How Polio Was Cured

At the exact mid-point of the Bronze Age, there was an island village called Priggidyprop. It was peaceful place and its people knew a lot about fishing and boats. One of those people was Mugsy.

Mugsy liked crackers.

When Mugsy was old enough to work, his parents told him that he either had to go out and get a fishing job on the fishing boats, or he’d have to go into the family business of slapping ducks. “The duck slappin’ business is dyin’,” Mugsy’s mother told him. “I could teach you to do it, sure, and you’d probably get some good years out of it, but there’s no future in it. Fishin’! That’s where the real money is! If you learn to fish, you’ll be as rich as you possibly can be in an isolated island fishing village.”

But Mugsy didn’t really want either of those careers. He wanted to travel. He wanted to be the first person to use boats, not to catch fish, but to see the world. Mugsy was mocked and ridiculed for this by the villagers, until one of them stole the idea and became a world-famous explorer. That was Chuck Bloppins, more famously known as Captain Blopbeard.

Captain Blopbeard sailed the seas and had eleven adventures, each more interesting than the last. Given that, people now only care about the final, most interesting one. That was the time Captain Blopbeard and his loyal crew were blown off course by a roided-up hurricane and accidentally discovered the secret location of Polio Island, the headquarters of the notorious Polio Gang. Blopbeard’s crew decided that, since they were in the area anyway, they ought to put an end to those do-badders once and for all.

They hid their boat at a nearby shadowy harbour and the Captain addressed the crew. “Here’s the plan,” he said. “I’ll take two of you ashore with me and the rest of you stay here and hold a seance to see if ghosts like me. I hope they do.”

“Sounds good, boss,” said all the unnecessary crew members who don’t get their names in this story.

And so, Blopbeard, Nadia, and Bongbop waded to Polio Island and headed for the island fortress.

The Polio Gang was infamous for inventing a new type of crime. They stole the lack of the polio virus from people. Their proprietary method, still a trade secret, allowed them to track down people who didn’t have polio and then they’d surround that person and shout “Hands up, sucker! Give us all your not polio, chump! Yeah, nice and slow, butthead!” and then they’d leave the poor victim there with no lack of polio left. The authorities had tried everything they could think of to stop this evil gang of crooks, but it was Ernie’s birthday so they got distracted by cake.

“Careful, team,” said Captain Blopbeard as they crept, swords drawn, through the hallways of the Polio Fortress. “We wouldn’t want these scoundrels to notice that we’re here before we want them to.”

“You’ve got that right, Boss,” said Nadia, Blopbeard’s second-in-command who usually made hilarious quips, but said nothing particularly amusing just then.

Upon reaching a stairwell, the Captain sized up their options. “If I’m understanding this contraption correctly, it looks like we have to choose either up or down. Any suggestions?”

“No,” said Bongbop.

They stood there until the Polio Gang noticed them and forced them at gunpoint into the office of Don Polio, leader of the Polio Gang, whose name was a coincidence.

As they were marched into a large elegant room with a fancy desk and intricate lightswitches, Nadia pointed at a table off to the side. “Look at that! Suitcases full of vials of not polio!”

“Pure, uncut, lack of polio,” said Don Polio as he rose to meet his guests. He was a small man, but projected an aura and strength because he wore a tie that had swears on it. Blopbeard and his crew were reasonably impressed, though as sailors they’d heard most of the swears before.

“I suppose,” said Don Polio, “you’re here to stop my criminal empire?”

“You know it,” said Blopbeard. And then there was a sword fight that lasted for three minutes and nineteen seconds, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but time it. Pretend you’re having a sword fight for that long. It’s quite a while.

When the sailors finally had the Polio Gang on the ropes, Don Polio hit a button on his desk and suddenly dropped out of sight. An ejection seat placed him into a getaway boat and he was careening across the sea. Oh, and he’d grabbed all the cases of no polio during the fight, by the way.

Captain Blopbeard and the others laughed at the idea that Don Polio could escape on the open seas. They returned to their own ship and found Don Polio crying because he didn’t know how to get past the roided-up hurricane. Blopbeard agreed to help him if he gave them all the lack of polio vials and the swear tie. Embarrassed, Don Polio relented.

And so, Captain Blopbeard and his boat full of friends sailed around the world giving a lack of polio to anyone who needed it. And that’s why, to this very day, vaccines are called Blopbeard’s Gift. If you’ve never heard them called that, that’s on you.

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