I think I’ve Got that New Disease I’ve Seen Advertised

I feel duty bound to give you all the heads-up that, in the best traditions of safeguarding the freedom of vested interests to redistribute the wealth of the nation in the direction of their bank accounts, the government is about to issue a new Presidential Edict (number 104562137894320075) entitled: Even More Depressing Pandemic Alert: You are all Going to (probably) Die!!!

Subtitled Swine Flu? Hah! Here's something REALLY Scary! the edict will come complete with democratic measures to quarantine the Constitution and inject the citizenry with Aluminium, Mercury, Antifreeze and other beneficial additives described by the AMA (Aluminium, Mercury and Antifreeze Manufacturers Association) as “completely safe for human consumption, so long as you don’t eat, drink, inject or stand near them.”

The government’s new public health alert is confidently expected to ward off panic and restore calm throughout the length and breadth of ailing pharmaceutical corporations. This follows in the wake of last year’s serious outbreak of not making enough profit in which hitherto undiscovered residues of money were found contaminating the wallets of millions of citizens.

Drafted by a joint Task Force of the Department of Foreboding and the makers of reputable Zombie Apocalypse movies, the edict is confidently expected to help ease “the inordinate chirpiness that afflicts millions of citizens”, explained Joe Satan the Secretary of Doom (97). "After all, this is a Democracy and nobody has a right to feel exempt from the gloom that is the birthright of every citizen."

Mr Satan went on to say that the government takes the new threat of life inherent in every man, woman and child (and pet) on the planet so seriously, they are no longer calling it a Pandemic but, at the suggestion of Press Supremo, Craig Bipolar (84), they have renamed the new outbreak a Carnagedemic.

[Editor's note: insert here photo of Labrador with bleak, haunted eyes, wearing a blue face mask. Caption: "Carnagedemic. All pets could die."]

Mr Bipolar explained further: "An epidemic no longer has the pizzaz it used to have. So for a while we had pandemics, which had the virtue of sounding more threatening than an epidemic by having "pan" attached to them instead of "epi", which sounds a bit girly.”

According to government statistics, a threat qualifies as a pandemic if it kills, or makes poorly, as many as five people (or pets). The aforementioned task force was charged with the responsibility for coming up with a ground-breaking solution to the nickname problem and leaving no scientific procedure overturned in the hunt for a remedy, an epithet able to quel public consciousness by aptly labelling a threat that will kill, or might kill, more than five people (or pets).

The name needed to look good in headlines so as to quickly help pharmaceutical companies and newspaper publishers crowbar a few extra dollars for the wallets of a beleaguered population. It is hoped it will provide an antidote to the crippling malady suffered by millions of people (or pets), whose symptoms include unwillingness to hand over their money out of a sense of alarm (or terror).

Mr Satan added: “Recently we have suffered from an epidemic of pandemics and the public is starting to get bored with the whole thing. This has led to an epidemic of the public not being unduly alarmed, which caused to flare up a pandemic of slumping newspaper sales.

“But we can now confidently, even disingenuously, say that the matter is under control and look forward to a week of headlines that will really shake up the complacent tight-fisted swine."

[Editor's note: insert here photo of baby with bleak, haunted eyes wearing face mask. Caption: "Be afraid!"]

But what of the Carnagedemic? Health reports indicate it may already have claimed thousands of lives and is set to claim many thousand more, although scientists reluctantly point out that it depends on whether you define "claimed" as "killed" or "could have killed".

One scientist, who did not want to be named, or indeed identified at all, for legal reasons, disclosed that the Carnagedemic is, or might be, invariably fatal for anyone who dies from it and there is lots of hard rumour that it is, or might be, the cause of insanity or depression in those who contract it and that nobody is immune, or at least those who contract it aren't.

[Ed's note: insert here picture of baby wearing full bio suit, its eyes visible though the transparency should be bleak and full of despair. Caption: "Abandon hope! Start looting!"]

The method of transmission of the disease, dubbed "Mad Hack's Virus," is uncertain, although all the lack of evidence points inconclusively to a virus. If it turns out not to be a virus, the disease will require the re-writing of millions press releases and propel laboratories into a frantic search for a new generation of super-fabrications to combat it.

It is believed that MHV or "Newspaper Flu" as it is also known, is somehow transmitted by contact with tabloid newspapers or long-term exposure to television news broadcasts. Certainly there is as yet no recorded case of any citizen (or pet) contracting the disease who has not been so exposed.

A source close to the White House (the bloke leaning on the railings) told this reporter: "What the government isn't telling us is that virtually no-one is safe if MHV if transmitted through contact with the contamination leaking from newspapers because according to the Office of Made Up Statistics more than 114% of people read newspapers, although admittedly only 2% of these remember what they have read."

MHV has all the hallmarks of a classic attention-grabbing, panic-inducing and hence money-spinning disease, namely:

· it is invisible

· it is "everywhere"

· its symptoms can easily be confused with innocuous ailments such as the common cold or caffeine withdrawal

· it has the word "virus" or "flu" in it.

Do you have Newspaper Flu? Probably, says the Ministry of Foreboding. In all likelihood, it is already too late. Certainly said Grimm Reaper Pharmaceuticals, whose Public Relations Officer, Jim Satan (14 – no relation) first alerted everyone to the presence of this new stalking carnagedemic menace in our midst shortly after Grimm Reaper Laboratories invented an antidote for it.

"MHV is certainly proving to be a popular ailment," said Mr Satan. When it was pointed out that there was no evidence that MHV had actually killed anyone, Mr Satan said, "Well, that just goes to show how effective our antidote, Docile 24/7, is."

What are the symptoms of the new disease? Opinions vary but here is a list of what they could be and certainly if you have any of these, you are advised to panic or get yourself injected with life-threatening chemicals immediately:

· Disorientation

· Depression

· Anxiety

· Loss of ability to think (or spell).

· Paranoia (feeling threatened by a dark, vague, lurking menace you can't see)

· Tendency to blame immigrants/Muslims/hoodies/guns/free speech for everything

· Hysteria

· Becoming sick with worry

· Tendency to feel like you are living in a lunatic asylum (except those actually living in a lunatic asylum)

One victim, who is, miraculously, not dead told this reporter:

"I became sick shortly after reading the Washington Fibber over me breakfast cornflakes, I think it was last Tuesday's headline: Millions of air breathers die every year, that set me off. The first thing I noticed is I got the shakes and became very nervous. Then I kind of completely lost the will to live. I felt like I was doomed to die a horrible death no matter what I did. Then I became acutely aware of every little muscular twinge or fleeting discomfort in me body. By the time I'd finished me boiled egg and soldiers I was convinced I had at least twelve different viruses, all of which are named after animals. Then I called me doctor and he gave me a prescription for something that

enabled me to hear colours and I've been on Venus where it's safe from the alien head termites ever since."

Latest figures suggest that MHV may have infected as many a hundred thousand billion people in the US alone. In response, the government was swift to act in the best tradition of bolting stable doors after the horse has not only bolted but emigrated to France, retired, written its memoirs, died and been forgotten. It spent a hundred trillion dollars that might otherwise been frittered away on luxuries such as education on the purchase of fifty billion face masks made from recycled Plutonium (recently dubbed the most-not-at-all-dangerous-element-in-the-universe after scientists made the surprise discovery that radiation is good for you after all).

When it was put to the Health Secretary that the masks are in fact completely useless and no defence at all against Newspaper Flu, Mr Satan explained, "That has never stopped the government buying face masks before. The purchase of face masks has long been standard practice, favoured since time immemorial by ministers bullied by the press into responding to an emergency they know little or nothing about. It reassures the public that the government is acting decisively in the best traditions of headless chickens."

[Ed's note: include picture here of a chicken dressed in deep sea diver's suit. Caption: "Flee for your lives!"]

Unfortunately, just when those public still retaining their grip on a shred of optimism naively thought things could not get any worse, they have. Scientists report that MHV may have mutated and "jumped media." A new and even more unstoppable strain of the virus has been detected.

The new outbreak, dubbed an Armaggedonedemic, is known as Word Of Mouth Disease.

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