LISTEN | Writing the End: "Turn to Page 173" by Paige Nick
Paige Nick in "Turn to Page 173" envisages the coronavirus pandemic unfolding as a choose-your-own-adventure story.
At the beginning of lockdown we asked eight storytellers to pen a work of fiction inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now we have asked them to record the story that they wrote for us during the first few days of lockdown. Some brave authors have read it themselves, and some have got their talented friends to do it. So take a listen to the wonderful tales of Writing the End... Coronavirus, written by some of our very best authors.
Maybe the coronavirus pandemic is like a choose-your-own-adventure story. And if you choose to wash your hands and self-isolate, you turn to page 173. It's a few years from now and we're dealing with a new normal. There's an unprecedented focus on health care. Those of us left are a little gentler with the planet and each other.
Or you turn to page 21 and you're in a supermarket, staring at an empty loo-roll shelf. If you want to order an 18-pack from the Dark Web, in exchange for a kidney or your eggs, turn to page 38.
If you want to start crying, turn to page 41. And if you want to start a change.org petition, turn to page 57.
On page 57, you discover you've stepped into a fiery apocalypse. If you've watched a lot of sci-fi movies and reality TV and you want to try out your survival skills, turn to page 91.
You quickly flip to page 11 and you've gone back in time to just moments before a family in Wuhan, China sit down to a pangolin* dinner
Or you quickly flip to page 11 and you've gone back in time to just moments before a family in Wuhan, China, is about to sit down to a pangolin* dinner. You burst through their door, smash their plates to the floor and get locked up for being a crazy person. But you're OK with that.
Or turn to page 3, and halfway through that page you go even further back in time. Where you spend a few years creating a massive campaign that ensures pangolins become the most revered, sacred and untouchable animals in all of China. Worshipped for their scaly exterior and love of ants.
Next, you turn to page 303, and find yourself at your futuristic virtual workspace some years from now. Reading about yet another medical breakthrough, unintentionally inspired by research initiated at the apex of the coronavirus back in 2020. Contact lenses that cure cancers, digestible data and mushrooms that ease gout and cure diabetes.
Then you're sent to page 659, where you wake up and it was all just a horrible nightmare. Or, inevitably, you make a choice that sends you back to page 1, and we start all over again.
*Disclaimer: authorities in China and elsewhere continue to patrol for illegal smuggling of pangolins. Pangolins are listed as second-class state-protected species in China. Animal rights groups continue to raise awareness over the plight of the pangolin and hold World Pangolin Day every year on the third Saturday in February.