How the zombie apocalypse started – 4

Doha, Qatar

Half way home thought Paul.

His journey from Bangkok involved a stopover in Doha. Travelling business class, he was spared the trauma of mixing with the common passengers and had been bused from the plane to the specially designed terminal where luxury awaited. Paul was absolutely shattered, another reason why he hated leaving the USA. He was getting slight muscle cramps as well which was worrying him. Most likely he had contracted a case of flu, either from the plane, or the hundreds of hands he had shaken the previous day.

When you worked with microorganisms every week, you knew where the dangers were but still had to accept you were generally as susceptible as everyone else.

The social event yesterday evening had actually been a pleasant affair. His speech had gone down better than he had hoped, and his lack of condemnation for the Chinese military actions had put him on the correct footing with the people he had dined with. It was so easy to be a hard arse when you were an external observer looking at events after they had happened. Truth was, he doubted the US military would have handled things any differently.

Paul was an advocate for the use of martial law in national pandemic emergencies. The reasons were clear, humans being an irrational and selfish species at the best of times. Hurl a life killing contagion at them and they would lose all sense of civility. If it came down to their own individual preservation, or personal sacrifice for the greater good, humans would invariably try and save their own skins unless there was the threat of a loaded gun to persuade them otherwise. Which meant people trying to flee quarantine zones, even though they might themselves be infected with the very disease they were trying to flee. Irrational people could not be reasoned with, meaning the only recourse was force of arms and being willing to carry through on any threats you made.

It was a little-known fact that the CDC had plans for such eventualities through their association with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, otherwise known as FEMA. And it had been Paul that had been instrumental in setting up those plans. The apparatus for emergency management in America was huge, bloated and unyielding, governed by egos and fiefdoms. There was, however, one thing in its favour. The Office of President of the United States had the power to pass written orders to the federal government which did not require congressional approval. Known as Executive Orders, many of them were put in place as contingency plans for worst case scenarios. One such Order was Executive Order 13295:

 

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42U.S.C. 264(b)), it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Based upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the “Secretary”), in consultation with the Surgeon General, and for the purpose of specifying certain communicable diseases for regulations providing for the apprehension, detention, or conditional release of individuals to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of suspected communicable diseases, the following communicable diseases are hereby specified pursuant to section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act:

(a) Cholera; Diphtheria; infectious Tuberculosis; Plague; Smallpox; Yellow Fever; and Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Crimean-Congo, South American, and others not yet isolated or named).

(b) Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is a disease associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, is transmitted from person to person predominantly by the aerosolized or droplet route, and, if spread in the population, would have severe public health consequences.

Each US state had the authority to declare and enforce quarantine within their borders. The CDC, Pauls’ employer, also had the power to detain, medically examine and quarantine anyone they suspected of carrying a communicable disease. This could be done against an individuals or a community’s express wishes to the contrary. To add to this, every Sherriff’s department had received equipment, training and funding far in excess of what was needed for everyday law enforcement. With so many communities spread across the Continental United States, it was obvious that the Sherriff’s departments would be an essential tool in the control of potentially infected populations, their local knowledge an essential asset.

The powers were even in place to suppress the movement of the population.

Paul was officially the first American to be contaminated by the virus that would destroy the world. He would also be the first to present the symptoms within the borders of the USA. He would be directly responsible for the death of tens of thousands of his fellow Americans and would bring the virus deep into the core of the CDC.

He would have a far greater impact however.

On his brief stop in Doha, Paul touched three door handles, four buffet tongues as well as shaking hands with three people he knew from his work for the CDC. He also seeded the air-conditioned atmosphere with his virally infused breath. The virus survived well in the conditioned air, sucked up and spread around with startling efficiency. At Doha, he infected dozens of people. Over the two plane journeys combined, he was culpable in the further infection of one hundred and seventeen people. Eighty-seven of those would take connecting flights out of Atlanta, infecting hundreds more. Each of those hundreds would spread the virus amongst their respective communities. Without a single focal point of infection to deal with, the coming apocalypse would be almost impossible to stop.

Think how many people you interact with in a day, and then think how many people those individuals come into contact with. Post office workers, checkout tellers, teachers, doctor’s, postmen and baristas. Airborne on the droplets of his lungs and transmittable from the moisture on his very body, Paul brought the virus to America. He also, unwittingly, did much worse than that.

He brought it to the beating heart of the very organisation designed to stop the spread of the disease.

All the laws, all the precautions and all the training that America had put in place would amount to nothing, for the virus didn’t care about that. All it wanted was to spread, to replicate and to kill.

And over the coming days, weeks and months it would. Even worse was the other aspect of the virus that had been designed into it by depraved and devious minds. It would be days before the first reports of deaths would come out of Bangkok. Those reports wouldn’t be believed at first, but the videos of swarms of reanimated dead attacking the living would grip the world with fear and despair.

Humanity no longer had to fear the threat of overpopulation.

They only had to fear about what would get them first. The virus, or the rabid, blood crazed monsters it resurrected. Neither represented a particularly pleasant end, but at least being eaten was a quicker way to go.

 

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