Papers please: a guide to the post-COVID-19 world

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Permit me to fast-forward into one possible future after a coronavirus vaccinated world and the utopia it will bring. Let me paint you a little story…

Rubber stamp saying 'Approved'

Image: Tayeb Mezahdia from Pixabay

The morning queue for the high street fast-food outlet shuffles forward. The sun peeks above the skyline of downtown, bathing me and other hungry patrons in a golden hue, warming us, eagerly awaiting our bacon sandwich and coffee, or similar.

I reach the head of the queue and an employee stops me. “Vaccination papers, please.”

I stare blankly. He repeats his demand and I shake my head. “I’ve not been vaccinated.”

A gasp rises from those around me and they back away as if I’m Typhoid Mary. The guy steps in front of me, folding his arms, barring my path into the establishment. “Sorry, mate. If you’ve not had the jab, you’re not coming in.”

I turn away, hungry and dejected. Members of the queue, who have been holding their breath in case they ingest the pox-ridden spores emanating from me, exhale.

Trudging up the high street, I approach the shopping centre. The security guard stationed outside demands my papers. I sigh and turn away.

I have to get out of this place. Just leave. There’s no fun any more. Nothing I can do. I pop into the nearest travel agency that doesn’t require me to have had an injection. Sit down.

“I’d like to go somewhere else.”

“Certainly, Sir. Where to?”

“How about France? No, Thailand. Perhaps the Seychelles so I can live out my life by the sea, not a care in the world, watching the endless sunsets as the water laps gradually higher due to mankind’s meddling. Just me and the ocean.”

She taps into her terminal. “We have a flight tomorrow evening to Victoria.”

“Perfect.” I pull out my credit card.

“Papers, please.”

I stare. Return the card to my wallet and sigh. Thank her and walk out.

Kicking a dicarded bottle up the street, then thinking better of it and stooping to pick it up and put it in the nearest bin, I pull out my phone. I’d love to just drive away to the countryside but I’m uninsurable. Too high risk without the blessed papers, so the car had to go.

I’m one of the lucky 2.5 billion people who have already had COVID-19 and didn’t know it. Brushed it off like dust along the top edge of the mirror. I had no need for the vaccine: it offered me no more protection than my natural defences so I chose not to have it.

And the thanks I get for saving the natural resources? Saving the money, the hassle, the specialist transportation and refrigeration of vials. The reduction in landfill from discarded shrink-wrapped plastic and needles, not to mention the strain on the stretched health service. Yep, the thanks I get is solitary confinement. Not allowed to go anywhere, do anything without joining the club.

I swipe at my phone to retrieve a number. Listen to the mechanical purr of the ringtone until he answers: “‘Sup.”

“Hi. You know you said you could get me those papers? I think it’s time.”


The morning queue for the high street fast-food outlet shuffles forward. The sun peeks above the skyline of downtown, bathing me and other hungry patrons in a golden hue, warming us, eagerly awaiting our bacon sandwich and coffee, or similar.

I reach the head of the queue and an employee stops me. “Vaccination papers, please.”

I wave my forged papers and he lets me in. Sucker has no idea what a genuine certificate looks like. He’s not paid to care. I also have a forged exemption certificate in my wallet, just in case. If anyone challenges me, I’m covered from both angles.

My contact is doing a roaring trade. 2.5 billion potential customers. He knows someone at the department of health and pays her a cut of each sale to add the details to the database, just in case. In turn, she knows someone in IT who takes a cut to alter the datestamp and owner of the record she accessed. It’s just software. Easy.

For now, I get some semblance of my life back. I can go places. Do things again. I’m no longer on the brink of depression for exercising my basic human rights. I get my bacon sandwich.

Life is tolerable.


The grey market starts to run dry. Someone high up realised that a piece of paper was too easy to forge and a plastic card was too expensive. So they introduced new papers. These have barcodes on them.

Now, anyone wanting to get a bacon sandwich and coffee needs to hold out their papers to have it scanned by the person at the door. Light goes green, you’re good to go. Otherwise, bye bye.

I’m okay because my fake vaccination record is in the database already. I was sent new papers automatically by the software because I was in the system. Others aren’t so clued up. Over a billion or so people without an entry still find themselves in the same situation I was a few years ago. Destitute. Cast-offs. Second-class citizens.

The clever ones find a way to get their information merged into the database, although it’s not so easy now. Some of the loopholes have been closed. These behemoth systems operated by countries and governments are all interlinked, which is an absolute goldmine for hackers.

Every restaurant, shopping centre, high street store, train station, and airport has a barcode scanner. I should have seen it coming and bought shares in the tech firms, just like the politicians did. Missed opportunity. Or maybe I should have invested in the plastic and silicon suppliers, just like Bezos did. Revenue from the supply chain. Revenue from selling the end product. Guy’s a genius.

In the infinite wisdom of the implementors, the database is protected by biometrics and an ID card, rather than logins and passwords.

The fools.

My contact’s an entrepreneur. For a small fee, he can hire someone to swipe an employee’s laptop bag or handbag/purse. Grab the card, clone it in the blink of an eye, take the person’s phone and debit cards to make it look legit, then leave the ID card and everything else in the bag, dumping it in the nearest bin where it’s easy to find.

That’s the keys to the castle, right there. A dusting of magnetic powder, a strip of sticky tape around the phone, both available from Amazon (thanks, Bezos). Rip off the tape. Voila. Fingerprints.

Since someone’s fingerprints can’t be changed, every system they use that requires biometric identification is open. Unlocking the phone with the stolen print leads to email and social media and the ability to reset those accounts, plus their online banking password. The fingerprint even affords access to their house if necessary. Unlike a simple security code or typed password that can be different for each system, that fingerprint can’t be changed either. One ‘password’ to unlock everything in a person’s life. A hacker’s dream. The cloned card is just insurance. Extortion or blackmail is so much more effective.

But I digress…


The barcodes are a huge technical flop. No problem. It’s only taxpayers’ money. Yours and mine. The people who had shares or were awarded the contracts have made their money anyway. Spent it, probably, or invested it in off-shore accounts.

RFID is the next logical step. Sod the expense. But then someone suggests NFC instead. Anyone who’s in the database is issued with a card that can now be scanned with an NFC reader. Yeah, the same technology behind contactless payment and Apple Pay. No need for database access because the information is encoded on the chip. New hardware readers for every restaurant, shop and so on. New billionnaires for the boys’ club.

The chip contents is easily cloned of course. Get close to anyone’s card with a reader app that can be downloaded from the Play Store for nothing, and the data can be extracted. A new grey market emerges exchanging stolen card data, exactly the same as the multi-million dollar cloned credit card data in the 2000s. A few bucks buys a couple of hundred card details. Less if you need just one to purchase your life back and have it encoded on a blank card.

In an effort to stem the tide, the governments sign bilateral treaties, mandating severe extradition penalties and prison sentences for non-compliance, both for individuals and organisations found in possession of, issuing, or accepting forged data.

I’m okay still. My data’s in the database already from years ago. Some aren’t so lucky.

The news is littered with offenders, a public example made of them to discourage anyone else from trying. But violators still wander the streets. Among us. Those thoughtless bastards who are already immune to the virus but haven’t had the “voluntary” shot. Those people who are exempt because of pre-existing medical conditions are roaming the land coughing their filthy diseases on everyone and anyone who is already vaccinated or already naturally immune. Those terrible few billion people who are cheating the system so they can continue to have a life. The horror.

Everyone else – the clean – who line up every year for their booster to counter last year’s dastardly mutated strain can breathe easy at night and roll their eyes at the scummy anti-vaxxers and the already immune and the medically compromised who cannot have the vaccine for fear of drowning in their own lungs.

The world is good.


The card system is a technical flop. Too easy to bypass. Oh well. It’s only money.

The governments club together to come up with a new way to waste trillions of taxpayers’ money…


The morning queue for the high street fast-food outlet shuffles forward. The sun peeks above the skyline of downtown, bathing me and other hungry patrons in a golden hue, warming us, eagerly awaiting our bacon sandwich and coffee, or similar.

I reach the head of the queue and an employee stops me. “Vaccination check, please.”

Turning my arm to him, he scans the implant.

The light goes red.

He scans again, furrows his brow. “Oh, sorry mate. We only accept version 4.6 or higher of the AstraZeneca vaccine here. You have Pfizer 5.1. Book in for an upgraded vaccine.”

I turn and trudge away, foiled for now. But at least I’m not alone. Reams of people in the queue who’ve dutifully had the vaccine for years are being turned away too.

Maybe now they’ll know what it’s like to live as an outcast. Maybe they’ll become the very things they despised – those evil dirty people who only wanted to carve out an existence and were forced to find ways around the system in which they were confronted. Maybe these fresh-faced cleans will wish they had never jumped on the rollercoaster so fast in 2021. Maybe there’ll be an uprising.

Maybe.


Disclaimer

The above is currently a work of fiction. Some or all of it might be attempted by [insert name of regime]. I’ll do everything in my power to stop it happening but can’t do it alone.

It’s our decision how much we let them get away with. Right now. Stay sharp and choose your future carefully.

1 person scribbled here

    zero

    [ . . . ] (Brain contents added and I haven’t even had the jab!] Contents have been shrinking since 2001 when I last had a flu jab. And people have had jabs for many years — what kind of condition are their contents in with only flu jabs, never mind this spiky bioweapon? And I’m pretty sure sugar, fructose or glucose syrup are also genetically modified and have something extra nasty in them beside triggering diabetes etc. Can’t prove it but they are putting it in everything… Well-written entertaining post by the way.

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