Death Toll Soars in Quagmire

 

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The death toll in Quagmire continues to rise as plague spreadsBird Flu ad unabated through the region. In just three short months, a quarter of the population (pegged at 27 adults the last time census workers felt safe enough to count) has died of the illness that now threatens all of Down County.

Aid workers, a lunatic and six convicts, insist they’re overworked, under staffed and untrained to deal with the deadly virus. Many have threatened to walk off the job unless agreement is reached to ship basic humanitarian supplies (morphine and a hypodermic) to area hospitals. Others have left to care for loved ones or flee to the surrounding Miasma foothills.

Addressing the disaster, Quagmire mayor, Franklin Delano Bwanghana, whose fireside chats have won him the praise of critics who earlier chastised his move to Rilesville, appealed to Down County’s Health and Human Services Director, Ethel Axelroot, for assistance.

“I need cash and I need it now,” Bwanghana said. “And I need a plane out of this hellhole.”

But by week’s end agreement with HHS seemed far from certain.

ethel-axelroot-HHS-Director“We ain’t sending cash, and we sure as hell ain’t sending this guy a plane,” said Axelroot, annoyed at being woken at two in the afternoon. “If anything we’ll send a deputy to see why he never paid for the last shipment”

The mood at the State Capitol in Balto was less confrontational.

“If we don’t give this guy what he wants there’s no telling what he might do,” said Poison Wells’ Selectman Charles “Two Buck Chuck” Sumner who ties the outbreak of plague to the county’s refusal to lower the minimum wage. “He’s got an army of plague-riddled zombies who know the wages and care are better in Balto. What happens if they come here?”

But according to Leyden “Ben” Butler, congressional hopeful from Pook’s Addition, that’s already happened.

“The Dem Bones employee who died last week had recently traveled from Quagmire to Hormel,” said Butler, stunning reporters who gathered outside his office for free bird wings from Moxie’s. “Flubug Memorial knew he was from Quagmire, they knew he had plague, they knew he was contagious. Yet they did nothing to protect the community.”

Calls to Flubug Memorial Hospital went unanswered (though that’s far from unusual).

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Eight New Cases of Plague

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Eight new cases of plague have been diagnosed since Sunday when a Dem Bones employee suspected of spreading the deadly disease was removed to Flubug Memorial Hospital from his post at the fry cooker. The unidentified man was discharged today when his insurance ran out, but officials insist “he poses no health risk” to the community “except those in the immediate vicinity when he coughs.”

The same can’t be said of the other eight cases.

All eight have been moved to a makeshift morgue at an undisclosed location pending review of their insurance coverage. All are considered highly contagious.Oswalds Buffet - eat till your tummy hurts!

Nikki Bartlett, Director of Cotton Swab Replacement at the CDC in Stateline, says she think she’s discovered a pattern. “They all bought food at the same restaurant. They all had fries. They all used the drive thru window. I’m no detective, but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a connection.”

Officer Roy, recently promoted when he gave up his job at The Bugle, is a detective. And he agrees with Bartlett: “The Dem Bones restaurant on Old Road is definitly the culprit. And if it were up to me, I’d shut the place down.”

But it isn’t up to Detective Roy. It’s up to the Down County Health Department. And that agency is headed by Walton Dickwadd, Sr., patriarch of the Dickwadd clan and CEO of Dickwadd International which owns the Dem Bones Family Restaurant chain and most, if not all, of Down County (including an ever so tiny piece of this newspaper). We caught up with “Wally” outside the mayor’s office where he had just endorsed Mayor Ornery for a ninth term in office.

walton-dickwadd-sr“Look,” he said bruquely. “If there’s any chance our restaurants are placing Flubuggers at risk I’ll shut ’em down. But everything we know suggests this employee was a lone nut. Plague literature was found in his apartment. Caged rats. A Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. He was obviously planning this thing for a long time. The police should’ve never let him go.”

But it wasn’t the police. And Sherrif “Big Dog” Ramsey takes issue with Dickwadd’s comments. “How the hell are we supposed to know what they’re up to at Flubug Hospital? I don’t even know where the damn place is! By the time we figured out this guy was wack job, he was gone. For all I know he’s back in Quagmire, infecting rats or whatever they do out there.”

This is a developing story. For information, contact Jips Driscoll at The Bugle news desk.

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Swine Pandemic Linked To Human Flu

Downer Pigs

Epidemiologists at the Center for Disease Control in Stateline have confirmed three more cases of human flu in Hormel’s swine population and have warned farmers to take action or risk widescale pandemic. Many farmers have already placed masks on their hogs or added Tamiflu to their slop.

But the response may be too late.

Joe Burst, who owns a pig farm south of the Nafta Superhighway, says he’s lost ten pigs in just one week. “We lose pigs all the time but most of ’em’s downer pigs. Downer pigs save us money ‘cuz we can ship ‘em without zappin’ ‘em first. But this here’s a different story. These pigs is dyin’ faster ‘n we can get ‘em to market. And that ain’t no joke.’”

Zach Putzman, ex-prize fighter turned hog farmer, sees a similar pattern. “I got pigs droppin’ like bat shit out here. And it ain’t from the heat. Most of ’em makes it to market. But now folks won’t take ’em on accounta this epidermic nonsense. Since when’s a sick pig ever stopped folks from buyin’ pork? The damn media’s done whipped everyone into a frenzy!”

CDC BoysHow long Zach or other farmers can withstand this assault is unclear. Nikki Bartlett, epidemiologist with the CDC and co-founder of the local bluegrass outfit, Center for Disease Control Boys, thinks not very long. “This flu is being spread from humans to pigs, not the other way around. And it’s spreading fast. In my view, the only answer is to remove the humans and let nature take its course.”

But Joe Burst says that solution is unthinkable. “I ain’t leavin’ my pigs for no pencil-neck bureaucrat. If they wants my hogs, they’ll have to pry ’em from my cold, dead fingers!”

And don’t expect help from lawmakers.

State agriculture officials are scheduled to take up the issue this week, but the Hormel Pig Lobby is already on top of the situation. Reports of free lap dances at the Tres Frais for members of the State Agriculture Committee are rampant and fueling speculation that the committee may delay action pending further delay.

Becky Landgrab, a stripper who performs at the Tres Frais when not soliciting outside Horseman’s Park Motel, says dancers were informed last week that customers with special “hog-shaped” tickets would be given “special treatment,” including free lap dances, stunted grape champagne and “and anything else they want.”

Unfortunately Ms. Landgrab was shot seven times in the back several hours after she gave her statement to the press. Stateline police have declared her death a suicide.

Swine Pandemic Tied to Human Flu

Hormel – Epidemiologists at the CDC in Atlanta have confirmed three more cases of human flu in Hormel’s swine population and are warning farmers to take further action or risk a widescale pandemic. Already in Hormel many have placed masks on their pigs or added Tamiflu to their slop, but for some herds the response may be too late.

Joe Burst, who owns a pig farm just south of the Nafta Superhighway, says he’s lost ten hogs in a week. “We gets downer pigs like anyone else and it ain’t usually no big deal. Fact, we saves money ‘cause we can ship ‘em out without zappin’ ‘em first. But this here’s a diff’ernt story. These pigs is dyin’ faster ‘n we can get ‘em to market.”

Zach Putzman sees a similar pattern. “I got pigs droppin’ like bat shit out here, and it ain’t from the heat. I prob’ly I shoulda kept my wife in bed when she had that hundred ‘n four fever. But what are ya gonna do? I’m runnin’ a pig farm out here not a rest home.”

How long that farm, and many others, can withstand this viral assault is still unclear. Nikki Bartlett, epidemiologist with the CDC and guitarist for local bluegrass outfit, Center for Disease Control Boys, thinks not very long. “It’s clear this disease is spread from humans to pigs, and it’s spreading fast. In my view, the only answer is to remove the humans and let nature take its course.”

For Joe Burst, however, that solution could mean ruin. “I ain’t leavin’ my pigs ‘til you pry them from my cold, dead hands!” he said defiantly. “An’ that goes double fer ever’ damn farmer in these parts.”

State agriculture officials will decide this week what actions need to be taken.