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This was all a scam. A big, disgusting, money-grubbing scam. Even if the science was good, even if the “cure” did exactly what its arrogant geek-boy creator said it did, who would get it? The rich and the powerful, the ones who didn’t need to worry about losing their jobs if the kids brought home the sniffles from school. The ones who could afford the immune boosters and ground-up rhino dick or whatever else was the hot new thing right now, so that they’d never get sick in the first place. Sure, Dr. Kellis never said that, but Stalnaker was a journalist. He knew how to read between the lines.

Robert Stalnaker put his hands to the keys and prepared to make the news.

* * *

Robert Stalnaker’s stirring editorial on the stranglehold of the rich on public health met with criticism from the medical establishment, who called it “irresponsible” and “sensationalist.” Mr. Stalnaker has yet to reply to their comments, but has been heard to say, in response to a similar but unrelated issue, that the story can speak for itself…

June 11, 2014: Allentown, Pennsylvania

Hazel Allen was well and truly baked. Not just a little buzzed, oh, no; she was baked like a cake. The fact that this rhymed delighted her, and she started to giggle, listing slowly over to one side until her head landed against her boyfriend’s shoulder with a soft “bonk.”

Brandon Majors, self-proclaimed savior of mankind, ignored his pharmaceutically impaired girlfriend. He was too busy explaining to a rapt (and only slightly less stoned) audience exactly how it was that they, the Mayday Army, were going to bring down The Man, humble him before the masses and rise up as the guiding light of a new generation of enlightened, compassionate, totally bitchin’ human beings.

Had anyone bothered to ask Brandon what he thought of the idea that, one day, the meek would inherit the Earth, he would have been completely unable to see the irony.

“Greed is the real disease killing this country,” he said, slamming his fist against his own leg to punctuate his statement. Nods and muttered statements of agreement rose up from the others in the room (although not from Hazel, who was busy trying to braid her fingers together). “Man, we’ve got so much science and so many natural resources, you think anybody should be hungry? You think anybody should be homeless? You think anybody should be eating animals? We should be eating genetically engineered magic fruit that tastes like anything you want, because we’re supposed to be the dominant species.”

“Like Willy Wonka and the snotberries?” asked one of the men, sounding perplexed. He was a bio-chem graduate student; he’d come to the meeting because he’d heard there would be good weed. No one had mentioned anything about a political tirade from a man who thought metaphors were like cocktails: better when mixed thoroughly.

“Snozberries,” corrected Hazel dreamily.

Brandon barely noticed the exchange. “And now they’re saying that there’s a cure for the common cold. Only you know who’s going to get it? Not me. Not you. Not our parents. Not our kids. Only the people who can afford it. Paris Hilton’s never going to have the sniffles again, but you and me and everybody we care about, we’re screwed. Just like everybody who hasn’t been working for The Man since this current corrupt society came to power. It’s time to change that! It’s time to take the future out of the hands of The Man and put it back where it belongs—in the hands of the people!”

General cheering greeted this proclamation. Hazel, remembering her cue even through the haze of pot smoke and drowsiness, sat up and asked, “But how are we going to do that?”

“We’re going to break into that government-funded money machine of a lab, and we’re going to give the people of the world what’s rightfully theirs.” Brandon smiled, pushing Hazel gently away from him as he stood. “We’re going to drive to Virginia, and we’re going to snatch that cure right out from under the establishment’s nose. And then we’re going to give it to the world, the way it should have been handled in the first place! Who’s with me?”

Any misgivings that might have been present in the room were overcome by the lingering marijuana smoke and the overwhelming feeling of revolution. They were going to change the world! They were going to save mankind!

They were going to Virginia.

* * *

A statement was issued today by a group calling themselves “The Mayday Army,” taking credit for the break-in at the lab of Dr. Alexander Kellis. Dr. Kellis, a virologist working with genetically tailored diseases, recently revealed that he was working on a cure for the common cold, although he was not yet at the stage of human trials…

June 11, 2014: Berkeley, California

“Phillip! Time to come in for lunch!” Stacy Mason stood framed by the back door of their little Berkeley professor’s home (soon to be fully paid off, and wouldn’t that be a day for the record books?), wiping her hands with a dishrag and scanning the yard for her wayward son. Phillip didn’t mean to be naughty, not exactly, but he had the attention span of a small boy, which was to say, not much of an attention span at all. “Phillip!”

Giggling from the fence alerted her to his location. With a sigh that was half love, half exasperation, Stacy turned to toss the dishrag onto the counter before heading out into the yard. “Where are you, Mr. Man?” she called.

More giggling. She pushed through the tall tomato plants—noting idly that they needed to be watered before the weekend if they wanted to have any fruit before the end of the month—and found her son squatting in the middle of the baby lettuce, laughing as one of the Golden Retrievers from next door calmly washed his face with her tongue. Stacy stopped, biting back her own laughter at the scene.