WILSON: Chickadee splats

A rampant pestilence was about to overrun the Elven Kingdom of Harmonium – or so the Town Crier proclaimed from the midst of the town square. “An unknown epidemic, of unknown origin, with unknown symptoms, and unknown treatment options, could possibly be on its way. This information comes directly from the CDC. World collapse predicted. Stay tuned for updates.”

Confusion was the first order of business. Celebrity-endorsed Facebook rumors and conspiracy theories followed close behind. Ultimately, all hell broke loose as panicked Elves emptied store shelves of red-licorice and dandruff shampoo.

A news conference was hastily assembled by the Pols, the clan of Elves tasked with keeping the Kingdom running smoothly. As the eldest member of the Pols, the Great Polydent was (automatically) considered the wisest of all the Pols, which (automatically) made him the clan Chieftain. This, in turn, (automatically) made Polydent the duly-certified Chief of Chiefs over all of Harmonium – kind of a big deal. Polydent approached the microphone slowly, exhibiting a confident look of well-dressed, yet folksy, grandfatherly concern. “A flock of wayward chickadees is running amok. Unconfirmed, yet very troubling, reports are coming in from secret sources within the evil empire of Pandemonium.”

On cue, and before reporters could ask any questions, a bespectacled gentleman, wearing a white lab coat and a Napoleonic attitude, approached the lectern. “I am Dr. Antonym Faux, Assistant Director of the Ornithology Defense Department – ODD. I am an expert in fowl-borne diseases, specifically diseases from avian fecal droppings – more commonly known as Bird Splats.” Dr. Faux paused, took a drink of water, and waited for the reporters to get his name spelled correctly. “I’m not going to sugar-coat things. We have no idea how bad things could get.”

Every eye, ear, camera, microphoneand sign-language interpreter leaned in close, intent on understanding what Dr. Faux had to say. So far, none of it made any sense.

“Possibly reliable sources, have confirmed that maybe a flock of chickadees may have eaten bird-feed that was allegedly tainted with an unknown, but conceivably toxic, substance.” At this point, the teleprompter instructed Dr. Faux to pause. “If this is true (and we have no data to prove it isn’t), and if those chickadees decide to fly through our air space (and we have no data to prove they won’t), and if the suspected disease laden fowl choose to answer the call-of-nature directly over the heads of unsuspecting Elves (and we have no data to prove they wouldn’t), then the resulting Chickadee Splats could cause problems only envisioned in the darkest of imaginations…and I don’t need to tell you how bad that could be.”

The roomful of reporters could smell a ratings boost.

“Some people are suggesting the government of Pandemonium intentionally contaminated the bird-feed,” interjected Polydent. “We have no proof they didn’t. Therefore, out of concern for everyone’s health and safety, Harmonium must shut down. Everyone, stay home, stay inside, and do nothing for the next 14 days — possibly a month — certainly not much more than a year — or two.”

“If it is essential to leave home, it is essential to cover up.” The doctor explained the new safety protocols. “Carry an umbrella, everywhere, all the time. They might protect from the potential dangers of airborne Chickadee Splat. Protect yourself, everyone you love, and even folks you’ve never met and could never possibly know.”

“Chickadee Splats are real and worrisome,” cautioned Polydent. “I worry about every Elf in the Kingdom. We should all worry, together. Worrying together will help us through these worrisome times. Together, but not too close.”

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