Preston: A post-apocalyptic social commentary of germ-normous importance [Sponsored by Lysol]
Preston awoke from his daze. Feeling foggy, groggy and unmoored, he slowly began to collect himself. As he regained awareness, he couldn’t help but notice the lack of familiarity of his surroundings. Everywhere he looked was barren and the ground was coated is some form of soapy residue, the likes of which he had never seen. Whatever this strange place was, it was certain that Preston was very far from his home. Perhaps even as much as forty centimeters away.
Suddenly, he was overtaken by a sharp pain in his side. As he glanced down, he noticed that his polysaccharide capsule was severely scraped and bruised. Upon closer examination, there was a deep puncture at the center of the wound in which the cell wall was exposed.
Mortified, Preston attempted to maintain his composure. He decided he must search the area. As he wagged his achy flagellum, he soon became aware of his jostled cytoplasm and displaced ribosomes. As much as it pained him, he began to move forward. But as Preston soldiered on, flagellum flutter after flagellum flutter, nothing was to be found. Only the bareness and the strange residue surrounded him. Twenty-five seconds passed. Then fifty seconds. Then a hundred. Still nothing. Eventually, after what felt like eons – perhaps as much as three hundred seconds – Preston saw a silhouette in the distance, and so he flagellum fluttered forward towards the silhouette he saw.
Upon his arrival, Preston’s discovery was to his great dismay. There laid four dead bodies. Petrified and shocked, his mesosomes churned inside him as he fought back against vomiting up his nucleoid. How could something so horrible have happened to these bacteria? As the sheer trauma of the sight set in, what Preston experienced before he woke up in the strange land started to come back to him.
It was like just any other day in West Bakteriabad, a city located on the classroom desk of fourth-grader Jimmy Sutton. Preston had gone to the market to buy some fresh yeast for his week’s meals. While he was there he bumped into his neighbor, Patho Jen. They started talking, and she was telling Preston about her trip to Cyanobacteria City, a town at the top left corner of the desk about a ninety second flagellum flutter away. She told him about how the townspeople there had survived for hundreds of minutes off of an ancient yogurt spill that was never properly cleaned and dated back nearly three days ago. “What a cool place!” Preston thought. Maybe he ought to visit Cyanobacteria City one day.
But just then, a big cloud appeared and cast a shadow over the entire area. Only, this was no cloud. This thing was cloth-like. It shined bright white and oozed disgusting bubbles out of its side. The entire market turned its head toward the frightening object in the sky. As Preston took a closer look, it seemed as if this blood-curdling thing was wielded by one of the hosts which walked the classroom. Then in an instant, the object rapidly descended.
That was the last thing Preston remembered before he awoke so far away from his home. Now his attention refocused back to where he was. As chilling as they were, Preston couldn’t redirect his attention away from the bodies. The stench of the residue surrounded him.
“It’s an unfortunate sight isn’t it,” called a gravelly voice from behind him.
Preston turned around to find an old bacteria staring back at him. The first bacteria he’d seen after centimeters of flagellum fluttering.
“It is indeed,” Preston sighed. “Who are you?”
“My name is Clarasite,” the so-recently identified and aptly named Clarasite responded, “but you can call me Clara.”
“How could this have happened? What has happened?” Preston desperately inquired.
“It was the lambasting linen! The sinister serviette! Haven’t you known the prophecy?” croaked Clara.
Preston shook his head.
“Ah, a westerner. The last two times the disaster missed the top left corner, and so your people have forgotten.”
“What is the prophecy?” asked Preston
“Every Friday around 2:00 p.m. it comes. It destroys everything in sight. It kills all of us, about 99.9 percent of us. Even the viruses do not survive.”
Preston’s eyes widened and his body sank as Clara told of the prophecy. “What is this thing?” he asked.
“The Lysol Disinfectant Wipe, my child.”
Preston was stunned. It couldn’t be. He had heard of the LDW but was sure that it was only a myth. Preston shrieked to Clara, “how could this be? I thought the LDW was only a myth.”
“Oh, it is no myth! Just look around you! It is a killing machine, and it works brilliantly on most hard, non-porous surfaces. You may think the mess you live in tough, but Lysol is strong enough for even the toughest messes. You and I are the lucky ones. We are some of only 0.1 percent of bacteria and viruses to survive.”
“No! No, it can’t –”
“I’m sorry, but you must believe it, my child.”
Right then, Preston felt a cool wind on his back. Then quickly, a large shadow appeared over him and Preston turned his head to the sky. There it was.