The Outbreak
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  • The world shuddered when they were first seen. A thousand heralds of the apocalypse started chanting and preaching wherever they could – “The end is nigh!” A thousand conspiracy theorists put out half-baked theories about alien involvement and experiments on humankind. A thousand scientists were brought on the news to attempt to explain the biology and chemistry of the newfound creatures.

    Earlier that day, they had been spotted in the metro: two zombies with horrific, decomposing skin revealing decaying flesh and yellowing, atrophying bone. Their faces were virtually falling from their skulls. There was one that looked like a man (for as much as it resembled a human), and one like a woman. They were not stumbling toward people, their arms outstretched and their faces looking eager to slurp on brains. Instead, they were wandering peacefully among the shocked, terrified crowd, whose members fell over each other to get to the exit.

    Some dismissed the zombie news as hysteria.

    “I heard of a couple of ‘zombies’ once; it turned out they’d just been in a terrible traffic accident,” one moron said.

    “It’s probably just a costume!” another complained.

    The zombie couple, who were naked, eventually made their way out of the metro and out onto the street. The tarmac was obviously painful on their rotting and softening feet, but they didn’t seem to care. When approached by a random passerby, they did not respond to anything he said or did. They simply carried on walking.

    It took a while for the police to arrive, since a barrage of calls about zombies is not the kind of hoax even the police would waste their time on. Officers were astonished when they arrived at the scene and found the pair walking hand-in-hand.

    One of the officers turned swiftly and vomited on the ground.

    Again, the zombies didn’t respond to the attempts to make them stop or the words being spoken in their faces. Their eyes – or what remained of them – were glassy and soulless.

    Physical attempts to stop the couple didn’t seem to work, either: everyone was so disgusted, they didn’t want to touch them, and anyone who did was contaminated, possibly with hundreds of viruses and bacteria, just for touching their sloppy, breaking-down flesh.

    Higher and higher individuals quickly became involved. After all, the zombies were a medical marvel – or a medical terror. They were soon forced into boxes and taken away.

    Little did the higher-ups know that another pair of zombies had already been sighted in another part of the country. And then another. And another. By nightfall, zombies were turning up everywhere.

    They always wandered in pairs. That was the first thing the experts and pundits noticed. If forcibly separated from its “partner,” a zombie would become totally limp and refuse to move for anything until the two were reunited.

    News shows went wild with speculation about this piece of news.

    Public infrastructure started to break down after a few days. So many people, it seemed, were being turned into these things that the manpower required to maintain it was simply not being supplied. So, the authorities’ attention turned from the miracle of the zombies toward how new ones were being created. And to find out how they were created would be to get to the heart of the matter. But how were the authorities supposed to find that out?

    They set surveillance teams on numerous zombie pairs to monitor them round the clock, but they never had any interactions with humans. They simply wandered and wandered, apparently never getting tired. People seemed to go missing – i.e., turn into zombies – overnight.

    And then came the crash. The zombie pairs began to fight. They clawed at each other’s flesh, snapped each other’s bones, bit into each other’s organs, cracked each other’s skulls. They fought until they could no longer move. All across the country, furious wars were being waged. Within ten hours, every zombie in the world was dead.

    It’s this that made me certain of what the zombies were. ’Tis such a plight, that terrible love!