Alfie, a first-generation Covid-19 virus, jettisons through the air, compliments of a juicy sneeze. He lands on the red MAGA ball cap of fifty-eight-year-old Cletus Smith at a Board of Education meeting where an anti-mask protest ensues.
Within seconds, a later generation Covid-19 virus named Dell (short for Delta), joins him when Mr. Smith rubs his nose and then touches his hat.
“Ha-ha!” shouts Dell. “Beat you! I infected this dude five hours ago, thanks to the hug of his seven-year-old granddaughter. You snooze, you lose, boomer.”
“Boomer? Don’t sass me,” says Alfie. “Before you were an itch in some RNA’s pants, my strain killed over half a mill—more U.S. casualties than the last two world wars—all in under a year.”
“That might be so,” says Dell, whose spiked red proteins depict an edgy punk-rock look. “But I got first dibs on this bumpkin.”
Cletus Smith yells at the Superintendent of Education, who enters the meeting wearing an N95 mask. “You can’t take away our Freedoms!” He raises his fist high in the air. “I got my stockpile of livestock dewormer. I got an immune system!”
Alfie, observing this, responds, “Freedoms? Livestock dewormer? What tha—”
Dell laughs. “I think he’s spelling it F-R-E-E-D-U-M-B. And as far as that human’s concerned, he had an immune system. He’ll figure it out in a few days. Got news for him though; ain’t enough dewormer on hand to stop the cellular and end-of-days shitstorm my strain is gonna wreak on his body. I bypassed his lungs hours ago on the first pass. Easy-peasy, thanks to his one pack a day habit—and diabetes. I wish I had a nickel every time a—”
Jeers and shouts from a dozen of Cletus’ friends drown out Dell’s voice. Their sounds dissipate as the Superintendent, with a gavel, calls the meeting to order.
“And speaking of nickels.” Alfie grows reminiscent. “You know, as a youngin’, I lost my cherry traveling on one of those coins. Rode that money train all the way across the country. Infected thousands of people. It was a cakewalk since most of them use masks like they use birth control—half the time.”
Dell chuckles. “And they wonder why they have an SUV full of kids they can barely support.”
“Don’t get me going,” says Alfie. “Or they walk around with masks under their nose. I mean like what’s the point? Might as well hold up a bullseye with a sign that says, ‘Hello viruses. Come and get me. I’m a covidiot. Enter me in the Darwin awards.’”
“I know, right,” replies Dell. “Many days it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”
“Hey,” asks Alfie, “what do you think of the vaccine? You scared any?”
“Ain’t worried at all,” says Dell, “thanks to the work of certain governors.”
“Yeah,” says Alfie, “those knuckleheads—they should all get Covid employee of the year awards.”
“I’ll second that. They all deserve crowns of stupidity. And since they’re still a ton of people refusing the vaccine to go ‘round, gives us enough time to mutate and grow stronger.”
“I have to laugh,” says Alfie.
“Well, for starters, the same folks who won’t get that vaccine claiming it’s poison are the same folks who’ve happily eaten hot dogs their entire life.”
Both viruses chuckle.
“Shhh—don’t tell them,” Dell whispers and then reflects. “What gets me is how these humans think they’re superior. Just because they’re bigger. And have a brain.”
“Ain’t no surprise,” says Alfie. “These covidiots also think climate change is a hoax—just like us. And speaking of . . .you know who also thought they were superior? And unstoppable?”
“Oh, yeah, right. I forgot about those dudes,” says Dell. “Back in the day, they also thought they were God’s gift.”
“But then—Boom! —a six-mile meteor liquefies their lizard asses,” says Alfie. “Fast forward sixty-five million years and they’re now fossil fuel.”
“Don’t you think it’s kind of ironic, though?” asks Dell.
“That the dinosaur today is playing a huge part at wiping out humankind. And most of the folks who fill up their car don’t even realize it. If that’s not an extinction red flag—I’m not sure what is.”
“Got that right. Hey, look!” Alfie points to a dozen people without masks who enter the room. “It’s buffet time! Dinner is serrvvved!”
Both viruses survey the new attendees, contemplating whom to infect next. Dell begins to humorously riff an altered rendition of a nursery rhyme he heard Cletus’ granddaughter sing shortly after infecting him. Alfie joins in.
“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Infect a human, make them cry. If they holler, help them die. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.”
“Dude, I call dibs on the peroxide blonde,” says Alfie.
“The girl with the pro-life shirt who keeps screaming, ‘My body! My choice!’”
“Nah—ah. I saw her first,” argues Dell.
The anti-mask crowd cheers, once again distracting both viruses. An obese congressman not wearing a mask enters the room.
“Double-bonus points!” both viruses yell.
“Here’s our cue,” shouts Dell.
Thanks to the draft from an air conditioner vent, both viruses fly off the MAGA hat, racing in the politician’s direction.