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Not a Good Year

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Dr. Anton Vladislovich Yevgeni frowned at his patient's charts. Something about this bloodwork just wasn't making sense.

"We're getting reports out of New Zealand of major hurricanes."

"Send in relief," the prime minister of Australia ordered. "Tell them that we're prepared to offer any assistance we can, but keep an eye out if anything seems to be headed for us."

"No, I haven't proven it's harmful," Dr. Yevgeni said.

"Then keep monitoring it, but there's no point in causing unnecessary panic."

"Of course not, but-"

"We're agreed. Good."

"With the widespread drought following on the heels of what looks to have been a series of major hurricanes, this has not been a good year for New Zealand," the newscaster said.

"There's flooding in Cuba, Sir."

"Yes, and?" the president said.

"The question came about if we wanted to offer assistance."

"No, we don't."

"Enjoy your morning coffee, then, Sir."

"I will."

"You're telling me that we only have three known cases in the country."

"Well, yes," said Dr. Ebrahim El Mahdi.

"And you think it's cause for panic?"

"Not panic, but they were infected independently and quickly. Besides, one of the symptoms is boils."

Dr. Yen Ming stared at the patient chart.

"Is there a problem?" one of the nurses asked her.

"No, not at all," she said.

"Has anyone tried talking to the Americans yet?" Dr. Faraji Munashe asked.

"The President has threatened to withdraw any and all aid if he thinks there's any chance American aid workers might be endangered."

"So that's a no, then."

"On the recommendations of Dr. Yen Ming, schools, hospitals, and airports have been ordered to close by the government," the broadcaster for Xinhua news announced. "A curfew has been placed into effect, and the government urges everyone, for their own safety and for the safety of those they may come into contact with, to stay at home, particularly if they think they may be sick."

"Please don't make me close down the hospital," Dr. Ebrahim El Mahdi said. "I think I can minimize the infection risk to patients. It doesn't need to be official, just let me keep working."

"You know I can't."

"The chances of me making progress towards a cure if I keep coming to work is maybe five percent. The chances if I don't come to work are zero percent."

"Fine. You can keep the hospital open. But I don't know anything about it."

"Of course."

"We need Dr. Stanley, Mr. President, for work on developing a vaccination."


"She's at a conference in Madagascar."

"Call her up and get her on the next plane out of there. We need her here, damnit."

"That's the thing, Sir. There are no planes out. Madagascar closed its borders."

"Basically just picture that we need to find the vaccine the same way we ended up coding human genome project. Only with greater use of the internet."

"And more time pressures."

"Yeah. I think it's doable, though."

"I certainly hope so. Let the vaccination process begin."

"Mr President, we have our first reported case of this new disease in the United States."

"Damnit! I want a vaccine, and I want to have had it yesterday!"

"Sir, realistic predictions put us at twenty-one days until we have a vaccine ready, and that's if all the hospitals which are currently open stay open."

"That's not acceptable."

"We can do more with the hospitals open," Dr. Anton Vladislovich Yevgeni said.

"No one has died yet. Therefore they do not need hospitals, and in fact, you are just increasing the infection rate."

"What about when people do start to die?"

"We will worry about that then."

"You're telling me I can't even flee to Canada anymore?"

"That's right, Sir."

"And India shut down their hospitals today?"

"Yes Sir."

"What good is being the leader of the strongest country in the world, if I can't even properly mobilize everyone against some tiny little bacteria."

"Actually, Sir, it's a parasite."

"Do I look like I give a fuck?"

"The upside of the drought is that we have to worry less about infected water supplies," Dr. Faraji Munashe said. "I mean, we need to be getting bottled water out to people anyway, at least now we don't need to worry about keeping people from drinking well-water, because there is none."

"Is that the only upside to the whole situation?"

"Probably. Anyway, that's all I have to say at this time, I need to get back to work on the vaccine."

"Don't you think a curfew is a little extreme, Mr. President, considering that there have still been no proven fatalities from this disease?"

"It's important we keep as many people free from infection as possible. Doctors are telling me that this parasite has the possibility to mutate into something much more deadly, and my mother always told me to listen to my doctor. With that in mind, it has become necessary at this time to declare martial law."

"But Mr. President!"

"Good news," Dr. Ebrahim El Mahdi said. "A vaccine has been created, and it's being deployed."

"Praise Allah."


"The vaccine deployment was entirely successful, Sir. No new infections are possible."

"About time."

"Give me a breakdown of which countries escaped infection."


"Pieces of shit," the President muttered.

"Australia. Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Brunei. Japan. Greenland," the aide said. "Cuba."

"I will end them," the President said.

"Of course, Sir."

"I think I hate this waiting most of all," Dr. Yen Ming said. "We all know something is going to happen, but we are just hoping those of us infected will survive."

"And now, to bring you to a never before discussed problem, in the aftermath of the waves of infection. With every country taking the precautionary measures they could, some boats have found themselves unable to find a safe harbor. And at this point, with the crew still uninfected but unvaccinated, it's unlikely they ever will."

"It's now been forty days since the vaccination was deployed, with still no deaths. Prayers are still going up, I'm sure, but they're a little less desperate now."

"You're sure?"

"One hundred percent," Dr. Dario Fuentes said. "I can find no other cause of death."

"Well shit."

"Since the first confirmed death in Mexico City two days ago, reports have been coming in from all over the infected regions. Deaths have been confirmed in Israel, Egypt, Iran, France, Germany, India, and Brazil. Unconfirmed reports of death are coming in from Argentina, South Africa, Canada, and China.

"Hospitals across the world are facing issues dealing with the influx of people, and the United States has been pressuring governments to focus more on counting and classifying the dead than helping keep people alive."

"I haven't been able to find any medical reason to burn the bodies, and, personally, I'd like to leave a little more on this Earth than ashes," Dr. Ebrahim El Mahdi told the camera.

"I was very fortunate not to have been infected prior to being vaccinated," he continued, "And I place the thanks for that where it's due. But my duty now is to return to work, and save the lives Allah wills I save, and grant dignity in their passing to the rest."

"How many people are we talking about?"

"We were able to vaccinate sixty-one million people, Mr. President."

"That's all?"


"God. Are there any emergency services we can use, or something?"

"Not really, Sir. At this point we have to just wait it out. The good news is that the vaccination has been proven to be nearly one hundred percent effective."
"Some good news that is."

"So this is it?"

"Yes Sir. Evacuating everyone to countries that weren't infected in the first place is the right thing to do."

"Damn right it is."

"Cuba has added their offer of assistance, by the way."

The President sighed heavily. "You could have not told me that."

"I would have if I didn't think we probably need their help, Sir."

"You're right. Fuckers."