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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 716 Response

Selective Massacres

with Bill Kowaleski

Massacres” appears in issue 716.

In Bill Kowaleski’s “Massacres,” do the massacred wealthies know about the final-defense virus?

[Bill K.] In the chapter titled “The Supreme Council” Bain mentions that there are about six million wealthies in GNA. Later, when he’s captured, he says that there were never more than a million doses of the vaccine made. So At least five million wealthies were just as vulnerable as the clavies.

In the chapter “A Visit to a Doctor,” the doctor says to Bain, “It’s only for the elite. Is he [Jiri] one of the elite now?”

In chapter 14, “The Supreme Council,” the Council members are admonished never to discuss the final defense in front of staff. So what can we conclude?

Most likely the “elite” know about the Kassigrene virus but are sworn to secrecy when vaccinated. However, this is never stated. The reader is free to draw his/her own conclusions. It’s possible that even the elite are unaware of the virus. It would be a far easier secret to keep if that were true.

[Don W.] Thank you, Bill. The factual citations are much appreciated; that’s what goes into careful reading, and it’s a great help.

We’re called “Bewildering” Stories not because we’re “befuddling,” as some may think, but because we like stories that raise questions, often ones that have more than one answer. That’s part of the fun of reading.

One such question: How can the “final defense” be kept a secret among so many for so long? A proverb goes: “One is a secret; two are a rumor. But three? That’s news.”

In addition to “loose lips,” there’s the curiosity factor. One wealthy in five is vaccinated against the virus. Mightn’t the rest begin to raise questions about the purpose of the vaccinations? And the “cult” chapters preserve chalices, which, unbeknownst to the membership, contain the virus. Over a span of 200 years, wouldn’t somebody itch to know what’s inside one of them? Maybe, but then again, maybe not...

When a concentration camp was liberated at the end of WW2, General Eisenhower ordered that the population of the neighboring town be taken to see it. A photo shows the women, at least, weeping. The public had been told that the camps were for imprisonment; extermination hadn’t been mentioned. In any case, who would dare ask questions when they knew the Gestapo would come calling?

In Living Standards, we get a hint of that kind of control in the wealthies’ monopolizing and manipulating communications. Apparently, the Supreme Council considers that measure sufficient to contain what might otherwise become an open secret.

Other questions remain, for example:

Why vaccinate even the select one-fifth of the wealthies in advance? Why not wait until the final defense is put in motion? But could the vaccine be stored as long as the virus? And could it be administered promptly and effectively if the wealthy population were spread over any significant area?

Is it efficient to deliver the virus by ordering the cult priests to open the chalices, when the time comes? What about drones launched from bases where the virus is hidden with very little human contact: no prying eyes or untoward questions. But that solution would remove the cult as a plot device that provides, as we have seen, a certain amount of humor.

There are no sure answers but, as I say, the questions can be a lot of fun.

Copyright © 2017 by Bill Kowaleski
and Bewildering Stories

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