A One-Shot Deal?
Wednesday, December 30, 8:14 AM. Mark Philipson checked the nearby clinic’s website. The thing he’d been keeping an eye out for was posted on a red banner across the header: COVID-19 vaccines are now available. Please call the appointment line for more information.
Mark made the call. He asked about the vaccine thing and was given another number. When Mark called the VACCINE LINE, it was busy.
He picked up where he left off on the latest book he was working and get back to work. Mark tried again five minutes later.
Mark set the timer on his phone. When the Radar alert sounded, he called back.
He did another five minute thing.
Mark took another tack; he wanted that vaccine. At 95% efficacy, he figured it was a safe bet. There was only one way to approach this: on the next call back, he ended the call at the first hint of a busy signal and redialed immediately.
This went on until the call counter approached 50. Watching the little numbers turnover was distracting. Time to concentrate. He needed a chant. After auditioning Inoculation Vaccination and Vaccine Dream in his head and rejecting both, he came up with Madonna Bug Juice. He was glad it was the Moderna version. Mark didn’t know what he’d do with “Pfizer”.
The silent chant continued as the calls racked up. Mark passed 100. The appointment line would be open until 7 pm. He wondered how many calls he’d be up to by then.
Mark was on a mission.
On the 200th call, the busy signal Mark expected to hear didn’t come through. The phone rang twice and then the voice said, “You have reached the VACCINE LINE. All available appointment setters are busy. Please hold for assistance.”
What a relief. At least Mark had gotten through. He got got back to work but found he was at a loss for words. Mark’s technique — writing in long hand and then dictating to the phone — wasn’t working. If he stared at the blank page long enough maybe his forehead would bleed and he could get started.
Mark, two keyed up to write, waited. He made an appointment for January 2.
Saturday, January 2, 11:51 AM. When the long needle penetrated his shoulder, Mark expected a burn. He felt nothing, only a warm sensation in his ear lobes that went away as the needle was pulled out. After hanging around for 15 minutes of observation, he made an appointment for the second dose. In the days to come, there was speculation as to whether it would be a good idea to postpone second injections so more vaccine could get to more arms.
Mark had a card redeemable for a booster shot. He hoped he’d be able to cash it in but was willing to do his part in the national emergency.
Second Time Around
Wednesday, January 6, 1:22 PM. The House and Senate had just retired to chambers to begin the debate on the objection to the ballot count from the state of Arizona. The current president had contested the election all the way to the supreme court. Donald Trump ignored the rule of law and kept insisting there was widespread voter fraud even though the party he’d reshaped in his own image had gained seats on the down ballot side.
The news crew cut to the scene outside. Waves of Trump supporters, just coming out of a one hour rally hosted by Trump, his personal attorney, and his son, made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Demonstrators soon filtered into the Capitol until thousands of people closed in.
From the camera angle, it was hard to tell, but Mark saw Capitol police being overrun by an angry mob.
When the commentator said, “Rioters have entered the Capitol building,” he was hit by two trains of thought at the same time: first, was this the Boogaloo, the military takeover the radical group Qanon had been talking about? Second, the last time something like this happened was during the war of 1812 when the British burned Washington.
Mark projected a short distance into the future. He saw rioters inside the Capitol drawing weapons and taking members of Congress hostage. A mercenary force, led by General Donald Trump, made their way through the cheering crowd and entered the Capitol.
The kangaroo court, were Donald Trump presided, didn’t happen. Rioters walked around the halls, vandalizing and posting to social media. What Mark thought was going to be a slaughter and surgical coup carried out by a desperate president and a crack fighting force, turned out to be a bunch of overgrown children on recess. A recess that turned out to be deadly.
So much for the Q rebellion.
Maybe Mark let his imagination run away. Or, maybe he thought about the plot of a recent story (Lone Star Lockdown) he’d written. The president of the United States attempted a military take over during a pandemic.