Sunday, May 2, 2010

Zombies in the Suburbs; Entry Three

It's been very quiet around here for the last few days. I've haven't gone outside since my last entry, which I account to a mix of fear and good sense. First, being afraid is a basic survival mechanism, and it's as important now as water or food. My gnawing worry is that my fear will overpower me and I'll starve or die of dehydration in my little fortress. Or the fear of what is outside will erode my sanity, and I'll snap and do something rash. The cure? Getting busy. So after several days of just existing and being inside my head, I'm showing signs of life and I'm going to force myself to get busy doing something.

The grid has been up pretty consistently, so I've been able to get online and read some news from around the country and the Boston area. A lot of DNS error messages and other shit like that, but the AP, CNN, and even some local Boston news outlets are still posting updates. I also have had some success picking up am radio signals from as far away as Concord, NH. Those have been pre-recorded emergency messages, but they get updated occasionally, so someone is still at their post. Landline phones are down, and there is no cell service, but cable is still working. The weak link is going to be the cable connecting my house to the Internet; one thunderstorm and a few trees or branches down and that will be that. How long anyone continues to post or broadcast is anyone's guess, as the news is bleak and dire, and safe places are going to be harder to find. Pretty soon the power grid is going to go offline and stay off, or no one is going to be around to share what news there is.

Between what I am still able to listen to or gather on-line, this outbreak is everywhere. Local, regional, national, international. A lot of the early news -- when the government thought this was containable -- hinted that the illness was bacterial and thus treatable. Since the earliest outbreaks were in farming areas in rural China, the CDC and UN-WHO expected it was related to water-born parasites, originating from people drinking water contaminated with animal feces. Basically, the first snapshots of the disease pointed doctors and researchers to a brutal version of meningitis, which in turn caused encephalitis. They guessed the erratic and sometimes violent behavior was a symptom of severe swelling of the brain. They were wrong of course, but at the time no one would have second guessed scientists from the CDC or WHO. And if someone had suggested a virus that reanimated the dead?

What the Chinese government knew, and when, will never be known, but there is evidence that they tried to quarantine vast areas of rural farm lands. It didn't work, obviously, and the city of Wuhan was to become the epicenter of the outbreak. Wuhan was a city of about 9 million, so there was plenty of growth material for the virus to grow in. As I have learned, transmission of the virus can only occur through direct contact with infected fluids; blood and saliva obviously, although very early on the virus my have spread even faster through sexual contact. I can just imagine some poor local farmer coming into the big city with a few yuan in his pocket, looking to get lucky. He fucked some cheap whore, and then fucked the rest of us, too.

At some point, governments and NGOs started to get worried that this disease was more than a nasty bacterial meningitis. At first, when reporters learned of rioters in Wuhan, they bought the Chinese government's version of the truth hook, line, and sinker. No first hand reporting was coming out of Wuhan, and certainly the Chinese weren't letting one in. Later the press learned the Chinese started with pretty conventional containment and quarantine measures, but they were less than useless. Some of the measures probably increased the spread of the virus, as healthy, uninfected people were trapped with carriers. Instead of limiting the effect of the outbreak, hundreds - if not thousands - of new carriers were created. Of course hindsight is 20-20, and who really could have imagined someone so sick with fever as to die from it, would then rise later to attack any and living creatures? The virus, with its durability, ease of transmission, and quick submission/transformation rates, exploded exponentially. Reporters learned later that the Chinese had infantry units using fully-automatic weapons to try to repress the infected - can you imagine why the Chinese didn't want that news getting out? - but many of the those units, in turn, swelled the ranks of the infected. What had been a local problem quickly became a regional problem for the Chinese. In short order, after outbreaks in other major Chinese cities, it was a national problem. After outbreaks in India, Thailand, Australia, Japan, and Russia, it became an international problem. With the infection rates and uniqueness of the disease, the spread of the virus quickly became an international and intercontinental disaster. The virus may not be airborne, but with modern transportation systems in play, it might as well have been.

From what I've read, LA and San Fransisco had near simultaneous outbreaks, and as our government turned its attention and resources of those major cities, outbreaks began in small cities all along on the West Coast, as well as in major Mid-West cities like Chicago and East Coast cities like New York, Washington, Boston, and Miami. Before the National Guard could even get a handle on things in LA, the virus was in every major -- and most minor -- population centers. Looting, rumor mongering, misguided education attempts, and real stories of horrific violence all combined to paralyze, and eventually shatter, American society. Quickly it became everyman -- and woman -- for themselves. You couldn't trust family, friends, neighbors, cops, doctors; everyone was was afraid of everyone. There are plenty of stories of family members killing each other, even if they suspected their loved one was sick. Some times the victim wasn't infected, but sadly most times they were. It was as if Hell had been unleashed on Earth. I'm not religious, but I suppose it is an apt description.

Okay, enough of the current events lecture. I told myself I was going to get busy today and sitting down thinking about all of this terrible shit is not what I had in mind. I'm going to check my fortress, take stock of my water and food, and figure out an escape plan if the infected start showing up in number. So far their haven't been many visible from my house, but my one close call taught me that it won't take many for me to get taken down. I expect its been quiet because there is more food for the infected in the cities and larger towns around, but as the living dwindle, the infected are going to start spreading out looking for more food. I'm essentially prey, and the predators have lots of advantages. I'll have to stay many, many steps ahead.

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Zombies are serious business and should not be taken lightly. But my entries, on the other hand, are entirely for fun.