Jun. 14th, 2007 12:00 am
magistera: (Default)
I thought it was a hoax.

I mean, I saw something about it in the news a few months back - but it was the weird news on the Metro Express, and they were talking about some tiny village in Africa, and the Tanzanian government condemning it and so on - and, well, Reuters reports all sorts of crazy shit in their weird news, and they source a lot of it to Africa. Maybe because that's far away and different-seeming enough of a place that they figure people will believe anything if it's set there? Or maybe it's just racism. Whatever. I didn't believe in the rain of blood, and I didn't buy into this brain eating cult spreading like wildfire in the shade of Kilimanjaro. I don't believe most of the shit on Ananova, either.

I'm rambling. Adrenaline, I guess. Deep breaths.

I do remember hearing about it when they sent the CDC team in. They were calling it a prion disease, like mad cow with a nasty, homocidal twist. The scientists on TV had all sorts of theories, from animal cross-infection to some kind of bizarre, cannibalistic death cult that lucked into a surefire way to gain followers when they ate the wrong (right?) brain. Or mass hysteria. One guy claimed that he could prove it was an obscure Islamic practice that had been resurrected, but that was on Fox, and he never did explain how a fanatical new religious movement in Tanzania meant that we should bomb Iran.

They had a survivor (cultist?) on TV, too. She didn't seem to be aware of the cameras - she was preoccupied with the baby she was cradling in her arms. She rocked it back and forth, tucked against her breast. Her eyes were empty, and it looked like she was drooling. She was crooning softly, making sounds that managed to be both sing-song and gutteral. It sounded like language, but the voiceover said that it wasn't one that was known to anyone who'd seen the tape. Every now and then, she'd stroke a hand along the baby's forehead, and reach in to pull out another dripping gobbet of -

I can't. If you're reading this, you know what it was. You've probably seen them yourself. I can't stop seeing her every time I close my eyes.

The media were pretty quick to lock into their 'narrative' about what was going on. Maybe a day or so, tops. It was a cult, a bizarre, murderous, sick cult. The McLaughlin Group uniformly predicted it'd be a nine-day wonder, crushed by the Tanzanian government, who were reportedly sending in troops to quell it. There was talk of peacekeepers, but the Tanzanian goverment objected. By then it was cropping up in Rwanda and Kenya as well. Olbermann said that the media focus on it was a deliberate distraction from the Democrats' investigation into the US Attorney firings. The Daily Show did a bit on it - how to react if a friend or family member 'comes out' as a member of the cult. Meanwhile, the State Department's list of countries they warned Americans to stay out of quietly grew two new members: Zambia and the Netherlands. The CDC team wasn't on TV anymore. They weren't even mentioned.

The news was full of riots and fire, and chaos. But all of it was somewhere else, and I thought it was a hoax. Or an excuse. Or a coverup. Or anything except - god, what it was.

Of course the bloggers screamed. It started in places like Indymedia, where you're as likely to find an anarchist posting about chemtrails as anything else. All the conspiracy kooks picked it up. Like an early-warning system, only no one listened. And when the travel ban came down, you can be sure the political blogosphere mobilized. They wrote letters. They submitted FOIA requests. They demanded answers. There was talk of mounting a march on the Capitol. It didn't happen, of course. Events, as they say, overtook them.

Eventually, they grounded all the planes. They turned away all the boats - how many floating graveyards, overcome by disease or starvation? How many still alive, uninfected? - it doesn't bear thinking about. There were protests, of course, on humanitarian grounds, since no country would accept them, but they were still turned away. Eventually, in some cities at least, they set up barricades and patrols and curfews.

It's just that they were too late. The wonders of a global economy and just-in-time stocking and god knows what else - the world may not be flat, but it's way too small to contain something like this, once it gets going. You know, I always thought it would be weaponized smallpox, or aerosolized ebola, or a superflu ala Stephen King? Not this. I never imagined this.

I'm rambling again. Focus, dammit - I've got to be out of here in twenty minutes, tops.

I made jokes along with the rest of you - you know, let them come here, DC is full of zombies anyway, have you seen Adams Morgan at last call? I thought it was a hoax. Or, at best, it was hysteria over what would turn out to be nothing. Just your latest media distraction, move along please.

When the first case cropped up in the US, I thought it had to be a mistake. Or a copycat. Because no one in Lincoln, Nebraska was going to kill his wife and eat her brain. Lincoln fucking Nebraska. A week later, Lincoln burned to the ground. It was only the first.

I'm pretty sure DC's going to be next.

See, Congress actually got off its ass and did something for once - probably because their asses were all stuck here in DC, and they could see where self-interest lay - they bombed the bridges when the first case turned up in Richmond. They set up heavily-armed barricades on all the roads. DC is small, so it ought to be reasonably easy to defend, at least against a conventional enemy. I can almost laugh about it now.

They sent us home early, the day that Eastern Market burned. It turns out that fire kills them, and that Congress was too late.

I don't know why I'm wasting priceless time writing this. I guess I want to pretend that another human being will see it. I want there to be an lj and an internet for them to read it with. Most of my bookmarks are dead, though, and the power keeps flickering. Also, what else am I going to do?

I haven't been back to work since that day, but I'm going back now. The office is still closed - hell, the CEO is dead, and I think most of the directors are too, so I'm not sure there is a company any more - but a few of us have decided to try to find somewhere to hole up and wait all this out. We don't have much in the way of weapons - I think Dave has a couple of guns - but we have plenty of food, and at least we won't be alone. The roads are still mostly safe - during the day - even though driving past the Mall, with its unfinished mass graves and piles of corpses - and near-corpses lurching sluggishly through the remains - is enough to make me reflexively reach for my Ativan. I ran out days ago, though, so I'm just going to have to tough this one out. Not likely to get a refill any time soon.

I'm bringing my cat with me - how silly is that, but I can't leave her behind, I just can't. The Rite-Aid down the street has been closed for days, but someone smashed the window, and I got as much food and litter as I could. Cut myself pretty badly, too, but there were plenty of bandages, and I don't think they can smell blood. Filled my backseat - my trunk is full of people food.

One of them was holed up in there, and I was pretty sure I was dead when it rounded the end of the aisle and saw me, but it was daytime, and it only babbled at me in that maybe-a-language before turning and stumbling away.

Did anyone ever try to decipher their language? Did anyone ever try to talk to them? I spent a while just sitting against the shelves, crying, before I was able to get myself together, grab my cart, and go. You'd think we'd be able to kill them in the daytime - but they mostly hide, and we're too concerned with staying alive to go hunting for them. And we're too afraid of catching it.

I should have done something - tried to kill it, tried to talk to it; something. But they never worked out what exactly transmitted the disease, or at least, they never told us. And I've never killed anything. I don't know if I can, even zombies.

Shit - I should have checked the pharmacy for tranquilizers - I've been having about a panic attack an hour, seems like. No good now - it's getting late, and I have to get moving. If anyone is reading this - good luck. I saw two of them fighting last night, down on the street outside my bedroom window. Maybe they'll kill each other off, and the rest of us can try to recover. I can hope, can't I?


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February 2011

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