All eyes were on Kitty as she made her exit from the restaurant. Evidently, the label ‘sapiosexual’ could appropriately be applied to Stephen, Madonna, and Lance, because the girl’s performance left them in a state of arousal, and desire.

The King of Horror, who had been her whipping boy for the crimes of every carnivorous human on the planet, was more excited than the other two, suggesting that he might be all about the whip me, beat me, fuck me, eat me school of carnal delights.

When Kitty’s pretty little ass disappeared from sight, Madonna asked King, “So, what hurt more; losing the million bucks, or the humiliation?”

King grinned, “Neither, actually. She spun a whale of a tale, and I can spin it out into a great book, so making the money back won’t be a problem.”

“And you’ll pay her at least every cent you make from it,” Madonna cautioned, “or I’ll bite your dick off.”

Stephen grimaced at the thought, then conceded “Fair enough. I can’t take it with me. As for humiliation, it was not. It was enlightenment. Her masterful, highly imaginative beat down was rooted in genuine compassion for animals, far more than any malice for me. I can understand her obvious frustration. Her ability to turn it into a cogent, perhaps air-tight, argument is breathtaking, even though her case is founded on a base of highly speculative science fiction.”

“Three months ago, what we are now living through would have been dismissed as science fiction,” Lance said. “There’s been a great deal of sci-fi written about similar scenarios to the one that is now upon us. And there’s been a great deal of sci-fi written about malevolent alien invasions. There may be more real life research into virology than there is into UFOlogy, but let’s not pretend we aren’t searching the universe, as best we can, looking for other intelligent life. All to say that the scenario Kitty laid out is far from impossible. What she did, just now, is comparable to the writing the scriptures.”

Lance’s father caught himself midway through the reflex reaction of giving off yet another condescending grimace. He adjusted his attitude, and said, without even a hint of derision, “Well, as I say, it’s a whale of a tale, but comparing it to the writing of the scriptures is a stretch, no?”

Madonna, who had been studying King as Lance was speaking his mind, jumped in. “No, Stephen, it’s not. What Lance is talking about is fear based behavior modification. The people who wrote the Holy books did so in order to curb the violent tendencies of our species. Taming the caveman within, as Kitty might put it. That’s what Heaven and Hell are all about. Be good, you get to strum a harp. Be bad, you burn. So, they made up a bunch of stories to scare people into being good. It’s simple psychology. And it just worked on you.”

King looked puzzled, so Madonna explained. “I was watching you when Lance was speaking. I know you. I know how you think. You weren’t buying what he was saying about Kitty’s case being comparable to the writing of the scriptures. I could see that you were considering what Lance was saying about science fiction. But that changed when he strayed into a comparison with the writing of the scriptures. It was written all over your face. And you were about to condescend to him, yet again, as soon as you had a chance to speak. But you caught yourself, and checked your attitude. You changed your tone. You modified your behavior. You modified your behavior based on fear. You don’t want another beating from Lance, or Kitty.”

King waited a few seconds before admitting, “You’re rigt. That’s exactly what happened. And you’re rigt about Kitty’s hypothetical, as well. It is an example of fear based behaviour modification for people who are too stubborn to evolve out of their bad habits. Once again, I stand corrected. Humbled, but not humiliated. Thank you, both.”

“The thing is,” Lance said, “we shouldn’t have to be scared into doing the right thing. Doing the right thing should be our automatic default. And it often is, or the world would be a much worse shitshow than it is. But Kitty’s cavemen are still out there, at least a little part of one, in everyone. And this nightmare that is being visited upon us is an opportunity for us to take a great leap forward, but not in Mao’s meaning of the term. Interesting, though, isn’t it, that something that came out of the China that Mao created, something abominable, might actually result in a great leap forward that could be far bigger than anything the Chairman could have imagined. What a bizarre world, huh?”

“In which case,” King smiled, “the CPC will be claiming credit for the whole thing, eventually, and Washington will refute the Chinese position, and claim it was our idea.”

“It is a bizarre world,” Madonna said, “in so many ways. Just thinking about Kitty’s case to leave the animals alone, and fusing it with the virus outbreak. If it’s true that the origin of the virus was someone eating a bat, one thing’s for certain; the vegans cannot be blamed. Therefore, Kitty’s hypothetical is not so much a cautionary tale from an imagined future world, as it is, perhaps, rigt-here-rigt-now, rigt-here-rigt-now,  rigt-here-rigt-now.”

“You know what else is bizarre,” Lance said, more than asked.” No guesses forthcoming, he answered his own question, “CORONAVIRUS is an anagram for CARNIVOROUS, and VEGANISM is an anagram for SAVING ME.”




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