I read in an article (“Resurrecting Smallpox? Easier Than You Think”) that the smallpox virus that killed about a billion humans and almost as many characters in The Oregon Trail video at my middle school library, now lives in a computer as a single sequence of 185,000 letters that scientists are now working diligently to pronounce as one word.
Smallpox stored on computers. And now the professional worriers are worried that someone is going to download and print-out, I guess, the smallpox virus and introduce it into the population via direct mailings or flyers posted on those bulletin boards at the supermarket, looking for a cat or a drummer, with little strips of paper hanging off for interested folk to rip off.
The goverment would have to implement a national system of paper management. The IRS would offer a tax credit to every household that purchased a quality shredder, one that shreds the paper vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, so that not even the Penguin from Batman Returns would have the patience to glue the pieces back together. Unsuspecting households would be taken in by unscrupulous merchants of inferior shredders, that would choke after five minutes of shredding, or one try at those directions for household appliances that are given in three different languages. A bureau would have to be created to develop a standard for shredders to meet in order to receive the tax credit. A team of federal shredder inspectors would be trained to inspect shredders, and issue certifications of quality, and soon no one would buy one without asking to see a certificate of quality. At some point they will start forging the certificates of quality, and another bureau will be created to inspect the authenticity of the certificates after the first set of inspectors reviewed them.
Maybe they won’t print the smallpox on paper. Maybe the virus will be transmitted via telephone. Using the spreadsheet on the network titled “CELL PHONE NUMBERS – ALL” the government will call people up one by one, and when the people pick up, a recorded message will say, “Please hold for your free vacation,” and then, using a Casio PT-87 synthesizer, the 185,000 letters of smallpox will be sounded as the corresponding note on the scale. Whoever hears more than ten notes of the virus will contract it and have to be quarantined. For years the sound of a telephone ringing will bring shudders and flashes of the evil eye and spitting on the floor. People will go back to communicating using cans strung together and will find it adequate, even though they will all be forced into long service contracts by the can-and-string companies.
Of course the real way that smallpox will be spread will be by the internet. All the bioterrorists will need to do is put the sequence of letters on a website and tell everyone to check it out. People will go there and stare at the page and not be able to take their eyes off of the letters until the disease was well inside them. And there the disease would end, for none of these people would have contact with any human beings.