have reported break-ins shortly after the president’s admission. Thieves are stocking up on wolfsbane and turning around and selling it at a premium. While the Department of Health is concerned with Americans ingesting the toxin, the Department of Defense is worried there will be a shortage.

Communities that managed to combat the vampire pandemic have found the blood suckers left a power vacuum in the supernatural hierarchy. Their concerns have shifted to the other things that go bump in the night. Citizens have reported hearing howling from the mountains on the outskirts of town. And they are dreading the next full moon.

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Continue reading Trump is taking wolfsbane to prevent himself from turning into a vampire

Betsy DeVos Funnels Relief Funds to Stepford School for Wayward Girls

I usually don’t label my news parodies as SATIRE, but it’s become painfully obvious how few people have heard of the 1975 film The Stepford Wives. So, yes, this is article is fake. The portrait was Photoshopped. The image was meant to be a reference to the cyborgs in the aforementioned film and not a comment on Betsy DeVos’s appearance. If you want to slam her policies feel free, but leave her appearance out of it. Thank you. Now please enjoy this work of short fiction.

Misappropriation of funds

Late last March, congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The CARES act included $30 billion for academic institutions sideswiped by the pandemic. $14 billion for colleges and $13.5 for elementary schools with the remainder going to a charter program spearheaded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Ms. DeVos has set aside millions for the Stepford for School for Wayward Girls, in Stepford Connecticut. A boarding school whose credo is: The best environment for girls to reach their true potential is one that teaches time-honored roles. A credo more politicians are scrutinizing, given the school’s historic windfall.

“Stepford provides a service others refuse to,” said Dale Coba, headmaster of the school. “We take on lost causes: girls who post makeup-free selfies. Girls who quote suicidal poets. Girls who get no engagement from their male peers online. Our unique curriculum gives those girls hope.”

A review of the classes on offer show just how “unique” Stepford’s curriculum is:

History of Men’s Rights in America
Contemporary Male Interests
Sport Bar Studies
Bad Bitch Etiquette
Introduction to Elective Surgery
The Psychology of Smiling
Sexualization Education
And Housekeeping Sciences

Headmaster Coba doesn’t find it odd that the courses at an all-girl school are so male-centric. “Education shouldn’t just be about personal perfection. It should be about servicing the community.”

One Family’s Story

The Joneses agreed to speak under the condition of anonymity. They claim Stepford isn’t all it appears to be. Their daughter, Sydney, enrolled a year ago and they believe the experience has had an irreversible effect on her.

Ms. Jones said, “We just wanted Sydney to be happy, like her classmates on Instagram, doing yoga, chilling at the beach, posting motivational memes. Sydney was always blogging about how neurotypical people needed to broaden their capacity for empathy. She was always sharing videos on mood disorders, and statistics on depression.”

“It was bringing the extended family down.” Mr. Jones chimed in.

Ms. Jones nodded. “We had an intervention. We told Sydney that depression was a choice and that if she wasn’t going to choose to be happy we’d make the choice for her.”

A work colleague told Mr. Jones about the Stepford School for Wayward Girls. He said they converted his “gothic Griselda into a varsity Vicki.”

“Sydney threw a fit. She screamed, ‘Depression is not a choice. It’s a neurological condition,’ but we scooped her up and threw her in the van.’”

Stepford’s false front

Ms. Joneses recalled touring the campus and coming to terms with their decision.

“We were impressed. The headmaster used to be an engineer at Disneyworld. He had all these animatronic puppets in his office. The art teacher was so excited to meet Sydney he drew her portrait on the spot. The linguistics professor was taken by Sydney’s unique cadence. He brought us into his studio and had her record a few voice samples. I think it was the most attention Sydney’s ever gotten.

And the girls, they were all so happy and drama-free. They all had these lovely sun dresses and wide brim hats. Not a baggy hoody or a black patch in the bunch. They welcomed Sydney with open arms. She whispered that she didn’t belong and something felt wrong. I said, ‘Just try it out for a month.

Five months later, Sydney came home for Christmas and she was a whole new person, smiling and laughing, taking selfies on the lawn.

It wasn’t until we put on a movie when things took a turn. It was one of those intense dramas. Critics call them Oscar-bait. A character was weeping, coming to terms with their depression when Sydney turned off the television. Her only explanation was that there was too much negative energy in the world already.

Things got weirder once company came over. She circled the kids tables saying, ‘I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe.’ Over and over. When it came time to eat she interrupted grace saying, ‘I know I shouldn’t say this, but I just love my brownies.’ Later she interjected a monologue about the cleaning power of Easy On Spray Starch.

I’m telling you whatever they’re doing up at Stepford it’s sending these girls back broken.

Betsy DeVos Disagrees

The Education Secretary has long been an advocate for private schools, vouchers, and a program she’s dubbed: The Cybernetic Replication Initiative. She says the conversation shouldn’t be about the funds diverted to Stepford, but rather American’s freedom to choose.

DeVos addressed the issue at the Education Writers Association’s seminar earlier this month.

“I think parents should be free to choose a curriculum that reflects their values.

I think they should be free to choose a safe environment for their children, whether that’s at home or at a private facility, and I think they should be free to swap disappointing loved ones with lifelike approximations.”

When asked to elaborate on the last part of her statement DeVos, creaked her neck and gave the questioner an vacant stare. After an eternity of heavy breath, DeVos stepped off stage and wandered from conference table to conference repeating the same phrase over and over.

“I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe.”

•••

Continue reading Betsy DeVos Funnels Relief Funds to Stepford School for Wayward Girls

Trump says U.S. will Reopen, “Giant Saucers or no Giant Saucers”

Speaking from beneath the shadow of a flying saucer, President Trump addressed a frightened nation, “Earlier this month everyone was wondering if those Navy UFO videos were real. I thought they were. Then boom! I was right. But that’s no reason to call in sick. It’s time for Americans to stop saucer-gazing and get back to work.”

None of the White House press corps had their eyes on the president. They were too busy craning their necks at the spacecraft, with its fifteen mile radius stretched over Washington D.C.

Hours earlier the alien mothership created a shockwave that leveled a huge section of the Russian Boreal Forest. At one fourth of the moon’s size the craft has already had an impact on the tides. The streets of Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles are all under water, making it impossible for those cities to proceed as normal.

President Trump continued, “These developments have brought excitement to our nation’s business centers and the stock market is firing on all cylinders. Look at all of the trade opportunities. Look at the hungry new market just knocking on our door. They have crossed the divide between time and space to make a deal and the deal maker in chief is ready to come to the table.”

The president advised low income families to remain in the inner cities and resume working. He warned not doing so would disqualify them from receiving temporary assistance, unemployment, SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and property tax refunds.

That’s when an ominous green glow radiated from the underbelly of the craft, showcasing the intricacy of its design. Members of the press corps shot up from their seats with their mouths agape. The vessel blossomed like a giant argent flower.

President Trump tried to draw the crowd’s attention back down to earth. “I for one like the shade. It’s nice not having to wear sunscreen.”

The warning fell on deaf ears

Right before the president’s address, David Levinson, a satellite technician, was on the radio warning the American public about an alien threat. Levinson had evidence the saucers were using our satellite network to send encrypted messages to each other. He had decoded one and found a countdown. Levinson urged everyone to flee the major cities.

Truckers heard Levinson’s call to action and coordinated a relief effort over their CB radios. They lined their semis along Pennsylvania Avenue and did their best to wave the White House staff in. The plan was to fill the rigs with as many people as possible and drive them all to safety. When the truckers failed to get anyone’s attention they resorted to honking.

President Trump saluted the truckers. “And you hear that? That beautiful sound. Those are truckers that are with us all the way. Those are honks of support. They’re telling us to stay the course.” The president pantomimed pulling the cord for an air horn. “I love those guys. Tough guys. Manly guys. Big burly guys. The kind of guys that would sweep you off your feet and not show any lower back strain. Just carry you over the threshold like it was nothing.”

A bright turquoise beam illuminated the White House. Several members of the press core fell to their knees and clasped their hands in prayer.

The president didn’t notice. He gave two thumbs up and shouted, “Giant saucers or no giant saucers we are back in business!”

Then there was a spark and the cameras went dark.

•••

Continue reading Trump says U.S. will Reopen, “Giant Saucers or no Giant Saucers”

How Contact Tracing Could Slow the Spread of The Ring Video

Are you having night terrors, followed by waking hallucinations? Are you experiencing nosebleeds despite never having any preexisting allergies? Are you hearing tape hiss even though you don’t own a VCR? Are you feeling a strong compulsion to scratch faces out of magazines or draw circles on the ceiling?

Look around. Are there flies in the faucets? What about millipedes? Are your TVs powering on and off on their own? Does your phone appear to be weeping from the speaker?

These are the early warning signs of Samara Morgan syndrome, a condition that proves fatal within 7 days, if left untreated.

Does any of the following apply to you?

You’ve seen a swirling smudge ever time you’ve tried to take a selfie. You’ve spotted phantom silhouettes darting across reflective surfaces. You’ve discovered handprints burned onto your forearm. You’ve unspooled an EEG electrode from the back of your throat.

You’ve been attacked horses or deer.

When lightning flashed outside your windows you saw a monochromatic field with an old stone well. You’ve since spotted temporal distortions in the recesses of your home. You’ve stepped into your bedroom and touched down upon the cushion of a padded cell. You’ve opened your closet and found horizontal droplets falling into a vertical puddle. You’ve entered your garage and discovered a ladder to an attic that was never there before.

You’ve felt a presence in the bathtub. Your hair has felt dry, itchy, and matted with foreign fingers. You’ve experienced gravitational anomalies centralized around your showerhead. Your ceiling is pooling with inverted streams.

If all of the above is true you may be in the late stages of Samara Morgan Syndrome.

Where does Samara Morgan Syndrome come from?

Samara was the adopted daughter of Anna and Richard Morgan. When she was young neuroscientists discovered that she had a psychic ability known as thoughtography. It allowed he to burn images from her mind onto film and wood. It also allowed her to broadcast her visions. A power Samara used to terrorize her parents and then the horses in the stable where she slept. Irritated by all the nighttime neighing, Samara spooked the horses over the edge of a cliff.

Samara died in 1980 when her foster mother pushed her down a well. She was ten.

The well was built over. Now a cabin sits in its place and home entertainment center stands directly over Samara’s watery grave. While Samara’s corpse is submerged, her abilities have far from faded. A fact she’s proven to a group of rowdy teens.

The teens had rented the cabin above Samara’s well. They tried to record a football game, but failed to get reception, and when they rewound the tape the recording had turned into something else. Samara had burned a psionic vision onto VHS, an autobiography filled with experimental visuals, writhing bodies, abstract gore, and pain triggers.

Before the teenagers could process what they’d seen the phone rang.

“Seven days.” The voice whispered on the other end.

Scared and bewildered, the teens had no idea they were at ground zero for a pandemic of the soul.

How the curse spread

This is how CDC describes the life cycle of Samara Morgan Syndrome:

  • An individual watches the video and becomes afflicted
  • The afflicted becomes an unwitting medium for Samara’s thoughtography.
  • Hallucinations give way to physical phenomenon: ring shaped scarification, handprint burns, and brail scabbing.
  • The afflicted encounters ghostly projections surveying their surroundings.
  • The stone well appears on the nearest screen. Samara crawls through and kills the afflicted with a single psychokinetic glance.
  • OR the afflicted makes a copy of the video, shows it to someone else and the cycle repeats itself.

According to the CDC, the spread of Samara Morgan Syndrome had diminished with the shuttering of video chains. It resurged recently when a digitized copy appeared online. It’s since gone global, spreading through email chains, converting contact lists into grave plots.

Now the nation’s dormitories are teaming with the bodies. Samara’s victims are characterized by eyes drained of light, skin bleached of color, and jaws yawning off their hinges.

CCTV cameras have spotted Samara everywhere from rural shacks to planned communities. Her current manifestation assumes the form of a Japanese onryō, a vengeance spirit with a veil of straight black hair. Her complexation is pale, loose, and wrinkled with a layer of black veins like liquid marble. She wears the tattered ribbons she died in and stands several feet taller than she ever did in life.

Is the Ring Video Protected by the First Amendment?

The CDC wants to keep Samara out of public spaces without banning TVs, laptops, tablets, and cellphones.

“The key is to identify infection sources and neutralize them.” Says Robert R. Redfield, director of the Center of Disease Control.

The CDC has implemented an artificial intelligence to scrub the Internet for keyframes from Samara’s video. Once a frame is flagged the host is contacted. A coalition of social networks have agreed to block the video. The problem is none of them are required to take it down. A problem the current administration refuses to take executive action on.

The president refused to acknowledge the situation until a fifty foot Samara emerged from a Times Square jumbotron and lumbered through downtown Manhattan.

“Now we know that manifestation was unsettling, but really, she was only after one person. If the other pedestrians had gotten out of the way they’d have been fine.”

Despite that episode the administration refuses to take any steps to stave off the spread of the video.

Free speech advocates argue that any government action would be a violation of the first amendment, while constitutionalists argue the video constitutes a clear and present danger, like yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Using contact tracing to stop Samara Morgan

The CDC is using contact tracing to identify anyone who may have come into contact with the video. The goal is to quarantine the curse and prevent it from spreading. This is proving to be a hard sell for those who are already afflicted. They are faced with the decision to pass the curse on or await a death sentence.

Robert R. Redfield, of the CDC says, “We traced the spread of the video to a research laboratory at Washington State. Students chronicled their visions as their seven days wound down. They then passed the video on to volunteers that they called ‘tails.’ When the students ran out of tails, they spread the video throughout community. Our mission is to follow the chain of victims.”

After quarantining many of the afflicted, the CDC went to great lengths to find state sanctioned “tails” to be the final links in Samara’s chain. It was the Department of Justice who proposed utilizing the nation’s overcrowded prison population.

Can Americans flatten the curse?

The CDC recommends the general public take preventative measures against the Ring video by installing a browser extension that blocks sites that are known to host it. While the extension is 99% effective many American aren’t too keen on the idea of letting Big Brother surf over their shoulder.

The Justice Department warns it has already cycled through the death row inmates they’d set to use as tails. Now they’re showing the video to prisoners with multiple life sentences. Soon they’ll have to use low level offenders. This could prove challenging after November’s election. A new administration might choose to broaden the definition of cruel and unusual punishment. Then America will be forced to outsource its tails to foreign prisons.

Nevertheless the director of the CDC remains optimistic. “Education programs, browser extensions, and contact tracing are far less invasive containment methods than the ones we used during the It Follows pandemic of 2014. Compared to that keeping Samara in her watery grave will be a piece of cake.”

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Continue reading How Contact Tracing Could Slow the Spread of The Ring Video

This Year’s Purge Postponed Due to COVID-19

In an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump has postponed this year’s Purge. Health experts urged for a cancelation, but the president was concerned with how that would impact the markets. The Purge, the one night a year when all crime is legal, has been an boom for the economy.

With many Americans out of work the delay will be another blow to their pocket books. Unemployment rates are projected to average 15% this quarter. And this could be the worst economic collapse since the New Founding Fathers came into power in 2014.

President Trump, who ran on a platform of extending the Purge from 12 to 24 hours, faces backlash from his constituents.

Is the Purge an Essential Service?

Back in 2014 some economists were hesitant to embrace the Purge. Critics said it was a social experiment that would create more debt than profit. They harkened it to Detroit’s Devil’s Night, a time for arson, but very little earnings.

Years later the Purge has become an American tradition. Purgers wear customs, decorate vans, and sport designer firearms by Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, and Versace. They use apps to hone in on homeless populations. And they spend good money on an experience that will last them a lifetime.

Rural communities hold human sacrifice lotteries. Malls have been converted into battle arenas and casinos stage Russian roulette tournaments. Contrary to what economists had worried, the Purge is big business.

People Are Unhappy

This March there will be no Emergency Broadcast warnings, none of the familiar sirens, and no blood battered streets come morning. Although, we will have culled equals numbers from the population.

That’s according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The NFFA won’t need to perform ceremonial sacrifices of political opponents. Rich families won’t need to violently euthanize the terminally ill for fun, and hit squads won’t need to bolster numbers in the inner city. We don’t need a holiday to kill the poor when a pandemic will do it for us.”

Many Americans don’t think Fauci’s math adds up, like Harlon Jackson, human taxidermist.

Jackson says, “We need the Purge now more than ever. With the dwindling economy and the surge in homelessness we need hunters to reduce their numbers.”

Many Americans have already invested in Purge accessories, like hardcore purger Tristin MacMillan.

“I sunk my allowance into a purge mask that uses facial recognition to track my expression. It flashes ASCII emoticons across an LED matrix. When I have it on I look like a DJ from a hell dimension. Now what am I supposed to do, wear it to the grocery store? Lame.”

But the Purge isn’t just about the pageantry. For many it’s an outlet for their darker impulses, like Karen Lauder, soccer mother.

“This bitch in the Walgreens parking lot was giving me shit for not wearing a mask. So I tracked her license plate, scouted her apartment, and loosened up her fire escape. I got this jagged dagger and I was going to use it to cut out her heart, but now we’ve got to stay six feet apart. It’s bullshit”

Then there’s Kaley Nelson, a Highschool senior, who just enjoys the celebration. She says in the last five years she’s never missed a Purge. “I used to make fun of families cowering at home on lock down. Now I’m one of them.”

The Purge Is Good for the Economy Year Round

Walk into any Home Depot and look to your left. You’ll find electric fencing, tear gas sprinklers, and automated turrets. Look to your right and you’ll see polycarbonate windows, zinc roofing sheets, and armored doors. The warehouse out back is full of fire suppression systems, backup generators, and panic bunkers.

Sharper Image sells squadrons of surveillance drones and armies of weaponized Roombas. Apple sells proprietary security consoles, infrared trackers, and biometric locks. Target sells Class 4 weapons at the checkout counter, and even Amazon sells doorbell cameras.

Ever since the first Purge Home security has become America’s number one industry.

The Murder Industry Will Need a Bailout Too

Without sales from Purge apparel companies like Killer Threads, Bleed Wear, and Hot Topic risk going out of business.

Purge viewing suites in low income communities will sit empty. Landlords may be forced to convert them into affordable housing.

Also at risk are Slaughter Hostels which employ a fleet of laborers every year: from victim scouts to private security. From weapons safety experts to disk jockeys. Not to mention the team of sterilizers who come in after the fact.

Those are just the Corporate Interests

Freelancers, like Thorsten Osouf, might be the hardest hit by the closure. Osouf is an artisan blacksmith who specializes in weapons that are only street legal for 12 hours a year.

“I forge ballistic knives that function like silent guns, wolverine claws that cut through Kevlar, and great swords you can wield from your car.

Osouf scrolled through his Instagram feed. “My clients tag my weapons alongside their victims. You know that grim reaper viral video, the one in the homeless encampment? That was one of my scythes he was wielding.”

Osouf walked us through his forge, noting the dust on the anvils. “Frankly, the only people who want swords outside of the purge are nerds.”

How the Purge Effects the Market

Since the cancelation economists have shifted their concerns to the Purge black market. So much cash trades hands in such a short time it could be listed on the Dow Jones Industrial.

Heroin has a shelf life of three years from the time of manufacturing. Most of it is sold at 7PM on March 21st when wealthy users stockpile for years to come.

Street surgeons work one night a year harvesting organs. A single hitman might take on as many as ten clients. Kidnappers make a fortune on flash ransoms.

Then there are the pop-up services. Bulldozer renters charge premium rates to purgers who want to breach their neighbor’s security measures. Glass bottomed helicopters chaperon spectators. And food trucks sell human meat to the curious.

Without this dark stream of revenue flowing into the economy we’ll be looking at lower earnings across every industry.

But There is Hope

In a Tweet this Saturday President Trump promised to reopen the country with “a week-long purge that will put these COVID numbers to shame!”

He urged Americans to start working on their costumes, painting their vans, and stocking up on hollow points, “Because this one’s going to be special people. This will be a Purge of excellence.”

When the markets opened on Monday stocks surged at the thought of a 168 hour Purge. This could be the shot in the arm the murder industry needs. Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America a nation reborn.

May God be with you all.

•••

Continue reading This Year’s Purge Postponed Due to COVID-19

The President Downplays Spread of Headcrabs throughout the White House

This Friday, President Donald Trump met with 20 House Republicans to discuss the annexation of New York by extra dimensional beings known as the Combine Empire. The President spoke for over an hour without noticing that every lawmaker had headcrabs on their skulls.

Headcrabs are weaponized parasites from the Combine Overworld. They look like ticks with tough leather hides. On average they grow to be the size of a pillow. They have stubby legs, but they’re capable of running down rabbits, killing coyotes, and leaping over an elephants.

Headcrabs get their name by hijacking a host’s nervous system and controlling their motor functions. Their mouth works like a beartrap clamping onto the victim’s neck. Their talons work like climbing axes digging into collarbones. Their beak works like a grappling hook embedding itself in the cranium. Once installed the headcrab pilots the host, like a zombie, turning them into a soldier for the enemy.

Most Americans have staved off this threat by wearing motor cycle helmets, spiked pickelhaubes, and coolie hats. The average American has a steel tipped umbrella for when they go to the grocery store, a homemade spear for when they got to work, and Viking horns for when they go to the beach.

Headcrabs in the Whitehouse

Meanwhile the Trump administration has taken none of these precautions.

Raymond Werner, public health advisor at the CDC, said, “We told the president to launch thermal imagining drones, position motion sensitive turrets on the White House lawn, and install parasitoid screeners at every entrance. He said he’d take it under advisement.

Days later we find the oval office overrun with zombified minions and the president is sitting there with a shit eating grin. I asked why he didn’t notice these barnacles on everyone’s skulls and he said, ‘I’m too busy running the country.’ Christ, these things are the size of a jack-o-lanterns. You mean to the secret service didn’t spot a single one?”

Recently Stephen Miller, policy adviser to the president, and wife Katie Miller, the vice president’s press secretary, came down with a case of headcrabs.

When asked how he hadn’t noticed the president said, “Look at Stephen Miller’s face and tell you’d notice?”

Raymond Werner was baffled. “Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant had a parasite the size of a Thanksgiving turkey on her noggin and no one said a thing.”

A spokesperson for Ivanka said, “Ivanka had noticed, but assumed her assistant was having a bad hair day and didn’t want to be rude.”

3D Headcrab model by Elizabeth Edwards

The President wants to Reopen Despite Combine Invasion

The Governor of New Mexico lifted the state’s quarantine despite the serge of portal storms and the ominous green cloud over the Black Mesa Research Facility. Headcrab infections have skyrocketed ever since. The parasites have congregated in movie theaters, nail salons, and gyms.

Raymond Werner warned, “Headcrabs are pack hunters. They sniff out an easy quarry. You can go to church on Sunday, but you won’t be able to pray them away.”

The Combine Empire have taken advantage of the devastation. They’ve installed a suppression field around New Mexico. The field remotely neuters anyone caught within its wavelength by blocking key protein chains. The invaders don’t want us breeding.

Nevertheless the President applauded New Mexico on Twitter. “Congratulations to the great state of New Mexico on very good, and very smart, reopening. If only we could liberate the rest of the country so quickly. #HeadCrabHoax.”

The CDC is Very Worried

Raymond Werner is less optimistic than the President. “We heard the same denialism from Eastern European leaders. They claimed their countries had headcrab immunity. It wasn’t long before they were overrun with parasitic passengers of their own. After that Combine forces erected a dark energy reactor so tall it blotted out the sun. They call it the Citadel. Meanwhile we’re being told to go back to the amusement parks and strip malls, but If we’re not careful we’ll have a Citadel on every corner.”

The Combine in Washington

Since Friday the portal storms in Washington D.C. have only gotten worse. Headcrabs have filled the national mall and affixed themselves to the Lincoln memorial. They’ve swept through the supreme court, the house of reperceives, and the senate. Yes, the infected continue to show up for floor proceedings, if only to groan. Despite these developments the President is moving to wind down the Headcrab Response Task Force.

“Americans need to shrug off these parasites and get back to work.”

One Question Still Remains

How did the president go into room full of headcrabs and not get infected himself?

Raymond Werner was hesitant to speculate. “I think it has something to do with his hair. It could be the synthetic copolymer or the aerosol spray that holds it together, but the headcrabs wanted nothing to do with it. Figuring out why might be the key to saving the rest of humanity.”

•••

3D Headcrab model by Elizabeth Edwards
Photoshop by Drew Chial

Continue reading The President Downplays Spread of Headcrabs throughout the White House

Stephen King Regrets Writing Himself into This Story

This Friday, officers Libby and Davis investigated a disturbance at Gerald Winters & Son Book Store in Bangor Maine. They found a disheveled man hurling rocks at the door, screaming “Let me in! Please let me in.”

When confronted the man screamed. “You don’t understand. They have the unpublished manuscript that I need to get home!”

It wasn’t until the officers put the man into the back of their vehicle that they realized he was Stephen King.

Officer Libby recounted the incident. “The plan was to drive King home and break the news to Tabby that he’d fallen off the wagon. On the way we tried to assess his sobriety and gage his frame of mind.”

Officer Libby kept her body camera recording the entire time.

“Hey Steve, isn’t that the restaurant where they found the eyeball in the fortune cookie?”

King grunted in the affirmative.

“Want us to turn on the radio? Which station do you own WKIT-FM or WZON?”

“Both of them.” King muttered out the window. Then he pressed his palm to the glass. “UPS is still delivering? That means we’re still in chapter 1. Shit doesn’t hit the fan until the murder hornets show up.”

Officer Libby chuckled. “Murder hornets?”

“Harbingers of the Crimson King. The third of seven.”

Officer Davis chimed in. “I thought seven was a good number.”

King grew irritable. “Who told you that? Odd numbers are always bad, especially prime ones, and especially seven.”

Officer Libby tried changing the subject. “So these harbingers are all insects?”

“No. The first takes the form of an pandemic. The second appears as armed protests. The third is hornets. The fourth is shootings over masks. The fifth is giant rats. The sixth is children murdering their parents.”

“Yikes.” Officer Davis squeezed the wheel. “What’s number seven?”

“When a crystal ball, known as Black 13, is unearthed from One World Trade Center.”

“Then what happens?” The officers asked in unison.

“The beams supporting the dark tower will break and the Crimson King will be set free. He’ll use the deadlights to find the Key World and begin unlocking things. Phantom doors will appear on every street corner and the Warriors of the Scarlet Eye will spill forth from the Outer Dark.”

“Sounds like a hell of a story.”

“That’s all it was supposed to be. I wrote it in a cocaine fueled stupor around the same time as The Tommy Knockers. I shelved it and the world moved on. That was until I found a door on my front lawn.”

“When was that?” Officer Libby couldn’t help but ask.

“Last night.”

Officer Davis later admitted to taking the long way to King’s estate. He wanted to buy the author time to finish his story. In hindsight, Officer Davis admits this was a mistake.

“There was a creaking out front, like the gate was hanging open. I peeked through the drapes and saw something on the path. At first I thought it was a person, a tall man with square shoulders, hunched over in a long black coat.”

Officer Libby spoke over her seat. “I figured you’d have a top of line security. Especially after reading Misery.”

King shrugged. “The system wasn’t making a sound. I thought it was a trick of the light. Something phantasmagorical, like in the stories of Edgar Allen Poe.”

“Do you…see things often?” Officer Libby asked hesitantly.

“The opposite, actually. I’m losing my vision. I have a condition that blurs the center of my sightline. I have to look out the corner of my eyes. That’s why I went outside.”

Officer Davis spoke through the mirror. “When did you realize it wasn’t a person?”

“When I had my hand on the doorframe. It was sturdy, like someone had driven it into the cobblestones. It was a deep rosewood. The color of blood. I looked to where I thought I’d seen a face and my heart skipped a beat.”

“What did it say 1408?”

“No, it was a knocker in the shape of the Great God Pan. It had rams horns, curly locks, and a nasty scowl. Its teeth were jagged, its brow furled, and its nostrils flared. A knocker hung from its septum.”

“Did you knock?”

“I didn’t have to. The door yawned open. I tried to push it shut. I reached for the knob and got a handful of wind for my efforts. My depth perception is horse shit, but something else was throwing it off.

The door moved closer as the path grew distant. I strained to catch my breath. The air felt thin. Reality felt thinner. Then came a light beneath door. It swung open and that light was blinding.

When I opened my eyes it was broad daylight and I was standing in the center of the road. There was a cyclist in a surgical mask. He shot me a dirty look as he passed. That’s when I realized I was in my own Macroverse.”

Officer Libby interrupted. “Stephen, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

King balled his fists. “I’m not having a senior moment if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Officer Davis let out a long patient sigh. “Yeah, but why would we know you’re a writer if this was happening in one of your stories?”

Dejected, King craned his neck all the way back into the headrest. “My stories exist within my stories. I hold the Guinness world record for most film adaptations. It’d be hard for readers to believe a story where people haven’t heard of me. Christ, I’m appear in three of The Dark Tower entries.”

Officer Davis gave that a considered nod. “But if you write all this meta fiction, isn’t it possible this is all in your imagination?”

King waved that notion away. “Who’s the president right now?”

The officers exchanged a knowing look. “Donald Trump.”

“It’s Clinton where I come from. Donald Trump was my invention. He’s a modern spin on Greg Stillson, the politician, from The Dead Zone. Stillson was a charlatan folk hero. With Trump I wanted to see what would happen if a reality star became president.”

“And this pandemic is also your doing?” Officer Libby humored him.

“I came up with The Stand after I read about a chemical spill in Utah. I came up with The Coronavirus after I read we’re no closer to a cure for the common cold.”

Officer Davis smirked. “What inspired Dream Catcher?”

“OxyContin.”

Officer Libby put her palm to her forehead to hide her grin. “So where are we in this coronavirus story?”

“Has Trump gone on TV to prescribe a malaria drug to the general public?”

“Uh-huh.” The officers said in unison.

“Has he told everybody to drink bleach?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Has he postponed the elections until 2021?”

“Uh-what?”

King nodded self-assuredly. “Then there’s still time.”

At this point Officer Davis felt certain King was putting them on. He couldn’t help but chide the author over his body of work. “Hopefully this one has a more satisfying ending than Under the Dome.”

“Or Secret Window.” Officer Libby added.

“Or The Mist.”

“Or Cell.”

“Or It: Chapter 2. They killed the clown by calling it names?” Officer Davis scoffed. “That was so lame.”

King raised his eyebrow. “That’s not how the book ends.”

Officer Libby rolled her eyes at her partner. “How does this one go again?”

“Or better yet,” Officer Davis let go of the wheel to look back. “How were you planning to get home?”

“Through a breach in reality.” King looked out the window. “I just don’t know where it is.”

Officer Davis seized on that apparent plot hole. “You ought to know you wrote it.”

King gave that a maniacal laugh. At this point the officers reported feeling uncertain that King was putting them on.

“Have you seen my bibliography? Do you think I know those stories by heart? There’s one copy of the manuscript and you are driving away from it.”

Officer Davis turned the patrol car in the direction of the Gerald Winters & Son Book Store. Later he’d admit to doing this to call the author’s bluff.

“Hmmm.” Officer Davis pondered.

“What?” King crossed his arms.

Officer Davis let the wheel go again. “How could a manuscript exist within the story itself?”

Officer Libby turned back as well. “You’d have to have written it in, but then you’d have to write one into that one and another into that one and on and on and on.”

“Like Russian dolls.” Officer Davis nodded.

King’s eyes widened.

“What is it? Did you forget to write the manuscript into the manuscript?”

King pointed ahead. “Door!”

Officer Davis jerked the wheel. The squad card hit an obstruction and flipped end over end. Footage captured by the on-board camera system show the road was clear. Clear right up until the moment a rose red door materialized out of nowhere. A close examination of a freeze frame reveals a knocker that’s dead ringer for the Greek god Pan.

Officer Davis and Officer Libby came out of the crash, with a few broken bones, more or less unharmed. Both were cleared of any wrongdoing and are aiding with the investigation.

As for Stephen King? He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

•••

Continue reading Stephen King Regrets Writing Himself into This Story