Pray for me, my friends, because I have the flu. No, not the Chinese Bat Flu, or Pangolin Flu, or Covid-19, or Coronavirus, or whatever it’s called now … just the regular, annoying Winter flu that goes around Berlin every year during flu season.
It’s a particularly annoying flu this year. You get it, recover from it, then you get it again. All you want to do is crawl into bed, or sit around watching garbage on Netflix. When you get it a second time, and sometimes a third time, it’s kind of a low-grade version of itself, maybe because your immune system knows it … or something. I’m not sure how that works. I’m not a professional virologist or anything.
Or, I don’t know, maybe it is the Bat Flu. The more I read the corporate press, the more I’m beginning to suspect it is. My suspicion isn’t based on facts. I don’t have any of the Bat Flu symptoms. It’s just a feeling … like the feelings people had that Saddam had secret WMDs, and that Trump was a Russian intelligence asset, and that the world was going to end in the year 2012.
OK, those feelings turned out to be wrong, but this one feels like an accurate feeling, and not like just the result of being relentlessly bombarded with hysterical headlines, pictures of people in hazmat suits, and obsessively researching ever-changing, wildly-varying statistics on the Internet, which … I really need to stop doing that.
According to my latest Internet research, the Bat Flu will either subside by late April or will infect approximately 5 billion people (i.e., 60 percent of the world population). If my little Windows calculator is correct, at a death rate of 3.4 percent, that’s 157 million dead people, and at a 4 percent death rate (which I just saw somewhere), we’re talking 200 million dead people! If you consider that the 14th Century “Black Death” killed 100 to 200 million people, nearly a quarter of the world population (because there weren’t as many people back then), and if you get hysterical and try to compare them (which I’m finding it increasingly difficult not to do), this Bat Flu plague could kill 2 billion people, or maybe 6 or 7 billion people, which is almost the entire human species … anything is possible, after all!
Plus, even if I just have the flu (i.e., the regular flu, not the Chinese Bat Flu), the statistics on that are pretty scary. I don’t know the numbers here in Germany, but, according to the CDC, since 2010, in the United States, the regular old garden variety flu has resulted in the following, annually:
- 9 million – 45 million cases
- 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations
- 12,000 – 61,000 deaths
When you multiply all those numbers by 10 (because it’s been 10 years since 2010), you get:
- 90 million – 450 million cases
- 1,400,000 – 8,100,000 hospitalizations
- 120,000 – 610,000 deaths
That’s 450 million possible cases and over half a million deaths, and that’s just in the United States! To make it concrete, if you stood all those dead people on top of each other, head to toe, so that everyone was standing on everyone’s head, and used them as an enormous ladder, you could climb to the moon and back four times … or once or twice at the very least.
And that’s nothing compared to this Covid-19!
No, according to The Guardian, Covid-19 is “about ten times more deadly than the seasonal flu,” so that’s 610,000 deaths just this year, and if the CDC tracks it for a full 10 years, that’s pretty close to 6 million dead people, which will make it just as bad as the Holocaust (although the Holocaust only lasted four years, so I’ll have to adjust my math for that).
And, remember, that’s just in the United States, which is only 4.25 percent of the total global population. So you multiply the Holocaust by 95 percent (you can round the numbers to make this easier) and you end up with 7 billion dead people, which is nearly every last person on Earth, except for 700 million people! Which, OK, that sounds like a lot of people (i.e., the 700 million, not the 7 billion), but it’s fewer than there were in the 14th Century, i.e., before the “Black Death” plague killed everybody!
Anyway, whatever I have, or don’t have, and regardless of the fact that I’m under 70 and in fairly good health as far as I know, and notwithstanding my algebraic skills, I’m thinking it’s time to take extreme measures. I recommend you do the same.
The first thing to do to is to arm yourself and go out and load up on toilet paper. The epidemiologists are now predicting a worldwide toilet paper crisis more or less approaching the scale of the deadly Toilet Paper Crisis of 1813! This toilet paper crisis could continue for months, so you will want to purchase (or otherwise obtain) as much toilet paper as you possibly can, and then hoard it in your house or apartment, or your remotely-located toilet paper depot.
Be prepared to fight for your toilet paper. Things are getting rather ugly out there. Gangs of heavily-armed toilet paper bandits are roving through the streets of Hong Kong robbing people of their toilet paper. An Australian man was tasered by the police at the Big W store in Tamworth Shoppingworld after “becoming aggressive” over the lack of toilet paper. In California, where a state of emergency is in effect (and presumably a full-scale lock-down is imminent), shoppers have been running amok at Costco, stripping the shelves of toilet paper, Kleenex, and feminine hygiene products. New York has just declared a state of emergency (possibly toilet paper-related). Italy has locked down the region of Lombardy, although it isn’t clear exactly why, as they mostly use bidets in Italy … but that’s not really important at the moment.
Next, after you secure the toilet paper, you’ll want to load up on mineral water, hand sanitizer, those paper masks, MREs, protein bars, DVDs of the film Contagion, and other essential survival items. You will want to do this in a mindless frenzy of butt-puckering Chinese Bat Flu panic, ideally while wearing a full-face respirator, or a wearable anti-Bat Flu shield, or some sort of homemade hazmat suit. Don’t forget to bring along your favorite “modern sporting rifle” to mow down anyone who gets in your way … and anyone who might be infected, which at this point you have to assume is everyone!
Or, I don’t know, maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I just have the flu. I mean, what if this whole Corona thing is just nature doing what nature does and not the end of civilization? Look, I don’t want to sound paranoid, but I can’t help wondering whether this virus warrants all the mass hysteria that the corporate media have been pumping out at us, relentlessly, for the last two months, and the states of emergency that are being declared, and the quarantines that are going into effect, and the curfews, and banning of public gatherings, and whatever other “emergency measures” are going to be imposed in the coming weeks and months.
It all seems a little out of proportion to the actual threat we’re facing here, not to mention rather conveniently timed, in light of what’s happening around the world, politically, what with the global capitalist empire right in the thick of a War on Populism, and the American election season underway, and the protests in France, and the general mood of public discontent (or unbridled rage) with global capitalism throughout the West.
Or, I don’t know, perhaps this Bat Flu panic stems from a deeper ideological source. Maybe it has less to do with politics, and more to do with our fascistic pursuit of “perfect health” and “perfect bodies,” and our fear and hatred of ageing and dying, and our narcissistic obsession with ourselves, and our total disconnection from the cycle of life.
OK, take this with a grain of salt, because it’s probably just my fever talking, but sometimes I get this crazy notion that we human beings aren’t actually the Primary Purpose of the Entire Universe, or the Apotheosis of Creation, or whatever, and that it’s natural for some of us to get sick and die, and that every last single disease and health threat doesn’t need to be utterly eradicated, and life doesn’t need to be rendered “safe.” Because maybe sickness and death are, sure, things to be avoided whenever possible, but not at the cost of conditioning everyone to believe we are supposed to live forever, and never get sick or injured by anything, and to believe that things like sickness and death are “enemies,” like hostile aliens, or the sadistic whims of a God who hates us, or errors in the code of creation … which human beings are able to correct.
We’ve been doing a bang-up job of that so far, correcting nature’s (or God’s) mistakes. Haven’t we? I mean, look around. And we have only been at it for a few hundred years. Give us just a little more time, and we will get this whole ugly mess cleaned up, under control, and functioning smoothly if we have to lock down, quarantine, and genetically-correct every sentient creature and particle of matter in the universe to do it! What is the alternative, after all … to just let nature take it’s course, and let people die, like a bunch of savages?
Sorry, I think I’m getting delirious. It’s the fever. It makes me all philosophical. I’d better sign off and get back to Netflix. Good luck surviving the Chinese Bat Flu, and the collapse of Western civilization. And don’t forget to wash your hands!
C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing and Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. His dystopian novel, Zone 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. Volume I of his Consent Factory Essays is published by Consent Factory Publishing, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amalgamated Content, Inc. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.