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EMBRACIFY 2026 - Catherine G. Tripp

We could have stopped it, if the populations of all countries had taken the vaccines just as soon as they were available. We knew better. We should have learned lessons of many other vaccine successes from smallpox to polio to mumps, cholera to measles, rubella and more. Unlike the Black Death, unlike the 1918 Spanish flu, nowadays diseases travel all over the world, within weeks, whatever emerges in any town anywhere goes everywhere. Unfortunately, lies and disinformation travel even faster, and are even more difficult to eradicate. The world endured wave after wave of deadly infection. Booster shots were distributed, but the coronavirus kept mutating because of the deliberately unvaccinated.

Finally in 2025, the perfect vaccine, Embracify, was introduced with great fanfare. It should have been the be-all and end-all for all current and future variants. The vaccinated survivors celebrated, danced, drank, hugged and kissed. After embracing the new drug, we embraced each other. But the waves of deaths continued, due to continued lies, disinformation and the vapid believers of baseless conspiracies.

It is almost 2027 now, and life is short for the unvaccinated. Whole cities have been converted to hospital complexes. Staterooms on cruise ships are sold like condos, full time residents forever floating around the planet. Those who pre-pay thirty years get special treatment in the remaining quarters. RHIP (Rank Hath It’s Privileges) means there will always be First Class and Economy seating – even on trains, though not on city buses, most certainly on cruise ships. The passengers get high on anything they want without fear of arrest, they are citizens of the world. Upon landing the ship’s staff goes and picks up the mail, supplies, etc. as the ship, for the privileged, has become their permanent mailing address.

I never caught the virus. I used to be a priest until we began conducting televised Masses in 2020. Communion wafers could be disease carriers, and the water may have been blessed, but it wasn’t sanitized. I began to question my faith then. The tradition and protocol so twisted by technology – worship was never meant to be so impersonal. But we mustn’t dwell in the past. The human race may yet survive. The research chemists and big laboratories didn’t bother with animal testing for Embracify. Human volunteers were pushing through the doors and jamming phone lines. “Please leave your name and number”, and they did, by the thousands.

But for us in the seminary, living isolated aesthete lives, we didn’t need the vaccine as much. And giving my fate over to God, I was ready to accept death. So I didn’t suffer (or enjoy) the side effect.

It turns out that Embracify worked not only on the immune system, but the brain as well. This side effect wasn’t discovered right away. It was behavioral, and therefore outside the usual expectations and parameters of goal-focused disciples of the hard sciences who designed the tests. Patients were observed in isolation, in laboratory rooms, alone. Interaction was monitored, recorded, analyzed.

Eerie, though, how unobtrusively everything changed. Everyday sounds changed first. People did not honk in traffic. Heavy metal rock was eschewed in favor of the soul soothing symphonies and concertos of the Old Masters, the mellow sounds of soft jazz. And next, violent crimes decreased. Drastically. Domestic abusers turned themselves in, complaining of facial and abdominal pains. Muggers came in for psychiatric treatment. Unbelievable reports – they said they wanted to stop hurting people. Rapists turned themselves in complaining that their insides felt all ripped up. Some were bleeding internally. But most had no discernable physical damage. An incredible phenomenon, but not traced immediately back to the vaccine.

The connection came out on a daytime talk show. The host was showing a mock fight, with stunt persons, to illustrate the craft of choreographing movie fights. But as millions watched, one of the mock punches missed the air and made contact. The man who threw the punch stumbled backward, clutching his face, as did his opponent. They looked at each other, startled. Then like the Three Stooges, one bonked another on the head with his fist, and they both rubbed their heads. This was followed by a kick to a shin, and they both hopped around on an injured leg (same side of the body). This was laughed off at first, as staged maneuvers. But the actors denied it. And people started trying it at home. It was true. Physical contact produced an equal sensation in both the giver and the receiver. Pain as well as pleasure. Reciprocal reactions. A chemical reaction that causes sympathetic responses.

Remarkable. A modern-day Armageddon brought the means to live out two seemingly opposing Biblical admonitions: “Love thy neighbor” and “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” at the same time.

This turn of events was not entirely complete. Impersonal killing at a remove still causes no pain. Drone strikes, bombing runs, still go on. Without physical contact, the mutual reactions do not take place. Within the seeds of destruction is salvation, and within the seeds of salvation is destruction.

It is New Year’s Eve for 2027 now, and I still live in a small, sterile environment. The Church sees to my comfort. But the new dimensions of mutual orgasm are just beginning to be explored, and even I am taking another look at my vows of celibacy and my decision to not get vaccinated.


Catherine G. Tripp writes for grownups, deconstructing air brushed stories, and finding humor and courage in the unloved corners. She has participated in prestigious writing workshops over the years, won contests in Writer’s Digest and Reedsy and is a featured reader for Mask Monologues, Coffee and Grief and Creative Caffeine. Her approach to poetry is to pick a moment, a place, a feeling, and shine a light into the unloved corners, casting her thoughts into the raw dark.Email: cgtripp@me.comWriters Website:


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