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A Dystopia of Respiratory Crimes: The sneeze prison

Posted by Didi Gorman on

By Didi Gorman 

Didi Gorman, Wise Choice Market's blog writer

** Author’s note: The following piece was written as an imaginary dystopia. The morbid humor is not meant to offend but to make us think. **

The other inmate was staring at me with mild interest as the officer pushed me into the poorly-lit cell, my hands cuffed behind my back, the cold metal pressing against my wrists.

“What’ya in for, sistah?” she gestured towards me as the officer locked the barred door, leaving us by ourselves.

“I sneezed in public,” I muttered quietly.

“Tss, a sneezer!” she shook her head, the contempt evident in her voice.

I shivered. Everybody knew what other convicts did to sneezers.

Sneezing in public had been criminalized during the third wave of COVID-19, many years back. I was now facing three years in the dungeon, no chance of parole. Few offences topped sneezing: Coughing beside another person was one of them, but I hadn’t gone THAT low.

Look, I’m a good person, okay? I’m not a serial sneezer or anything. I only sneezed once. It was a mistake. I expressed remorse, I really did. I pleaded with the judge: I would never sneeze again, never ever. I begged the jury to let me go to rehab, where I will learn to control the urge to sneeze; just not jail. Just please, please, not jail.

I stole a glance at my cellmate, wondering which offence she had committed to wind up in this desolate place. “And you? What brought you here?”

“I whistled in the mall,” she said flatly.

Oh no.

A whistler? They locked me in with a whistler?

Have you the slightest idea how morally corroded those people are? The only thing they care about is their freedom of whistling! They would whistle and whistle, spraying unsuspecting passers-by with thousands of droplets!

For all I knew, this criminal would be whistling right at me at any given moment, spritzing me with biological weaponry. I shuddered.

But before I had a chance to finish that thought, the barred door opened again and another felon was shoved into our cell.

She was wearing an orange robe.

Death row?

She must be a cougher, then. Or a statistician (one of the few who still insisted that statistically, only a small fraction of the population contracted the virus, and of those, most were asymptomatic, meaning that most people would never as much as experience one single COVID sniffle).

I looked at her more intently. She couldn’t possibly be one of those who still hesitated whether to be vaccinated or not, could she?

I mean, most of those had been executed years ago. (At first, the state went easy on them. They only had to wear an orange badge on their (vaccine-free) arm, so that they could be easily identified. Then, they were segregated on public transport. Shortly after that, their children were banned from schools. If none of these methods helped to sway the hesitators in the right direction, they were sent to ‘re-education camps’. The few who survived were given a final option: vaccine or the noose.)

I know you wonder why they weren’t simply thrown into jail until they reached the right decision. Only that by then, all jails were overflowing with sneezers, coughers, and whistlers.

So much so, in fact, that a) prison guards were completely overworked and suffered exhaustion; b) sports arenas had to be converted into ‘field prisons’, and c) thousands of child-molesters, wife-beaters and terrorists had to be released, to accommodate for all those respiratory delinquents. That’s why the vaccine-hesitators were sent straight to the noose.

Once the mass-noosing started, there were so many of them dangling from trees, that from afar it looked as if entire boulevards were clad in Halloween decorations. (There weren’t enough nooses for all of them, so some industries had to shift from PPE-production to noose-manufacturing – so much demand was there for fellow-human annihilation. It is now believed that many more died of the noose than of COVID. Some say tenfold, but who knows? The statisticians are long gone.)

So all things considered, being confined here with these two outcasts is probably safer than what goes on outside.

Who would have thought?