Written by Forrest Maynock
Government medical advertisements blare over the street intercoms. “Feeling down? Has it been a long day for you? No worries!!! Now with Glyphosicadol your worries will be miles away. Contact your local vaccine supplier today!” The voice attempts to be sort of retro, almost like something from 1950’s America, you know, the good old days of the boomer generation. All it manages is to ring hollow and remind me of my childhood. America never recovered from that 2020 pandemic; this is the gray and sterilized world I live in, this is America, 2040.
A: Another day, another dollar…
B: Well at least this job pays for my family’s monthly vaccine doses, and with my wife working we stand a good chance of actually saving some money this year.
A: Oh I understand, but don’t you ever get sick of all those injections?
B: No, of course not, why would I?
A: …I don’t know, they keep us safe and healthy, so I guess I have nothing to complain about…
B: …Are you feeling well? You have been saying some strange things lately. Have you been tested this week?
A: Oh, never better, just thinking.
Issues first became exacerbated in late 2021. The poor only got poorer, and the rich became richer and more paranoid of everything around them. The old idea of people growing closer as a community is a lie; we were at each other’s throats, screaming at people without masks, alienating those who could not afford vaccinations; it was like a bad circus ride that wouldn’t end. The government finally had to step in to solve the civil unrest that plagued the streets. It started with the homeless, an already ostracized group, who had become a boogie man for the middle and upper classes who feared the potential risk that they carried. “They carry more germs.” “We can’t round them all up.” “We should quarantine them.” So after months of public debate and outrage President Biden declared a state of emergency and made an executive order that stated homeless individuals were to be rounded up and put in “temporary housing camps” in more rural areas of any given state. There they would be given mandatory monthly vaccines to ensure their health. That was only the beginning.
C: You’re not sitting the proper distance.
A: Oh, sorry, I’ll move…
C: What if I caught something because of you?
A: I’m sorry I didn’t notice the markings, it’s so hard to keep track of sometimes, haha.
C: …Why are you laughing? This is not a laughing matter…what’s your name?
A: Are you an official of some kind?
C: Well, no, but I-
A: Well then, you don’t need my name…now, if you’ll excuse me.
After President Biden’s death in 2023 he was replaced by President Harris, and she was not kind to dissenters of “public health.” Her rhetoric helped conjure the “Health Edict Riots” of 2024; after the riots President Harris declared temporary martial law and used her powers to make many calculated changes to the political and social systems. New federal agencies were founded to enforce public health standards; their focus was to weed out the public health risks and maintain order in society. The Public Safety Bureau (PSB) who pump out medical advertisements over the airwaves, the Federal Health Inspectors (FHI) who are tasked with inspecting the health and well being of every citizen, the Federal Drug Enforcement (FDE) which enforces which drugs and vaccines every citizen must take, and finally the Federal Administration for Safety and Health (FASH) who act as the police wing of the new agencies. These new federal agencies were given carte blanche with the American public.
D: Your card is expired. When was the last time you had a checkup?
A: I can’t recall…it was recently.
D: I see…any pains or coughs?
A: Ah, no sir, healthy as usual.
D: You know it’s a $10,000 fine to have an expired medical card?
A: Ah, yes, but I thought it wasn’t expired, I uh…I usually keep track of these sorts of issues…
D: Well, your card is 4 months expired. I’ll have to fine you for this…is the information on this card still correct?
A: Yes officer…
D: I also need to scan you for contagions…please hold still.
After the riots the camps that once only held homeless persons now held members of the political opposition and members of the riots; the FASH determined that participants from the riots were public health risks that required quarantine and isolation. The next group to enter the camps were the anti-vaxxers; they refused their treatments and were sent off after much public debate and paranoia. After a few years of court battles it was ruled that refusing treatments from the FDE would be considered a federal crime. After that many individuals from the inner cities were sent off to the camps; generations of low income earners could not afford the drugs and vaccines required by the FDE. Then came the religious objectors; religious practices barring the use of medicine were purged from the system, some religions survived or adapted, but many members of religion are now on the government lists. Practicers of natural medicine were the most recent group to be sent to the quarantine camps; the FASH determined that natural medicines were not a proper replacement for the drugs provided by the FDE. That was 5 years ago, but the media is always trying to find the next alien group to ostracize and frame. It dominates the news media. “Amish Separatists suspected of carrying advanced mutations of the Lul variant.” “Immigrants may now have to be permanently housed in Q-Camps.” “If you suspect someone of any wrongdoing please report them to your local authorities, and to the proper federal agencies.”
E: Ah, number 1337, please have a seat.
A: Yes boss… what do you need?
E: I just received some troubling news…your health card is expired, is this true?
A: Well, yes, but I’m going to appeal the decision.
E: That doesn’t cut it, we can’t have our image and reputation be damaged like that.
A: What are you saying?
E: You’re fired, you have one day to remove your personal belongings and sanitize your workspace.
A: …What if I don’t sanitize my workspace?
E: Excuse me?
A: You heard me! What if I don’t do it?! You know I’m sick of this shit! Day in and day out I have to live my life like I’m walking on eggshells! What ever happened to normalcy? Or just having a single conversation that doesn’t involve health or the cost of medicine. I just want to live a normal life…like how it used to be.
E: …That line of thinking is dangerous 1337, I’m going to have to ask you to leave…
A: …Fine…I uh, I apologize, don’t know what came over me…I’ll leave, and don’t worry, I’ll clean my workspace before leaving.
I remember when life was simple. A time when government monitoring and laws were not so pervasive, but that time is gone. I now live in the era of the ever watching eye. From the outside looking in you would not think that things are abnormal here in America. Things seem mostly the same as years ago; only now we don’t have lines, and the streets aren’t as lively, but a whole lot has changed. I haven’t seen my parents in years; they haven’t been able to secure an interstate traveling pass from FHI, and even if they could travel they are on one of the FASH’s lists because they are Catholics. I can’t walk down the street without being bombarded by constant PSB adverts proclaiming which drugs I should buy and which social groups are dangerous. They also advertise their threats every 5th advertisement or so. “Individuals not maintaining the mandatory 6 foot distancing protocols while in public spaces will be fined.” “Report safety code violations and receive medical tokens.” “A healthy society is a happy society.” “We cannot afford another 2020, prevention at all costs.”
A: Excuse me, may I help you?
F: Dale Scugg?
F: I’m agent Michael Swift from the Federal Administration for Safety and Health, I’m going to have to ask you to come with me.
A: Uhh, is this about the fine, I’m going to pay it this week, I have the money.
F: No, this is a separate issue. Please comply with my order.
Up until yesterday I was working in the “Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex” as I like to call it. I know the government’s dirty secret; they were bought by the pharmaceutical companies. Public paranoia and corrosion mixed with an incessantly rabid media required the government to take drastic steps. President Harris after her declaration of martial law needed to regain the public trust, and quickly. There were the medical and health companies waiting with open arms. They had a hand in every government decision since then. Yet all of this preparedness has been for nothing. Diseases still spread, people still die, life goes on. No drug or prevention measure can stop that. All this has managed to do is to create a constant state of public paranoia and a blind acceptance of government oversight and control. Individuals have lost their self-determination. Individuals have lost their rights. In addition to being placed in camps, individuals entering must now receive mandatory vasectomy or tubal ligations to prevent reproduction, and mandatory “health re-education.” Individuals are punished and destroyed for being different, for questioning things. It’s only a matter of time before this all falls apart.
A: Where are we? I want to know where I am!
F: You are at the Joseph Biden Re-Education Center. You are here because you violated article 235 of the 2030 Health Act.
A: …I want a lawyer.
F: Oh, rights don’t apply to you at this time Mr. Scugg; you put people’s lives in danger with your thinking, you are under our jurisdiction now.
A: …And if I refuse to comply?
F: …I would not suggest that.
A: …I’m tired…I have no energy left to fight this…maybe someone else will take up the fight…it’s sad because I wasn’t even fighting, I just voiced my opinion…didn’t we have freedom of speech in this country? Didn’t we have the right to live our own lives in peace?
F: …Those rights do not apply here. I will take note of your decision. Do you wish to change your mind?
F: Alright, goodbye Mr Scugg, may God have mercy on your soul.
When all is said and done, at least I can leave this world knowing I went out a better man, but then again, they say dead men tell no tales.
This short story is originally written as an assignment for the course Anthropology of Disaster (Term 2, 2020), under professor Tak Uesugi.