I very much regret to tell you that the experiment in re-opening America for business, recently begun by the Blessed Lord Prez Trumpleton (May He Live Forever), has gone terribly wrong.

You will almost certainly recall that a couple of weeks ago, in an unguarded moment when we were together in the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, I suggested to the Lord Prez the best way to settle the question about whether America is ready yet to go back to normal after so long spent locked down because of the corona plague, would be to find a town full of volunteers, seal them off from the outside, and let them get back to dining out, working, shopping, gambling recklessly and having their hair cut.

The Lord Prez naturally loved the idea and in pretty short order the Lower Midwest community of Darwin Falls was selected, as a tribute to its citizens’ 100% spirit of volunteerism, to conduct this mighty social-medical experiment.

It seemed to be going well for the first few days, although trouble developed when it was discovered the Air Force did not have the airlift capacity to keep the town properly supplied with toilet paper and various household cleaning supplies. All the same, the townspeople seemed deliriously happy to be back to normal again.

It is estimated, for example, enough hair was cut in the local salons and barbershops on Day One to stuff 10,000 giant toy penguins.

Then, some time late last week, all communications from the town abruptly ceased.

Military aircraft and drones flying overhead reported no movement in the streets. The only thing seen stirring within the city limits were dust devils and tumbleweed, accompanied by suitably haunting cowboy music played by an invisible poncho-clad stranger on a mysterious harmonica.

After three days without so much as a peep from the inhabitants, the Pentagon general in charge of the experiment decided to cautiously send in a remote-controlled bomb disposal vehicle, because these machines have cameras fitted to them and can give a pretty good idea of what is happening without endangering human life.

The remote-controlled vehicle was prepared, and on Sunday morning it was sent in, crossing the first barbed-wire perimeter easily on its caterpillar tracks just as the Sabbath sun rose, and rumbling steadily at about two miles per hour toward the center of the downtown area.

Tension mounted at the control center three miles outside the town limits, as the first pictures started to come back to the video screens.

The streets seemed empty but for a few bits of litter and the occasional tumbleweed, all drifting in the morning breeze. Then, turning a corner, the camera-mounted remote vehicle began showing images of large numbers of empty cars parked carelessly outside the courthouse.

When these first images were seen back at the command center, the order was given for the vehicle to stop and survey the area with its swivel-mount, rather the way the Mars Rover scans the Martian landscape.

Nothing moved.

After a hasty conference of senior military officials, reality-show celebrities, and the Acting Vice President of the Day, the critical decision was taken to send the remote vehicle up the courthouse steps to see if there were any clues to be found inside.

The next images taken by the remote vehicle were immediately classified top secret, but as the Rover moved around the crowded but silent courtroom, the story became horrifying clear. And, because of my close connection to the Blessed Lord Prez, I was personally given a description by one of the game-show hosts who was in charge of security at the remote command post.

The Rover sent back images of 75 to 150 inert bodies strewn across the public benches and over the floor, a crowd which was estimated to be almost the entire population of Darwin Falls. The excited chatter in the command post ceased abruptly, however, when the Rover detected and was directed toward a large wooden tub at the front of the court room, surrounded by Kool-Aid jugs and torn-open cases of bleach.

Nearby was a large man wearing a sport coat and sunglasses who had toppled forward into the tub containing the toxic elixir. His hand was clutching a jug and a ladle.

On the TV monitor mounted in the corner of the room, a continuous video loop was playing, showing the very Lord Prez himself describing how various household cleaners and disinfectants might easily be used to either immunize or even cure people from the virus. It is particularly ominous to note that 15 of the bodies in the room had needles in their arms and Clorox bottle lying, spilled over, nearby.

But it was clear the majority of the population succumbed to a concoction of Kool-Aid and bleach, although the first autopsies, carried out Sunday evening, showed at least one person died while also trying to consume a plugged-in ultra-violet light bulb.

There appear to have been no survivors.

I am all sure you saw the Lord Prez on TV the other day insisting that his experiment was merely a piece of sarcasm, a casual joke that was blown up out of all proportion by the fake media, and that he had never intended that things should end this way. But there you go.

As I said to him later, you simply cannot spend your entire life wishing people would take you seriously for once, then complain bitterly when they actually do. Let that be a lesson to us all, I suppose.

Out of deep respect for the late citizens of Darwin Falls, who believed so much in the Lord Prez that they were willing to give their lives to show how right he can be, I am going to cut short this week’s report right here.

Suffice it to say that the postscript to this whole terrible affair is that Lord Trumpleton has ordered the town to be bulldozed into a crater dug nearby by a small tactical nuclear weapon, and its name to be erased forever from all maps.

God bless you Lord Trumpleton. A tough leader for difficult times.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.