Modern Day AU: Coronavirus is forcing states to go to lockdown to prevent infection. People are required to stay at home, meet no one and wear masks to protect others from getting infected.
Nadir Khan was a high ranking police officer despite his background as the son of immigrants. He was often faced with racism, but he had made his way. And he knew that despite all his studies and diligence, there was one asset that had helped him to his position: He was the only one who was capable of handling the eccentric genius named Erik. Erik. Nadir shuddered. Erik was... Erik. His best friend. His worst enemy. The worst nightmare of criminals and lawmen the same.
Erik was a scrawny man. Tall, but not extraordinary tall. Erik usually wore a mask to cover his face. Nadir knew the reason - Erik was deformed. They both weren't sure about the reason for the deformity, he might have been born like this or this might have been the result of a terrible accident, maybe with fire or acid, when he was just a baby. There was no way to do plastic surgery. Erik was allergic to all kinds of narcotics, without anesthesia a plastic surgery was absolutely impossible. So the poor man had no choice but live with the deformity.
Nadir knew that Erik suffered being shunned, mocked and attacked. People feared and hated what they didn't understand and everyone who didn't fit in society suffered for it. So Erik had become a bitter, reclusive man who used his genius for his own profit. Nadir had been the one to hunt him down and give him an ultimatum - change sides or rot in prison. Instead of being the king of cyber crime, Erik had become a major force against cyber crime. The man had changed sides, at least as far as Nadir knew.
Now Nadir went to see Erik. Usually he might have taken the bus, but that day there was no bus. He had to take his car to get to the remote house where his friend lived.
Nadir approached the house. It was next to an old, large graveyard, the house had previously belonged to a funeral service. There was a small chapel and a parking lot. No one was there, as was to be expected. Funerals weren't allowed these times - people had to stay home, avoid meeting anyone. A gathering for a funeral was too dangerous.
When he got out of his car he saw the door was already open. Damn Erik and his miniature surveillance cameras. Nadir was sure Erik knew for at least half an hour he was coming. Maybe longer. Erik had access to every smartphone and navigation device, which was one of the reasons Nadir loved the bus, the bicycle, walking and left his smartphone at home most times.
Erik stood in the door, dressed in a black suit, black hat and a mask. The mask was one of the custom made cotton masks one could buy at the tailor's shop. Since all shops except groceries were closed, tailors and seamstresses had turned to sew masks to earn at least something. Erik's mask was black with white skulls on it. The skulls had piercing blue eyes. Erik's eyes weren't visible, he wore sunglasses.
"Nadir, my friend!" Erik exclaimed cheerfully, "Care for a walk? It is such a wonderful day!"
This was unusual. Usually Erik was in bad mood. Nadir hadn't seen him that excited in years. But he agreed to go for a walk.
"Why do you insist on living at a graveyard?" Nadir asked. Erik was a private consultant - he earned a lot and could easily afford a better place to live. Being an ex-cyber-criminal many enterprizes hired him to protect their computer systems now. Even the police often asked for his help for he could track down almost everyone and recover seemingly lost data.
"I like the neighbors. They never complain. I love the graveyard - nice stonework, many plants. It is like a garden just for my use and I never have to pay one Euro for that."
Nadir raised an eyebrow. That was new. Usually Erik talked about how he preferred people dead. "Why are you in such a good mood?" he asked. What had Erik done? Why was he in such high spirits?
"I love it!" Erik exclaimed and threw his arms up theatrically.
"Covid 19, Coronavirus or however you want to call this madness. I absolutely LOVE it!" Nadir fully expected Erik to start dancing any moment now.
"How can you love it? The lockdown, the sick, the dead, the poverty..."
"Don't you see it, you fool? Right now everyone has to stay at home, has to avoid meeting someone and everyone has to wear a mask! I love it! Everyone is a prisoner in his own home, everyone wears a mask - welcome to my world. I've never known such freedom! Think of the logistics of going to the bank! Right now I just go there and no one calls the police. I can go shopping like everyone else and don't have to stay at home. No one looks twice at my mask, everyone wears a mask now!"
They saw two women jogging. Erik gave them an elegant bow and tipped his hat and they smiled. Nadir wasn't sure if they smiled because of Erik's behavior or his unusual mask. Of course Erik couldn't wear a normal mask - he had to wear one with skulls on it. Nadir, of course, wore a plain white one, nothing that would catch anyone's attention.
"See? Usually they would be screaming in panic now, but they aren't. They are smiling. I love it!" Erik exclaimed.
Nadir could barely breathe. He wasn't used to wearing a mask, he had a plain white cotton mask, obeying the law but hating it. Of course he didn't want to risk spreading the disease so he followed every advice - even if it wasn't really the law. He just didn't want to harm anyone.
"Can you imagine? Everyone is in home office, even the criminals. You know what this means? I am drowning in work and the bill the police will receive at the end of the month will be exorbitant!" Erik was giddy like a schoolboy in his first holiday. "Not even thinking of the bills I already sent to various customers. I guess I get a new car soon..."
"Don't you have any sympathy for the people locked up now, the sick ones, the unemployed?"
"Welcome to my world, humanity!" Erik replied cheerfully, "Can't you see the advantage? Everyone wears a mask, so right now I am normal, as normal as any other man. Everyone stays at home and the only way of communication is internet - meaning I am no longer excluded. I can participate in everything now. If everyone is forced by the law to live like I always have to, I am at an advantage: I am already used to living like this. This... this is freedom!"
"Tell me... You don't happen to know something about how this crisis began? You don't happen to know anything about the virus?" Nadir didn't like how much Erik loved it.
"Why don't you ask me if I was the diabolical genius creating it in a laboratory in China? You fool, you know that I am no scientist. I cannot do this, I had absolutely nothing to do with that. And yes, I know enough conspiracy theories. Almost all of them are laughable in their absurdity."
They met an old couple walking their dogs. Erik greeted them cheerfully and asked if he could pet the dogs. They allowed it and Nadir watched fascinated how Erik enjoyed smalltalk about dogs. Usually these people would never have talked to Erik. Now they did. The woman even asked where he had bought that mask, her grandson would love a mask like that.
When Erik and Nadir continued their way, Erik began describing how spring had come like every year, how happy he was to fully enjoy it for the first time. "Come on, let's go to the bank. I don't need money, but I want to. I just love to enter the bank with the mask on an nobody thinks twice of that. Or do you want to go shopping? I need nothing, but I could buy something just for fun. Can you imagine how easy my life has become? It is just wonderful! If I had anything to say in this, I'll make this a permanent law! Masks for everyone! Stay at home and do everything via internet! This is freedom!"
Nadir shook his head. At least one man was absolutely happy with the situation.
This isn't related to any of my other stories. I just had to write something about the current situation when I was thinking how Erik might react to a situation like that.