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First in the Interviewer's hot seat is Kwang Jingshu, a medical doctor from China.
Brain Snack: Brooks is careful to be as culturally accurate as he can in World War Z. Case in point: cultures such as China, Japan, and Korea put the family name first and the individual's name second. For example, Thomas Jefferson would be Jefferson Thomas.
Likewise, Kwang is Kwang Jingshu's family name. Brooks follows suit… for the most part. Doctor Kuei is introduced as Doctor Gu Wen Kuei despite the fact that his last name is Kuei, not Gu Wen (2.1.19). This might not be an error though as it is possible Dr. Kwang was simply following our Western tradition when speaking to the Interviewer, who is an American (Source).
Back to Dr. Kwang. The first outbreak he saw occurred in the remote village of New Dachang.
Dr. Kwang's story begins as all good horror stories should, on a quiet night at a hospital. The hospital received an emergency page regarding the remote village of New Dachang. Knowing none of them young whippersnapper doctors will follow up on it, he took the call.
After losing his way a few times, he finally reached the village and instantly recognized the seriousness of the situation.
Seven villagers were laid on cots in a cold, damp hut. The hut was locked from the outside, and none of the villagers were caring for the sick. Always a bad sign.
Dr. Kwang rolled his eyes over their backward, hillbilly ways. Then he examined the wounds. Not looking good. All seven had bite marks, not from an animal, and also not infected. Despite the lack of infection, the patients were all barely conscious with a high fever and violent shivers.
Then the doctor met "Patient Zero." He was a young boy with cold, gray skin, a violent temperament, and wild eyes.
Dr. Kwang had two other villagers hold the boy down while he took a blood sample. Only it wasn't blood, exactly—more of a thick, brown liquid.
"Patient Zero" struggled so fiercely he snapped his own arm so that the ulna and radius bones poked through the skin. At that moment, Dr. Kwang and the two villagers decided that was enough of that.
Then, the kid jerked his arm off completely, and Dr. Kwang hurried outside, locking the door behind him. He demanded to know what had happened to the child because what he witnessed was not medically normal even given the broadest definition of medical and normal.
A young woman came forward to tell the tale. The boy and his father had been diving in the Three Gorges Reservoir. They were treasure hunting in the now submerged Old Dachang village.
The boy came up with a bite wound. The father never came up at all.
Confused and a little unnerved, Dr. Kwang called up his old war buddy, Doctor Gu Wen Keui.
When Dr. Keui saw the infected villagers via video chat, he immediately told Dr. Kwang to put them in a secure room and lock the door. He also asked if his friend was armed.
Dr. Kwang asked why he would be armed (clearly, he's not a fan of horror films). Dr. Kuei didn't answer, only saying support was on the way.
Helicopters arrived with the "support." They claimed to be from the Ministry of Health, but their strut said they were the Guoanbu (a.k.a. highly trained intelligence agents).
They went into full infection lockdown mode. The patients were evacuated on stretchers and gagged while "Patient Zero" got the body bag treatment. The rest of the village was given a thorough examination—and we mean thorough.
Cultural Snack: Dr. Kwang mentions a woman who had "tiny feet that had to have been bound when she was a girl" (2.1.23). Back in the day, small feet were considered a mark of womanly beauty (like tiny waists in Western countries). So, young girls would have their feet bound tightly to prevent further growth. In many cases, the feet were even broken. The first ban on the practice came in 1912, and the Communist party added further bans in 1949 (source).
Dr. Kwang realized that Dr. Keui tried to warn him. He remembered a time when the two were medical personnel on the frontline. They were trying to remove shrapnel from some poor kid's intestines. Meanwhile, bombs were going off over their bunker.
Dr. Keui—a full-time pessimist, mind you—looked at his friend and told him everything would be fine. As a bonus, everything did turn out fine.
Dr. Kwang knew that things must be super bad for his old friend to have used that phrase again.
He called up his daughter and told her to accompany her husband on his next business trip overseas and stay there as long as they could.
A footnote at the end of the chapter informs us that Dr. Kwang was arrested and imprisoned without charges. He escaped, but by then the outbreak had already spread to other countries.
Lhasa, the People's Republic of Tibet
Next up is Nury Televaldi. Before the outbreak started, he was an entrepreneur in express, customs-free shipping—i.e. a smuggler. He trafficked opium, diamonds, and slaves. After the outbreak, he branched out into trafficking refugees as well.
He had heard rumors about the infections but kept at it despite governmental crackdowns. Why? Because of his stupendous work ethic, natch.
Actually, it was because the money was good. Even the government officials who were suppose to be stopping him made a mint on the smuggling operations.
He mentions he even took up air travel for a while.
Then Flight 575 happened and that put a kibosh on his flying days. We'll just have to wait to find out what this incident is all about it.
Oh, wait, we don't find out anything else about Flight 575? Well, never mind then.
Nury relates a story he heard about a refugee couple who managed to reach Paris. The man was infected and told his wife to lock him in the room and run away. The hotel staff found him a week later. The wife vanished into air most thin.
The Interviewer asks why they would even seek a cure in the West if they refused to go to a hospital. Nury counters that he obviously doesn't understand the heart of a refugee.
In a word, the refugee is desperate for hope. Guess that's six words actually, but you take the point.
Returning to the wife, the Interviewer wonders about her vanishing act. Nury says the trick is no big secret: she "simply melted into the host country's underbelly" (2.2.20). Refugees do that.
The Interviewer asks if Nury ever told his clients about miracle cures in other countries. He says no and with only two hesitations.
Back to Nury's reminiscing. He says he had an easy time of it because he focused on central Asia. The countries there had such corrupt officials that they practically filled out Nury's paperwork out for him.
The Interviewer questions how many infected the smuggler saw.
Not many at first. And even when he did, the zombies were never a threat. The family always hand them bound and gagged or maybe in a crate with air holes.
If you're going to travel with a zombie, travel safe.
Nury thinks he's lucky in this regard—luck being a relative term here—since he never had to deal with sea smuggling.
He mentions how zombies could break their bonds and infect entire holds of refugees. Of course, any smuggling captain worth his sea salt has various ways of dealing with the situation. For example, they might find a deserted coast and let the zombies roam free to grange on the residents. They could even just dump them into the sea.
Nury decided to quit after a particularly nasty run. He met up with a truck where the whole trailer had become infected. The trucker's eyes told Nury that maybe the money wouldn't be worth it soon. He slipped the trucker an extra fifty and that was it for him.
The truck, however, still had to go on to Kyrgyzstan.
The Interviewer meets up with Stanley MacDonald, previously of the Third Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. In other words, he was once a top-notch solider.
Once upon a pre-zombie time, Stanley and his team were deployed in Kyrgyzstan to disrupt the operations of the local opium dealers.
They found the cave entrance as expected, but everything else was well beyond expectations: no bodies except the pack mules, plenty of blood, and all the cargo left undisturbed. And no one leaves fifty kilos of uncut opium just lying around without a really good reason.
In true horror show fashion, the team followed the blood up the mountain path. There's so much blood that whoever they were following must have fallen down and died.
The weird thing is, that person seems to have gotten back up after the whole death ordeal.
This time though, their tracks were wildly different, more of a shamble than a walk. Also, the blood was more a black ooze.
The soldiers were utterly perplexed by this fact. (It's amazing how many people in zombie movies have never actually seen a zombie movie, isn't it?)
Inside the cave, they saw evidence of a one-sided firefight. Bodies lay everywhere. Well, pieces of bodies at least. All pieces were chewed on.
Giving credit where it's due, MacDonald and his team managed to make it all the way to the last chamber instead of running away screaming—a.k.a. the reasonable response.
There, MacDonald discovered an arm sticking out of collapsed limestone. It was still moving.
He went to investigate, and the arm clamped down on him. MacDonald struggled and pulled the top half of the zombie free from the rubble. Only the top half, mind you.
In an understandable panic, he drew his weapon and shot. Lucky for him, he hit the brain through the chin. He was the only witness to the event.
At home in Edmonton, officials diagnosed MacDonald with exposure to an unknown chemical and post-traumatic stress disorder. MacDonald wanted to believe them so badly that he convinces himself they were right.
The Amazon Rain Forest, Brazil
The Interviewer's frequent flier miles are adding up as he finds himself in Brazil this time, talking to a Fernando Oliveira.
Fernando's story starts with his receiving a heart. His organ broker had told him the thing was Grade-A-okay, and since no one really knew about the zombie plague then, he took him at his word.
The heart mostly likely came from China and was specially chosen to fit one Herr Muller's unique medical condition, dextrocardia with situs inversus. Long name, fascinating condition.
Dr. Silva performed the operation with Fernando as his assistant. Herr Muller never did awaken of anesthesia. Instead, the symptoms of the zombie infection appeared.
Since neither doctor recognized zombification when they saw it, they didn't know what to make of the symptoms. Dr Silva believed it was probably a reaction to the medication or just the side effect of Herr Muller being old and overweight.
Fernando went out and partied until he received a call from Graziela, his receptionist. Muller had slipped into a coma.
He rushed to the hospital, but by the time he got there, the coma had become the least of his worries.
Rosi, a nurse, told him Muller had flat-lined. Dr. Silva and she had been trying to revive him when the old man's eyes opened, and he bit the doctor. When that happened, Rosi ran from the room and locked it behind her. Poor Dr. Silva.
Fernando laughed, thinking Rosi misread the situation. He went to his car to get his gun all the same—you know, for Rosi and Graziela's comfort.
The Interviewer interrupts him here, wondering why he had a gun on him. Fernando points out he lives in Rio. 'Nuff said.
In the room, Fernando found Muller munching on Dr. Silva. When Muller turned on him, Fernando was so horrified he aimed for the zombie's heart and shot.
Fortunately for him, Fernando's aim was awful, and he popped the head instead.
The Interviewer asks if Fernando was arrested. Fernando says no. He was an illegal surgeon, so he had made friends with the police (i.e. he bribed them loyal).
The police put out a false report saying Silva was the victim of a car jacking. Fernando has no idea what happened to the body. Muller's disappearance was never given an explanation. They wrote him off as a tourist who went missing.
Fernando and the Interviewer then discuss how the heart could have gotten to him without showing signs of infection. Fernando has many theories as to how the disease could have just entering the heart when the donor died. Then, during travel to the transplant, the disease could have spread through the ice-cold organ slowly.
He even puts forth a theory that the organ black market might have been responsible for the speed of the zombie infection's spread across the globe.
The Interviewer asks him if he ever tried to get in touch with his former patients and warn them. Nope: Fernando didn't realize the danger until the outbreak had hit full force.
Bridgetown Harbor, Barbados, West Indies Federation
First, Jacob provides the Interviewer a little bio information.
His father moved his family to Cape Town when the South African government promised homes and jobs for all citizens.
Unfortunately for the family, the houses and jobs weren't available immediately, and tons of other families had had the same idea.
Jacob's zombie-related story begins one night when he was walking home from his shift at T.G.I.Friday's. He was tired and had his mind on the soccer, erm, football game, so he didn't see the ruckus he was heading right into.
The gunshots though, he heard those, and his instincts kicked into 5th gear.
He scanned the slum to look for cover and found a shipping container, now retrofitted into a barbershop, to hide behind.
Dozens of people ran by screaming a murder that can only be described as bloody.
The Interviewer asks if he joined in the running of the bulls zombies.
Jacob says he couldn't. His mother and two little sisters lived in the direction the mob fled from. He wanted to save them.
If he had been smart, he might have looked for a back alley to make his way down. As it was, he ran against the cluster's current.
The mob did what any mob does: they trampled the poor guy. On the ground, Jacob could barely make out the zombies though their distinctive moans were clear enough.
He fought his way up and withdrew into a shack. A zombie grabbed him, and the two struggled. Considering Jacob is the teller of this tale, we'll let you figure out who wins.
Jacob ran farther into the slum, getting disoriented and losing his way.
Inside one shanty were a woman and her two children huddled in fear. Jacob reached out to help, but the woman attacked him with a screwdriver.
Not knowing what else to do, Jacob left. He still has nightmares about those three
Farther on still, he spied a bright light through the cracks in the shanties.
Jacob tried to reach them and did what any self-respecting Hulk would have done: he crashed right through the wall.
The lights belonged to a car, specifically the car that hit him and knocked him out.
When Jacob came to, he was in a hospital bed with sweet, pain-killing, habit-forming morphine pumping through his blood.
The man in the bed next to him was frantically wheeled away when his breathing stopped. Jacob heard something about "rabies."
The Interviewer asks him who was talking about rabies.
Jacob doesn't know. He was too high too care. All he knows is that people were arguing over whether or not rabies could do that to someone.
As for him, he didn't sober up and face the world's nightmare for some time after that.
Tel Aviv, Israel
In Israel, the Interviewer sits down to a meal with Jurgen Warmbrunn, former spy with a passion for Ethiopian food. We're wracking our brains trying to come up with a wat "shaken, not stirred" joke, but so far we've got nothing.
Jurgen's story begins with some customer service complaints from Taiwan. Seems they were having issues with Israel's new software decryption program decoding messages into utter nonsense.
Sure enough, the decoded messages showed a bunch of stuff about reanimated corpses and homicidal berserkers. So, either the system was broken or the Russians had created some kind of twisted new code-within-a-code system.
Not long afterward, Jurgen was at his daughter's wedding, talking to a drunken man about golems. The conversation soon turned from golems to stories of reanimated corpses in Cape Town, South Africa (a.k.a. Jacob's little slice of slum hell).
Jacob gathered the information as well as the decoded messages and presented them to his superiors.
He mentions how Israel's "precarious [national] security" situation and history of conflict came to their advantage this time. Instead of deciding the stories were hogwash and throwing Jurgen into the loony bin, his superiors told him to dig up as much information as he could.
And dig he did.
Thanks to the Internet being, well, the Internet, he had to separate a ton of false information from very useful facts but eventually pieced together enough solid information to give him a picture of the new threat. He even learned the greatest secret you'll ever need for defending against a zombie invasion: aim for that brain, buddy.
Jurgen's information also suggested that the plague was spreading fast, so he sought out other intelligence circles, eventually contacting Paul Knight.
Turned out, Paul and Jurgen were working on the same project. They read each other's findings, collaborated with others, and created the "Warmbrunn-Knight" report.
The report was a concise attempt to include all the information "needed to make sure [the] outbreak never reached epidemic proportions" (2.6.18).
Sadly, hardly any government followed the reports suggestions, a decision costing millions of lives.
While he's in the area, the Interviewer chats it up with Saladin Kader, professor of urban planning at Khalil Gibran University.
Although a well respected professor now, back in the day, he was just another dude working behind a Starbucks counter.
His story starts at that very Starbucks counter with him watching a news broadcast on Israel's voluntary quarantine. He and the rest of the patrons assumed it was just another Zionist trick.
He was so mad he didn't even hear the part about the Israel government offering asylum to any Palestinian family who once lived within Israel's borders. Instead, he set his mind to the task of creating elaborate conspiracies theories.
But his father had heard that bit about asylum and decided safety and security sounded just peachy. As a hospital janitor, he'd seen some of the area's first zombie outbreaks, or "African rabies" as it was being called at the time.
Cue father-and-son conflict. After an outbreak at Al Jahrah, the two had one final argument. Saldain's father said they were leaving for Israel, but Saladin told him he was joining an anti-Zionist group called the Children of Yassin.
And that was the end of the argument, only not in the way Saladin predicted. Instead, his father slapped him about a little bit, screaming that Saladin would obey his wishes.
The old man's backhand must have been something else because Saladin gave up on martyrdom and went with his family to Israel.
There, the family was moved into, um, we'll call it extended customs. First, they marched past a fence with dogs on the other side. If the dogs barked at anybody, that person was removed from the group. Since he doesn't know about the zombie infection yet, Saladin found the display despicable and inhumane.
Then the family was put into a resettlement camp. The camp was what one would expect in such a situation: crowded, hot, guarded, and totally locked down. All refugees were also inspected thoroughly.
What Saladin did not expect were the doctors. They weren't just Israeli but also American and even Palestinian. They kept telling everyone they'd made the right decision by coming.
After being released from the resettlement camp, Saladin and his family are provided with housing, lodging, and work for his father.
On the way to Beer Sheeba, Saladin violently awakened to their bus swerving out of control. The bus driver had been shot.
Saladin believed the Palestinian liberation had begun, but before he can join his comrades in arms, he's pulled into a Starbucks. We'd call this an unlikely coincidence, but since Starbucks are everywhere and a half, the chances of any odd building being one are actually pretty high.
His father took a bullet to the shoulder, and a grenade found its way inside with him. A solider tried to throw the grenade out. It exploded in midair, killing him but saving the family.
When Saladin's tears dried, he noticed that the man who saved his family was an Israeli. Even the armed rebels in the street were Jewish. Instead of seeing the beginning of the Palestinian liberation, he witnessed the first shots of the Israeli Civil War.
The Interviewer asks him what he believes caused the civil war.
Saladin says there were many causes, but he believes the final straw/camel's back cause was the Israel government's decision to give up occupation of Jerusalem for a more strategically sound position.
Looking back on it, Saladin finds it amazing that he knew so little about the people he hated with such fervor (*cough* moral lesson *cough* *hack* *wheez*).
Let's wrap this story up. Saladin and his family escaped the Starbucks and made their way for a nearby Merkava tank.
Saladin saw a rocket hit an unmarked van and watched as zombies make their way from the burning wreckage.
He then realized what his father and Israel had been so concerned about. Too bad he and the rest of the world hadn't listened.