Chapter 4: Mike Kim, March 13th and 14th, Year 0

My name is Mike Kim. I’m a first year medical student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I know it’s politically incorrect to use stereotypes but if you picture a typical overachieving Asian immigrant family, you’ve got a pretty accurate picture of my family. My father is an Ob/Gyn, my older brother graduated from medical school last year and is currently training in his specialty, and my youngest brother is pre-med. There is a part of me that is not stereotypical; for as long as I can remember I’ve had the conviction that in my lifetime that world as I knew it was on the knife edge of destruction.

My parents emigrated from Korea to the US before I was born. I grew up hearing stories about my parents’ experiences during the Korean War. When the war started, they were both 12. In an instant their world changed. They went from having stable lives in the northern end of an undivided country to becoming refuges in a country at war with itself. Their families fled the communists, leaving with just the things that they could carry. My parents were lucky. Their families made it to US controlled territory before the war ended. Their friends and neighbors that hadn’t were stuck in the cloaca of the East, North Korea.

I learned from my parents that peace and stability can’t be taken for granted. If my grandparents hadn’t been smart enough to know when to start running, I’d probably be starving in some mud hut north of the DMZ. Families are funny. I learned from my parents’ stories that life was fragile. My brothers thought that the stories about the Korean War were just pieces of family folklore that had nothing to do with them.

I love Science Fiction. Many of the books I read are apocalyptic. The best of these are grounded in reality. I read a book once about what would happen if a small nuclear bomb the size of the one set off over Hiroshima was exploded in the stratosphere over Kansas. According to the story this would set off an electromagnetic pulse that would be strong enough to destroy every computer chip in the United States. I did some research and found out that the US military set off a series of high altitude nuclear explosions over the Pacific Ocean in July through November of 1962. Similar high altitude explosions were set off over Kazakhstan in the same year by the Soviets. The threat was real. Ever since 9/11, we’ve known that terrorists are out to get us. Learning that one small nuclear weapon could destroy the United States freaked me out.

I’m a medical student and come from a family of doctors. It doesn’t take much medical knowledge to understand that as a society we are creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria faster than we are finding new antibiotics. Sooner or later we’re going to have a pandemic that makes the Black Death of 1348, which killed 60% of all Europeans, look like tiddlywinks.

I have friends and family that know the same facts I do, that don’t have a care in the world. They’re absolutely certain that our world was safe and stable; I am certain of the opposite. I want to make it clear, I’m not the Unabomber. I don’t live in a cabin in the woods making bombs. I’ve never stood on a street corner preaching that the end is near. So far to date my preparations for the end of the world have been limited to trying but mostly failing to have close to two months worth of food in my pantry at all times, buying two high quality pistols, and having a 500 gallon 6 person hot tub in my back yard. When I saw an ad on Craig’s list for a used hot tub for $300.00, I knew I knew it would be a great source of emergency water. The fact that the tub helped me throw killer parties and it helped convince women to get into bikinis at my house had nothing to do with why I bought it. Despite my conviction that our way of life was doomed, I hadn’t done much about it.

Maybe I’m just rationalizing but I think most people who are worried that the world is headed for a bad end, live standard typical lives. It seems ironic that the people who try to prevent an apocalypse are usually labeled as being crazy. The people who know the end is coming, yet do little to nothing about it, are supposedly sane.

The day started was like any other. I had no idea when I woke up that on March 13th my life would change. I went to class as usual in the morning and got home at 6 pm. I poured myself a bowl of cereal for dinner and turned on the tube. Every channel was showing a video of an honest-to-God-real-life zombie attack. The video started in a village eighty miles due east of Nairobi, Kenya. The reporter introduced himself as Nigel Usher and said he worked for CNN. The video began with him sitting in a rear passenger seat of a small van. He was being filmed by a camera man sitting in the front. He said that he was checking out reports of a zombie outbreak. The dead in this village were supposedly rising from their graves and attacking the living. Usher had a grin on his face. I could tell he thought it was a joke. He announced that they had just arrived at the village.

The van stopped moving and Usher and his crew got out. You could see the amused grin drop from Nigel’s face. The village looked like it had been through a war. A couple of the houses looked like they had recently been burned and the only person in sight was a small child; she looked about 8. Usher started acting like this could be a serious story. He walked over to her and knelt down so he could get to eye level with her. He then asked, “Are you from this village?” in an African language. The screen displayed a subtitled translation.

The child opened her mouth but instead of speaking, she ripped into Nigel’s face. The camera was close enough that I could see her swallow a chunk of his flesh. Usher screamed and threw her away from him. The girl at most weighed 50 to 60 pounds. Nigel was a large man and he had hysterical strength. She was tossed at least 6 feet and landed on her head. Her head hyperextended and twisted as she hit the ground.

The camera then swung back to Nigel. He was holding both hands up to his face trying to stop the flow of blood from the ragged hole in his right cheek. His eyes grew wide as he looked past the camera man and he mouthed, “No” as he staggered backward.

The camera swung again to the little girl. Her head had been twisted 270 degrees. She was trying to get up. Her head flopped on her neck as she moved. Her neck was broken. There is no way she should have been able to move. Past her out of focus in the camera, people could be seen coming toward the news crew. None of them were walking normally. They had the same dead eyes and pallor as the girl. The camera started to shake and I could hear the camera man say, “Oh shit!”

Nigel Usher screamed. This time, when he came into view, four zombies were tearing into his flesh. The camera then showed an extreme close up of a zombie. The camera man was using his video equipment to try to keep a zombie off of him; it didn’t work. The camera fell to the ground. There were cries of agony and then just the sounds of flesh being torn and chewed. The video stopped.

The local Salt Lake news crew said that the camera had been transmitting the video stream wirelessly while the CNN crew was being attacked. All attempts to reach the crew had been unsuccessful. Within minutes of the attack the Kenyan authorities had been notified. Kenyan officials had been sent to the village but as of yet there was no news back.

As soon as I saw the zombie video I knew that this was the disaster that I had been worried about for years. My initial reaction wasn’t fear or even anxiety; it was relief. I didn’t have to wait for the other shoe to drop. I no longer had to worry about everything. I knew what would destroy our world.

The US, the UN, and every other organization in the world would try to keep the zombie outbreak quarantined in Kenya. My understanding of history told me that they would likely fail. International borders are too big and too porous. Even if the world built a wall around Kenya surrounded by armed men, someday an infected person would get past the wall. Look at what used to happen with the Berlin Wall. It was 12 feet tall concrete wall covered with barbed wire and men with orders to shoot anyone trying to cross. People still got across. Sooner or later the zombies would arrive in the US. I didn’t know how long it would take. It could be a few months or if we were lucky years. I was certain that it would eventually happen.

Chapter 5