It is difficult for most folks to understand how close to extinction we came after five years of the Virus and its two later mutations. It wasn’t virus per-se, but the lack of Human Contact that brought us to the brink of extinction. What saved Humanity was one salient fact: Humans Stink.
It was the work of one man, the world’s first Triple Trillionaire- named, of all things: Fred Foresight.
Below is an edited version of his famous “Sit Down” with Five Nobel Prize winners in Medicine and Chemistry - all with Pedigrees that would have brought them million dollar stud fees if they had been dogs, or horses.
Fred dropped out of High School to become a Gamer. And that is the only reason any of us are here to listen to the “Sit Down”. I think it is safe to say, everyone on Earth watched that famous live stream event.
Most people don’t call it the “Sit Down”, they call it what it was touted as in the clickbait and streaming venues: Common Scents.
We shall skip the fourteen and half minute segment it took to offer just a surface scraping of the Curriculum Vitae, Degrees, and Awards of the Five Nobel Winners. Fred’s intro was much more modest. It consisted of only five words:
“And here he is... Fred.”
Dr. Laborath opened with the first comment/question:
“Fred, like everyone on Earth, you have my deepest gratitude and thanks. (Fred blushed fiercely- as he was want to do) But can you tell us what line of thinking led you to first develop the Stink Box?”
(More on the Stink Box later, if you don’t know what it is, you probably live under a rock, have no friends, or weren’t paying attention over the last half decade or so)
“Er…well, you see Ma’am, er…Doctor…”
This time it was Dr. Laborath that blushed.
“Just call me Emily, Fred.”
“Sure. Ok. Alright. Well, Emily, I was a Gamer for over half my life.”
(The audience chittered a laugh…Fred is still only 22 years old, and was sixteen when he made the first prototype of his “Stink Box”. Fred blushed again, but smiled a little chuckle himself.)
"I was fourteen when the First Wave of the Virus hit. It didn’t really affect me, since me, and most of my friends were already pretty well Socially Distant. I mean, one time I played Games for ninety hours straight. If my Mom hadn’t finally picked the lock to my door, I might have died.”
(This got a roar both of laughter, and agreement. As most of the Gamer Community in the World had only Virtual Friends, and very little outside with other kids experience.)
“So I had my five best friends on the screen most of the time. We had real pictures of ourselves on our private group, and everyone else just saw our Avatars. In my world, letting someone see what you really look like, where you really live, or your actual room, is a sign of a really close friendship…and trust.”
No laughter this time. Just nods that let everyone know silently that they all knew just what he was talking about. The older people called it “Zoom Glitz”. Putting background and filters on your Zoom talks to make it look like you were rich, lived in a nice place, or were younger/older than you actually were. In a way, in the Virtual World you could display features of wealth and beauty that you did not have in real life. Many people portrayed themselves and their circumstances in a way that was - if not an outright lie- a gross deceit. What they called way back in the eighties: Posers.
Dr. Marvel spoke up:
“Fred, did you actually know any of these people? I mean before you invented the Stink Box?”
“Please, just call call me Doctor.”
The Crowd wanted to boo, but Fred cut them off.
“Yes, Sir. I mean Doctor Marvel. I was working at a grocery store to make enough money to game, and get the right gear, accelerator cards, and enough memory to play fast and hard. The rest of the time I was online and in the game.
But my Mom and Dad had a house near the beach with extra bedrooms. When the First Reopening happened…Tracor the Destructor (Mike Williams) and the Angel of Death (Cyndi Beacon) suggested that since we were the Cinco of Death Squad - and the best friends in the world- maybe we could meet up in person someday.
Malicious Malady (Kathleen O’Brian) brought up that I lived near the beach, and that the Scientists (waving his hand to include the five eminent Doctors on Stage) were warning that the next wave would be fiercer and lockdown stricter. As you all know, they were right- but even they weren’t ready for how severe that second, third, and then the mutated forms would become.”
Fred stopped for a moment to try and regain his composure. Like most of the folks in the room, those three years took many good people from his life…so many that even years later, there wasn’t any closure. Mostly because there weren’t any funerals, shoulders to cry on, or hugs to console.
The Audience, and even the hard core emotionally even tempered Nobel Prize winners had to fight back sniffles, memories, and not a few tears.
“Anyways, we decided to meet at my Parents House, stay for five days. Hit the beach, get some Pizza, and talk about gaming and our lives. “
Fred got a faraway look in his eyes…like he was back at the house waiting for the other four to show up. In fact, that is exactly where he was- at least in his mind.
It was Dr. Luscious who spoke up to break Fred’s reverie:
“Ah…Fred, can you come back and join us? What happened next?”
“Oh…sorry, got lost there for a moment. Thanks Nisha.”
Dr. Nisha Luscious - but nobody called her that. Everyone called her: Nisha. If good Karma took human form, it would look (and care) just like Dr. Luscious. When you met her the first time, it was already on a first name basis. Asked once why people always seem to like her, she would reply:
“I don’t know. I guess it is because I like people.”
Dr. Luscious waved her hand in a gentle sweet graceful “ do go on” motion. Fred did.
“It was cool for the first hour. Once all five of us were there in the same room we chatted and everyone used the restrooms because of their long drives. Tracor was the last to arrive around noon or so, and he was the first to leave around three PM.”
Fred shuddered at the memory of just how blunt Tracor was with his parting words:
“You people suck. You don’t look right. You don’t smell right. You don’t feel right. I can’t believe you are my best friends. I am leaving. This party stinks!”
Fred hands were closed so tight up on the stage you could see his knuckles turn white and his palm red. His fist were clenched with the pain and humiliation of the memory of that “party.” After all, it was his Parents house.
Next to go was Malicious, who was crying when she went out the door. Then the Angel of Death followed an hour later saying to the air as she left:
“What a bunch of losers. This is not what I imagined it would be like, or (stabbing her fingers to drive her point home) you guys would be like on the long drive here from New Jersey. I never want to see any of you again. “
The only one to spend the night was the Silver Night (Mark Pierce). The only reason he spent the night was he was simply to tired to make the 29 hour drive back to North Dakota. When Fred made a small breakfast of pancakes and sausage patties, then gave the Silver Night a sack with two tuna fish sandwiches, a couple treat size bags of chips, and a bag of Oreos, Mark thanked him.
As they walked out to Mark’s 1987 Honda Civic with the personalized license plate: “the Silver Knight” both men (boys?) were subdued, quiet, reflective. When they got to Mark’s car, he turned and put one hand on Fred’s shoulder. With a sad blues colored voice he said:
“I am sorry Fred. It was a good idea, but it stunk. Well, I think it did anyway. But not in a good way. You just don’t smell right to me. Nobody did. I guess we aren’t the people we thought we were on the screen.”
The whole room was silent. You could see the effect on Fred as he spoke his “friends” last words to him.” It as Dr. Luscious who leaned over to lightly rub his shoulder. He could feel the warmth thru her glove. The glove being one of the many adaptations Humanity had made to continue to be social animals, gloves that allow you to feel pressure and warmth, but don’t sustain the Virus or any of its Mutant forms…the disinfectant is worked into the fibers. So touch - with gloves- is allowed. Not skin to skin, but glove to glove, or glove to shoulder.
Dr. Material cleared his throat. Breaking the mood completely.
“And Fred, when actually did you come up with the idea of the Stink Box?”
Well, Dr. Material…”
A quick smile and interruption from Dr. Material.
“Please, Fred, just call me Professor. Most of my students do.”
He chuckled at his own joke, which he thought made him warm and human sounding. He was wrong. But Fred wasn’t distracted at all.
“Well Professor, most of my close friends that day used the words: “stink, or smell” . I mean Malicious told me that if she had smelled my shirt before she came down, she wouldn’t have even got in the car. And she said that Mark smelled like a wet dog had thrown on a cape of bear skin."
(Everyone laughed. They didn’t have to picture that scene, they could just hop in a stink box and experience it.)
So I did like most Nerds do. I got online and did some research.”
(At this, all five Nobel Winners smiled at the Naiveté of his idea of “research”)
I found out about VSO’s in the nasal passage (Vestigial Sensory Organs). I read everything I could find on Human Pheromones. I learned about the Volatile gasses released from ordinary household items like plastic dishes, plants, and furniture.
I was able to understand how sweat works, how clothes absorb your day and smells “stick” to your skin. I realized that not only did we each have our own unique stink, but that the smells we were around every day stick to us too.
I mean, go to McDonalds Drive thru, and the smell of fries follows you the rest of the day, same with the much subtler scent of the coke cup on your lap, or even the lingering smell/taste of the straw on your lips.
The smell of old books, clean clothes, and whatever material covers your floor, all those…and more, cling to you and your own particular concoction of olfactory triggers.
In short, we not only smell, we stink, and so does what we wear, and where we live.
So, I came up with the Stink Box.
A box that sucks every odor in your environment up to twelve feet away or about four meters for you metric folks, blends it with your own bodies scents and mixes them in the same proportions you would expel them in a personal setting.
So now, when you turn your screen on, to Zoom, or FACEBOOK, Instagram, FACETIME, or TikTok (and we are even working on a Twitter “quick hit smell) you get the entire Gestalt of the person you are speaking with. Bonds are formed just like back in the day when we could meet in groups, handshake, hug, or kiss cheeks. Each of those distances are measured by the Stink Box, allowing even Zoom Parties to shape up like they would in a real world setting where folk were physically mixing in person!”
The applause was thunderous.
Of course, it was the Five Nobel Laureates who came up with a way to use the Stink Boxes to test for the Virus, and determine if two people who were attracted to each other could safely meet, and have bodily contact without worry of infection or disease.
And it was that little modification to the Stink Box that allowed the Human Race to once again Propagate. The old Population Problems faded away over time, as the Stink Box and the Virus still kept most folks at a safe distance. A distance to far to support mere dalliances. As one pundit said: