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GOOTANS OFFER CORONAVIRUS ADVICE

They’ve dealt with it before!

The world is in the grips of coronavirus fever. Every day brings updated numbers of those infected, and breathless stories about clusters where the virus seems to be spreading.

The result is a global citizenry that doesn’t know where to turn, or how to change its habits. Should people shake hands? Should they travel? If they are coughing, should they go to the emergency room? Tests are in great demand, but what seems in greater demand is common sense.

That’s where Gootans can help.

The Gootans, a race of aliens from Planet Gootan (hence the name) have long observed humans, and sometimes they have lived among us—just a few months ago, seven of their spaceships landed in Central China. The Gootans roughly ten billion years old as a species, and as a result they have dealt with several pandemics over the course of their history. 

“Oh, yeah,” said a senior Gootan scientist who identified himself, for the convenience of humans, as “Dr. Bob.” “We’ve had what you would call flu, what you would call plague, what you would call viruses. Tons of ‘em. We had one about eight million years ago that wiped out a plox of Gootans. It’s hard for me to explain how many that is, since we’re a half-autonomous, half-hive species, but trust me: it was lots of us.”

SOME ARE MORE RECENT

Not all Gootan pandemics are ancient history. “Every time a Gootan sneezes, there are a certain number of worry warts who freak out,” said Dr. Bob. “It is sort of gross: we sneeze right out of our open eyes. But over these billions of years, we have worked out some basic rules. We printed them on a small laminated k-loxxer-s/teen, or what you would call a card, and handed them out to as many people as possible.”

He produced a card. It was filled with undecipherable markings. “Let me translate,” Dr. Bob said. “It says cover your eyes: in your case, that would be nose and mouth. It says make sure you apply…what’s the word you people use?…soap to your I-yy-u-I-6, or skin.”

The long list included other familiar pieces of advice: stay inside if you suspect that you are a carrier, pay special attention to the need for social separation on the part of the elderly and immunocompromised. The last item of the card, Dr. Bob said, was a kind of Gootan proverb. “It goes something like ‘Don’t dream of the fire when you are merely warm from a fluffy blanket,’” he said. “I guess that means not to let your fear run away and make things worse than they are. I mean, maybe that’s what it means. I’m a doctor, not a proverb analyst.”

NOT AL BAD

Dr. Bob said that his society does sometimes overreact to viruses. “It’s understandable,” he said. “Especially since we travel to other planets, including yours. Have you ever seen War of the Worlds? It has aliens who are wiped out by a common human virus? What? It’s a book also? Is it good? I just saw the movie.”

And the Gootans are different in one important respect from us. “When we get a virus like this,” Dr. Bob said. “It temporarily increases the f-hh-98-otx, or what you would call the intensity of sexual release, in what you would call our males and our females, as well as the rest of us. So I guess you could say there’s a a8-be-xx-laala.” He laughed. “You know: a silver lining.”

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