"I’m waiting for a new kind of hero to emerge from the pack. This’ll be a man who walks into a hospital and says, “I confess. I think I have the virus. I’ve been coughing. I have a slight fever. I didn’t want to tell my neighbors. That was wrong. I’m guilty. I need help.”
That’s how it starts. But then a reporter gets a tip and writes a piece on Hero and it takes off. During the next week, while Hero is in isolation, he becomes famous. He’s a true American, he’s a true World Citizen.
This is how a new hero behaves. He self-confesses. That’s the key. Then millions of people will love him. It’s all love. Hero loves the State and his doctor, who gave him an antiviral that almost killed him, he loves the mayor of his city, who locked down a million citizens and threw thousands out of work, he loves the CDC, he loves social distancing, he loves the virus, because the virus taught him how to humble himself.
But what no one knows is, Hero is a bit eccentric. He tends to speak his mind. At least he used to, before he learned humility. It seems he’s left all that behind…well, he had, until one day, when he was being interviewed, live, on global television, and his sensitive interviewer, a talking head framed with lots and lots of gray curls, in a moment of pensive sensitive silence, asked him what he was thinking. “Hero, what is it?”
And Hero said, “You know, Marmaduke, these viruses can come out of rainforests and travel to the West and infect us, because we’ve never developed immunity to them, and it’s very dangerous. Well, why aren’t tribes of natives in the rainforest decimated, because, think about it, people from the West travel there with viruses the natives have never been exposed to before.”
“Excuse me?” Marmaduke says.
Hero keeps going. “We hear about epidemics starting in Africa and China and Mexico, but what about, say, Brooklyn? Isn’t there a Brooklyn virus? I’ve thought about this a lot. I think it has to do with what people would be afraid of. Do you see? In the West, many people have a fear of Africa and China and Mexico. So if we tell them an epidemic of a virus started there, it makes sense to them. But if we said the DES MOINES VIRUS or the SCARSDALE VIRUS or the COLORADO SPRINGS VIRUS…it’s hard to—“
Marmaduke: “Hero, I’m not sure—“
“No, really. You have to scare people. Otherwise, they won’t follow orders. I mean, how can you get the whole country to go on lockdown and lose their jobs and close their businesses and stay six feet away from their friends, unless they’re scared? The virus makes them scared. Or should I say, the IDEA of the virus. You have to have a good idea. Isn’t that what made this country great? Great ideas? Being scared caused me to confess, and then I could love Big Brother and you and everybody. If the virus came from DES MOINES, I’d still be lying and pretending I wasn’t INFECTED.”
Marmaduke: “Hero, you’re a true hero. We want to know about your journey, your experiences, your confession, how you prostrated yourself before—“
“But this IS my experience. I lost my job because of the lockdown. My boss had to shut down his company. He tried to commit suicide. That’s pretty serious, wouldn’t you say? When people stay home and their lives change radically, they need a reason. China is a good reason. Des Moines wouldn’t be a good reason.”
Marmaduke: “Hero, you’re not making sense. Maybe the virus has affected your brain.”
“I’m sure it has. But in a good way. Now, when I see empty streets, I feel uplifted. Citizens are obeying orders. I like that. I like to see people falling in line. People are dangerous, you know. You can never quite predict what they’re going to do, even if you have wall to wall surveillance, which is what we have now. We need it. We need to love it. We need to convince the people the surveillance is necessary. That’s where the virus comes in. You see, we’re all buck privates in the army, and the World Health Organization is the Pentagon. This is the way the world needs to be organized. You know, I’m on welfare now. I thought I had a job doing a commercial for a toilet paper company, but they said I was overqualified. I was a hero. I was too good for the job.”
Marmaduke’s producer talks in Marmaduke’s ear piece: “GET THIS FUNNY BUNNY OFF THE AIR. CUT IT SHORT. HE’S NUTS. YOU WANT TO FIND YOURSELF OUT IN THE STREET WITHOUT A JOB, YOU ASS? IF I LOSE MY JOB OVER THIS I’M GOING TO KILL YOU.”
Hero was a hero no more. He faded from view.
The new hero was a skinny hatchet-faced blonde from the Hollywood Hills, who had cut herself while confessing to a medical team that she had hid her sniffle from her family. She bled, but the emergency crew saved her life. She’s now the odds-on favorite to win a seat in the US Senate from California. Her campaign slogan is: MAKE PEOPLE PAY AND PAY AND PAY.
She’s a beloved figure."
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