Updated: Jan 17
(Editor’s Note — 1120 Press is proud to publish this excellent piece of satire by writer Carl Korn. This submission marks the first work of fiction in our ‘VOICES’ series and we couldn’t be more thrilled to bring it to you. The son of a New York City firefighter, Carl is a former press spokesman as well as an award-winning veteran journalist, writer and avid Adirondack outdoorsman. We hope you enjoy this piece and we look forward to publishing more from him in the future!)
“Well, look at that. We were right the whole time,” Karl boasted to his wife. He lowered his Genius-Pad to the table and took a long sip of coffee from his favorite mug. “Mostly
right, I should say. I guess nothing’s ever 100 percent.”
“Well, maybe death. Death’s 100 percent,” his wife answered. She focused not on Karl, but on fishing a rogue Cheerio off her pajama top.
“Yeah, but it still pisses me off, the way they called us conspiracy theorists and nut jobs and tried to take away our freedoms because we — rightfully, I may add — refused the COVID vaccine. Hell, by the time we won, we’d had been wearing masks for, what, six or seven years. I practically forgot how beautiful you were.”
“Oh honey, stop it,” Betty answered, although secretly flattered by her husband’s compliment. “Seriously, though, why are you still so fixated on the Democrats? They’re not worth the time of day. They haven’t been in power for, what, 23 years? Since Biden died and the lady from California lost every state in ’24. We’re much better off now that the Q’s are running things.”
“True that, sweet pea,” Karl answered. He adjusted his reading glasses and resumed studying his Genius-Pad. “You’re thinking of Harris. Kamala Harris.”
“Yeah, her. Sorry, I interrupted. You were about to tell me something.”
Karl used his fingers on the touch-screen to expand the print on his Genie. He adjusted his drugstore glasses so he could read to Betty from the morning newspaper.
“As I was saying, we were right all along. It says here that there’s now conclusive research — definitive results from one of those mega-studies — that those COVID shots back in the early ‘20s really did implant microchips. Well, not literally. Not microchips like little wafers under the skin, but the vaccines really did change human DNA. At least, in the lambs who trusted the government. The millions who got the Moderna and Pfizer shots, especially. Didn’t have the formula exactly right. They rushed it, just like we said they did. The ‘emergency use’ loophole is what did them in.”
“Can’t say we didn’t try to warn them,” echoed Betty, rolling the captured Cheerio between her fingers and popping it into her mouth. “Serves ‘em right.”
Just then, Karl and Betty, enjoying their coffee on a sunny morning in May 2047, turned towards a sudden noise. Their 11-year-old dog, a flatulent labradoodle, raised his brown snout and looked about. Pookie — that’s the dog’s name — heard Karl and Betty’s grandson, Logan, rushing down the stairs. The boy — well, he was growing into a man before their eyes — wore a blue tunic over his jeans and brown Timberland boots. He had wavy brown hair, like his parents, and, at 16, had a coltish way about him. All energy and eagerness in a skinny frame that wasn't quite ready for the rigors of manhood.
“G’morning Grandma. Morning Pee-paw,” Logan said, kissing his grandmother on the top of her head. “What are you up to?”
Karl turned to Logan and, before the boy could pour his own bowl of Cheerios, began summarizing the front-page story in the morning paper. Karl immediately recognized the news as historical and couldn’t wait to offer his take. As a former educator for the anti-vaxxing movement, he easily slipped into a professorial tone and began lecturing his grandson, although Karl meant it more as a short history lesson.
“Your grandma and I were just talking about this new study, Logan. Scientists now have conclusive research to prove that the COVID vaccines they forced people to get 20-25 years ago are changing human DNA — just the way we predicted they would back in ’21 and ’22 when we were young like you. Well, maybe not that young but you know what I mean.”
Karl continued, “The paper here says that all these years later, many of the younger men who got the Pfizer and Moderna jabs have altered DNA, and it is rendering them sexually incompetent. Their penises are shrinking by an average of about four inches, and they aren’t — well, how do I say it? — ever in the mood anymore.”
“Yikes,” Logan said with a flush of embarrassment. “I’m glad we have Absurda™ now.”
“We have Rand Paul to thank for that,” Betty chipped in, picking up her own Genie, which had just pinged with an urgent notification — the Washington Post’s analysis of the scientists’ findings.
Karl went on to explain to Logan that in late 2028 — just after the World Health Organization declared the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic over, after the upsilon and psi variants finally burned out —rumors began circulating that the vaccines had spawned unusual sexual side effects in some men.
“The government in exile — the followers of Biden, Pelosi and Fauci — denied it at the time. They insisted it was impossible; that the vaccines were safe, effective and free. But the rumors wouldn’t go away. They not only persisted, they got stronger and more pervasive.”
Karl took another sip of coffee. He swallowed and continued.
“Every so often, a brave man would go public and write about what it was like to see his testicles shrivel and manhood shrink until it was no bigger than an ‘outie’ belly button when erect. At first, no one believed it. Those who had been vaccinated, but thus far unaffected, laughed it off— until Kim Kardashian’s grandson posted that infamous picture of his micro-penis on Instagram. It broke the Internet. Something like 85 million ‘likes’ and ‘shares,’ mostly from distraught men. When Oprah came out of retirement and aired that special, that’s when the Chansley Administration got serious and began collecting scientific data,” Karl remembered.
“President Chansley? He was the shaman guy with the face paint and horns who got elected in ’32 right?” Logan asked.
“An American hero. Leader of the Second Revolutionary War and the man whose brave leadership we celebrate on January 6th — the new American Independence Day,” Karl said.
“I know, Pee-paw. We’re reading about him in Social Studies class,” Logan said.
Karl smiled at that revelation. He meant to ask Logan how the school’s thought-leaders had been teaching the history of the anti-vaxxing movement and the rise of Q-anon. He was pleased to learn that former President Chansley and the Q Party — elected with a surge of support from the unvaccinated and those who fought mask mandates—was finally getting credit in the history books. It was the Q’s, after all, who combined forces with the Trumpers to stop the vaccination madness; eliminate masking, social distancing and contact tracing; and investigate the rumors of penile withering and sexual apathy in some men with all the seriousness the subject deserved.
Karl’s brow furrowed like the fields outside the kitchen window. He thought the Q Party would now have to find a way to reverse-engineer the MRNA vaccines, so the millions of men who foolishly succumbed to pressure and took the jab could again look — and feel — like men down below. Even though Karl felt smug at the kitchen table that morning, he wasn’t totally devoid of compassion. Karl’s own son had been experiencing symptoms and had casually confided to him after church one Sunday that he thought his own penis looked smaller.
“By the way, Logan, I’m happy to see you have your Absurda™ with you,” Karl said. He gestured to the foil-wrapped tube of small, round candies in the front pocket of Logan’s tunic. “Remember, COVID is still around, just not dangerous if you follow Rand Paul’s regimen. If you suck on an Absurda™ a few times a day, especially when you’re indoors or in big crowds, you’re fully protected. And, you’ll always have fresh breath.”
“I know, Pee-paw,” Logan said, trying to be respectful but wishing his grandfather wouldn’t lecture him like a child.
“And you won’t have to ever worry that your penis will shrink and begin to look like an old, shriveled sea horse,” Betty said.
Logan blushed a shade of crimson. Grandma Betty could be like that sometimes. No filter. Logan felt a pang of anxiety. He suddenly wondered whether his grandmother had heard him self-pleasuring after the lights were out. Logan would be embarrassed, even though he had been assured that, at 16, it was totally normal.
Still, Logan badly wished to change the subject, and it was time for his morning Absurda™ anyway. He had to catch the school bus in a few minutes.
“Pee-paw,” he said in an earnest way. “Tell me about the development of Absurda™ again. Our thought-leader sort of skimmed over it in class and I want to make sure I have it straight, just in case it’s on the test.”
Karl beamed. He loved it when his grandson sought his wisdom. Made him felt important. Like his life experiences had value. Like he still had something to offer the younger generation. And, of course, Karl was sort of an expert on Absurda™ because he believed in Rand Paul’s cure for COVID-19 from the start. Karl, in fact, began sucking on little peppermint Absurdas™ when they were still an experimental treatment. And, Karl purchased several thousand shares in Rand Paul’s start-up before the company went public. Karl’s shares rose 30-fold in just a short time. Karl had cashed out, making a small fortune, but sometimes he wished he held on to his shares. Karl would be a much richer man now.
“Well, Rand Paul was a brilliant thinker, U.S. senator and doctor. He used to chew these mints all the time. He liked the way they made his breath feel all minty fresh. When COVID was surging in the summer of ’22 — I think it was Omicron back then— Rand Paul was unvaccinated, like all of us here in our family, but he didn’t get sick. Millions of people a day were testing positive. The hospitals were jammed. Tens of thousands were dying. But Rand Paul was fine. He felt great. Never got sick. Not a sniffle. He had the medical training and a hunch that something in the breath mints was providing immunity to COVID— and he was right. He saved millions of lives.”
“Holy cow. I didn’t realize it was that simple and conclusive,” Logan said.
“Oh, it took almost a year,” Karl said. “They had to learn what made the mints so effective, and then they had to re-jigger the formula a few times to strengthen the mints against the most virulent variants, like the one from Mongolia that struck in late ‘23. That’s when they found that peppermint and wintergreen worked best — better than spearmint and cinnamon. Of course, Rand Paul had his doubters. The liberal media poked fun at all the unvaccinated folks sucking their breath mints. The Democrats called him a charlatan and a quack. Tried to have him committed. But Rand Paul held firm. His company conducted rounds of clinical trials to make sure the mints worked, and they did. Deaths and hospitalizations plummeted, and people found it very easy to just pop an Absurda™ in crowded spaces or large crowds. The FDA eventually gave Absurda™ full authorization. That’s pretty much how the pandemic ended.”
“As an added benefit, society was rid of bad breath,” Betty piped up.
“That’s so cool,” Logan said. Just then, the dog heard the hiss of air brakes and trotted to the door. Logan's yellow school bus idled at the corner as he tossed an Absurda™ into his mouth, grabbed his backpack and lunch, and started to the door.
“Bye Pee-Paw. Bye Grandma Betty,” he called as he bounded down the steps.
“Bye, Logan. Have the best day you can,” Betty answered him.
Betty pushed her cereal bowl to the side. She lifted her own favorite coffee mug — the one she purchased when they made the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. to watch the ceremonies, fireworks and big parade on the 25th anniversary of January 6, 2021.
As Betty sipped her morning coffee, she glanced at the image of the Trump Memorial emblazoned on the mug and she remembered the day fondly.