“The disease is growing, its epidemic I'm scared that there ain't a cure Disaster's all around, a world of despair Your only concern: 'Will it fuck up my hair?' Stupid Girl, Stupid Girl, Stupid Girl” - Alecia “P!nk” Moore
“We have been just informed That there's an unknown virus that's attacking all clubs Symptoms have been said to be, heavy breathing Wild dancing, coughing So when you hear the sound, WHO-DI-WHOOOO! Run for cover muthafucka!” - Melissa “Misdemeanor” Elliott
Cal-Gon was the first reported death from Variola maximum, super smallpox. He choked to death on his own pus in his hometown, Ames, Iowa. Days before his death, his driverless car dropped him at the curb of the hospital. Its systems had concluded that it didn't want to be associated with such a pariah. At this point, he was unrecognizable, covered from head to toe with blistering pustules, all throbbing to---
The Vessels, Grips and Forgettables died as they lived, with no notice. A small epidemic had sprouted along the Trump Wall between Bangladesh and India. But those infected starved to death long before the virus could kill them.
Abhinaba had infected 47 other Johns during her tenure in the tent village, but these were itinerant construction workers who returned to their small villages and each outbreak died out before ever reaching the public eye.
Isolated in his own wing of the hospital, Cal-Gon was put under quarantine and placed in a large plastic bubble. Most doctors and nurses refused to care for him because they didn't want to risk damaging their cosmetic surgeries. He had grown too hideous even for them.
His only visitors were rabid evangelical preachers, who attempted to purge the demon while peddling some patented concoction. Father Merrin exorcised him with Holy Water Misting SprayTM he claimed was from Lourdes but actually sprang from a Louisville water filtration plant. He brought his camera crew from the Eternal Works TV Network and had created cross promotions with most holocube distributors to spritz the at-home audiences with holy water as he doused the demon.
“Satan! I cast you out!” The priest shouted as he ripped open the bubble's security patch and splashed Cal-Gon with the sanctified waters.
Cal-Gon could barely muster a shrug, though his scorching skin eagerly absorbed the H2O. He wheezed and rolled over.
Pastor John of the Living Word Tabernacle Pentecostal Church approached the bubble and shook it vigorously before pulling out four rattlesnakes, each more than three feet long and threw them at the dozing Cal-Gon.
“Away Devil! Git outta there! Git! Go on. Shoo!”
At this point, the serpents were flaccid props. Each had been starved for weeks and could hardly slither, let alone strike.
The Faith+1 Kidz Christian rock group came to try their best acoustic healing. The thirty stood around the bubble and jazz-handed their way through a roaring rendition of “Our God is an Awesome God!” They were blithely unaware of the possessive overtones of its lyrics.
When none of these worked, the faith leaders picketed the hospital, blaming Cal-Gon as an unsaveable heathen who had it coming. They retreated and convinced their audiences that they had done all they could. His pox was a curse from God to smite him for his sins.
Even the medical professionals didn't know what to do. The best plastic surgeons drafted plans for a full skin graft. Other experts had their heads caught so far up their own asses that they couldn't see the disease for it was. Thirsty for the fame and accolades that would come with identifying and curing this disease, the doctors actually sabotaged each other. Dermatological virologist Robert Gallows was the first to propose a cause and a cure, claiming that the disease was a new type of virus that caused an aggressive form of acne. Thankfully, he had a solution brewing before he even understood the problem and pushed his ProActiv cure of creams nightly during his appearances on news shows.
Talent agents also hurried to capitalize on all the free press they could get for this leper. Many pitched production studios with plans on how they could sell him as the world's ugliest man. He'd be part of a mystery dating program to show how shallow women are. The show was green-lit for 10-episodes, but Cal-Gon died the day before filming was set to start.
Sadly, his town didn't realize that the virus was already raging within all inhabitants. Cal-Gon had grand-marshaled the Olympic ticker-tape parade through Ames, spreading the virus as he wheezed, coughed and blew kisses. Perched atop a flaming swan, the wisps of winds flew the pox particles through the crowd of 24,718. Of these, 6,923 were infected that day. By the end of the week, all 82,493 residents of the town had been infected.
On the seventh day hospitalized and the 16th day of the disease, his heart failed, his organs ruptured, he choked on his pus and then he expired. His body was chopped up and sections were shipped to the leading vitamin and naturopathic researchers, eager to herb a cure.
The following day, the worldwide pandemic exploded into human consciousness. But by this time, it was too late. After six generations of humans with no contact to a version of small pox, the species had been left super-susceptible to this viral invader.
102,432 Olympic athletes, performers and audience members from all 103 nations and 47 city-states erupted with the first signs of the pox.
The lesser dukes of the Principality of Rome and Florence were fencing when they both buckled and fell into coughing fits, exposing all at the gym to the virus.
Fergie-Ferg, the Dutchess of Düsseldorf, collapsed during her dress fitting. The ladies-in-waiting thought the 195-pound weight of this many layered, bejeweled gown was a tad too heavy. But as they hoisted her up, her wheezing wafted the virus onto them.
The sextuple gold winning swimmer, Lock-T, was beginning his Petty Boujee tour of mega-yachts when he lurched over, sneezing virions into a tray of Champagne flutes which was whisked away and served before he could think to warn the waitstaff.
From Tuvalu to Kiribati, the South Pacific sweltered with a disease that none could wash out of their hair.
Even though human society became more stratified with the ultra-wealthy vaulting themselves higher and higher above the pover pleebs, the world of humans had grown smaller and more tightly interwoven. 92% of the human population lived in the densely packed cities or in the suburbs, exurbs and constantly cross-pollinating megalopolises. Once the virus was entwined into the fabric of humanity, it spread quickly through all threads.
The shipping Grips brought the pox from port to port. The Brains, perpetually flying as they switched between consulting projects, spread the disease in planes and hyperloops that recirculated the same stale air. These became a veritable duct soup frothing with virus. The Vessels spread the disease as they kriss-krossed city-states, jump-jumping between health centers to donate blood and organs.
Social media companies where the only ones that could have saved humanity and stopped the pandemic. The facial recognition algorithms of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter inadvertently charted the individual outbreaks. Its software systems could analyze the uploaded images and identify who had photoshopped themselves to hide all signs of the super smallpox. The systems tracked how friend groups became infected – 10% of friends in 2 days, 30% of friends in 5 days, 60% in 10 days. Brains at these corporations were alerted to this new trend and they could have warned the humans that clustered around those infected, their families and their squads. It was almost obvious who would be infected next by measuring the real life social interactions represented on these platforms. But the Brains were too worried that, by exposing their users' photoshopping, they would sabotage the central deception that their entire industry was built upon.
Even the most isolated humans were sucked into the destruction that overtook their species. The astronauts orbiting Earth in the International Space and Satellite Repair Station would never contract the virus, but they lost contact with Earth as the planetary engineers perished, leaving those in space to slowly die in isolation.
How-rd Hue'Z, a Haught Boujee shut-in who hadn't had contact with unclean humans in decades, starved to death in a matter of weeks as his existence was linked to the food produced by other humans. Petting his long fingernails and preening his wild mane of gray hair, he scrounged his mansion for any edibles left, chewing on leather jackets, sucking on buttons, noshing on topiaries, munching through the menagerie of exotic animals, scrounging up grubs burrowed beneath his rose gardens until finally, he succumbed to slurping up the scum that clung to his fountains and infinity pools.
And, in their dilapidated mansion, Grey Gardens, Li'l Eee-D and Big Eee-D, the cromulent cousins of the Queen of Beantown, a lesser city-state, survived on cat food for three months, flag-dancing for fun until they croaked, their bodies prone on the porch, baked by the hot sun.
It was odd how shocked humans were that their bodies could ever possibly cease to function. Death was the only end for humans. Over 200,000 years and more than 27.83 billion humans had all ended the same way, in death. Yet a core component of what it meant to be human was to be in complete denial of their only outcome. But they didn't even discuss death. The old and the infirm were warehoused in retirement homes or hospitals, hidden from healthy eyes. Death would catch humans as a complete surprise and they often never planned for how to dispose of a loved one's empty shell.
The first wave of death was met with funerals, dirges and screams from the mourners. But in a few weeks, the funeral homes were overwhelmed and the cemeteries filled up.
During the second wave of death, the empty shells were picked up in trash trucks and carted to landfills out of town. A bell rang as the robotrash trucks blared: “Bring out your dead.”
Those who perished in the third wave were just abandoned in the streets, in homes, in malls and on yachts. One of the last legacies of humanity would be unmoored super-yachts battering coasts and knocking into each other.
The final humans filled wheelbarrows full of diamonds and raced through the streets, vainly trying to sell any of their recently amassed trillions for just one more day of life.
But there was one holdout of humanity. Metropolis battened down its hatches as it attempted to weather the viral shitstorm that swirled outside.