Stan Berserkervich Rides Again (Part 1)

Stanley Berserkervich closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He felt the sweet, warm sunshine upon his face, as though God were descending from heaven to kiss his forehead. “Stan,” he imagined God saying, “I want you to save all the people. They have no hope but you. You are the best state premier in Australia.”

“Okay,” whispered Stan, nodding. “I’ll save them.”

“Sorry, what was that?” asked Heather, a writer for the popular new magazine, Vaxxed Life. She was interviewing Stan for a feature article.

“Oh, nothing,” said Stan. He sipped his champagne and looked out upon his picturesque thirteen-acre vineyard.

“So Stan,” said Heather, reclining beside him on the picnic rug, “what has been the hardest thing about governing during the Covid pandemic?”

Stan lowered his head and nodded gravely. He sighed. He sighed again. “Definitely the lockdowns. It has been hard on us all. I understand people’s suffering. As you know, I myself had to spend six days in isolation last week when I suspected I might have had Covid. It was hard to be locked up like that.”

“And you were isolating here?”

Stan nodded. “Between here, my home and my beach house, yes. I mean, I did attend a party fundraiser, and I played squash with my personal friend, actor Tim Capilano, but in both those instances, all the catering staff and photographers in attendance were fully vaccinated and wearing masks, so…”

“You took every precaution.”

“Exactly. You can’t be too careful. As I always say—our safest defence against Covid is to fear it. The more we fear, the safer we are. Actually, that’s good. I like that.” He turned to his personal assistant, Belinda, who was waiting nearby. “Belinda, I just said something great again. Write this down—The more we fear, the safer we are. I reckon we should make children recite that every day during their online classes.”

Belinda nodded as she typed on her phone. “Got it. Excellent idea, Stan.”

Stan nodded to himself. He sipped his champagne.

“And where do we go from here as a state?” asked Heather. “We’ve had necessary lockdowns, vital vaccine mandates, and a life-saving ad campaign highlighting the racism and misogyny of your critics, now what is the next step?”

“Well, it’s time to move forward,” said Stan. “I think we all realise now that Covid, as catastrophic and frightening as it is, is something we are just going to have to live with. It’s time to get back to business, back to school, back to living life. So, to ensure we are as prepared as possible, today I’ll be announcing one final two-week lockdown.”

“Makes sense,” said Heather.

“Obviously, vaccines are still top priority,” said Stan. “So, we’ll be encouraging everyone who hasn’t already to get the new booster shot. Simple stuff, but important. Once people have had that seventh shot, they will be free to go to the gym, the movies, purchase groceries, receive medical treatment, vote, et cetera.”

“So, life returns to normal?”

“Yes—well… almost. As you know, Heather, there are still some people who have refused to get the vaccine, refused to support my mandates. It’s clear now these people are evil. It’s not their fault, you must understand. They are sick. They have what might be best described as Spiritual Covid. It’s a virus of the soul, you see. Warps the mind, deadens the heart. Turns good people into selfish savages.”

“You know, I suspected it was something like that,” said Heather.

“I think we all did, but we just didn’t want to admit it. It’s difficult to accept that someone you know or work with, or perhaps even a member of your own family, is so deluded, so afraid of a harmless needle, that they are willing to let everyone else die.”

“It’s a disturbing thought.”

“Indeed. That’s why, for the good of society and the future of our great state, we must eliminate these people.”

“Exclude them from society?” asked Heather.

“Hmm? Oh, sure,” said Stan. “We can do that too.”

“Okay, ready,” called Randall, the photographer.

“Wonderful,” said Stan. “Where do you want me, over here with the guys in costumes? What is this one supposed to be?”

“That’s a state map.”

“Oh yes, now I see it.”

“Yeah, great. So, you two guys in the costumes—can I get you to stand either side of the premier? Maybe the state map on this side, and the syringe costume on the other side. That’s it.”

“How’s this?” said Stan.

“Looking good,” said Randall. “Hold still… yep… State map guy, face me… good. Okay, now let’s get a few with you all laughing together. That’s it. Syringe, put your hands on your belly and lean back… yeah, look like you’re having a good time. Okay, now let’s have one with the syringe on that side. Yeah. You’re doing great, Mr Premier, just have fun with it.”

“Uh, okay. Ooh, I know what would be funny—syringe guy, you stand next to me here. That’s it. And put your arms up like you’re cheering me on. And now, state map guy, you stand here and bend over. A bit more… Bit more… That’s it. Now, I’ll stand behind you and grab you like this… What do you think?”

“Uh…,” said Randall. “It uh… It kind of looks like you’re f**king the state.”

Stan smiled. “Take the photo.”

© 2022 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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