It has been some time since I last posted fiction (excluding all references to the Daily Mail). This one is a first draft. It might change, it might not, it depends whether I still like it tomorrow. One day though it will be in a collection. It is now – in Treeskull Stories.
It is fiction. Purely made up with no suggestion that it might be even remotely connected to reality. It was written in a few hours tonight and is not intended to be taken seriously.
I haven’t mentioned to Raven that I have had a large plastic raven flying in my house since last October. Synchronicity could raise its head here.
Anyway. To the story. Remember, it’s fiction. I just made it up. It’s probably not real.
Keep the tinfoil handy, just in case.
The Macbeth Trio
“Scrofula!” Doc Armitage banged the table. “That’s the next one.”
Doctor West pursed his lips. Turning to Doctor Smythe, he twirled his index finger beside his head.
“I’m serious.” Armitage rested his hands on the table and leaned forward. “It’s a not-so-deadly form of tuberculosis and we did that one a few years back. So we already have a vaccine that will probably work.” He straightened. “We can use the variant, Mycobacterium scrofulaceum, to claim we have to develop a new vaccine and even if we do have to, it’ll be a piece of piss.”
Smythe rubbed his finger alongside his nose. “I like it. We’re running out of diseases to make vaccines for. This one is rare but we can work with it.”
“Okay.” West steepled his fingers. “Let’s, for the moment, assume you both aren’t totally bonkers.” He held up his hand to forestall Armitage’s protests. “It’s a long shot, but let’s assume it anyway. How the hell do we get the population scared of a disease none of them have even heard of?”
“No problem.” Armitage folded his arms. “It’s related to tuberculosis, often caused by the same bacterium. We blame it on the immigrants, as usual, and show pictures of the few immunocompromised patients who have had it fairly recently.”
“Without, of course, mentioning the severely immunocompromised part.” Smythe winked at West.
“Of course.” West rubbed his temples. “It’s starting to sound good, or maybe I’m just going as crazy as you two.” He looked up. “Same procedure?”
“Yes indeed.” Armitage nodded. “We start up with stats showing this long forgotten disease has begun to make a resurgence. We use percentages so nobody catches on that our four cases became six to give us a 50% increase. Like we did with necrotising fasciitis. Then we start talking about the possibility of 100 new cases in the next century and as with mad cow disease, hardly anyone will notice that’s one case a year.”
“There’s one thing though.” West took a deep breath. “People don’t know scrofula. They’ll look it up. They’ll find out how rare it is. We don’t have the control we had with our own inventions – BSE and necrotising fasciitis and AIDS and so on. They’ll see through this one fast.”
“You’re right.” Smythe tapped his pen on his notepad. “We’ll need some ground work first. Edit Wikipedia and lock it with our version, get our own sites written and up to the top of every search. Get the official NHS and other medical sites on board too. We can afford it. We just need to get our versions in before we mention scrofula to the public. Then when they look it up, they’ll see what we want them to see.”
West shook his head. “We can’t edit every medical textbook.”
“Nobody reads the print ones any more anyway.” Armitage grinned. “And you’re wrong, you know. Most of those books are online or available as eBooks and we can edit them easily. They’ll even update the ones already downloaded onto every device out there. Let the print books carry the truth under a layer of dust. We can edit history and nobody will notice.”
West sat in silence for long minutes. He started to speak a few times but lapsed into thought again. The other two watched him, silent too. West was the one with the final say on this idea.
“It can work.” West said.
Smythe and Armitage high-fived each other.
“Okay.” West reached for the coffee pot and refilled his cup. “This one is going to take a lot of setting up. Smythe, get started on those disinformation sites right away. Armitage, start getting your lab ready for the volunteers. We say nothing about this outside this room until all mention of scrofula on the web is ours. Okay?”
Both nodded assent. Smythe scribbled notes on his pad.
“Then we claim scrofula is on the rise and as before, we blame it on immigrants.” West ducked his head to hide his smirk. “Poor buggers. The socialists invite them in and we capitalise on them. If only they knew.”
“The socialists have a narrow view of life.” Armitage raised his eyebrows. “They are easily manipulated, that’s why socialism uses them. Their leaders will never realise that all they’ve done is point out who can be manipulated.”
“Yeah, yeah, we’re not here for politics. This is far more important, it’s about money.” West waved his hand. “Next, Armitage, you call for volunteers as usual. You’re looking for carriers, of course, asymptomatic infectors, as always. The ones who get sick, cure them, send them home with a fat wad of cash. The ones who don’t but who are infectious, you ‘cure’ with a placebo and let them loose. The big payoff means you’ll get volunteers from all over the country so you get the best spread.”
“Works every time.” Smythe looked up from his notes. “It spreads, maybe a dozen or more get infected and then millions come looking for a vaccine.”
“All helped by the hysterical press. What would we do without them?” Armitage clasped his hands.
West laughed before speaking. “The tinfoil hat lot will be on about population reduction and saving the planet from humanity again. Every time. They can’t seem to grasp that we don’t give a shit about any of that. We just want the money.”
“It’s almost too easy. We use the same techniques over and over and nobody notices,” Armitage said. “But then antismokers, antibooze, anti salt, sugar, all of them use the same methods and nobody’s noticed that either.”
“People are dim.” West leaned back in his chair. “Most just want an easy life, no challenges, no hard parts. Offer to take the hard parts away and they’ll come running.” He stood. “Well, I think we have a new project. Let’s get moving and call this meeting closed.”
Smythe looked up from his notes. “When’s the next one?”
Armitage laughed aloud. “I think you mean, ‘when shall we three meet again?’ eh?”
If you don’t get the reference in the last line, I have to say ‘Macbeth’ to you…