Perfect Panacea for the Pandemic Pariah

in The Ink Well2 years ago (edited)

Photo by kilarov zaneit on Unsplash

The group had assembled for their third meeting of the week. They met as often as someone would have a crisis. When I say this was the third meeting of the week, let me clarify that it also happened to be the third meeting in 7 hours. I imagined another crisis emerging within 30 minutes of the end of this meeting.

To say I reluctantly attended would be understating the obvious. Every fiber of my being resisted the notion of the re-programming that needed to happen. Four years of masks, distancing, aggression and fear had rewound time. We were social cavemen.

Beady-Eyes scanned the room quickly, careful to avoid eye contact. Ironically, I held her gaze easily, watching her movement. Like a frightened chipmunk, she squeaked out her words sporadically.

"Oh. I," she swallowed emphatically, her throat bobbing like a buoy in rough seas. "Can't. Fathom." Her eyes annoyed me. I sighed loudly and looked away.

The sound of my irritation flustered her. She clamped her lips shut tightly and shook like a leaf.

Counselor Cliff slapped his clipboard against his leg sharply before regaining control of his composure. His grin was more of a grimace, and his reprimand was more of a threat. "Katrina, you have been warned. Society needs to exercise extreme patience through this time. If you cannot control your more primitive urges, you will wear the muzzle to assist in suppressing your behavior."

I adjusted myself in the chair, shrugging my shoulders in a dismissive act of rebellion.

"Shirley, would you like to continue?"

"No. I," Beady-Eyes kept her head lowered, but peeked up in my direction.

I couldn't help myself. I curled my lip into a snarl, and growled audibly.

"No!" she answered the counselor in a high-pitched yelp.

"Suppression tool requested in Assimilation Room 14, please." Counselor Cliff lifted his wrist to his mouth and spat the instructions into his sleeve.

Mission accomplished. As far as I was concerned, they should just consider me a lost cause. The rest of society had lost their social skills due to Covid, but I never had them. While the extended season of restrictions had turned others into the shrinking violets before me, I had blossomed into my ideal: self-sufficient loner. The sooner I could return to my cave, muzzle and all, the happier I would be.


My imagination was tickled to create this flash fiction after reading Suggestion #46 on @theinkwell's 50 Imagination Ticklers: What if the pandemic really ended for good, and some people forgot how to socialize? This was my interpretation of what an extreme introvert might be feeling now. Isolation might be their perfect panacea during this pandemic.

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Very interesting! Almost eerie... the 4 years part, wish it didn't feel so much like reality.

Great work :)

I also felt an eerie tone when I was writing it as well. Let us hope that the four years is fiction! :-)

An introvert to the core, the narrator must have really enjoyed the isolation and restrictions caused by the pandemic.
And now, there's this rule to socialize. And an introvert at heart, she rebels against it. Just the same way hardcore extroverts rebelled against the lockdown.
You tell a fascinating story of what could be, so realistic it's easy to imagine it actually happening. Your plot is straight to the point with no unnecessary banter.
You're getting better my friend.
This is a beautiful work @stormchaser, keep it up👍🏽

I thought this prompt was so interesting because I feel that I'm almost sensing the first signs of the socialization breakdown due to the restrictions. I pray no one ends up with muzzles. ha ha!

I pray so too ooo.
It would not be good at all.

As they say out there, the idea of waiting 4 years to come out is creepy. On the other hand, you drew your character very well with words. An asocial being who takes pleasure in not talking to his fellow man. As well as describing some disturbing consequences of the Covid.

Four years might as well be an eternity! 😅 I hope that we never come close to that number! Thank you for visiting my story @ricardo993

That was a nice pull with the prompt.
I can understand the character in your story.
Bring an introvert is a little difficult, speaking from experience. I suck at socializing but I am not that bad either hahaha.

The sooner I could return to my cave, muzzle and all, the happier I would be.

This part got me thinking though.

You don't find yourself growling in public, do you? ha ha!

What about that line got you thinking? You have me interested in your mind now. :-)

I don't hahahhaha.

I bet you don't wanna know hahaha

Well, now of course - I really do want to know. ha ha!

Hehehe... I don't know but I like the girl, Katrina. Isn't she the same tea girl? ^_^

I like the way you describe the body expressions of your characters, you make them more alive.

Ha! This was Kate from the tea.
Katrina has a feisty spirit like Kate - I'm surprised you recognized a similarity! 😅 I'm very pleased that you follow my characters enough to sense that. Thank you for that gift!
You know, that is a trick in writing @jadams2k18. If you add some little movement to your characters, people tend to "see" them come alive more.

Often, authors will limit their writing to dialogue and setting, but the human being has so many little movements that need to be conveyed to the reader. If you try this, tell me how you like it? 😃

You know, that is a trick in writing @jadams2k18. If you add some little movement to your characters, people tend to "see" them come alive more.

They really come alive. I like it! I'll try it soon ^_^

Tag me in the comment section of the post so that I can be sure I don't miss it? 😅

Love what you did with the prompt, @stormcharmer. I have to ask whether it was a conscious choice or not, to portray the main character almost like a feral dog. The first thing that gave me that impression was the threat of being muzzled. In addition to that, she actually growls. The angry canine allusion really helps to build the character's identity for the reader!

A little like Lord of the Flies. We seem to think we are so much higher than the animals, but it only takes the slightest amount of pressure to begin to see those animalistic tendencies rush to the surface. We have the mousy Beady-Eye and the snarling dog (the protagonist). I almost sense the counselor is more of the abusive, over-zealous trainer.

We know what tends to happen to those trainers when their backs are turned.

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Very good story, with fine irony, in which you manage to question your own truth in the face of the pandemic and your relationship with others. Greetings, @stormcharmer.

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Greetings to you as well, @celfmagazine
Your visit is so welcome! Thank you for the visit. It will now be my aim to write well enough to catch your eye again! :-)

A great response to a great prompt. A new kind of authoritarianism, one that is not commonly encountered. Muzzling. There is something particularly horrifying about being muzzled, for most people, because most people feel the need to socialize. But, this character proclaims that she is relieved to be free of the need to socialize. A muzzle for her is a kind of freedom. Freedom from human contact. The premise is interesting and you develop it well.

Thank you for publishing this story in the Ink Well community. Please be sure to read the work of other writers in the community and share comments with them. We are urging everyone who posts in The Ink Well to take this step, going forward, to ensure our community members are supporting one another. (We also have this in The Ink Well community rules on our home page and in our weekly writing prompts.) Thank you!

I have done it! :-) My comments were already made on the other two stories that were posted under the prompt. I will be on the watch for more as they appear. Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed this flash fiction and saw all that there was to see (and perhaps more) :-)

Thank you! We are adding this request to our comments to encourage more community support amongst all community members.

It is a very good rule. Giving and receiving!

Interesting text that establishes the difference between the forced social incompetents and the natural ones, by temperament. Sharp insight, @stormcharmer.

I enjoyed your writing.

I am positive there are some out there who are perfectly relaxed during this time of distancing. ha ha! I tried to imagine what the world felt like to them. Thank you for sharing your enjoyment with me

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