World War Z Summary
An unnamed man (we're going to call him the Interviewer) is commissioned to write a report on the Zombie Wars. The report consists of interviews from people around the world, but when he turns it, his boss complains the report is too emotional. (Yeah, we hate those emotions.) The Interviewer decides to take the "human factor" out of his report and rework it as a book. This is that story (in six paragraphs):
The zombie plague starts as all plagues tend to—slow and steady. China has a mild outbreak of zombie that spreads out into the world through various routes: refugees, black market organs, human trafficking, and the undead simply shuffling about. Many countries ignore the news of the dead rising up from the grave with a ravenous hunger for human flesh, but others, such as Israel, take the threat seriously and begin zombie-proofing their borders. (They would.)
But the lack of information and preventative measures means the zombie tide doesn't stay back for long. Before anyone knows it, the undead masses have washed over the entire globe, biting, scratching, and killing all they come across. Governments take defensive measures, but their militaries don't understand their new enemy, leading to disastrous engagements such as the Battle of Yonkers, where America's state-of-the-art martial technology does little to even dent the zombie masses of Manhattan.
Without proper government leadership, lots of people panic. Unoriginally, this event is called the Great Panic. Some try to fight the zombies, others flee with little to no resources, but most just die a horrible death. (That's probably what would happen to us.) Then the South African government calls for a plan by a man named Paul Redeker. The Redeker Plan is cold, calculating, and lacks social niceties, but it buys the South African government the time they need. Other nations have a go at Redeker's plan, and the tide turns.
Learning from their past mistakes, the American government and military focus their attention west of the Rockies. New weapons are crafted, old strategies are reenacted, the populations of the world join forces, and feeling Twisted Sister had the right attitude, decide they aren't gonna take it anymore.
The counterstrike is a long hard road, especially in countries like France where the underground battles read like something from a particularly twisted Poe story. But the humans manage to do what humans do best: adapt and survive.
The world is irrevocably changed from the zombie invasion, but the Interviewer ends his story on one of those bittersweet notes readers are so fond of. Although the people have suffered a great tragedy, they can now pick up the pieces of their lives and hopefully live on in a post-zombie apocalyptic world, which isn't as bad as it sounds. Honestly.
- The Interviewer opens with a discussion of what he refers to as "'The Zombie War'" (1.1.1). This immediately breaks the unspoken commandment that thou shall not utter the word zombie in a zombie story.
- This Zombie War has passed, and the Interviewer was tasked to write the United Nation's Postwar Commission Report on said conflict.
- Unfortunately, once finished, he found half of his work trashed by the commission's chairperson.
- The chairperson's reason: "'It was all too intimate'" with "'[t]oo many opinions, too many feelings'" (1.1.3). Well, duh. Who wants to read about people's feeling during the one of the most tragic events in fictional human history, anyway?
- Based on the chairperson's snarky suggestion, the Interviewer decides to just write a book and do things his way.
- Some might argue it's too soon to write such a book, what with China just declaring victory against the zombie hordes about ten years ago.
- But the Interviewer believes it's his duty to get this information from those who lived though it while they remain un-dead and not, you know, undead.
- The Interviewer concludes that he'll try to maintain an invisible a presence as possible during the proceedings. Instead, he'll let the human factor of those he's interviewing drive this book.
Greater Chongqing, the United Federation of China
- 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.
- They weren't.
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.
Langley, Virginia, USA
- The Interviewer heads to his home turf of America to talk with the director of the CIA, one Bob Archer. Once again, we don't so much get James Bond as Matt Damon from The Good Shepard. Oh well. We'll still take Matt Damon.
- Archer begins by discussing how the CIA really operates. It's not the all-knowing, world-puppeteering Illuminati all those conspiracy theories make it out to be. Sure, they want you to think they are, but truth is they don't have the funding.
- Due to these limits in funding and assets, the CIA can't look into every whisper that comes its way. Instead, it focuses on the dangers "that are already clear and present" (3.1.4).
- The Interviewer asks him about China, and how the plague originated there.
- Archer lays out the story: China knew they couldn't hide the fact that they were doing sweeps across their entire country. When you're as large as China, such things are kind of obvious.
- Instead, they hid the fact that they were sweeping for zombies by pulling a bait and switch.
- Using the political unrest of the Taiwan Strait, they had the CIA convinced World War III was about to happen, diverting the organization's attention away from World War Z's actual beginnings. (Note: never play Risk with these guys. Also, never conduct a land war in Asia.)
- Things got worse when the United States government began what Archer refers to as the "Brain Drain." Basically, the administration blamed the CIA for the last brushfire war and cut their funding. Anyone with a "brain" got a job somewhere else, "draining" the CIA of human intelligence resources.
- Brain Snack: Brooks will make several mentions to this "last brushfire war" throughout the novel. A brushfire war is basically a small military conflict that doesn't qualify as a full-blown war. It's possible this unnamed war could refer to the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan, or, you know, a completely fictional war.
- But did Archer really know what was really going on in China.
- Archer had his suspicions. He eventually told someone in a position of authority those suspicions and got … a transfer to Buenos Aires. Oops.
- What about the "Warmbrunn-Knight" report?
- Sure, Archer read it, but he feels it didn't matter much really. Right after he was transferred, Israel told the world about their quarantine. The information was all there plain to see; it was just a question of who would do something about it.
- Every year when spring arrives, flowers bloom, baby birds chirp, and a new batch of zombies unthaws from its prison, ravenous for human foie gras. With the arrival of the zombies comes hunting season. We'll leave you to figure out what happens next.
- Travis D'Ambrosia, Supreme Allied Commander, talks with the Interviewer during hunting season.
- Travis admits mistakes happened, and the American people were let down by the military, but he wants people to know why those mistakes were made.
- Problem number one: the idea of real-life, honest-to-goodness zombie outbreaks was unbelievable. Sure, all the Joint Chiefs had their suspicions, but who wants to be the first person to seriously bring up the question of zombie defense?
- As for the Warmbrunn-Knight report, Travis didn't read a copy until two years after the Great Panic—the zombie outbreak equivalent of reading the book after you've written the essay.
- Even then, it was pretty much dead on with the proposal the Joint Chiefs sent to the White House already.
- So, what happened?
- Travis says the White House loved Phase One, which called for Special Forces being sent into a zombie-infested area to do what Specials Forces do.
- That phase went incredibly well. The problem was Phase Two. The White House thought Phase Two was weaksauce.
- Phase Two required "a massive national undertaking, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the darkest days of the Second World War" (3.2.21).
- Unfortunately, the American people were war weary after the last bushfire war. It wasn't that America had lost, but the war had been harder and more drawn than it should have been and didn't end with the definitive touchdown, end zone dance Americans prefer in their victories.
- Add to this the price tag such an undertaking would have attached to the American taxpayer, and it became obvious that this "generation [of Americans] had had enough" (3.2.25).
- But those zombies haven't had enough!
Vostok Station, Antarctica
- Next on the Interviewer's list is Breckinridge "Breck" Scott. He's one rich guy who's been leasing a bio-dome in Antarctica from the Russians since the Great Panic. Yeah, he's bio-dome rich.
- Scott begins his interview by discussing the truth of economics. The gist of the lecture is that fear churns the economical machine: "Fear of aging, fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of failure" (3.3.3). Kind of jerky? Absolutely. Truthful? Well….
- Back in the pre-Great Panic days, Scott first heard they were calling the zombie infection "African rabies" and he saw gold in dat der diction.
- He met with some friends, played some golf, and proposed going into business selling a vaccine for actual rabies. Since people thought zombies and rabies victims were the same thing, he knew they'd buy the stuff in bulk.
- The Interviewer asks about the FDA's regulating power, but Scott just laughs the notion away. The FDA was too business friendly and Congress too much in need of a cure-all to stop him. He even got the president to give a speech in his favor.
- The Interviewer wonders if Scott knew the drug, Phalanx, wouldn't work, but Scott counters that all he said was it worked against rabies, and it did, and everyone was calling it "African rabies," so…what's the problem, again?
- The Interviewer asks Scott about the damage he caused, but old Scotty boy has a counter for that too. After all, he didn't know the zombie threat would go so far. Besides, he never lied, technically.
- In the end, Scott claims he didn't sell safety as much as the "the idea of the idea of safety" (3.3.23). He protected people from their fears.
- In fact, he argues that the Great Panic was the result of people being told his drug didn't actually work against zombification.
- The Interviewer ends his interview by asking Scott if he takes any personal responsibility. Care to take a guess as his answer?
- Nope! Scott only did what anyone else would do and try to get his own slice of the cash pie. The only people to blame are the sheeple who handed over their money and safety without bothering to do the research.
Amarillo, Texas, USA
- Grover Carlson, former White House chief of staff, collects dung for fuel while talking with the Interviewer.
- Unlike so many others, this guy actually read what he calls the "Knight-WarnJews report"—see what he did there? (3.4.2). Seems he was less than impressed.
- Why? To use his words, it was "typical alarmist crap" (3.4.4). He said the "Warmbrunn-Knight" report blew the whole thing out of proportion while the White House gave a realist, measured response, a.k.a. the Alpha teams.
- They also produced educational videos for state departments and put up a page on the Department of Health and Human Services's website. Yes, a whole page.
- As for Phalanx, they knew it was a fake, but they were thankful for the way it calmed the population. As for a real drug, well, how long have we been trying to cure cancer and AIDS?
- The truth? The people couldn't handle the truth, especially considering it was an election year. The administration would have committed political suicide had it told the American people hard, not better, times were ahead.
- The Interviewer asks if they even tried to solve the problem.
- Carlson responds that you can't really ever solve problems like crime or poverty. The best you can do is hope to keep the voters happy long enough to vote for you.
- The Interviewer wonders about law enforcement requesting federal aid during the outbreaks.
- Well, sure they did—but since they were always asking for federal aid anyway, why would this time be any different?
- Moving on. Carlson admits they never had to initiate a cover-up since the news media did it for them. The big news companies people actually listened to weren't interested in the zombie stories.
- Those that did report were only listened to by eggheads and "pansy, overeducated know-it-alls" (3.4.27).
Basically, the Interviewer says, the administration's position was to ignore the problem despite all warnings to the contrary?
- Carlson tells him to grow up while throwing another heap of dung into the wheelbarrow. Snap!
Troy, Montana, USA
- The Interviewer travels to Troy, a "'New Community' for the 'New America.'" The houses here are built on stilts and each one comes with a retractable staircase. Also included are such luxuries as solar paneling, shielded water wells, watchtowers, and a steel-reinforced gate (3.5.1).
- We're sold on the concept, but do we have to provide our own 50 caliber—or are those provided for us?
- Here, he meets with former housewife and expert zombie decapitator, Mary Jo Miller.
- Mrs. Miller's story begins as we imagine our own zombie stories will. She's worried about her stock portfolio, Aiden's need for a math tutor, and Jenna's need for soccer cleats. Thankfully, Panda Palace had dinner covered.
- The Interviewer asks if she watched the news, but Mary Jo just caught a few tidbits every morning: celebrity gossip, sports, real Good Morning America junk news. As for radio and the Internet—the radio was just for music and the Internet, well, who uses the Internet to learn stuff?
- Sure, there was some discussion about the attacks. An acquaintance, Mrs. Ruiz, even bought a cabin in Alaska, but Mary Jo just assumed it was classic, middle-class overreacting.
- She did suspect that her children began to show unconscious signs of worry, but it was nothing a scribble on a prescription pad couldn't handle.
- Too bad their insurance didn't cover it because they were already on Phalanx.
- Oh, and her husband, Tim, bought a gun. He even knew how to use it.
- The whole zombie thing slipped into the back of her mind as one more thing "to worry about, every month […] a new nail-biter" (3.5.17).
- One night, their dog started barking as did the other neighborhood dogs. Aiden heard something, and then, BAM, zombie through the sliding glass door.
- The kelp-garbed zombie (they lived near San Diego at the time) attacked Tim, and he yelled at Mary Jo to get his gun.
- Then Jenna screamed. Mary Jo rushed into her daughter's room to see a zombie sticking through the window, tearing at her daughter's hair.
- Mary Jo says her recollection of the events is a little fuzzy, but from what she's told, she went Buffy the Zombie Slayer and ripped the thing's head clean off. Zombie Lesson #1: Don't screw with mommy.
- Tim rushed into the room, gun in one hand, dog leash in the other. They hopped into the car and were gone.
The Great Panic
Parnell Air National Guard Base: Memphis, Tennessee, USA
- The first interviewee in Chapter 4 is Gavin Blaire, blimp pilot extraordinaire.
- He remembers the Great Panic very well since he got a blimp's eye view of the situation.
- The highway was congested with cars, and those vehicles were packed with all kinds of passengers.
- Junk was everywhere. Gavin even saw a grand piano.
- We hope it was used by an old-timey strongman to battle the undead hordes because that would be awesome.
- People walked along the side the road desperate to get a ride despite the fact that they were moving faster than the traffic.
- A few miles down the road, Gavin saw what the commotion was all about. The zombies were mixed in the traffic, doing what zombies do.
- Some people were trapped in their cars, others shooting through the car windows, giving the zombies buffet-like access.
- The zombies ate their way through I-80.
- Gavin wonders about the people he saw down there that night. Did they think about what they were doing? Did they just go with the crowd?
- He relates a story to the Interviewer about a psychologist in Moscow. The man performed an experiment once where he just stood in front of a door. As others walked by, they thought he must be standing in line for something and joined him. He got the line long enough to go around the block.
- So, the highways weren't the best way to go. What about the open ocean? According to Ajay Shah, not so much.
- When the Great Panic hit, Ajay headed straight for Alang because it was a shipyard, and the ocean seemed way more survival friendly than inland routes.
- Reality Check: Alang really is a famous ships' graveyard on India's west coast. Over half the world's maritime vessels end up on the coastline where they are systematically dismantled for their resources (source).
- Although boats aplenty harbored at Alang, many of them had been beached ashore to be broken down later. A few ships had anchored off-shore though.
- One, the Veronique Delmas, tried to pull the beached Tulip back into the water. Unfortunately, the chains proved stronger than the derelict ship's hull, and they ripped it apart. All the people aboard the Tulip had a really bad time after that. Like Titanic.
- Ajay speaks of rational hindsight, but there, that night, no rationale was to be found. Hundreds of people were trying to swim out to the ships off shore, few of them Olympic-class swimmers.
- Seeing the investment opportunities of a lifetime, smaller boat owners helped ferry the refugees. Some requested money for passage, others only took women, and still others wouldn't take certain people because of their caste or skin color.
- Some—we're guessing too few—were cool and helped whomever needed help.
- But let's not forget the dinocrocs. Sorry, wrong horror story. We meant zombies. Lots of refugees reanimated after drowning, conveniently becoming zombies underneath their quarry.
- Ajay tried to swim. After running all the way to Alang, swimming to a boat, and dodging the undead, he didn't have enough strength to call for help. Lucky for him, a crewman pulled him aboard the ship.
- Ajay's luck proved platinum that day. His didn't have an outbreak of zombie aboard it—unlike many other boats he saw.
Topeka, Kansas, USA
- The Interviewer visits the Rothman Rehabilitation Home for Feral Children. He's there to see Sharon, but, before he does, her caseworker, Dr. Roberta Kelner, and the program director, Dr. Sommers, needs to give him the rundown.
- Sharon has functional language skills, but due to living alone as a child amongst the zombie masses, lacks social niceties or sanity.
- Sharon's story begins at her family's church.
- She and her mother were waiting for her father to meet them. Other people she knew were there as well—children with their parents, Mrs. McGraw, and Pastor Dan.
- Pastor Dan tried to keep the people calm, assuring them the authorities are on their way.
- If you've read any zombie story before now, you'll know how well that'll turn out.
- Sharon's mother talked angrily with Mrs. Cormode, Pastor Dan's wife. Then the zombies busted into the church like it was a Country Kitchen Buffet.
- While telling her story, Sharon makes eerily realistic zombie moans. The Interviewer, Dr. Sommers, and Dr. Kelner are all really uncomfortable with the noise.
- Sharon continues to produce sound effects while telling her story. She even acts out the various roles. Creepy stuff.
- The story continues. Mrs. Cormode pleaded with the others not to let the zombies get the children before picking up a girl named Abbie.
- Sharon mimics the motion of Mrs. Cormode killing Abbie by throwing her against the wall Because that's the human thing to do?
- Her mother grabbed for Sharon, ready to giver her own daughter the what-for against the wall. But a zombie nabbed her from behind before she could go through with the grisly deed.
- Another voice, different than her mother's, yells at Sharon to run. She did.
Khuzhir, Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, the Holy Russian Empire
- The Interviewer must meet with Maria Zhuganova in a secure room with a large one-way glass in the wall.
- If the movies have taught us anything about Russia, it's that the country is brimming with bare rooms outfitted with one-way glass.
- Maria's Great Panic story begins before she even knew there was a Great Panic going on.
- Her outfit at North Ossetia, Alania, had been put under strict media blackout, effectively cutting the platoon off from the world. They told the outfit the reason for everything was peacekeeping.
"They" being the higher ups and some guy who just showed up one day. Maria and her people called him "Rat Face."
- Maria's platoon was put on full alert, going through the mountains, searching every village, checking every cabin, questioning every villager, and dotting every i.
- They asked the villagers all sorts of questions, but no one knew why.
- A member of Maria's platoon, Baburin, was an old solider. His wartime experience gave him the uncanny ability to know when bad things were about to happen, almost like a sixth sense. Well, that sixth sense started tingling.
- Baburin stopped drinking and didn't tell his stories anymore. Morale dropped; things got tense.
- One day, the platoon swept through a no-name village when they came across a little girl. She acted weird and staggered through the mud.
- Rat Face told the platoon sharpshooter, one Petrenko, to shoot the little girl. No, "Oh she's a zombie, not human, don't fret over it."
- Nope. Just, "Go ahead and shoot a little girl in the face."
- Petrenko argued with Rat Face and Lieutenant Tikhonov, ultimately deciding that putting hot lead through a little girl's head wasn't his thing.
- Rat Face walked out there and did it for him.
- A woman, probably the girl's mother, broke down crying. Once again, no word on the whole zombie thing, really?
- Maria lay awake that night, thinking about the girl, Petrenko, her fear, her questions, and so on. Lucky for her, she worried herself into vomiting and was checked into the infirmary.
- She wasn't with the platoon when they went on patrol and only heard the commotion of their return.
- Going outside, she saw Arkady, the platoon's machine gunner, in the middle of the crowd. Arkady had a woman with them. She was chained, hooded, and covered in black pus instead of blood. Seems Arkady went all Scooby-Doo and solved that mystery.
- Arkady said he wanted everyone there to see the truth. He grabbed the old lady by the throat and removed the burlap sac.
- He gave a speech about how these things were at their homes with their families. Then he lost his grip on the babushka zombie, and she bit him. D'oh.
- Arkady screamed how he wanted to go home and even got himself a little mob-riot action going.
- Arkady took a bullet right in the eye, and tear gas exploded into the crowd. Spetznaz commandos appeared out of nowhere and do what special ops do; they took care of business.
- The Interviewer asks if that was the decimation.
- Oh, no. That's still coming.
- History Snack: Today, we often use the word decimate to signify the complete and total destruction of something, but it traditionally means to take a tenth from something (hence the deci- in the word's beginning).
- In Ancient Rome, the term was used to describe a form of corporal punishment in the military that more-or-less went down exactly as Maria is about to describe it. (source)
- The Spetznaz had the platoon assemble. Their new commanding officer then gave them a speech on the virtues of duty and honor instead of the dishonor found in betrayal and selfishness.
- Maria was taken aback. Such language as "[o]ath to the motherland" were the words of the Great Patriotic military of old, the Soviet Union (4.4.25). Not her generation's Russia. Seems what was old is new again.
- Next the decimation. The platoon was broken into groups of ten. Each group then had to pick one of their numbers. The other nine were to take stones and beat their chosen tenth member to death.
- Some cried, some begged, but Baburin just knelt silently and watched as Maria brought the stone across his head.
- What's the point of this brutality? After that, the platoon became accomplices in their own dirty, dirty secret. After that, they were no longer free citizens or soldiers. After that, they relinquished their freedom for the sake to say they were only following orders.
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies Federation
- The Interviewer finds his next convo partner at Trevor's Bar. Dude's name is T. Sean Collins.
- Sean's story starts simply because of his job. He says there is no name for what he does, but perhaps he puts it best when he says, "knowing how to kill some people while keeping others from being killed" is a super marketable skill (4.5.2). Yeah, that'll do.
- He worked for an up-and-up mercenary company and found himself guarding a rich guy with some amazing beachfront property. He can't name names, mind you. They might sue.
- His client decided to use his wealth to provide shelter for people of influence, those who could raise his image after the war was over.
- The list read more like a who's who at a cocaine/ pool party than a survivalist outfit: record mogul armed with AK-47 plus grenade launcher attachment, political comedy guy, actors, singers, and a millionaire bimbo.
- And that's just the people Sean's client invited. Those people also brought their people—hairstylists, managers, friends, and sycophants. Then those people brought their people, and the people's people brought their people, and….
- The house itself had been outfitted with all manner of survival awesomeness. Back-up generators, solar panels, water purifiers, motion sensors, high walls, and weapons were all present and all top-notch.
- But the crazy didn't end there. The client had the whole house outfitted with webcams, ensuring that anything happening in the house was broadcasted to the wide world via the interwebs.
- Sean recalls one weird moment when he and the kitchen staff were watching the news, and the news showed the webcam footage happening right in the other room. This news footage showed the celebrities watching another news channel and reacting to shots of survivors fighting zombies in the streets.
- That's some seriously M.C. Esher-esque news footage going on there.
- Then the alarm went off.
- Sean took his position, armed and ready to roll, but something was wrong. The zombies were running and fast. And if they could run, they could climb, and if they could climb, then the wall wouldn't be much good.
- Sean got in firing position, flipped his sights, and noticed the thermal heat signatures were reading. Translation: these were humans, not zeek-freaks.
- Next up: pandemonium. The celebrities attacked the people; the people attacked the celebrities. Some tried to be heroes while others demanded their entourage protect them.
- Sean ran. On the way out, he ran into the rich bimbo's rat dog. Both decided to beat feet then and there.
- Hey, Sean had been paid to protect these people against zombies, and since the attackers weren't zombies, no breach of contract.
- He grabbed a surfboard and paddled for the boat lights on the horizon, hoping to bribe his way on board with a pair of diamond earrings.
- Sometimes, Sean wonders why those rich idiots didn't just shut up. They had the means to survive as long as they kept their heads down. In the end, he supposes, "'If you got it, flaunt it.'" (4.5.22).
Ice City, Greenland
- The Interviewer meets with Ahmed Farahnakian here because Ahmed has nowhere else to go. During the Great Panic though, he was a Major in the Iranian Revolution Guards Corps Air Force.
- Ahmed starts his story by pointing out how strange it was. India and Pakistan. North and South Korea. You knew those countries would go at it one day. But the danger was so obvious, too obvious. Those wars never happened.
- No one could have imagined what happened to Iran.
- The zombies didn't hit Iran as hard as it did other countries. It's cool, though, since the millions of refugees crossing their borders made up for it.
- The Iranians called up the Pakistanis and demand they keep their people and borders under control. No such luck. To be fair to Pakistan, many of the refugees coming through their border came from other places like India. You know, just passing through.
- With hundreds of thousands of people crossing the border, bringing thousands of infected with them, Iran had to do something.
- They decided that something was blowing up the Ketch River Bridge.
- Ahmed flew the mission in his Phantom fighter, destroying the bridge personally.
- He prayed the Pakistanis wouldn't seek revenge. No such luck. Three hours later, an Iranian border station got hit. As Ahmed says, it was "tit for tat" (4.6.9).
- But did that end things? Nope. Everything escalated form there without any way for the Iranians to contact the Pakistan leaders.
Nuclear weapons hit cities on both sides.
- Ahmed remembers people thinking such a thing could never happen between them as they were "fraternal Muslim brothers" (4.6.12).
- The only person (or being) who could have expected it, well, Ahmed doesn't believe in him anymore.
Denver, Colorado, USA
- The Interviewer's train is late, but Todd Wainio doesn't mind. The two shake hands under a mural titled Victory, showing a squad of soldiers looking at Manhattan on VA-Day.
- Three months after the Great Panic began, Todd Wainio found himself in Yonkers.
- He refers to it as a little suburb just north of New York City despite the fact that Yonkers is the fourth most populated city in New York State.
- He and the army were there because the powers that once were decided they needed a knockout victory against the zed-heads, and Yonkers was going to be the place for that.
- Todd wonders why they didn't put them on the roofs. You know, guys on the roofs, with guns, against an enemy who can't climb. We're not tacticians, but that seems like the recipe for a sweeping victory.
- Alas, the grunts found themselves on the ground, preparing "cover and concealment" (4.7.8). Todd believes the men in charge must have been trained during the Cold War era of warfare.
- At least they weren't going alone. They had tanks, humvees, mortars, and surface-to-air missiles. About the only thing they didn't have was a machine that laid bridges for them. Oh, wait, they had that too.
- But don't get too impressed. Todd says it was mainly to show off the military's muscles to the press.
- The soldiers wore heavy body armor and air masks to protect them. Only instead of protecting them, the body armor slowed their movements while the air masks obscured their vision.
- They were also outfitted with a program called Land Warrior, allowing them to see what others soldiers were seeing on the battlefield in real time.
- Uh, that sounds like the worst kind of video game ever.
- Brain Snack: The Land Warrior system actually did exist. Unfortunately for it, the system proved about as popular with real life soldiers as it did with Brooks's fictional ones (source).
- The zombies began trickling in one at a time and then more until they enter the first kill zone. Cue the MLRS rockets and the big boom.
- Of the forty or fifty initial zombies, three-quarters died. The soldiers cheered. But, present-day Todd realizes they should have been worried. Since the rockets were destroying the bodies, not the brains, they were using way too much power for such a meager kill ratio.
- More ghouls followed. More rockets—Paladins this time—were fired, proving even less effective.
- The army kept intensifying the firepower. In Todd's words, it was a "meat grinder" (4.7.32).
- Then the big weapons began to run out of ammo. The zombies were still coming, more and more of them.
- The initial plan was that Todd and his fellow soldiers were supposed to take out the odd zombie who managed to shuffle to last line of defense.
- Now, it was more than just an odd zombie who managed to make it through. They still had most of Manhattan to put down.
Todd tried to keep himself frosty, to remember he's fighting zombies and not humans. But his career's worth of training to fight people and his pure terror made it hard for him to keep his head.
- Plus, there was Land Warrior. Every scared solider screamed over the system, causing mass confusion. Some guys claimed the zombies were indestructible, sending even more panic and misinformation down the line.
- Land Warrior's visual system cued in the sight of one guy being eaten by some zombies who'd been missed in the initial sweep.
- Everyone watched as the bloody teeth sank into him. And … that was that.
- The soldiers believed their line was broken. Moments later, fighters release a payload into the area. Todd leaped into his foxhole as the bombs went off overhead.
- Where the zombies had stood was now a cloud of black smoke. Todd had enough time to take a breath before the zombies came right through the smoke. That was when everyone realized it wasn't their day. The front line broke.
- Todd remembers images of the panic but nothing coherent.
- He took a round in the chest, but the body armor protected him. His world went white, and the next thing he remembered was arms pulling him. He struggled, but one of the arms punched him. This instantly calmed him down because zombies don't hit.
- His buddies dragged him into a Bradley helicopter.
- Todd now realizes what failed them wasn't weaponry or training or tactics. It was fear. Zombies don't fear, can't fear. You can't make a zombie afraid of you, no matter how many really, really big guns you point in their direction.
- But humans do feel fear. They fear snakes and heights and, oh yeah, the walking dead.
- After the defeat of Yonkers, all of America felt that fear—the fear of zombies, not snakes.
- Todd believes that without the South African plan, Yonkers might have been the last card dealt in the whole zombie war.
Turning the Tide
Robben Island, Cape Town Province, United States of Southern Africa
- The Interviewer meets with Xolelwa Azania. Azania is writing a book titled Rainbow Fist: South Africa at War. The book is about Paul Redeker, the very man the Interviewer is there to discuss.
- Azania describes Redeker as a dispassionate man, believing humanity's true flaw was its emotions.
- His papers dealing with "alternate 'solutions' to historical, societal quandaries" brought Redeker to the attention of the South African apartheid government back in the 80s, and they hired him to revise the government's "Plan Orange," a secret plan commissioned by the white ruling class to deal with an uprising by the majority, but underprivileged, black population.
- By 1984, Redeker had completely updated "Plan Orange" to the ultimate survival plan. He even determined who would be the survivors.
- The Interviewer asks about that last bit, and Azania points out that Redeker believed trying to save everyone would stretch and ultimately waste resources, dooming everyone. To ensure this wouldn't happen, he calculated who should and who should not be saved.
- A Vulcan could not have devised a plan more logical and emotionless. It was called Orange Eighty-Four. People hated him for it.
- After the apartheid government fell, Redeker went into hiding since he wasn't the most popular fellow on the block.
- Then the Great Panic hit, One day, Redeker found a bunch of agents from the National Intelligence Agency had busted down his door demanding to know if he was the writer of Orange Eighty-Four.
- Redeker assumed they were there to kill another apartheid stooge, but they actually wanted to see if he had a plan for the zombie shenanigans.
- He did!
- The plan was simple. Step 1: you can't save everyone; don't try. Instead, create a safe zone, preferably one where natural obstacles like mountains and rivers work to your advantage.
- Step 2, evacuate the civilians. Not all the civilians, mind you. Just enough to keep the safe zone supplied with a labor force and to rebuild after the war.
- Step 3, throw everyone else into isolated zones. Their mission is to act as human bait, drawing off the zombies away from the safe zone. These people are to be resupplied as needed. After all, the longer they fight the zombies and the more they kill, the less the safe zone will have to deal with later.
- The NIA agents whisked him off to read his report to the president's cabinet. They were mildly offended at the suggestions.
- The president is more than mildly offended—he's actually ticked off and can't believe they brought this guy to him. Everyone is confused, believing the president put in the order.
- Nope, it was another statesman named Rolihlahla. He proclaimed that Redeker and his plan would save them all. Then he hugs Redeker.
- Azania notes that historians continue to assume Redeker was a man without emotions or a heart or even a soul, but one guy, Biko, actually believes Redeker's war against emotion was to barricade himself from the world's insanity.
- Either way, that was the last day anyone ever saw Paul Redeker. No one knows what happened to him, and a few days later, the Redeker Plan was put into action with Azania in charge.
- After their talk, the Interviewer takes a ferry to the mainland. He enters the Robben Island Psychiatric Institution. The name of the patient he's visiting? Paul Redeker.
- The Interviewer accidently bumps into Philip Adler in the bar of their hotel. Philip agrees to tell the Interviewer his Z-War story.
- In Hamburg, the stage was set with all the familiar trappings. Refugees had come to escape by thousands hoping to jump ship but were now trapped by the thousands. The zed-heads clogged every inch of the city and harbor.
- Philip had secured a command post at the Renaissance Hotel, and his men were doing everything they could: attaining resources, barricades, and civilian training—a.k.a. the ABCs of a zombie attack.
- Then the orders to retreat came in. Nothing unusual there, since they'd been losing ground to the zombies.
- But the rally point was unusual, being practically in Denmark. And the transmission came coded and not on an open channel. That was odd. Also, they were under strict instructions not to bring the civilians.
- My, my, how the plot thickens.
- Philip called back to confirm and found himself speaking to General Lang. Yes, the General Lang…whoever that is.
- Lang confirmed the orders.
- Philip finds it funny now. He'd accepted everything that had happen up to that point, zombies and all, but he could not accept that they'd been ordered to abandon civilians.
- He told the general he won't obey. Lang yelled that he'd charge them with treason and the punishment would come with "Russian efficiency" (5.2.9). Remember how efficient they were, right?
- Philip gave in—not because of the threat of punishment but because he couldn't ask his men to die in that place. Hey, the Renaissance Hotel is pretty nice hotel. We can think of worse dumps to die in.
- The civilians didn't take it so well. They didn't try to follow—what with the zombies muddling about in the streets—but they did a fair amount of yelling and took the occasional potshot at the tanks.
- Philip and his men passed some soldiers covering their retreat. He didn't know it them, but those guys were some of the expendables called for in the Redeker Plan. Philip knew the commanding officer of this outfit, as the man saved his life in Serbia.
- Philip decided he had to kill General Lang.
- He tells the Interviewer he had the whole thing planned out. He'd walk in, all calm like, and listen to the General. When Lang rose to shake his hand—blam-o, minus one general.
- Philip swears he wasn't just going to follow orders like a stooge.
- But it didn't pan out. Once General Lang heard the report saying everyone had made it to the safe zone, he signed some papers, wrote a letter to his family, and then shot himself, saving Philip the effort and a bullet.
- Philip states he hates the man even more now, and the Interviewer asks why.
- He says it's because he now understands the Prochonow Plan (a.k.a. German's take on the Redeker Plan).
- The Interviewer asks why he doesn't sympathize with the man.
- Philip believes they could have used men like General Lang on the long, hard road, but the man proved to be a coward who didn't take responsibility for his own decisions, and the rest of them had to shoulder the consequences.
Yevchenko Veterans' Sanatorium, Odessa, Ukraine
- The Interviewer finds his next interviewee in a sanatorium in the Ukraine.
- The Fun Facts: Although it can mean different things, a sanatorium is a hospital for long-term care of chronic diseases, not to be confused with a sanitarium, which has a lot more pool boys bringing you fruity drinks.
- The interviewee is Bohdan Taras Kondratiuk and, boy, does he have a story to tell.
- During the Great Panic, Bohdan found himself in Kiev. The city was supposed to have been safe after the chaos he'd seen elsewhere. You know, kick back, relax, down a few brewskies type safe.
- But the government had turned tail and fled to Crimea, leaving troopers like Bohdan and his people to cover the evacuation. Worse, they took the beer with them.
- Evacuees clogged the Patona Bridge while confused men in uniforms tried to "process" them, i.e. weed out the zombies-to-be from the civilians. Under equipped and under trained, the military guys were doing their best, but an orderly mob this was not. More like a mobbish mob.
- Bohdan tried to call for backup. The guy on the other end said backup was coming.
- On the other side of the river, Kiev burned and the sounds of zombies, gunfights, and disaster echoed.
- Then Bohdan heard something else—something new. Getting off the radio, he popped his head out in time to see a fighter jet screaming over the city. Backup!
- The fighters circled on their target, the bridge.
- Bohdan screamed for everyone to get off the bridge, before leaping into the nearest tank and ordering them to batten down the hatches—or whatever the tank equivalent of battening is.
- The soldiers inside the tank were legitimately freaked out. Bohdan tried to calm one of them while keeping his eye glued to the periscope.
- The bridge was hit with RVX, a chemical weapon. As Bohden watched the evacuees fall down dead around the tank, he wondered why their high command would do such a thing.
- His answer came as soon as the first corpses began to rise, taking their place amongst the undead ranks. High command wanted to separate the infected from the non-infected, and this method proved the most effective … if also the most lethal.
- Bohdan commanded the gunner to fire on the glut of newly minted ghouls. When they put them down, he gave the order to move out.
- He remembers the way the bodies popped under the tank treads as they crossed the bridge. Gruesome.
- The last thing he saw in Kiev was the Great Patriotic War Museum Complex, a gleaming edifice promoting Ukraine's grand military accomplishments of the past.
Sand Lakes Provincial Wilderness Park, Manitoba, Canada
- It's summer in Canada. The zombies have plucked themselves from their frosty graves and are traipsing across Canuck land. Jesika Hendricks—once American now naturalized Canadian—hunts these fair-weather fiends, and the Interviewer tags along with her.
- She starts her story with a discussion on how she doesn't blame the government for not being able to protect them. Hey, it was an invasion by actual, real-live undead zombies. How do you prepare for that?
- She only blames them for not properly educating the people, for not dispersing vital, survival information. Here's why.
- Two weeks after Yonkers, her father was learning how to load his new rifle, her mother was boarding up the windows, and the news media was doing what news does—i.e. being no help whatsoever.
- That's when her father decided they would migrate north. Since the living dead freeze solid in cold weather, he thought it made as much sense as anything, nay, more sense than anything.
- Her mom argued, but dad was steadfast, believing it would be more extended camping trip than survivalist perdition.
- Jesika shows the Interviewer a bunch of cracked DVDs in the ice, noting how the people who came north brought laptops and hair dryers and video games. She doesn't think they thought they'd be useful items to have; they just didn't want to lose their stuff
Northward bound they went, finishing half of their canned food on the way up.
- Since her family belonged to the first wave, they didn't have to deal with all the clogged roads and violence people heard about.
- They did pass many people who simply ran out of gas and wanted a ride. Jesika remembers one lady they did pick up. Her name was Patty.
- Patty had a wound on her hand. She claimed it was the result of an accident, not a bite, but one night while Jesika was asleep, her parents kicked Patty out of the van. Jesika woke up just in time to see Patty in the rear view mirror, trying to catch up.
- Jesika saw a lot on the road north, but she knew that once they got far enough north things would be okay—camping fun, moose burgers, lake swims and a pet rabbit, grand stuff.
- And things were pretty good for a while. They had a campsite on the shore of a lake, food, trees for firewood, and enough people around to make them feel safe. That was before the second and third waves of northward evacuees hit.
- The Interviewer asks how they planned to survive the winter once the zombies were frozen.
- Jesika thinks no one thought that far ahead, believing it'd be over before true winter hit.
- She points to a Spongebob Squarepants sleeping bag and wonders what the heat rating is. She rants against the ignorance of some of the refugees and how they did things to survive that were actually counter-survival.
- When food grew scarce and the days colder, these people got mean.
- Fights broke out, stuff got stolen, and, oh yeah, people killed each other. One night, she heard her father fire his gun, though she never asked him what happened.
- Some of the refugees tried to walk home once the lake froze over. That's right, walk: no more gas.
- Her dad became more convinced they needed to wait it out.
- By the by, this all happened by October. By November, the family was starving.
- One night, her father and mother were fighting. The fight ended when her father traded her survival radio for some stew from a neighboring RV. All that commotion for a bit of stew?
- Jesika shows the Interviewer a pile of human bones. Broken. With the marrow extracted.
- She says that by Christmas they had plenty of food to celebrate the holidays—Donner Party style.
- That was the first Gray Winter. By spring, the sun and the walking dead both came out to greet the survivors.
- Other team members of the hunting party call Jesika and the Interviewer. They've found a zombie half buried in ice, trying to claw its way out and toward them.
- Jesika wonders aloud why the zombies can survive freezing solid while human beings can't. Then she crowbars the creature's skull inward.
- No love lost there it seems.
Udaipur Lake Palace, Lake Pichola, Rajasthan, India
- On the other side of the globe, the Interviewer talks with Sardar Khan. Although a project manager of Udaipur Lake Palace hotel today, he was once a lance corporal in the Indian military.
- Khan remembers monkeys, lots and lots of monkeys. They were climbing, swinging, leaping and bounding over everything and everyone to get away from the zombies.
- The refugees were following suit. Only instead of climbing their way out, they had to go by a mountain road, and India's mountain roads can be pretty heinous even on slow days.
- Case in point, Khan watched as a whole bus tumbled off the pass, bringing its passengers with it.
- Then Sergeant Mukherjee grabbed him and asked him if he knew how to drive. Unfortunately for Khan, he does. He's shoved into a driver's seat and told to floor it to the pass while Mukherjee fiddles with the radio.
- Mukherjee mentioned something about charges already set and some order. What did that mean? The charges ere for blowing up the pass, and the orders were for them to do it.
- Khan remembered the retreat through the Himalayas had to do with some kind of plan (hint, hint). When they got there, Mukherjee cursed that the roads were supposed to be clear. The man in charge of clearing the roads replied he couldn't stop them on account that he didn't feel like shooting everyone.
- Mukherjee yelled into the radio that the road wasn't clear. The response? The roads would never be clear, and the only thing behind the refugees was a couple million zombies.
- In came General Raj-Singh, the Tiger of Delhi. Even in the present day, Kahn remains in awe of the man. Apparently, he's awesome.
- The General explained to them that the road had to be destroyed. If they didn't accomplish their mission, a Jaguar pilot had backup orders to drop a nuclear bomb on the area.
- Raj-Singh accepted the detonator, thanked the men, and pressed the button. Fizzle, poof, nothing and nada.
- But did that stop General Raj-Singh? Nope. He leapt into action. Wanting to be heroes too, Khan and Mukherjee leapt into, erm… they leapt, but we can't qualify it as "into action."
- They completely lost the General in the rush of people. Mukherjee fell over the side of the pass with another man who tried to take his rifle.
- Khan climbed onto a bus hoping to catch sight of Raj-Singh. He didn't see the General, but he did see those million some odd zombies behind the refugees, coming straight for them.
- The bus tipped over and sent Khan into the flood of people. They nearly trampled him to death, but he managed to pull himself under the bus.
- But he wasn't about to die like the others. He drew his sidearm—and just then, an explosion rocked the area around him. Bam! He was knocked out cold.
- When he came to, he crawled out from beneath the bus. He was alone, the mountain pass blown to bits, the refugees either dead or having moved on. The zombies were still coming for him, but they only cascaded down the newly formed edge.
- The Tiger of Delhi must have blown the detonators by hand.
- Khan radioed in that the pass was secure and heard that all the other passes were secure as well. Mission accomplished!
- A monkey perched on the bus and watched the scene with him. Khan wanted to tell the monkey that this was the turning point of the war. But the monkey peed on him instead. Bad monkey!
Home Front USA
Taos, New Mexico
- Next on the Interviewer's hit list is Arthur Sinclair Junior. He was the head of America's DeStRes (Department of Strategic Resources) program during the war.
- Sinclair doesn't know who came up with the acronym DeStRes, but he knows that pronouncing it "distress" was more than appropriate.
- They called everything west of the Rookies a safe zone, but there wasn't much safe about it. The American people suffered "starvation, disease, [and] homelessness in the millions" and their "[i]ndustry was in shambles, transportation and trade had evaporate" (6.1.2). Did we mention zombies? Because, yeah, zombies.
- Sinclair's job was simple: get the American back on its feet. But doing it was a little more difficult.
- He decided to return to the lessons his father taught him, lessons "almost Marxist in nature." He called it "tools and talent" (6.1.3).
- Talent meant the skills of the workforce … and their talent pool was a tad shallow. No headfirst diving into this talent pool.
- The problem was America's pre-war culture. Everyone was an executive this or analyzed that or commissioned whatever or were experts in literary analysis. Ahem.
- None of that was any good after the zombie war. What they needed were blue-collar skills: people who could make guns, bricks, and machines.
- Sinclair used the refugee camps. Anybody labeled F-6 (white-collar skill set) was immediately put into unskilled labor: cleaning streets, digging graves, and so on. How's that for some class warfare?
- A-1 civilians (those with war-needed skills) became part of the Community Self-Sufficiency Program (CSSP).
- The switch to a war production society was dubbed the National Reeduation Act, the largest of its kind since WWII. It an instant success with everyone… well, not everyone.
- The movie producers, financers, and upper management types didn't take well to having plumbers, mechanics, and construction workers as their new bosses.
- Others were pretty happy. Sinclair remembers one guy who went from licensing for an ad agency to chimney sweeping. Now, he loves helping to keep his neighbors warm.
- Now onto the tools part of the tools and talent equation. Sinclair swivels his chair and points to a root beer recipe hanging on his wall.
- All those ingredients, all those tools, and that's just to brew some root beer.
- He gives three reasons the Allies won World War II. Those are: (1) The ability to manufacture material; (2) Natural resources for that material; (3) Transportation for those materials.
And they needed to do all three (6.1.18).
- California's agricultural base provided them with an advantage on the starvation issue.
- Next came recycling. No point throwing something out that could be used again and again. Thankfully, pre-war middle class Americans lived with a material wealth historically unheard of, and they had lot of materials to recycle.
- But the military was Sinclair's greatest adversary. The boys in blue could create any project or program their gun-happy hearts desired, but once they contracted those jobs to a resource under DeStRes's control, Sinclair could do with as he pleased.
- And they did not like Sinclair having a say over them. Not one bit.
- Sinclair doesn't blame them. He understands they were under a lot of pressure, needed someone to vent at, and he understands that that poor sap was him.
- Did he make mistakes when dealing with the military? Sure he did. He didn't understand how important dirigibles would prove in World War Z.
- He also agreed to support Project Yellow Jacket. The project guys promised they'd develop a bullet that could be sent into a zombie's brain via satellite. Turns out, breeding and training a unicorn cavalry would a more realistic endeavor.
- Then in came Travis D'Ambrosia—remember him from "Part 2"?—to give Sinclair's butt a boost out of the fire. When Travis became the Joint Chief, he green lighted an idea called RKR or resource-to-kill ratio and helped Sinclair create a new standard of infantry rifle and BDU.
- Once RKR took off, the boys fighting the fight began coming up with ways to improve their own RKR.
- Sinclair points to a Lobo hanging on his wall, a weapon created by leathernecks (i.e. the marines) to improve RKR. It proved so useful against zombies that they still make them to this day.
- Next up is "the Whacko." He's the former vice president of the United States, but since everyone just calls him "the Whacko," he asks the Interviewer to refer to him as such. Whatever floats your boat, buddy.
- "The Whacko" was chosen as vice president because he belonged to a different party and had a polar opposite personality from the president. But you know what? The two worked well together in spite of, nay, because of that fact.
- Honolulu was bedlam when it became the new capital seat of the United States. Not only did they have to set up the government, but they also had to prepare the newly founded safe zone west of the Rookies.
- They originally wanted to do away with the election, but the President convinced them otherwise.
- The Interviewer asks "the Whacko" to elaborate, but the former vice president will only do so if the Interviewer agrees to fact check him. Seems his old brain has some clogged synapses.
- "The Whacko" told the president elections were a great ideal, but they needed to work fast, and an election would only jam up the system.
- The President simply explained that they needed ideals now more than ever. Looking back on it, "the Whacko" realizes the President didn't want to become America's first Caesar and risk destroying what America stood for.
- The elections set the tone for the administration. Many of the President's ideas seemed outrageous but were supported by pillars of irrefutable logic.
- Take for instance the President's punishment laws. He brought back ye olde punishments of the stocks and public floggings.
- With the zombies inching closer every day, what good would it do to put a criminal in prison? No good at all. They needed that guy to work. By making the punishment public, you put the fear of humiliation into them.
- But the President wasn't heartless in his logic. When someone suggested they dump criminals in the infested zones, the President refused, claiming the last thing they needed were criminals creating their own Road Warrior kingdoms east of the Rookies.
- Actually, that doesn't sound compassionate—just smart.
- The Interviewer mentions they used the death penalty, but "the Whacko" defends the administration, saying it was only in extreme circumstances, like political secession.
- For example, they had that group of extreme religious fundamentalists who didn't want the government interfering with the zombies carrying out God's law. They got a lot of press, but only because they tried to kill the President.
- "The Whacko" mentions that the left had its share of extremists, such as the "Greenies" who were like the "Fundies" but believed the zombies were doing the "Mother Earth's" work instead.
- Then there were the Rebs. These guys were armed and way more dangerous than the religious extremists. The President knew they had to be dealt with quickly. Being the pro he was, he never let on how dangerous they really were in public.
- The complicated ones were the rebels who claimed, "'We didn't leave America. America left us'" (6.2.24). What's the problem? Well, problem is they kind of had a point. America did leave them stranded on the other side of the Rookies.
- The administration allowed the former isolated zones peaceful integration back into the Union. Some took it, but others fought.
- All the violence and death took its toll on the president's health. He was so focused on the nation's well being that he never even tried to find out the fate of his own family in Jamaica. And that burden he shouldered eventually killed him.Wenatchee, Washington.
- During the day, Joe Muhammad runs a bicycle repair shop. At night, he creates sculptures out of metal. During the zombie wars, he killed zombies. It's quite the resume.
- Joe wanted in the National Reeducation Act right away, but the recruiter was a tad nervous giving him a job in the Neighborhood Security Team. Why's that? Joe's disabled.
- He actually finds it kind of funny. The human race was on the verge of extinction, and this lady was trying to be politically correct. If he couldn't outpace a zombie, would he have lived long enough to ask for the job in the first place? Nope.
- Joe said he'd stay in that office until he received his orange vest. He left one orange vest richer.
- His job in the Neighborhood Security Team was to help the team secure the neighborhood. Pretty self-explanatory really.
- They patrolled day and night. Night shifts were the roughest. Without all the streetlights and electrical lights of modern life, Joe had forgotten just how dark true darkness could get. It plays with your mind, man.
- It was also hectic because the resettlement program brought you new neighbors every day. Joe himself hosted a family of six after years of living alone. Once you got to know the new neighbors though, it was all cool.
- The first year was easily the worse because they had so many deserted houses to search. Joe stood guard outside while his buddies went in. Sometimes they'd find a zedhead inside; other times, the zedhead came for Joe.
- But zombies were only one of several issues. They also had to deal with looters and squatters, and these guys could fire guns. Usually, the looters and squatters would accept their offer into the community. No big deal, really; they were just as scared as everybody else.
- Other times, well, the only time Joe got hurt was when a professional bad guy took a pop shot at him with a 9mm.
- They'd also find feral children, malnourished and scared. The only times Joe felt bad that he couldn't run was when he couldn't catch up with a feral child to help them out.
- But worst of the worse were the Quislings.
- A quisling is a human who is still 100% human physically, but who acts like a zombie mentally. Like someone with Stockholm syndrome, they associate with the thing that scares them so much they begin to mimic what terrifies them.
- They move like zombies, moan like zombies. They even, um, eat like zombies.
- Unfortunately for Joe and his crew, they didn't know about quislings when they first ran into one. The Q bit one of his buddy before Joe managed to kill it. Everyone thought they'd have to kill their friend as well until they realized the "zombie" was bleeding red.
- Not long after, quislings were officially announced, and Neighborhood Security Teams trained to fight them. Joe wonders if people being bitten by quislings and surviving might have had something to do with why people thought Phalanx worked.
- And no, they could never reason with the quislings. Their minds were long gone. The best they could do was capture them alive if possible, put them down if not.
- Joe says he's not even touching the "to kill or not to kill" quislings debate. For Joe, the saddest thing is that the Qs gave up their humanity but lost in the end anyway.
- The Interviewer asks him what he means.
- He says that the zombies know the difference between a Q and a Z. And when a zombie starts om-noming on a quisling, the quisling just lies there and quietly dies. Yeah, we'd qualify that as a loss too.
- The Interviewer doesn't need a photo to recognize Roy Elliot. Apparently, this guy is pretty hot stuff.
- The interview begins with a discussion on ADS or Asymptomatic Demise Syndrome. Basically, it's when the despair of living in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland is too much for someone and they literally lose the will to live and die.
- Roy understood despair. In the pre-war world, he was a famous movie director. Now, he was an F-6, meaning his talents and fame amounted to negative jack.
- But when he heard about ADS, he snatched up a camera and got to work.
- He had to go it alone though. His DeStRes rep said the idea wouldn't fly, and anybody who could override the decision was too busy to be bothered.
- Roy and his oldest son traveled on mountain bikes looking for a story. They found one in Claremont, CA.
- There, three hundred students at the Women's College at Scripps turned their college into "something resembling a medieval city" (6.4.12). It cost them their hacky sack tourney in the quad, but they managed to keep the zombie troops at bay.
- Roy and his boy arrived at the tail end of the conflict—right as those three hundred students finished fighting off ten thousand zombies, and the soldiers arrived to relieve them.
- Roy edited the footage as soon as he could and screened the fourteen copies all over the L.A. area under the title Victory at Avalon: The Battle of the Five Colleges.
- It bombed. Hard.
- At least, that's what Roy thought. The audience just watched the film and then left silently. All the fantasies Roy had about being a hero popped like several red balloons that night.
- Two weeks later, a psychiatrist came and asked Roy for extra copies of his super-successful movie.
- Roy was shocked. Success? As it turns out, ADS cases dropped in the LA area by 5 percent after the movie's screening. And no one told Roy.
- He didn't care though because his film did what he meant it to do and gave him a wartime job he could do. He got a larger crew together, made some more films, and ADS cases dropped by 23 percent.
- Then the government took notice.
- With access to the military, Roy could make more films, including his now famous Fire of the Gods.
- Fire of the Gods detailed the military development of two laser systems: Zeus and MTHEL. That's right, zombie killing laser machines. We'll give you a moment to appreciate the awesomeness.
- Except they weren't really that awesome. Both laser systems were huge resource hogs and on their way out since they didn't do much more against a zombie than your average Joe could do with a rifle. Or a rock and sling for that matter.
- But, thanks to Roy's film, they came out of retirement to serve other purposes in the war—like clearing landmines.
- The Interviewer questions why he filmed the lasers killing zombies, if they weren't all that effective.
- Well, Americans' "worship technology" (6.4.44). Show them a high-tech gizmo fragging a zombie and watch them drool.
- The film lead to a whole series called "Wonder Weapons."
- The Interviewer asks if that means it qualifies as a lie.
- Roy has no problem with that moniker. He says a lie is only as a good or bad as the use it's put to.
- The government's pre-war lies, those were bad because they prevented people from doing what was necessary.
- Roy's lie, that everything was going to be okay, was a good thing because it gave people the hope to do what was necessary.
- He asks the Interviewer if he ever watched The Hero City?
- The Interviewer says he did.
- Roy wants to know which version he saw. Was it the version that showed "the violence and the betrayal, the cruelty, the depravity, the bottomless evil in some of those 'hereos' hearts" (6.4.58)?
- Nope. Reality is what caused ADS in the first place. Lies kept people fighting rather than dying.
Parnell Air National Guard Base, Tennessee
- Colonel Christina Eliopolis is a woman famous for her war record and her temper, and she's next in the hot seat.
- Pre-war, Eliopolis was a FA-22 Raptor pilot, one of the most advance pieces of tech ever to tickle the clouds. And when fighting zombies, it amounted to little more than buyer's remorse.
- Since zedheads couldn't fly the friendly skies, the Air Force found itself drastically cut back and most of its planes and weapons grounded for the sake of RKR.
- Their main mission went from winning wars to airborne resupply. Basically if they had a little hideaway hole of humanity surrounded by the undead nation, the Air Force dropped in supplies, so they could keep on keeping on. Success meant dropping in anything from medicine, food, resources, machines, and sometimes even people.
- Thanks to the creation of refuel and repair facilities, the Air Force managed to fly resupply missions as far as the east coast with a 92 percent survivability rate. Eliopolis's story starts in the other 8 percent.
- She's not sure what brought her plane down. All she knows is that after two hours of heavy turbulence, she needed to pee.
- While in the bathroom—portable chempot truth be told— she felt a jolt as if God's boot just kicked the back of their plane off. The air pressure sucked Eliopolis out the back.
- She pulled her chute and noticed another chute made it out in time. She tried the radio but got nothing.
- That was the worst of it for her, just hanging in the air, helpless and useless.
- Thankfully, the Air Force had given her some training for this type of situation at the Willow Creek Escape and Evade program. Also, Eliopolis was more than use to occupying hostile territory.
- The Interviewer asks her what she means by that.
- Back at Colorado Springs, she was a lady cadet in a man's world. Sure, other women cadets were there too, but as Eliopolis put it, "when the pressure kicked in, sisterhood punched out" (6.5.34).
- When she touched down, she bee-lined for the other chute. She found it and its passenger, Rollins, tangled in the trees. The zombies had put their chompers to him.
- Eliopolis managed to keep her cool enough to snap a suppressor on her pistol, not enough to not waste the whole clip on them.
- The Interviewer tries to comfort her, saying it wasn't her fault, but Eliopolis shrugs the comment away. How does he know? He wasn't there. She wasn't even there.
- The radio squawked to life. A skywatcher jumped on the line. Her handle was "Mets."
- By the by, the skywatch system was a support system setup so that isolated ham radio owners could help downed aircrews. Now you know.
- Mets told Eliopolis that her cabin was surrounded, so them meeting up was a no go. But she did report Eliopolis's position to search and rescue. Now, Eliopolis needed to find open ground for a pickup.
- Panic set into Eliopolis, but Mets talked her down, reminding her that she had flown the area before and knew it intrinsically.
Eliopolis remembered the 1-10 freeway, and Mets agreed that was the best pickup spot.
- Eliopolis was about to leave when Mets asked her if she's forgetting something. She turned back and put a slug into Rollins's head.
- Trudging through the swamps, Eliopolis's training took over. Eventually she found a road, but Mets reminded her to stay off of it. A zombie trapped in a car might not be able to bite, but it could still call others. Good point.
- She skipped the road and moved deeper in. The first zombie she saw was a kid, tangled on the roots of a tree and half submerged in the swamp. It couldn't moan, but she put it out of its misery anyway.
- Later that day, she came across an SUV. The SUV was packed with everything anyone would need to survive and the remains of a guy who didn't survive. Lacking the will, he just killed himself outright.
- Mets asked for an update, and Eliopolis explained. The skywatcher told her to get a move on. And Mets was right. Eliopolis had everything she needed; now she needed to move.
- But she didn't get anywhere. Mets heard something and asked what it was. You know what that means. Zombies inbound.
- Eliopolis hopped onto the SUV. Cool and steady, she dropped all the zombies in a game of lethal wack-o-mole.
- After the battle, Eliopolis moved as far from the SUV as she could. When it began to darken, she set a hammock in a tree for the night.
- She asked Mets who she really was, but Mets said they could go all The View later.
- Eliopolis slept hard that night. She dreamed about zombies and awoke to—what else?—zombies surrounding her tree.
- Without the ammo to take them out, she had only one course of action. Mets informed her that pickup was on their way.
- She leapt from the tree. Splash and Crack! She landed face first in the cold water with a broken ankle.
- Mets yelled for her to get up and run. The pain was excruciating, but Mets went all drill sergeant on Eliopolis's butt.
- As Eliopolis nears 1-10, the pain began to become too much for her. She couldn't climb on top of the cars because of her ankle, so she had to dodge between the cars and grabbers.
- Eliopolis was just about to give up when Mets asked her if she was just like her mother. That gave her all the gumption she needed for the final push.
- She saw a helicopter in the distance and popped her signal flare. Rescued at last.
- Airborne, the rescue crew asked her where she'd come from—seems they weren't the rescue team Mets had mentioned. Eliopolis got on her radio and made a The View joke but received no response.
- The Interviewer says Mets sounds like a hell of skywatcher and asks Eliopolis about her suspicions.
- Eliopolis says no skywatcher could have been as well informed as Mets was. She must have been a pilot at some point. She thinks
- Mets might have been knocked from the sky, held up in a cabin, and spent the rest of the war as an awesome skywatcher.
- The Interviewer mentions that they never found Mets or the cabin.
- Eliopolis wonders if the Interviewer has read her after-action psych eval. She thinks it's crap. So what if Mets is short for Metis, the mother of Athena, or if Eliopolis's mother was from the Bronx? As for that "are you your mother?" comment, she thinks it was a good guess on Mets part.
- Eliopolis ends the interview confirming Mets was not a figment of her imagination, but a real skywatcher who was with her in a tough time.
- Yeah, we're not so sure.
Around the World, And Above
Province of Bohemia, the European Union
- The Interviewer meets David Allen Forbes at Kost Castle, a.k.a. "the Bone." They're here to discuss castles, zombies, and what happens when zombies besiege castles.
- David begins by pointing out that he isn't trying to be insulting by not discussing North American fortifications. It's just that Europe's been using these bad boys for well over a millennia, and they've got this battlement thing down.
- Onto the castles. David admits they didn't serve humanity as well as other fortifications, modern or not, but since their contribution directly saved his life, well, he's got a soft spot for them.
- First, let's consider the difference between a castle and a palace. One is an impregnable fortress; the other is pomp and gilded frills. A palace usually has so many windows on its lower floors that you're better off in an apartment building.
- Not that a castle provided guaranteed safety. In the case of Muiderslot in Holland, it only took an outbreak of pneumonia to finish off the survivors.
- And if a fire breaks out, you can find yourself stuck between an inferno and the undead, making the proverbial rock and hard place seem a pleasantly non-lethal choice by comparison.
- At Miskolc Diosgyor in Hungary, someone didn't know sodium and water went boom together. When a fire broke out around some military grade sodium explosives, they threw water on the stuff to put the fire out. In a word, whoops.
- Another mishap took place at Chateau de Fougeres. The survivors tried to dig their way to safety and popped up right in the middle of the zombies. Guess they should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque.
- But castle defense also had its triumphs. Chenonceau in France had its connection with land severed. The residents waited for the snow to fall and the zombies to freeze, and then they raided the nearby towns for supplies. Kept them safe for years.
- Thanks to such benefits, many survivors choose to stay in their fortified strongholds even when they could run away.
- Like Conway. Conway went in search of permanent lodgings and found Caerphilly Castle.
- By himself, he buried the dead, smashed in some frozen zombie heads, and then restored the castle. When the zombies returned with the warmer weather, the castle was ready for them and became a safe haven for hundreds of others.
- The Interviewer brings up Windsor Castle, David's past haunt.
- Yep, David was there. Strategically, Windsor was capable of withstanding almost any terrorist attack, so the zombies didn't add up to much.
- They even managed to create an oil and natural gas siphoning system from beneath the castle's foundations. So they had hot rooms, hot food, Molotov cocktails, and medieval weapons. David taught himself to use a claymore. Good times.
- David clearly grows uncomfortable, and the Interviewer suggests they stop, but David goes on.
- He mentions she—the Queen—wouldn't leave, insisting on staying in Windsor for the entirety of the war.
- David tried to get her to change her mind, but she refused, saying, "'The highest of distinctions is service to others.'" (7.1.41).
- He says their task was "to personify all that is great in our national spirit" (7.1.41). To be an example for the rest of Britain, she sacrificed everything.
- David says that most people thought the monarchy like castles, old ruins from a bygone era (guess they hadn't met the Duchess of Cambridge). But when they needed them most, they were there to shield Britain, body and soul.
Ulithi Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia
- Barati Palshigar tells the Interviewer that the number one enemy of World War Z wasn't the zombies; it was ignorance. Ignorance of what humanity was facing lead to the outrageous death toll.
- Radio Free Earth, as it was later called, began its life as part of the South African Plan. Back then, it was called Radio Ubunye.
- Because they didn't have the resources, the South African government needed to provide its citizens with information. Radio Ubunye proved the answer to this problem.
- Barati joined at the beginning. They started up the station aboard the maritime vessel the Ural, which was a task in itself.
- He isn't too hip on the technical know-how of the operation because he specialized in languages, specifically the ones of the Indian Subcontinent. He and a man named Mister Verma worked for up to twenty hours a day dolling out information. You read that right: a 2 followed by 0.
- Mostly the stuff was basic survival information: "how to purify water, create an indoor greenhouse, culture and process mold spore for penicillin" (7.2.8).
- The Interviewer asks what kind of misinformation they battled.
- Where to begin?
- He found the psychological aspect most awful. In a traditional war, you have to dehumanize the enemy to get people to hate them. In this war, they had to remind people that their enemy wasn't human at all.
- The Interviewer asks for an example, and Barati says some people thought the zombies were intelligent or felt emotions or could use tools. Others thought you could domesticate them like a cat. It seems the zombie's insatiable hunger for brains wasn't quite the deal breaker you'd think it was.
- The civilian survival guide helped alleviate the problems, but only a limited amount since it was clearly written with a United States/ western culture in mind.
- In India, they had to consider their own culture when providing solutions to the problem. For example, many people flocked to the Ganges because they believed its healing powers would prevent zombification. Although it seems the Ganges does wonders against E. coli, zombies… not so much.
- Not that India was the only country with suicidal ignorance. Barati once heard tale about an American religious sect called "God's Lambs." They believed that the rapture had come and the sooner they were infected the quicker they received a first-classed flight to heaven.
- Barati can't complain too much though. He ate, he sleep little but soundly, and he never had to deal with IR.
- What's IR? Good question, Interviewer; we were just wondering the same thing.
- IR stands for information reception. Information came in from all around the world, and the IR department passed it along to the translators and interpreters.
- Since they used civilian bands, they often got transmissions from people just calling out for help or crying in anguish that they were dying or their children starving.
- One IR guy, an 18-year-old Russian, picked up a Spanish lullaby on the band and promptly shot himself.
- Not one of the IR operators is alive today.
The Demilitarized Zone, South Korea
- Welcome to the Demilitarized Zone, the heavily guarded border separating the countries of South and North Korea. Our tour guide today will be Hynghol Choi. Let's hear what he has to say.
- Choi tells the Interviewer no one knows what happened. No country in the world was better prepared to fight off the zombie invasion than North Korea.
- The people were militarized, and they were indoctrinated since birth to believe the Great Leader was the end-all, be-all of all. It was "the kind of subservience Adolf Hitler could have only dreamed of" (7.3.4).
- What happened? A month before South Korea's troubles with the zombies began, the North went dark. The rail line, the only over link between the two countries, was closed and not a peep was heard from them.
- Many were convinced it was the beginning of the war that they all knew would happen, but the North didn't look like it was gearing up for an invasion. If anything, the numbers of troops along the Demilitarized Zone began to dwindle.
- Then one night, the North Korean guards went into their barracks, shut the doors, and never came out.
- The North stopped sending spies into the South, and the South's spies all disappeared without a trace—and not in the way spies are suppose to disappear.
- There was no radio traffic. Farmers left their fields. Everyone in North Korea just went poof and vanished.
- The South couldn't worry too much. They soon had their own problems to deal with, problems of the undead variety.
- Looking back on in, Choi wonders if maybe they only survived because of North Korea. The older generation in the South always lived with the fear of a North invasion. They stayed diligent, and when the invasion finally came—even if it wasn't exactly the invasion they expected—they were ready.
- Choi still pushes for an expedition into the North to solve the mystery, but the higher-ups say too much work needs doing on their side of the border.
- They have legitimate reasons to postpone too. A surface-to-air missile hit a cargo plane flying over Northern airspace, and they don't know what other booby traps might be lying in wait. Or maybe even an entire population of zombies.
- Choi says conventional wisdom would suggest they headed underground into some super elaborate complexes. If that so, then he wonders if the Great Leader continues to rule over his people, enthroned in their minds like a god.
- On the other hand, look what happened in Paris's "mole city." What if that happened to the entire country? What if the only thing the Great Leader rules over is a kingdom of the dream waiting to be unleashed upon the world?
- In the past, Kondo Tatsumi was a "skinny, acne-faced teenager with dull red eyes and bleached blond highlights streaking his unkempt hair" (7.4.1).
- Today he's clean-shaven, tanned and tone. How'd this transformation take place? Let's find out.
- Kondo starts by saying he was an "otaku" as a child. It's a Japanese term used to describe a person obsessed with a particular hobby. In Japan, this label can be used degradingly. In America, it generally means a super-mega anime fan without the hurtful connotation.
- For Kondo, it just meant he was an outsider.
- He notes that in America the rebel is revered, individuality cherished. In Japan, individuality is a thing to avoid.
- Japan's education system was also less about discovering or creating the new and more centered on retaining facts.
- This is where Kondo's otakuism comes in. His world was one of cyberspace, and his education in fact retention made him "sensei, master over all [he] surveyed" (7.4.4). Hmm, an acne-faced, computer geek teenager who is socially awkward? What cliché character farm did this guy come from?
- When the zombie swarms hit Japan, he and his cyber buddies went right to work. The gathered the facts, studied the physiology and behavior of the undead, and memorized Japan's military capabilities. All so they could… elevate their online reps. Really?
- Then Doctor Komatsu recommended evacuation. By analyzing rather than collecting the facts, the doc realized Japan was not equipped to handle the crisis. Their low crime rate meant the police lacked the equipment necessary, and years of post-WWII demilitarization left them even more vulnerable.
- The Interviewer asked if that was terrifying. Hardly, replies Kondo. The cyber community was in a race to find out where the population would resettle.
- Kondo wasn't concerned for his personal safety because his world was digital, not physical. As for his parents, they left food by his door, but other than that he was disconnected from them too.
- One day, his food wasn't by his door. He called for his mother. No response. Did he care? You bet! It takes precious minutes to prepare those ramen noodles.
- The Interviewer wonders about the other otaku, but Kondo responds that they cared about facts only.
- The lack of food and parents went on for three days. Then the horror of horrors happened. Kondo lost his Internet connection. He checked all his backup systems. Nothing.
- His parents still weren't home. He tried calling them but, again, nothing. To this day, he doesn't know what happened to them.
- He returned to his computer and beat on it for not working until his knuckles bleed.
- The sight of his own blood sent him reeling. He started crying and then vomited all over the floor. When he was done hissy-fitting, he walked to the front door and opened it into darkness.
- The Interviewer asks if he went to a neighbor's apartment.
- Nope. His social anxiety was still too great. He called down the hall and heard a groan. In the direction of the groan was the shape of a human crawling toward him.
- He waited until the thing moved into the light to be sure. Yep, zombie, the right eye hanging out of its socket was a dead giveaway.
- He slammed the door shut and went over to the window. Sure enough, a zombie apocalypse with all the fixings was happening just outside.
- Pounding echoed off Kondo's door, and he heard the noises from the other apartments too. He tried to move the furniture in front of the door, but the act proved a waste of effort. Not enough furniture, and the door was cracking.
- Time to escape. Where? Out the window, of course.
- Remembering what he'd learned from an otaku who studied American prison breaks, Kondo rigged up a makeshift rope of bed sheets and shimmied on down to the balcony below.
- It probably held up better than his much abused muscles. They ached with the unexpected exercise.
- The zombie with the hanging eye had broken into his apartment above. Seeing him below, it slid over the side of the balcony and was reaching for him even as it toppled into the streets below.
- Thankfully, the apartment below was barricaded. He found the body of a girl, Reiko. She had slit her wrists in the bath tube.
- Since Kondo was so out of touch with this culture, he didn't know any prayers for the dead. All he could do was ask for an apology for borrowing her bed sheets.
- He explains to the Interviewer that his plan was to make it to street level. Since the zombies were slow and easily outmaneuvered, he figured he stood just a good a chance down there as in the building. Better chance even. Just a little something he learned online.
- But due to his lack of physical stamina, it took him three whole days to make enough rope and climb all the way down. In retrospect, he probably should have died.
- When it was dark, he would move everything against the door and nurse his wounds until the sky came up. Then, it was time to climb.
- The other thing that delayed him was his desire to search out the best survival gear in each apartment. Thanks to his online searches, he knew what to look for. Finding it was difficult though since the average Japanese salaryman didn't own a wrench or sidearm.
- Fact Checkery: Kondo mentions his hacker friend got information directly from the National Rifle Association stating "there used to be more firearms than people" in America (7.4.49). Statistics generally don't show this to be true. Then again, these statistics rely on counting the number of registered guns.
- Illegal, unregistered firearms are a whole other secretive matter. What can we say for certain? America leads the world in gun ownership (Source). Go team!
- On the fourth floor from the ground, Kondo was thinking about picking a firearm off the street. That thought almost got him killed.
- He rappelled down, looking directly into the face of a zombie. Luckily, glass stood between them. Kondo tried swinging his rope to hop to the balcony next door. The zombie beat against the glass.
- Glass shattered. The zombie charged. Kondo let go and missed.
- But the diagonal fall carried him to the balcony below the one he was aiming for. Man, this kid has a luck streak a mile—sorry, kilometer—long.
- He rushed into the apartment to check for zombies. Looked empty.
- He saw a small kamidana. Kondo went to pick up the suicide note on the little shrine when something caught his eye in the shrine's mirror.
- Zombie! Kondo ducked out of the way and kicked the undead. Undeterred, the zombie rushed for him again.
- The kid screamed in a way he didn't know he could and then chucked the zombie over the balcony and into the streets below. True story.
- Now he could relax, treat his wounds, and—never mind, the zombies were a' knocking on the door.
- Kondo ran into the man's bedroom and gathered the sheets for more rope when a photograph caught his eye. It was the old man as a teenager, dressed to the nines in his WWII military uniform.
- He thanked the old man and rummaged around the bedroom. He found what he was looking for in a chest: an exquisite, traditionally crafted samurai sword. Consider those zombies minced.
- It's a Kyoto twofer! Now we find the Interviewer sticking around long enough to chat it up with a second person, Sensei Tomonaga Ijiro, founder of Japan's "Shield Society."
- Kondo, Ijiro's student and second in command, serves the two tea as they talk.
- Ijiro is "hibakusha" or a survivor of the atomic bomb. When the U.S. dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, Ijiro lost his eyesight to the blast.
- Although treated with sympathy, hibakusha are also considered unclean and social outcasts. Ijiro learned all the polite ways to be rejected from a job and companionship.
- Fearing he'd be a burden on his family, he considered suicide a number of times but couldn't go through with it. Was it some life-affirming epiphany? No. He just figured he was a coward.
- He left the sanatorium, wandering until he met an Ainu gardener named Ota Hideki in Sapporo.
- Since the Ainu know a thing or two about being social outcasts in Japan's society, Ota gave Ijiro a job, even paying him out of his own pocket.
- When the old gardener died, the blind man considered following him. But he still couldn't go through with it. Ijiro just ascribed it to his cowardice and continued silently tending the gardens.
- He was working the hotel gardens when he first heard of "African rabies," but he didn't pay attention. That was the world's problem.
- The hotel manager held a staff meeting to assure all the employees there was no substance to the rumors. Ijiro instantly knew he was lying by the way he pronounced his hard consonants.
- Fearing he'd be a burden to those around him, Ijiro fled once again. He hitchhiked his way south with only his water bottle, change of clothes, and the pray stick (ikupasuy) he used as a walking stick.
- Into the Hiddaka Mountains he roamed. Although blind, he was very familiar with the national park, having memorized every rock, river, and hot spring during his trips with Ota.
- He decided it would be the perfect place to die. He knew he'd eat something poisonous one day or trip, fall, and break his neck. Except … he didn't.
- One day, he crossed paths with a large brown bear. Ijiro was happy the kami had finally decided to end his miserable existence. He felt the bear was the gods' way of sending an assassin to take his life.
- Basically, he was super stoked about the upcoming man vs. bear showdown.
- But the bear didn't kill him. Actually, it ran away. Stupid bear! Why didn't it kill him?
- Then Ijiro heard the moan. He dodged the zombie's attempt to grab him, snatched up his ikupasuy, and then bonked the thing right across the dome. Scratch one zedhead.
- Ijiro's shame melted away. He knew now the kami had favored him and sent the bear to warn him of the oncoming enemy.
- He became a zombie hunter. He would sleep during the day and kill at night. He divided the national park into zones, each zone containing a place that would provide him security.
- The gods even aided his battle. Sometimes the god of the wind would provide favorable conditions so that his "circle of sensory security" was more than half a kilometer (6.5.29). And when a zombie-man entered that circle, you could safety say good night to it.
- If he angered the kami, then the conditions were less favorable but never fatal.
- Ijiro always damaged the brain or severed the neck on the first strike. Initially, when his skills were still being honed, his emotions ruled his hands (7.5.38).
- But as he improved, he learned to allow the gods to join him on the battlefield, using rocks, trees, or cliffs to his advantage.
- He would thank these spirits after every battle and then bury every re-dead zombie so their rotting remains wouldn't desecrate nature.
- He was a zombie slayer to make the National Wildlife Federation.
- But all of this fighting came with a question. Ijiro knew what he was doing was correct, but he didn't know why. The answer came just before his second winter.
- Ijiro was nestled into the limbs of a tall tree when the wind brought a new smell his way, a human smell.
- The man's path brought him under Ijiro's tree, and Ijiro took no chances.
- He leapt onto Kondo before Kondo knew what had happened. Ijiro said he wouldn't kill him if he didn't move.
- They talk. Kondo told Ijiro all about the plague, what had happened to Japan, and basically got the old hermit up-to-date on current affairs.
- Ijiro realized why he had been sent to Hokkaido. It was to care for the land. The Gods would not let Japan wither and die, and Ijiro and Kondo would be its gardeners. Its deadly, deadly gardeners.
- Seryosha Garcia Alvarez tells the Interviewer flat out, "Cuba won the Zombie War" (7.6.2). A humble statement? Nope. An accurate one? Let's find out.
- Cuba never had it too good economically. During the Cold War, they were more-or-less the Soviet Union's economic puppets and had to put up with the U.S. blockade.
- After the Cold War, they still had the U.S. blockade to deal with, and Fidel Castro used the fear of the U.S. oppressors to keep himself in power for forever and a half.
- Then the Great Panic hit. Cuba had long prepared itself for the undead since their geography gave them advanced warning. They not only fought off the initial zombie outbreaks but also the flood of refugees seeking safe harbor.
- Eventually the refugees made it ashore, but when they got there, they found Cuba had set up a strict "'While under [our] roof, you will obey [our] rules'" policy (7.6.10).
- Most of the refugees came from the United States in a bit of paradigm
- The refugees were rustled into Quarantine Resettlement Centers. Some compare these centers to prison camps, but Alvarez thinks that's an unfair comparison.
- Sure, every camp had rumors of a zombie pit where they'd throw trouble makers, but that was just idle talk meant to keep people in line. They'll look back on that and laugh… one day.
- The Cubans welcomed the American Cubanos with open arms and let ten percent of Yankee Americans outside the centers to do the jobs no one else wanted to do: dish washers, street cleaners, gardeners, and so on. You know the drill.
- The camps emptied in six months, but the refugees brought an infection with them. It just wasn't the zombie infection.
- The work force surge began an economic evolution. Alvarez is certain Fidel would have crushed it if he could, but the world had its own plans.
- Cuba became the "breadbasket, the manufacturing center, the training ground, and the springboard" of the world (7.6.22). The money created a middle class overnight. Welcome to Cuba, Capitalism.
- And with capitalism came democracy, and with democracy came a bond between the refugees and the Cubanos.
- But what really surprised Alvarez was Fidel. He didn't try to stop the surge of freedom. Instead, he took credit for the whole shebang.
- He personally presided over the first democratic election and ensured his legacy was a positive one.
- Of course, with democracy and capitalism came strikes and interest groups and political parties and protests. But as Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others" (7.6.26).
Patriot's Memorial, the Forbidden City, Beijing, China
- Admiral Xu Zhicai chooses this spot just in case a photo op is in the works. The Interviewer notes that even though no one in China has ever questioned his crew's patriotism ever, the old Admiral takes no chances.
- He wants his side of the story understood.
- Xu says they loved their country and its people and would never have done what they had if things hadn't been so desperate.
- The problem? The Chinese army insisted they had the situation in hand. They were so sure of themselves that they rejected the Redeker plan without consideration.
- How could they lose?, they thought. They had a massive population to fight for them.
- You see the problem here, don't you? The larger your army, the larger the potential recruits for the zombie forces.
- Yes, China was being outnumbered, and Captain Chen knew he had to do something.
- He told his senior officers his plan, and Xu couldn't even believe it at first. Take the most advanced nuclear submarine China had ever constructed and desert their home? It sounded like something out of a movie—this movie, to be specific.
- It took three months to prepare. Not only was their port under constant attack, but they had to secretly smuggle emergency supplies and family members aboard.
- Oh, yes, family members. No crewman as going to ditch gram-mama or their darling daughter if they could help it.
- How did they accomplish it?
- Well, finding the family was difficult. When they managed to locate someone, they sent a message requesting them for a pre-launch ceremony or to say their family member was dying and needed to see them—lies, of course, but official-looking lies.
- Xu was lucky his wife and children were already on the base. Captain Chen's wife left him years ago and his son, well, Xu doesn't want to talk about that (hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
- They smuggled the family members aboard at night, either hiding them in uniforms or supply crates. The families had no idea what was about to happen because every crew member was under strict orders to shut the heck up.
- At first, they stuck to the patrol route assigned to them, but then they set sail for who knows where. They only knew they weren't defecting to another country. They were still Chinese loyal sailors, so they weren't going to hand over a nuclear payload to anyone else.
- But because of that decision, they were all alone. The Admiral Zheng submarine became their whole world—a small, tightly packed, locker-room-stinking world.
- The first few months were routine. They stayed deep and silent, performed regular patrols, and trained the civilians in submarine life.
- Since their initial goal was stealth, they had no idea what was happening on land. What countries were the most infected? Was anyone winning the fight? Had the nuclear option been used? Who won The X Factor?
- They could answer none of these questions.
- Lieutenant Commander Song began painting pictures of apocalyptic skylines and cityscapes, and Captain Chen realized it was the result of long-term isolation. He ordered Song to paint something more cheerful. He chose sunsets—instead of going with our clearly superior suggestion of unicorns using caramel apples to ski down rainbows. To each their own joys, we suppose.
- Over time, the sonar officer, Liu, picked up an increasing number of ships in waters where they should not have been. Chen ordered them to periscope depth to check it out.
- Maritime vessels aplenty were traveling the open ocean. The ships came from every country and from every era: military and civilian ships, and relics that should have been retired long ago.
- The crew realized the owners of these vessels had no idea what they were doing on the ocean. They just bailed from land in a blind panic.
- Admiral Zheng couldn't help. Too many ships were infected to risk assistance, and even if they did help, what could they do? They had no food and could haul them to no safe harbors.
- Even without helping the other ships, the zombies became a threat to the submarine. Floating ghouls would latch onto the hull or be speared by a piece of equipment, and then they'd have to surface to clear it off.
- Xu almost got chomped by one of these floating ghouls.
- Food became a problem over time and medicine even more so, but the Captain strictly forbade raiding derelict vessels.
- The civilians came up with a solution to the food issues. They proposed to turn the missile room into a garden with pots and troughs for growing plants. They rigged some ultraviolet lamps—used to provide the crew with Vitamin D—and voila, insta-submarine greenhouse.
- Except they needed soil as the submarine was fresh out (go figure, right?).
- They surveyed the coast of South America, scanning miles of uninhabited jungle. Xu proposed sending a shore party to retrieve the soil.
- Before he'd let them go, Captain Chen had the foghorn blown. Hundreds of zombies followed the noise right into the surf.
- They decided they'd have to find soil on an off shore island, meaning they'd need to return to the Pacific, China's home turf. And the last thing they wanted was to tussle with the Chinese navy.
- They found their answer at Manihi. The lagoon was crowded with private vessels, and the island was home to hundreds of tents and huts. Xu says it was what post-war historians would later call "the Pacific Continent" (7.7.80).
- The Admiral Zheng integrated into this society through trade. They ran floating power lines between their reactors to the ships and provided the people with electricity.
- They became what amounted to millionaires in that society. They bartered for a gymnasium, a wet bar, entertainment centers for the adults, and the children got toys and candy and given entrance into the floating society's schools. They even got their greenhouse all set up with nice rich soil, and the soldiers were given free credit at the, let's say, gentlemen's clubs.
- Sure, the floating continent still had to deal with zombies since the water allowed the zombies to climb the anchor lines. But beyond that, it was the best months of their time abroad.
- They got word from some Chinese refugees that things in their homeland were worse than ever. They figured they were finally safe since it didn't look the government had the resources to devote to finding one rouge submarine.
- One night, while Song and Xu were on shore duty, they received a radio broadcast about some natural disaster in China. While listening, the sea in front of Xu suddenly glowed. A boat, the Madrid Spirit, exploded.
- He and Song thought it an accident after first, but then the Admiral Zheng's foghorn blew.
- Aboard they got the rundown. A new Type 95 hunter-killer submarine was after them. It was one of only two in the Chinese navy, though they couldn't tell which one.
- The Interviewer asks if that's important, but Xu just keeps telling his story.
- Captain Chen refused to fight at first. He bottomed the sub and hoped to hide from their hunter.
- They waited silently. Then Lieutenant Liu tapped Xu on the shoulder and pointed something out. Zombies were swarming their hull.
- Now, the zombies couldn't do anything to the submarine itself, but if one of them accidently slipped into the Zheng's reactor cooling system, now that could be a problem.
- They had to move, and their movement altered their attackers. Each sub fired at the same time. Thanks to Captain Chen's quick thinking, they easily avoided the enemy's missile while hitting their target dead on.
- The Type 95's bulkhead collapsed and imploded. As the 95 died in the ocean, so did Captain Chen's soul.
- Xu finally lets the Interviewer in on the big secret. Captain Chen wanted to avoid the Chinese fleet because his son, Commander Chen
- Zhi Xiao, commanded a submarine, specifically at Type 95 hunter-killer.
- The next day, Captain Chen did not leave his cabin, and they cut off all contact with the outside world. They headed for the arctic.
- Xu was the only person to see Captain Chen after that and only when he delivered the Captain's meals. They settled back into routine.
- Their routine was broken when the other 95 found them. Captain Chen finally left his cabin and prepared to sink this other sub without giving them a chance to fight back.
- But they received a call on their "Gertrude" or underwater telephone.
- It was Command Chen. Oh, happy days.
- He told them about the destruction of the Three Gorges Dam, the source of the "natural disaster" they heard of earlier.
- Out of desperation, the government leaders had ordered the act and, by doing so, set off a civil war. The 95 that attacked them was part of the loyalist forces. Commander Chen was with the rebels, and his mission was to escort them home to join the rebellion.
- Xu realized they could finally go home, but they still had to one last problem to solve.
- The Politburo was held up in their bunker, still controlling half of China's forces. They had sworn to never surrender.
- Well, Captain Chen solved that problem right quick. Taking full responsibility himself, he decided to end the fighting and fired a nuclear weapon on their homeland, killing the loyalist leaders.
- As they sank beneath the surface, Commander Chen informed them the rebels had taken control and were now fighting the real enemy.
- They even initiated their own take on the South African plan. The tide was finally turning for China.
- The next morning, Captain Chen died, mentioning how good his boy was.
- The Interviewer heads to the outback for his discussion with Terry Knox, astronaut and all-around awesome bloke.
- Terry dispels some myths right away. They weren't "stranded" in the traditional sense. If anything, their space-eye view gave them a better understand of what was going on than anybody on the ground had.
- Huston ordered them to evacuate on the X-38. Terry made all scientific and nonessential crew evacuate and then gave the rest of the crew the choice.
- Their goal was to keep the International Space Station intact and while they were at it, keep the Earth's essential satellites afloat in space.
- They were never promised rescue, but with the ISS's systems, they could stay alive for months. Food was an issue, but the lab animals weren't testing any lethal viruses or anything, so….
- They used the "Jules Verne Three" ATV to keep the satellites from entering a decaying orbit. They also made many excursions to the ASTRO, space's gas station to refuel the things, so their thrusters worked.
- During their off hours, they could read or sleep or listen to Radio Free Earth, but mostly they watched what was happening on Earth.
- Their advanced viewing technologies, called spy birds, showed them all the details from Earth. The problem was they could never decide what to watch. They got what they got.
- Terry saw lots of battles. They watched General Raj-Singh and the mega swarms over Asia and the American plains. They got front row seats to the evacuation of Japan. They were the first ones to discover zombie holes, and they observed the zombies burrowing like animals.
- Even with the naked eye, they could see the damage being wrought. Every night, it looked like the entire planet's surface was burning.
- They even saw the Three Gorges Dam collapse as trillions of gallons of water cut across the Earth's surface.
- Terry still can't believe how the Chinese government tried to explain that one.
- Speaking of the Chinese, two weeks after the start of their civil war, the ISS received a signal from the Chinese space station, Yang Liwei. All the message said was for them to keep their distance "lest [they] invite a response of 'deadly force'" (7.8.25).
- So, Terry and his crew were surprised when another signal came form the station, this time on the ham radio. It was of a frightened voice.
- When the Yang Liwei appeared over the horizon, Terry decided to take the Verne, hop over, and find out what had happened.
- The station's orbit had altered, and the escape pod had been blown. Inside, he found enough supplies for someone to survive in space for five years but no scientific equipment. He also found enough explosive charges for a really big boom.
- He theorizes the Chinese government was attempting a "Scorched Space" policy, meaning "if [they] can't have it, neither can anyone else" (7.8.27).
- He found the body of a lone Chinese astronaut. Going all Sherlock Holmes with the clues, Terry imagines the two companions had a fight. One probably wanted to join the Chinese loyalist and the other sided with the rebels. Or maybe the loyalist one had been ordered to blow the charges and the other protested.
- Either way, they took every bit of equipment from that station and gave the Chinese astronaut a proper send off.
- They stayed on the ISS for three more years with the goodies scavenged off that space station.
- Their replacement crew arrived on a privately owned spacecraft designed for space tourism.
- When asked if he regrets his decision, the physical therapy, the effects of that much exposure to cosmic radiation, he says no. He made a difference, one "[n]ot bad for the son of an Andamookia opal miner" (7.8.33).
- Terry Knox dies three days after the interview.
Ancud, Isla Grande de Chiloe, Chile
- Ernesto Olguin is a merchant ship's master, and he's being interviewed because—actually, let's be spoiler free about this and hear him out.
- Ernest attended the historical "Honolulu Conference," but he says they should have just called it the "Saratoga Conference" since nobody ever left the warship.
- The conference members were there to learn better battle and survival strategies against the zombies swarming across the planet.
- Ernesto was there to help international trade by integrating Chile's maritime vessels into a worldwide convoy.
- Then the American ambassador addressed the delegates and said they needed to go on the attack. He said America planned to go on the offensive everyday until the zombie scourge was extinct.
- Everyone erupted in uproarious applause… or was it argument. Yeah, definitely argument.
- Some wanted to wait for the zombies to decompose; others argued they weren't decomposing, and it only took one to start a new plague.
- Third-world country delegates suggested that this was proper punishment for first-world countries being imperialist jerks in the past.
- Ernesto disagrees with that one—not necessarily the jerks part but more because the zombies are hurting everyone and not just former imperial countries.
- Then the President came to the podium. He just talked in a calm voice until everyone was listening to him.
- He thanked them for their opinions on the matter and agreed that, yep, they'd fought the zombies to a stalemate. But the zombies had taken away humanity's self-confidence, and they needed to fight to gain it back.
- No cliché slow-building applause followed. Instead everyone was just silent until they were excused for their afternoon recess.
- Since Ernesto wasn't an ambassador, he didn't participate in the vote. He talked and drank wine with a South African and Frenchman—Commander Emile Renard, whose name will pop up later, so keep it in mind.
- They drank and discussed the future of their beloved beverage.
- The vote wasn't unanimous but it was definitive: attack.
Aboard the Mauro Altieri, Three Thousand Feet above Vaalajarvi, Finland
- The Interviewer continues his discussion with Travis, sorry, General D'Ambrosia in the Command Information Center. And no, you aren't reading that wrong. They are three thousand feet above Finland because the CIC is a blimp, sorry, dirigible.
- Travis mentions how worried he was when the order came in to attack.
- He wonders if that surprises the Interviewer, what with all of Hollywood's generals being "egocentric clowns" in dress blues (8.1.5).
- Truth is Travis was scared to death about sending men to die against two million—count 'em—zombies.
- Oh, but things only get worse. They couldn't rely on the old rules of war anymore. They had to come up with complete new ones. And when the old rules of war predate history itself, rewriting them proves no small task.
- Travis mentions that all armies must be "bred, fed, and led" (8.1.9). What that breaks down to is that you have to breed people to fight, feed them so they can keep fighting, and have someone to lead them to and in the fight.
- Zombies aren't restricted by "bred, fed, and led." They need no supplies other than humans to munch on and resurrect as one of their own members. It was a decidedly unfair advantage.
- Travis wonders if the Interviewer's heard the expression "total war" (8.1.13). It's the expression used when a country has geared itself for 100-percent, no-holds-barred, hold-on-to-your-butt, warfare.
- The expression is total bunk, if you ask him. First off, no populace will be 100% in favor of a war all the time. When are they going to sleep? Second, nations have limits: body limits, food limits, resource limits, and on and on.
- But zombies don't have those limits. They are geared for total war, 100% of the time.
Denver, Colorado, USA
- We find ourselves in the Wainio household. Todd returns to telling us about headhunting days across America.
- The new army was very different than the one at Yonkers. Whereas Yonkers was all about the shiny gadgets and modern tech, the new army felt like something from a history book.
- The only vehicles used were to transport ammo and supplies. The BDUs (battle dress uniforms) were interwoven with bite-proof Kevlar but were light and comfy.
- Their arsenal now was a Lobo for head bashing and a standard infantry rifle for head shooting—bayonet accessory included if you're feeling sassy with your zombie kills.
- Even their ammo, the "NATO 5.56 'Cheery PIE,'" was better suited for hunting walkers (8.2.5).
- The army also revised what it meant to be a combat grunt. Physical stamina was still important, but now combatants had to deal with "Z-Shock," or losing your head after seeing so many zombies doing the crazy things zombies do (8.2.6).
- With this new requirement, the army basically began accepting people from everywhere. Todd's battle buddy was Sister Montoya, a fifty-two-year old nun.
- Their watershed battle came at Hope, New Mexico, and yes, even Todd thinks that name was a cheesy choice.
- Todd asks if the Interviewer has seen Roy Eliot's film about the battle because it was nothing like that. No harmonica, no campfire, no kumbaya; just silence and waiting and dread.
- When the zombies came, Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" began playing to psyche up the soldiers.
- They fought using the army's "what's old is new" playbook, using lined formations that date as far back as at least the Napoleonic Wars. One line fires; another stands at the ready. When Line A needs to reload, Line B let's loose.
- When the zombies started coming around the line or at its flank and rear, they initiated a reinforced square, based on the tactics of Raj-Singh (remember that guy?).
- This time, they even brought ammo for all the graveyard ghouls.
- The fought that way all night, using searchlights, swapping in new soldiers as others began to tire. The bodies piled up into massive walls of dead flesh.
- At four in the morning, the zombies weren't hitting them nearly as hard, and the mood lifts. They had won.
- They use Humvees to push their way through walls of dead bodies. A cleanup crew comes in to do exactly what you'd imagine a cleanup crew should do.
- Then Todd and the rest of the fighting group marched ten miles east and set up camp.
- The next day everyone was laughing and telling stories. They still had the entire march across America to go, but as Todd says, "it was finally the beginning of the end" (8.2.47).
Ainsworth, Nebraska, USA
- Darnell Hackworth runs the last remaining retirement farm for the K-9 veterans of World War Z but declined to speak with the Interviewer. End of chapter.
- First things first, zombie war K-9s don't get the credit they deserve. All right, great interview, see you later…oh, you're not done yet, are you?
- He's not. It's time for another fictional history lesson, meaning, at this rate, we'll know more about the fictional zombie wars than just most real wars. Onward!
- Dogs were first used in the zombie war for triage, a.k.a. sorting injured folk into groups to decide priority of medical aid. Only in this case, it's more like deciding who'll go zombie on you first. Remember the Israeli's use of dogs way back in chapter 2? That's zombie war triage.
- Since dogs naturally take a fright to the zombie virus and can smell it pre-zombification, they were a great fit for the program.
- Unfortunately, not every dog was cut out for the stress, and some went straight up ballistic.
- So, the Americans decided to institute a regular training program to prevent paranoid pooch syndrome.
- They started young, testing a puppy's ability to keep it together when a zombie was nearby.
- Then the trainers and the dogs entered a grueling training program with a "60 percent washout rate" (8.3.6).
- The dogs had somewhere between four and a million and one uses. They could be lures like in the Battle of Hope.
- They could also be decoys. For example, they could bark on a building's roof to draw the zombies to the upper floors of other buildings. Pretty neat trick that.
- Mostly though, they were scouts. They went on sweep and clear missions with regular units, sniffing out the undead fiends, so the infantrymen could give them a bonk to the bonce.
- They also went on long-range patrol. Here, the dogs wore a special harness that had a video uplink, so the guys back at command could map things out.
- Everybody loved it, except the dogs' trainers. They were always worried sick about their K-9 pals. For Darnell, towns and cities were always the worse.
- Darnell brings up Hound Town, a city in Oregon barricaded and still filled with ghouls. They used the place to train small breed dogs in urban reconnaissance.
- A dog limps over to Darnell, and the interviewee pets the old beast.
- Darnell mentions that pure breeds never cut it because of their neurotic nature and health problems. The dogs had to be mutts, and tough ones since the long-range patrols were difficult.
- (If your curiosity is piqued, we found more information on the difference between purebreds and mixed breeds.)
- Zombies were a major threat but so were feral packs of animals. That's why they had to start training escorts to go with the recon dogs.
- Maze, Darnell's current lap dog, had two escorts, Pongo and Perdy. Both were rock 'em, sock 'em tough. They even took down a few ghouls.
- The Interviewer asks if zombie flesh is toxic. Yeah, it is, but the dogs were trained to never munch on a zombie. They were trained to knock them over instead.
- Sure, the program had its fair share of deaths. Sometimes, a dog would trip up and break a leg. If they were close enough, the handler could just go get it.
- What about those other times?
- Darnell says they petitioned for little explosive packs for mercy kills, but the word from on high said it was a waste of resources.
- Darnell gets particularly heated about that, especially considering the "fragmuts" (8.3.34).
- The Interviewer wonders what those were. Fragmuts was the unofficial name of a program that would have rigged dogs with explosives to act as walking landmines. Not even remotely PETA-approved.
- The program almost got approval. Almost.
- It didn't thanks to Sergeant Eckhart. Eckhart was a handler whose dog was on a lure mission and broke its leg. When Eckhart went to retrieve it, an officer tried to stop her, and she emptied half a clip into him.
- Naturally, they hanged Eckhart in public to maintain discipline.
- But Eckhart's actions also brought about some changes. For starts, no more talk about fragmuts. Also, handlers were allowed to chase after their dogs. The army even began looking into "statistics of handlers who offed themselves after losing a partner" (8.3.40), and dogs were no longer considered to be disposable hardware.
- Darnell mentions that all handlers held one fundamental belief: don't mess with my dog. In fact, that attitude is what got Darnell a job with the army in the first place.
- Darnell had been hiding from the zombies for three months when he came across two guys who had tied a dog up, blood caked on its face.
- He can't remember exactly what happened, but they tell him he cracked a bat over one of the guys and beat the other one to a pulp.
- A guardsman pulled Darnell off and cuffed him. Darnell just kept screaming for them not to hurt the dog. The guardsman laughed and said the army had a job for him.
- As for the dog, he was pretty messed up thanks to a crack on the head, but Darnell found him a home as a ratter—kept a whole family fed that winter on rats alone.
- Darnell lets the Interviewer in on a little secret: he used to hate dogs. He used to live by a pet store and couldn't understand why people spent so much time on the stupid things. Yeah, he was that guy.
- Then during the Great Panic, the zombies surrounded the pet store, and Darnell heard as the pets died one at a time. The zombies didn't snatch them up. The water and food ran out, the long, hard and painful way to go.
- Darnell wonders what he could have done.
Siberia, the Holy Russian Empire
- The Interviewer meets Father Sergei Ryzhkov in a Russian shantytown.
- Father Ryzhkov wants to explain to the Interviewer how Russia became a religious state, more specifically how he started the trend.
- As it had been in the past, the greatest enemy Russia faced during the zombie wars was winter. Seriously, Russia gets cold.
- They also had to deal with a war on two fronts: zombies coming from the Ural Mountains as well as Asia. Oh, and did he mention lack of war production and food? Because you can add those to the list of woes.
- The only advantage was that Russia kept all its Cold War stockpile of weapons. Father Ryzhkov mentions his rifle division looked like extras in an old propaganda flick with their outdated rifles and machine guns.
- Their causality rate was high, mostly due to faulty ammo rounds being older than the people firing them. They also lacked the military tactics of other countries or the BDUs or the suicide pills.
- How about we just sum this up in two words? Bad times.
- When it came to soldiers being infected, there was just one solution, a bullet. But who was going to pull the trigger?
- At first, the officers did it, but they eventually couldn't shoulder the responsibility. Some became alcoholics, others committed suicide, and others grew reckless.
- A Major Kovpak just vanished, and this guy was no joke. He fought in many major engagements before the Z wars. When the zombies advanced, he actually asked for a return to action. For him to bug out was a huge hit for the Russian defense.
- They called it the Second Decimation (8.3.13), only this time it was one of every ten officers being killed.
- To alleviate the Second Decimation, they decided to have the infected soldiers kill themselves. Brilliant! Only not really.
- Now, we come to Father Ryzhkov's role in this debacle.
- He no longer believed in his own religion although he did the job required of him: collecting family letters, saying a prayer, and providing a final drink.
- Then one day he had five boys lying on cots, all infected, all soon to be suicides. He said the prayers, took the letters, and gave them some vodka. He even provided cigarettes for the COs.
- Then he began to feel his body tremble. The soldiers put their pistols under their chins and began to count down, but before they finished, Father Ryzhkov drew his own pistol and killed one of them.
- He felt God commanding him to stop the sinning, to keep these souls from hell. If the officers couldn't do it, and a soldier killing himself was sinful, then those who took up the cross should shepard their souls to the Lord.
- The act became known as the "Final Purification," and like planking or anything neon-colored, the fad caught on. Russia's path toward a religious fundamental state had begun.
- The Interviewer wonders if there is any truth that Father Ryzhkov's philosophy was "perverted for political reasons" (8.4.19).
- The Interviewer adds that the president promoted himself to head of the church, and rumors are flying about priests becoming death squads who assassinate people under the guise of purifying them.
- Father Ryzhkov doesn't know anything about that.
- A small child comes to the door and speaks frantically to the old priest in the local language. Father Ryzhkov excuses himself and leaves with bible and pistol in hand.
- (As you'll learn in journalism school, when someone picks up a bible and a pistol, the interview is officially over.)
Aboard USS Holo Kai, Off the Coast of the Hawaiian Islands
- Inside the Deep Glider 7, the Interviewer and Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Choi—henceforth known simply as Michael—do their shoptalk beneath the big Pacific waves.
- Michael's war never ended. Why? Because there ain't no rest for the wicked.
- Actually, now that the surface is under control, Michael and his people must deal with the twenty to thirty million zedheads down in Davy Jones' locker.
- Back in wartime, Michael used an Atmospheric Diving Suit to fight the zombies under the water. He claims it made him look like "Robby the Robot." And while we're here, a tip of our hat to Max Brooks for that awesome shout-out.
- The technology practically went extinct with the invention of scuba, except for really deep dives since they required "to enclose your whole body in a bubble of surface pressure" (8.5.10). The bends and decompression sickness just sound no fun at all.
- In fact, the submersible he and the Interviewer are in now acts exactly on the same bubble principle.
- These ADSs were perfect for water combat as they act like suits of armor. The zeds could grab and bite all day long, and the ADS would remain secure. Added bonus: they came with forty-eight hours of emergency life support. Scuba suits got nothing on these bad boys.
- They even came equipped with lights, video, sonar, and weapons. At first, their weapons weren't the best, but then a zombie swarm hit an oil rig while its workers were performing repairs.
- The underwater fighting wasn't fatal for the divers, but it was difficult. Since the ADS is basically armor, the operator can't feel anything in the outside world. And the more zombies he punches into chum, the less his visibility.
- The oil rig guys refused to return to work until their escorts, the ADS team, were better equipped. They got the good stuff after that.
- They also expanded their operation. They worked beachhead sanitation to help marines get ashore. They also helped in harbor clearing, which was like clearing out a city of cars, boats, and planes underwater.
- Sunken ships were the worse for Michael. Aboard a vessel called the Cable, the floor caved in beneath him and he found himself drowning in the critters.
- They reached the bottom, and Michael shined a light on a swarm of zombies trudging across the bottom. Michael tagged them to receive information on their migration patterns.
- Michael wonders aloud how the zombies manage to survive so far underneath the ocean. Their cloths have disintegrated thanks to the saltwater. The pressure and temperature should have destroyed them long ago. But here they are all the same.
- He mentions to the Interviewer that this'll be one of the last manned recon dives before moving to Remotely Operated Vehicles or ROVs.
- The Interviewer asks if there is validity to Congress's arguments. Michael says it wouldn't really help limit human casualties since the ADS divers only lost one man, Chernov, and he only died because he got drunk and passed out on a tram line.
- No, ROVs may be cost effective, but they are not better than a human pilot. That's why Michael sticks around. His experience and instinct have yet to be duplicated by a silicon chip.
- When they do, Michael will never go in an exosuit again. He'll pull an Alan Hale from Action in the North Atlantic (who, by the way, was pulling an Odysseus).
- He'll put an oar on his shoulder and walk inland until someone asks him what the thing on his shoulder is. Then he'll settle there.
- Andre Renard starts his interview by letting the Interviewer know everyone else is a liar. Yeah, take that world.
- No one had a harder campaign to fight than those who fought beneath Paris. Just like the Resistance in World War II, the zombie resistance found itself fighting the undead throughout the Parisian underground.
- Checking in with Reality: Max Brooks's description is pretty dead on. Paris's underground is filled with service tunnels, catacombs, and old tombs, but that's just the start. "Canals and reservoirs, crypts and bank vaults, wine cellars transformed into nightclubs and galleries. Most surprising of all are the carrières—the old limestone quarries" also twist and turn throughout the Parisian depths. Best of all, mass graves have created entire rooms walled with skulls and bones of the long dead (source).
- Several civilians went into the Parisian underground to escape the undead, and Andre can't blame them. Without Radio Free Earth to inform them and the Great Panic in full force above ground, the crypts and catacombs must have seemed like a safe haven for the quarter of a million panicked souls.
- But when the tide turned, Andre and his guys had to clear out their zombified remains.
- The experience was awful. It was dark, dank, and stank. Few managed to snag night vision goggles, and they always had more flashlights than batteries to make them work.
- The air became "toxic with sewage, chemicals, rotting flesh" and the gas mask filters had long expired (8.6.7).
- They lost their way constantly. Their maps were pre-war, so everywhere you went, you could never be sure if you were going in the right direction.
- The acoustics played tricks on you. In the dark, a scream or zombie's moan came from every direction simultaneously.
- Even if you managed to find your way through all that, sometimes you'd arrive at your destination to only find the remains of your friends.
- Wow, that sounds pretty dismal, doesn't it? But wait, there's more —
- No firearms. None. The air was flammable, so they do what they could with air carbine pistols. They even had to be careful with melee weapons, just in case someone struck stone and the spark set the air ablaze.
- Their clothing was dangerous. The heavy stuff caused men to tear off their gas masks from sheer exhaustion in a fight. The fumes often killed them before they got to the surface.
- Even water became their enemy. The summer rains collected in the tunnels, hiding holes large enough to swallow a man. With the heavy gear, it was a death trap. It also hid the zombies.
- Sometimes, they'd have to call in scuba guys trained specifically to fight in the water-logged tunnels. Andre says these scuba specialists had the loosest survival rating of anyone.
- They lost 15,000 people in three months. And what for? So the country could have heroes again.
- And they got them. When the underground fighters broke into the hospital, the one squad found itself against 300 zombies. The last voice they heard over the radio was Andre's brother.
- Todd Wainio sits in the outfield. Since no flyballs will be coming his way, he invites the Interviewer to stand with him and converse.
- Todd's journey across the America and through the zack hordes continues.
- The trek was slow as they reclaimed territory inch by inch, zombie by zombie.
- They used a system called FAR or force appropriate response. You halt at a zombie threat; decide whether some soldiers, a platoon, or company should deal with the threat; and then you go a head hunting.
- But urban warfare really, really slowed them down. The idea was to surround a city, call the deadheads, and then take them out.
- The problem proved to be suburban sprawl. If you've ever been to the Boston or Los Angeles areas, you'll know what Todd's talking about when he says it's hard to tell where one city ends and another begins.
- And it wasn't just zombies out there. Because then it'd be too easy, right?
- There were Quislings too, and if a feral human decided to fight, it could be faster and more dangerous than anything else in the wasteland.
- Feral packs were the only thing worse than a feral human—guess our housecats got big and mean in the absence of their beloved Meow-Mix.
- An attack from a feral cat is gave Todd the scar across his cheek. Three huzzahs for body armor.
- But the BDUs protected against more than just grumpy cats. People still inhabited the wasteland and not just ferals either.
- Some regular Joes had been left behind when the USA moved west of the Rookies, and now they had LaMOE (last man on earth) complex. That is, they became a little too used to being king of the rubble pile, and they didn't want to give it up.
- In Chicago, a high-powered slug almost dropped Todd. Obviously his body armor saved him.
- They discovered the slug came from a group of LaMOEs who had held up in a tower and weren't giving their Mad Max style kingdom up for anyone. Tanks, grenades, and rockets were taken out of retirement in for that bit of extermination duty.
- But the list of threats continues to grow. Next on Todd's list is snow. While the snow made the zombisicles easy to crack, it also hid them, meaning they could be over stepping enemies they'd have to fight later.
- Did we talk about isolated zones yet? No? Let's do that.
- Zombies were still trying to siege these zones, and they all were difficult fights. Todd remembers the Comerica Park/Ford Field skirmish with a million Gs. It was the only time he thought they might be truly overrun.
- The Interviewer asks what the reaction was like. Todd says mixed.
- The military zones had a lot of ceremony to go with them and sometimes serious one-upmanship, guys not letting on how hard they had it because of Rambo syndrome.
- On the other hand, the civilian zones couldn't have been happier to see them. Mostly. Some were pretty upset that the military didn't get there sooner.
- The Interviewer asks about the secessionist zones, but Todd never had to deal with them. The military had a special unit for dealing with the rebel scum.
- What about questionable survival methods? Once again, Todd never had to deal with it. People tried to tell him all sorts of stuff, wanting to get it off their chests, but he always told them he didn't want to know. He had his own problems to deal with.
- In fact, the soldiers on the road to Hero City had countless problems. Sickness became a big one. Stuff they thought humanity had stamped out returned with Spanish flu.
- Plus, the booby traps. People laid mines and all sorts of nasty surprises on the journey west.
- Todd lost a buddy to a trip-wired shotgun shell.
- The buildings themselves proved a hazard. Todd lost his lover to a building simply collapsing around her.
- And we conclude this list of horrors with psychological trauma.
- Imagine always finding places filled with skeletons where people fell to starvation or disease or just gave up. Todd once broke into a church where all the adults killed the kids first (sound familiar?). Such things stick with you.
- The soldiers held it together for a long time, but eventually they just had to break down. Todd knew a professional wrestler who could take it to a zombie with the best of them. One day, he took a whiff of some perfume, and the smell triggered something in him. He just started bawling.
- Another guy lost it when he came across his own home.
- In Portland, Maine, two guys took some skulls and started doing a skit with them. Todd made eye contact with the company psychiatrist, Dr. Chandrasekhar, wondering if these guys had gone nuts. The doctor just shook his head and that really scared Todd.
- But then one day, his squad leader, Sergeant Avalon, saw a turtle, and Dr. Chandrasekhar lead her away. Seems she was Sioux, and the turtle was an important symbol in her culture.
- Todd was promoted to squad leader afterward. By the time he reached Yonkers, he was the only one in the group left from Hope.
- As he passed the remains of the battle, he couldn't feel much of anything. As he boarded the barges, he looked over at Dr. Chandrasekhar. The doc just shook his head. Todd had made it.
- "The Whacko" asks if the Interviewer has ever heard of Clement Attlee? He's the guy who took over for Winston Churchill as Prime Minister of England. Not an easy act to follow as "the Whacko" understands all too well.
- He explains to the Interviewer that he declared victory over the zombies when the United States' war had ended because he didn't want his administration to fall like Churchill's. They knew the fighting wasn't over, but they also wanted to give their people the chance to go home.
- Later, "the Whacko" received hell for not making the eradication of the zombie hordes an all-American affair. Instead, he went to the U.N. for support.
- No biggie. He could care less.
- The overseas campaigns are moving along, and the war isn't technically over, but the people seemed to have learned their lesson. That lesson: "pitch in and do your job" (9.1.4).
- "The Whacko" whackos it up and thanks and oak tree for doing a good job.
Khuzhir, Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, the Holy Russian Empire
- The Interviewer reveals Maria is four-months pregnant. Gasp—wait, why was that keep secret from us again?
- Maria only regrets not being able to continue on and "liberate" Russia's former republics. But she's a woman, and the motherland needed her for, um, other projects.
- Seems there are clinics like these all over Russia, allowing women to serve their nation with their uterus. The word you're looking for is ominous.
- Maria catches the Interviewer's eye and explains to him that, no, this type of "existence" can't be reconciled with Russia's religious state (9.2.8). The religious part of Russia's new theocracy is for the people to swallow, especially now that Father Ryzhkov has, let's say, retired.
- So, why has the Interviewer been allowed to talk to Maria if her current job is a state secret? Maria says they want him to tell the world. Her story will be a message not to mess with the motherland.
- Russia is strong and safe again thanks to their new czar.
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies Federation
- The bar is almost empty as the Interviewer and Sean finish their drinks. Most of the other patrons bar-brawled their way out of the bar or into a jail cell.
- Sean says it outright; he's addicted to murder. Like some Vietnam and World War II vets, he returned from his war with an addiction monkey on his back.
- The killing has become a high. He's tried to fit into society, but all he can think about when he sees other people is how to kill them.
- Once at a rally, Sean saw "the Whacko" speak, and he thought of about fifty ways to kill the guy. That's when he opted out of society and jumped into a mercenary outfit.
- He only takes the tough assignments now, more of a rush.
- Sean pays for the drinks. He says he still has hope though, especially after seeing his fellow murder nut "Mackee" Macdonald managed to kick the habit. (Remember him?)
- Then again, maybe one day there'll be no more zombies, but the habit will remain. If that happens, he'll probably crack his own skull.
Sand Lakes Provincial Wilderness Park, Manitoba, Canada
- Jesika loads the day's kills.
- She relates the tale of when she met an Iranian pilot who told her that Americans were the only people who couldn't accept that "bad things can happen to good people" (9.4.2). If you guessed this guy to be Ahmed, then you're probably right.
- Later she heard some guy on the radio, making fart jokes. She wonders how that man could have survived while her parents didn't.
- She tries not to be resentful.
Troy, Montana, USA
- Mary Jo says, "[y]ou can blame the politicians, the businessmen, the generals, the 'machine,' but really, if you're looking to blame someone, blame me. I'm the American system, I'm the machine" (9.5.2). In other words, a democracy means everyone needs to shoulder their share of the blame.
- She mentions how her generation may have stopped the zombies, but, in a way, they allowed the invasion to happen in the first place. It was their mess to clean.
- Kwang Jingshu finishes his last house call of the day. Kid with a chest cold, no zombies this time.
- He finds it comforting to see children playing without fear of zombies. Oh, sure, they have a few more rules like no after dark play or no playing near water, but compared to the children of the zombie war, they are carefree tykes.
- Sometimes he thinks back to that old woman in New Dachang village. He's like her now, having been through an awful time in China's history.
- He doesn't believe in an afterlife, but he still wants to believe his friend Gu is telling him things are going to be all right.
Wenatchee, Washington, USA
- Joe Muhammad finishes his latest statuette.
- He doesn't want to say the zombie war was a good thing because it was a war with zombies, clearly not happy days.
- But it did bring the world together with a powerful shared experience. Sure, the kids or grandkids might go back to being selfish jerks.
- But for now, the world has come together.
- On the other hand, Joe misses some things from the pre-war world. For example, he was at a stag party the other night when he saw a BMW Z4 convertible in an adult film.
- Despite the adult activities happening on the car's hood, all Joe could think was how they don't make cars like that anymore.
Taos, New Mexico, USA
- Arthur Sinclair flips the steaks.
- He tells the Interviewer that his favorite job is being a money cop. He probably only has the job now because nobody else wanted it, but hey, he loves it, so their lose
- He's currently trying to solve the financial woes of all those surplus Benjamins out there. The biggest problem is trying to tell the difference between the people who actually saved their money and those who invested in the five-finger market.
- The money police are also working with the Russians to see if they can't get "Breck" Scott's Antarctic lease dropped. Maybe then the IRS can get a good look at his bank records.
- It's important to Sinclair that he returns confidence to the American people.
- With that, he asks the Interviewer if he wants a root beer.
- The Shield Society has joined the Japanese Self-Defense Force as a full-fledged military branch. The Interviewer and Kondo Tatsumi watch as Tomonaga Ijiro receives his guests.
- Kondo says he doesn't really believe that "spiritual 'BS'" and Tomonaga is a pretty crazy old koot (9.9.3).
- But that old man started something good for Japan's future all the same.
- Tomonaga's generation wanted to rule the world; Kondo's generation to let the world rule them.
- Now, they're on the path to what Kondo hopes is the middle ground. But, hey, only the gods really know, right?
- Philip Alder rises to leave.
- He says they lost "a lot more than just people when we abandoned them to the dead" (9.10.2).
- Conversation over.
Tel Aviv, Israel
- Jurgen pays for the meal since he chose the restaurant. If only all restaurant choosers were as sensible as that.
- He mentions he was in what was called the "Kindertransport," or the last chance to get Jewish children out of Germany during the
- Holocaust (9.11.3). He last saw his parents in Poland.
- According to Jurgen, it is said there are no Holocaust survivors since even those who lived are damaged beyond repair from their experiences.
- If it's true, then no one survived World War Z.
Aboard USS Tracy Bowden
- Michael Choi lets the Interviewer in on a little secret. You know who really got rocked during the zombie wars: whales.
- With all those hungry people sailing the ocean blue, the big lugs never had a chance.
- He finds it a heck of loss and not because he's some kind of hippy either.
- California grey whales were the reason he joined the navy in the first place. These creatures were large enough to kill you in an instant, but they'd let you paddle up to them, even touch them.
- So close from coming back from extinction, and now they've all gone the dodo way—the exceptions being some orcas and maybe a few belugas and narwhals.
- Unrelated note: Is it just us or the word narwhal amazingly fun to say aloud? No? Just us?
- The next time someone tells the Interviewer that the real loss of the war was humanity's innocence; Michael Choi wants him to bring up the whales.
Denver, Colorado, USA
- Todd Wainio walks the Interviewer to the train station, enjoying the genuine cigarettes the Interviewer gave him.
- Wainio admits to losing it every now and then, but Doctor Chandra still has his back and consoles him at the VA hospital. Apparently it's a completely normal part of surviving the entirety of the zombie war.
- It's the small things that get Wainio, the way someone speaks, the tune of a certain song. Yeah, Gangnam Style makes us lose it too.
- Wainio motions to the mural signifying VA-Day. That was Wainio and his boys. He didn't know it at the time, but that day had brought peace.
- There were no celebrations, no cheering, no bits of confetti. They'd all been fighting so long that it felt like a dream.
- Sometimes it still does.