Jack and Jill
A short story from The Collection of Gruesome Inevitabilities, a work in progress.
Jack and Jill hiked up the mountain for a bit of exercise.
While on the ascent, Jack, an athletic specimen just eighteen short months ago, weakened muscles ached, and he struggled to breathe behind his triple-layer designer mask. He asked Jill, “Why don’t you ever wear a mask, or three, or five?”
Jill, fit as a fiddle with no trouble breathing, said, “Why should I?”
Jack, red face crazy with the vein on his forehead pulsing to burst, flabbergasted and heaving laboriously from his months-long oxygen deprivation and becoming increasingly threatening and foaming at the mouth, replied with explosive hysterics, “To stop the spread of KOVID!”
KOVID… Kovid… kovid…, echoed like a decree from the heavens, cascading down the mountainside, escalating an already elevated paranoia in the village idiots below.
Jill, suppressing a grin, seeing the mask’s tan lines and how silly Jack looked with his ears glowing beet-red and spread wide by the straps of his mask, asked, “Does a fart stay in your shorts?”
Once of quick mind, Jack puzzled, then flustered, asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Figure it out,” she said with the glee of amusement.
Dumbstruck aggravated, Jack countered, “Doesn’t matter. The Supreme Lord Doctor Faucheezy says…”
“Screw Faucheezy, Jack.”
By damn, that was the last straw. As with most everyone, Faucheezy was the object of his unquestioning worship and unwavering devotion. Flushed with outrage, Jack screamed with clenched fists and murderous fury, “Blasphemer!” But he exhausted himself in the process and wobbled like a weeble from his exertion. He had to rest and catch his breath and so sat on a rock near the mountain’s edge.
“Really, Jack? Blasphemer?” said Jill and started running in place while Jack recovered.
“Jill,” Jack wheezed, and with a really mean-spirited squint, warned her, “Either you wear a mask, or I promise, I’ll turn you over to GAG-ME. That’s the Global Anyone Granted Masking Enforcement if you need reminding. You know they have a zero-tolerance code of ethics. You could be executed, or get life in prison, or worse, you could be canceled! And then you’d still have to wear a fucking mask, any-fucking-way!”
“Jack, I’m your wife for Freedom’s sake,” pleaded Jill, alarmed and visibly shaken.
“It doesn’t matter, I’ll do it! I’m a citizen of the world,” he sneered smugly ugly. “Compelled by the greater good. And masks are for the greater good. Fuck you. Fuck freedom.”
Wanting to say more, but with diminished lung capacity and stifled by gnawing anger, Jack held up an index finger to silence Jill. Then continued, “As our wise and benevolent Emperor, The Honorable Bedridden himself proclaims, ‘We’re all in this together. Masks save lives. Everyone needs to do their part. We’ll get through this, together. Together with compassion.’”
Jill calmed herself and gave Jack a loving smile.
The twinkle in her eye.
And a gentle nudge.
Jack fell back, rolled, and tumbled down the mountainside, snapping his neck. So weakened and robbed of oxygen over the months, he couldn’t catch himself, or even holler for help.
And the moral of this far-fetched fictional tale?
That’s for you to decide.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events, and incidents are the products of my defiant imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, names, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental, I swear it’s true.
This work by Peter Schreiner is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0