The cleansing has begun.
"Don't tell me something that isn't true. Give it to me straight, doc."
With those words, Bernie O'Malley hopped down off the examination table.
The young Asian doctor laughed and with a bad rendition of a brogue, said, "isn't it St. Paddy's Day? Down a pint of Guinness and I will see your arse next year."
When he took his blood, the doctor had given him the injection without his knowledge, following the special protocols spelled out in the recent article in the Journal of American Medication Association.
It would be easier for the old geezer than have him suffer the agonizing next phase. Cleaner too, without all that blood.
O'Malley smile shook off what concern that lingered. The fake media was making something out of nothing. There was not a disease targeting seniors. "Bunch of malarkey," he muttered to himself.
He re-buttoned his flannel shirt and pulled on his Dockers. As he made it out outside of the office and into the light drizzle, he thought he would take the doctor's advice and headed to Flannery's Pub and Tavern.
He hoped it was still open and serving his age group, which was fast becoming a pariah.
"Plenty of liquids," he thought and a smile crossed his face. "It wasn't the first time he would end a bad week with a few adult beverages.
His laugh lines formed deep crevices that his granddaughter liked to shove her pudgy little fingers into when she sat on his lap.
Crossing Queens Boulevard, when a heat across his chest became intense as the sweat soaked through his collar and down his back.
O'Malley steadied himself on the brass door knob, and, as he collapsed, the last thing he saw was the neon shamrock glowing on the glass store front.
Patrons stepped over him. An Irish man down on March 17 was the set up for a joke. The punchline would not come until hours later when a passer-by finally checked his limp wrist and could not find a pulse.
She sang Happy Birthday for 20 seconds.
"Can you hurry up!" her sister's girlfriend said.
"No, they said it has to be for a full 20 seconds or the germs will get you," six-year-old Rachel whined.
"Who are they?" Anna Devane said. "And that's just for old folks, silly." Anna shook her head at the fairy tales about hand washing being pushed by the Centers for Disease Control.
Cardinal O'Connor was on the television saying Palm Sunday was meant the start of rebirth, a new beginning and in the current time of strife it had extra meaning for the faithful. He was mopping his head and swaying. Beads of sweat were visible in the camera.
His personal doctor sat off camera waiting. The rosary was wrapped around his left palm and a needle was clutched in his right hand in preparation for the administration of the injection.
For Anna, this felt like religious mumbo jumbo and she sure never agreed to make the kid her responsibility. She did not sign up to be a nanny. She still had plenty of fun she wanted to experience before the pledge was enforced.
The kid's sister was working long shifts in Coney Island Hospital emergency rooms that were doubling up as morgues. Seniors were dying at an alarming rate, some by choice with bedside vigils. The selfish ones let the disease take its course.
But at least, the young here and elsewhere were being spared.
"Come on, pip squeak, we have to get our supplies now and I can't leave you alone in the apartment," Anna said.
As they stepped out, an elderly neighbor was being placed into a gurney by a man in a white lab coat.
"Don't let this happen to your granny cause it sure wasn't pretty," the man said to Anna. "She should have gotten the injection."
The rabbit done died.
The tulips were sprouting up all over. Easter was here. Everyone was making the best of it under the conditions.
The President's son-in-law said that the New World Order was underway. "For every season, there is a reason," Jared Kushner said.
"Allow us all to follow the example of our dearly departed leader," Kushner said addressing the nation from a White House briefing outside. "We know there is only one outcome."
Gone from his Twitter feed, for sure, but many doubted if by departed Kushner meant the President was dead.
By now more than 75 percent of the United States had taken the pledge to opt for what those in the medical field were calling "the assist" when the time came.
It was a sacrifice for sure, but party planners were making the send-offs memorable at least for their elite clients. The influencers with huge social media followers were hawking products to make one's final days hedonistic dreams come true.
Some thought the cutoff for immunity was 60, but sharper minds knew that it was closer to 50. The ever-present germs could detect aging chromosomes and the final days could take an agonizing turn as the infected's genetic material became unmanageable tangles.
The population nationwide was young and becoming financially well off. As promised, families were being granted the lucrative benefits if their senior loved ones opted for the assist.
Paint it black.
Tupac and Shayna sang along to the Stones on Sound Cloud as they watched the flames take hold in the giant bonfire in Alphabet City in Manhattan.
"I look inside myself and see my heart is black. I see my red door and I must have it painted black.
Maybe then I will fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black."
Listening to the retro band was akin to a hymn, nowadays since all of its members opted for the assist.
The street fires were being lit regularly on the Lower East Side after the crematoriums filled up.
The Summer of Remembrance, as some were characterizing it, was in full swing.
Tupac hugged his girl and they laughed at the turn of events. Their genetic markers meant they were safe for now.
It seems that the Black Death didn't just wipe out millions of Europeans 600 years ago. Scientists discovered it left a mark on the human genome, favoring those who carried certain immune system genes.
This meant there was no need for black and brown skinned people to take the pledge or to encourage their older relatives to opt for the assist.
Kushner was correct. There was going to be a New World Order.