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15 January 2015 @ 03:58 pm
LJ Idol Season Nine: "Rampage"  
idol season nine | week 33 | 1177 words


The ultimate threat to humanity came not from the Ebola virus, or even from the Zombie Infestation of 2020. Those challenges were overcome, and after cleaning up and putting new protocols in place, life marched on. Even the increase in sea-floods and disastrous weather events caused by global warming were scattered over time and geography. No, the real global-scale danger to human life came instead from a completely unpredictable source: elephants.

Elephants—those peanut-snuffling ruffians of the Saharan stage. The problem began as a hormone-induced horror of aggression and rut-strutting mating rituals gone berserk. But once it jumped species and moved into the human population, it set off what became known as "The Rage-ocalypse."

Suspicions immediately focused on Africa, home both to elephants and to many of the world's deadliest viruses and diseases. Further investigation, however, revealed that Patient Zero's exposure came from a for-profit elephant-ride attraction at a roadside nature park in Texas.

How the condition spread from elephants to humans—and from one human to another—was unclear. The hormone surges might have been triggered by contact with sweat or airborne particles, or in response to increased pheromones from those in a rage-state. The condition was almost entirely limited to adult men, while 4.7% of them never exhibited symptoms at all. The onset might have happened suddenly or been delayed by several days.

The only obvious characteristic was that it spread easily. Within a week of the first human case of the condition, similar incidents were reported from around the globe.

Simply searching for a parking space could mutate into a scene out of a classic "Mad Max" movie, and street-corner haggling over goods and services often escalated into blood feuds over courage and honor. Football games devolved into gladiator events, and business board meetings resulted in tornado-like disaster areas of smashed furniture and broken bones. A rage-event could happen anywhere, and sometimes did.

The following is a transcript of a television interview with a key scientist from the Center for Disease Control:
Reporter: Dr. Angard, should the public be concerned about the so-called "Elephant Plague"?
Dr. Angard: It's not a plague of any kind. And those who become afflicted with it typically survive.
Reporter: But it creates significant danger. The people they attack are often maimed or killed.
Dr. Angard: What's your point?
Reporter: Doctor, are you feeling all right? You're looking—
Dr. Angard: Get that goddamned camera out of my face, or you'll be wearing it!

Dating and courtship transformed into pon farr-like battle rituals, turning bars and dance clubs into combat arenas. Officials tried quarantining all men in their own homes, but that proved dangerous to any women or children also living there. Jails were full, and the public was in an uproar.

Then, six months after Patient Zero first exhibited symptoms, scientists created a vaccine to prevent the condition from occurring. The world celebrated the return of civilized behavior, and began cleaning up the mess the outbreak had left behind. Three weeks later, an entirely different problem surfaced.

The vaccine had done its job too well. Scientists had created a remedy that targeted hormone uptake, but human physiology did not distinguish between normal and abnormal hormone levels. Men who had received the vaccine showed symptoms of extremely low testosterone production. Their initiative, competitiveness, sense of adventure, and sex-drive all but disappeared. Women had been stuck filling the gaps in schools and businesses since the outbreak began, but although most male employees returned to work after being vaccinated, they didn't stay. The solution was almost as bad as the original problem.

Businesses continued to be understaffed, and only the attorneys who churned out new forms to handle management and personnel changes were happy. The male population became divided into the immune, the incarcerated or sedated, and 'drones.' Productivity and public sentiment plummeted overnight.

When the President of the United States was asked to make an official statement on the matter, he was quoted as saying,
"Ask the Veep, she'll help you. My soaps are on."

Researchers tried without success to reverse the effects of the vaccine. Civilization went from being in jeopardy of exploding to running the risk of imploding, and the women of the world were overworked at home and in the office, and had lost all patience.

Many of the men afflicted with the new Entropy Syndrome tried to overcome it. They made to-do lists, set alarm clocks, and ingested hazardous levels of caffeine. For most, the pull of their beds or sofas proved too strong. They drifted into video-gaming, television-binging, or dreaming, with brief breaks for sustenance in the form of whatever happened to be lying around. The men who succeeded in overcoming the vaccine-induced slump had to fight that battle daily, but they did it. Researchers took blood samples and pondered whether those high levels of genetic willpower were worth harvesting to create test-tube babies, should traditional reproduction methods continue to be compromised.

It had been three years since The Rage-ocalypse had struck, and no one knew when or if society would ever fully recover.

The men who were immune and had never been vaccinated became extremely popular with women. Some created modern-day harems, which were less popular, but times were lonely and desperate. Only asexual and non-heterosexual woman remained largely unaffected. The men who had fallen prey to rage-events were periodically brought out of sedation to see if their symptoms were gone. Those who recovered were released back into society, where they were the targets of significant sexual interest despite their scars and badly-healed noses.

Economies were collapsing, and men were being displaced from their homes and warehoused in sports arenas and gymnasiums with big-screen televisions and rows upon rows of cots. Then finally, a medical breakthrough was announced.

A receptor-deceptor had been created, a new form of injectable nanite technology. It distracted the testosterone destroyers introduced by the vaccine, allowing male hormones to be processed again. The side-effects of the original vaccine would disappear in just a few weeks.

Batches were replicated and shipped all over the world, as humanity slowly crept back toward its normal routines, one household at a time.
"We have learned from this," the World Health Organization stated. "We must proceed more cautiously in the future. And also avoid contact with elephants."

Some things did not return to the way they had been before. There were men who had no homes to return to. Others refused sleep for so long that they had to be hospitalized, or banned junk food and television from their homes. Still, psychologists and civic leaders were confident that those issues would settle out over time.

India and Africa had the additional challenge of dealing with all of the elephants that had been shipped back to their countries when the outbreak began. While many officials argued for extermination, large sanctuaries and fortified walls were the solution of choice.

As for the elephants themselves, they were happy to return to a simple life of grazing and roaming the plains, where any sudden surges of violence would only affect themselves.


Idol community members who enjoyed this entry can vote for it along with many fine others here. Anyone can join, and there is wonderful reading to be had!

bleodsweanbleodswean on January 16th, 2015 03:32 am (UTC)
Haha! Clever clever clever! Strange how the diseases we get from animals are so terribly fatal. This is a nice twist on that! Quite amusing!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 16th, 2015 06:50 am (UTC)
The whole condition seemed kind of alarming (and disgusting!) to me, but if you can imagine it happening to people in crowded areas with the aggravations of civilization all around them, it could get SO much worse. So, of course... why NOT go there? :D
suesniffsgluesuesniffsglue on January 16th, 2015 04:39 am (UTC)
Rage-ocalypse-- love it! What a great approach to the topic. Scary to think of!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 16th, 2015 07:20 am (UTC)
Sometimes crack is the answer to a prompt like this.

Thinking of all those elephants going into their hyper-aggressive state, you can't help but imagine a bunch of angry men with a few too many beers in them wreaking havoc on everything around them.
gratefuladdictgratefuladdict on January 16th, 2015 04:59 am (UTC)
Your Star Trek reference made my day. :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 16th, 2015 07:21 am (UTC)
Haha! Pon Farr for the win! It was parodied in a Futurama episode to a degree of genius, and I still love it in its original context.
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on January 16th, 2015 05:07 am (UTC)
this was so weird! but interesting and kind of drily funny. (and i'm glad the elephants at least were happy.)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 16th, 2015 07:22 am (UTC)
Did you see the horrifying prompt? It's an epic instance of WHYYYYyyy?

Which is the sort of thing that usually inspires crack. \o/
Donnellejexia on January 16th, 2015 06:07 am (UTC)
Loved the Star Trek reference. I wonder what would happen to the anti-vax crowd?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 16th, 2015 07:25 am (UTC)
You know, I can see the anti-vax crowd either killing each other off early on, or becoming the people who are filling up the jails. Because most of them would eventually catch it, and then they would become a public menace. Of a different sort. ;)
rayasorayaso on January 16th, 2015 02:08 pm (UTC)
Fantastically funny! I loved "Rage-ocalypse," the whole idea of the Texas elephant attraction (who doesn't want to ride an elephant?), and the CDC interview, along with all the wonderful details. I laughed aloud several times, along with chuckles. Humor is the best solution to this prompt.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 16th, 2015 08:15 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it!

I think if that interview segment hadn't come to me, I wouldn't have been able to do this piece. But that and the Presidential quote were such tempting ways of showing the effects of what was happening that I couldn't resist.

I'm happy you liked the results!
lriG rorriMlrig_rorrim on January 16th, 2015 05:15 pm (UTC)
*grins* I love seeing what your imagination does with a prompt like this. I knew what we were getting into as soon as I saw this: "those peanut-snuffling ruffians of the Saharan stage". Awesome!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 16th, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
Hahaha-- I'm glad someone noted that line. It makes elephants seem almost harmless, until something like a rage-event strikes!

And humans have so many more tools to cause destruction. Also much more provacation, depending on where they live!
alycewilson: Colonelalycewilson on January 17th, 2015 12:20 pm (UTC)
Loved this! It had a very Pythonesque quality.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 18th, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC)
Pythonesque always wins, in my book!

My son is probably ready to re-watch all the DVDs of them we have again. Such a luxury compared to when I had to take whatever showed up on late-night weekend PBS-- there were whole episodes I'd never seen (Twit of the Year), and others I was happy to see again and again (The Piranha Brothers). :D
i_17bingoi_17bingo on January 17th, 2015 01:45 pm (UTC)
I had not expected this to go from 28 Days Later-style to gender satire, but clearly I was wrong. It's the straight-faced tone, though, that really sells this.

Also, as many before me have pointed out, thanks for pointing out pon farr. It was there, waiting to be said.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 18th, 2015 06:44 pm (UTC)
You know, I hadn't expected that either! But that's where the story 'logically' took itself. (This is the challenge for me with crack-- it has to make sense within its context).

Pon farr so needed to happen. One of the best and most unexpected Star Trek developments ever, and in this case people would be lucky if mating rituals stayed there and didn't go all the way back to "clubbing over the head and dragging the prize back to the cave." :O
ArmagedDanhosticle_fifer on January 18th, 2015 10:40 pm (UTC)
"Ask the Veep, she'll help you. My soaps are on." - lol

I like how you illustrated the problems with BOTH sides of the testosterone coin, too much and too little.

Does it make me a bad person to admit that the Rage Events sound like they'd make my morning commute pretty entertaining? :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 19th, 2015 02:52 am (UTC)
I like how you illustrated the problems with BOTH sides of the testosterone coin, too much and too little.
This is why a moderate level is good-- some is really beneficial, and too much can be toxic. All 'roid rage all the time!

Haha-- I can see a morning commute turning into a crash-derby blowout, with extras like people leaping off the sidewalks to get away from the drivers who think roads are 'optional'. :D
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Elephant - Whee!roina_arwen on January 19th, 2015 03:32 pm (UTC)
A nice twist on disease control and the perils of fiddling with hormones!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 19th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And as always, you have the perfect icon. :D
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on January 19th, 2015 05:46 pm (UTC)
Love this interp of the prompt, such an imaginative concept and executed in a very hilarious and witty manner.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 19th, 2015 07:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was fun to write-- I haven't cut loose like this in a while, and it worked better than the other idea I had (which I don't think I would have written nearly as well). :)
Elizabethwatching_ships on January 19th, 2015 09:07 pm (UTC)
Pon farr -- *snort*

I really enjoyed it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 19th, 2015 10:11 pm (UTC)
The elephant version is pretty much the animal equivalent of that! Minus the "danger music"... :D
crisp_sobrietycrisp_sobriety on January 19th, 2015 11:37 pm (UTC)
Like everyone else, I'm going to say that the pon farr reference was spot-on. Just...pfffff!

Also, this was quite funny. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2015 05:06 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It was fun to write, and just the thought of how everyday incidents would morph under a rage-attack offered some opportunity for creativity. :D