Interest in what quickly became known as the Four-and-Twenty Theory spread rapidly. New evidence emerged of the medieval bird virus. Cultural theorists, partnering with epidimiologists, uncovered references in sonnets and in the gold-encrusted illustrations of ecclesiastical manuscripts. Clear as day, they said.
And then, because it had gotten out of hand, Simone ‘Simmo’ Pierce, an out of work comedian from suburban Melbourne, posted images of the notebook pages on which she’d concocted the idea as an idle amusement for herself during isolation. Her original post was confirmed by story-hungry journalists as the one and only source of all the fuss.
And then a strange thing happened. In a world where malicious politics had replaced certainty and truth, Simmo became a pariah, the fall-girl for a sceptical public, strained as it was by the disease. Her sin was not that she had lied, because lieing itself barely raised eyebrows these days, but that she had done so for no purpose. Outrageous. Every tenet of the new morality identified untruth as a legitimate strategic position. But Simmo had no strategy. No endgame. No purpose to her fibbing. And for that it seemed the wrath of the whole world, led by the loudest of the purposeful liars, fell upon her.
And all she could do, in return, was laugh.