I just wanted us to be safe
May 27, 2012 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Spoiler.

The zombie apocalypse happened -- and we won.

But though society has recovered, the threat of infection is always there -- and Los Angeles coroner Tommy Rossman is the man they call when things go wrong.
posted by Drexen (44 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is easily the most interesting take on zombies that I've seen in quite a while. I really like the fact that it has such a different context and feeling--not survival horror with mounting chaos but instead a kind of possibly dystopian, hyper-controlled police procedural--but retains one of the core themes of zombie stories, the whole horrific idea of having to kill someone because they're infected and whether or not people are capable/willing to do so.
posted by overglow at 11:02 AM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Huh, neat. I was just thinking yesterday that all the plot variations had been exhausted in the zombie genre, but I realize I haven't seen any movies about what civilization is like after a zombie outbreak is stopped.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:02 AM on May 27, 2012


What a strange world it would be, for civil rights, if it were completely justified to require that you prove you're human.
posted by Malor at 11:04 AM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


this would be awesome as a tv series!
posted by fuzzypantalones at 11:18 AM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Couldn't they have sedated them before burning them alive?
posted by Plemer at 11:23 AM on May 27, 2012


If it was even remotely feasible that the father was uninfected, which is what was implied, then why not give him the benefit of the doubt and test him as soon as the incineration was complete? Obviously the disease isn't airborne if the baby was ok and the father could have been ok, even after grappling with the highly infected mother.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:38 AM on May 27, 2012


I think I preferred this more when it was a Hugo Nominated Novel called Feed..

(if we're talking about a dystopian world recovering from a zombie infection)
posted by zoo at 11:38 AM on May 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually, it's far from over. In fact, it may be just getting started.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:44 AM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was really nicely done. I'm a bit tired of the "zombies are a transmissible disease" thing, but I loved the approach this took to the story.
posted by hippybear at 11:49 AM on May 27, 2012


"If it was even remotely feasible that the father was uninfected, which is what was implied, then why not give him the benefit of the doubt and test him as soon as the incineration was complete?"

Because it was easier and safer to kill him and assured there was transmission.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:54 AM on May 27, 2012


They had to wack him because his wife threw up black stuff not blood.
posted by Max Power at 11:55 AM on May 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


then why not give him the benefit of the doubt and test him as soon as the incineration was complete?

Um, because he would already be incinerated?
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:56 AM on May 27, 2012


I enjoyed this.

To really be comparable to Feed, every 3 minutes of the running time someone would deliver a line or two about the fingertip sting of the testing needle. Every 2 minutes there would be a line about how sensitive to light his eyes are, and every 3 minutes and 30 seconds there would be mention of how blogging has replaced standard dinosaur old-school coroner practice after the zombie rising because the blogging coroners saved the world. Perhaps along the lines of "Fuck off. Sorry, I'm cranky because my eyes are sensitive to light so I have to wear these sunglasses. On account of how sensitive to light my eyes are. Ouch, that testing needle stings! Have you heard about 'web logging' or "blogging" as the kids of 2030 call it? I shall explain it to you after I rub my eyes, which are sensitive to light!"

(I am apparently in a minority position in regards to the received quality of Feed, but it's a minority position I'm very comfortable in. Lord, it was dumb.)
posted by Drastic at 11:56 AM on May 27, 2012 [19 favorites]


How did his wife get infected?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:01 PM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a bit tired of the "zombies are a transmissible disease" thing,

Well, the only other approach is "zombies are magically created' or I guess "zombies come from nuclear testing/chemical pollution" which requires a lot more selling for the audience. Most people are already scared of things like ebola, the Black Plague and the 1918 epidemic are still very vividly remembered in our histories, and of course most of us grew up with AIDS in the background. A virulent disease that makes you inhuman, fast-decaying, and extremely dangerous is a pretty potent idea, fear-wise.

Also, this is a pretty cool idea, though it may be more bleak than I find entertaining.
posted by emjaybee at 12:03 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


*opens mouth to object to Drastic's characterization of Feed, realizes the critique is on target, sulks*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:04 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in agreement that this would make an excellent TV series.
posted by surazal at 12:04 PM on May 27, 2012


Damn you Drastic. You may be right, but you could have waited until I'd read part three of the trilogy (out soon) before ruining it for me.

#sulks
posted by zoo at 12:12 PM on May 27, 2012


Because it was easier and safer to kill him and assured there was transmission.

You've got to consider the increased risk to the first responders who'd be potentially exposed to the zombie virus in the course of testing him for it. When survival's on the line, the rules change. In a society that's already experienced zombies & won (such as it is) a war against them, they're going to err a lot more on the side of caution in favor of the not-yet-exposed. It's not a policy we can easily support but then we haven't been through a zombie infestation. Yet.
posted by scalefree at 12:23 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


(I am apparently in a minority position in regards to the received quality of Feed, but it's a minority position I'm very comfortable in. Lord, it was dumb.)

I picked that up & put it back down in a bookstore yesterday. Sounds like a decision I shouldn't regret.
posted by scalefree at 12:26 PM on May 27, 2012


To be fair, for all I know books 2 and 3 may be much better. My reaction to the first book mostly just ensured I will never know that. And I like blogs!

I agree with everyone above who said this would be a good series premise. I'm on record as saying that a big part of the horror to be had in the admittedly heavily-mined-out zombie veins is the idea that merciful civilization does not work, and that's something the short hits directly on.
posted by Drastic at 12:27 PM on May 27, 2012


How did his wife get infected?

Seriously! They showed a couple shots of people checking water lines or something, but during the whole conversation the coroner never seemed interested in how she got infected. I mean, I know his job is to make the "who lives or dies?" determination, but he's going to be kicking himself when it turns out her office water cooler was filled with zombie juice.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:31 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Malor: "What a strange world it would be, for civil rights, if it were completely justified to require that you prove you're human."
The importance of civil liberties in the event of the more dire kinds of possible public health emergencies is an important conversation to have.

We really have no idea how bad it would get if some one let The Demon out of the freezer, but there were cataloged strongly contagious strains of flat-type smallpox that were vicious enough for the virulence rate to approach 100%. The Soviets also spent a considerable amount of effort to weaponize smallpox in a variety of different ways. Smallpox is already naturally explosively contagious, virus particles in the mouth spit out as its host talks, and a single particle of smallpox can be enough to get you sick. After exposure then nothing happens for 8 to fifteen days, you feel fine, there isn't the barest hint of illness, but you can still be infectious. The virus then crashes into your system like a ton of bricks, there is a massive fever, vomiting, and general incapacitation as little red spots begin to appear. Those spots then expand into bumps, or pustules, and keep growing with pus until the pressure becomes so great that your skin splits open, through all of the sub-layers, and the pus leaks out and forms hard scabs, filled with more pus. Your entire body becomes completely encased in these delicate scabs, while they continue to split in the most painful way imaginable. Your eyes squeeze shut and you become barely able to breathe, but you remain conscious, fully alert and lucid to everything that is happening to you. If you survive the scabs eventually fall off on their own, but if you don't there really isn't a consensus on how death happens. The best answer is probably a little of everything, between your fluids leaking out of your skin like a burn victim, your lungs slowly ceasing to function as they get clogged with pus and sores, and just the unimaginable pain of the whole ordeal.

Unlike the time before the 18th and 19th centuries, we have no population of exposed survivors granting the herd some measure of immunity, and the vaccine was never designed to last the forty years it has been since anyone has been exposed to smallpox antigens in meaningful numbers. We are totally vulnerable in every respect except for our ability to mount a public health response, and even that is somewhat uncertain, front line . There are hopefully somewhere around 7 million doses left the four boxes in Lancaster Pennsylvania that hold the United States' supply, which could only hope to be enough to provide ring vaccination for a short period of time. For that to work, the CDC would need to be able to assemble everyone exposed to every known case of the outbreak and vaccinate them, whether they wanted to be vaccinated or not. Private property would need to be seized in order to house the sick and reduce pressure on hospitals, and roadblocks assembled to prevent people in exposed areas from traveling.

The 1972 outbreak of smallpox in Yugoslavia is illustrative of just how important civil defense infrastructure and an ability to bypass civil liberties could be in containing the worst of what is out there. We also don't really have a very successful history with this kind of thing. If it ever happens to us, practitioners of woo would be all over the internet and Oprah with their own cures and theories with no one to stop them, armed libertarians would have no interest in their own good much less the public good, and Oath Keepers in the military would behave unpredictably. Would you panic? Find a gun? Comply with orders even if they didn't really make sense to you?

There are very real influenza scenarios that involve >50% global mortality, half of everyone you know and everyone you don't know dying in a single flu season. A tragedy that would dwarf all of the great wars of the twentieth century combined by an order of magnitude in a matter of months. Civil liberties would be among the least of our concerns, there are monsters more terrible than the worst of tyrants, and they are very real.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:57 PM on May 27, 2012 [62 favorites]


The father was in fact 100% infected, but the coroner didn't tell him that 'cause it'd make him rage and become generally uncooperative.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:05 PM on May 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I thought the father was infected, because when Rossman asked him if he was bitten the first time, he didn't respond.

This was an interesting short film, and it left me wondering what the world would be like outside of Los Angeles. People there apparently live like prisoners, in retrofitted apartments that double as execution cells. But what about all the old housing stock and single family homes that couldn't be renovated? What about all the firetraps that would go up like candles and take surrounding buildings with them? What happens if a zombie shows up at work? aybe the quarantine method differs depending upon local conditions.

And what about the billions of people who live in rural and impoverished countries that couldn't afford LA's anti-zombie infrastructure? Do they still exist after the apocalypse, or is the Earth largely empty now outside of a few high tech redoubts?


(Btw, Parasite Unseen, that news story you linked to is horrific! In a bad way. That poor homeless guy.)
posted by Kevin Street at 1:16 PM on May 27, 2012


How could they be sure that the baby wasn't infected? Didn't he say the mom was changing the baby when she fell ill?
posted by fancyoats at 1:25 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think one of the core elements of zombie horror, whether it's deriving its emotional resonance from Communism or AIDS, is really the need to kill someone who was human, and still seems human, but is now eeeevilll. If you can isolate maybe-zombies and deal with them humanely and without being unexpectedly forced to shoot your loved ones, then it's not quite a zombie story any more.

This is actually the thing that did bother me about Feed and its two sequels. Especially in Deadline, the attitude of the characters swerves back and forth between it being perfectly normal and acceptable to threaten strangers or your most intimate friends with casual bloody execution even for the most tenuously zombiism-related acts, to it being a inconceivable crime against humanity worthy of national outrage to merely kidnap someone for a while, depending on the needs of the narrative.

(I like the books otherwise, though Drastic's description isn't too far off the mark. I think in Feed the bloggers-as-hero-journalists thing still felt like a nice bit of 20-seconds-into-the-future SF, but by the time Deadline came out it had been overtaken by reality; I happened to read this article while finishing Deadline and the fiction suffered in the comparison.)
posted by hattifattener at 1:30 PM on May 27, 2012


Well, the only other approach is "zombies are magically created'

Well, there's also the George Romero approach, which is to provide no explanation at all, and just have the zombies happening. I mean, there's a moment in his first film where someone on television speculates about a returning Venus space probe exploding in the atmosphere, but Romero is much less interested in HOW and WHY than he is on the effects of such a thing. (And the metaphors of the event, which he develops pretty strongly in later films.)
posted by hippybear at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


We weren't really told what the virus's vector was. I don't think it's fully airborne or saving the baby would be totally hopeless. Perhaps the black blood is itself the vector? She had a number of open wounds that the husband probably touched.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:46 PM on May 27, 2012


Salvor Hardin: "Huh, neat. I was just thinking yesterday that all the plot variations had been exhausted in the zombie genre, but I realize I haven't seen any movies about what civilization is like after a zombie outbreak is stopped."

You're in luck - the World War Z is essentially this, and there's a film adaptation coming out next summer, although the presence of Brad Pitt as the lead suggests to me they might action it up a bit.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:51 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting take. This is an extremely risk averse society. Whatever they witnessed, the likelihood of an outbreak is so catastrophic that they are willing to accept a certain number of false positives (killing some non-infected people) instead of risking even one false negative (assuming he is uninfected when he actually is). That's a theme that is very consistent with the zombie genre in general -- what will humans do to survive? What kind of person survives and by extension what kind of community survives? The Walking Dead (the comic, not the show) explores this expertly. But I've not seen anything like a post-apocalypse before, so this is interesting.
posted by scunning at 2:53 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was really well-made.
posted by kjh at 3:15 PM on May 27, 2012


Very nice, thank you Drexen.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:03 PM on May 27, 2012


Fido (2006) - the apocalypse is over. Zombies are reduced to personal slaves and house pets.
posted by felch at 6:24 PM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shot on a Canon 7D (approx. $1500 for the body), according to the comments.
posted by carter at 7:44 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice hat tip to Pontypool: "Has she been slurring or repeating words?" Interesting implication that they live in a world with more than one "strain" of killer zombie virus.

U BOAT U BOAT
posted by benzenedream at 8:48 PM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I liked that. And, yeah, I would watch the hell out of a tv series based on this scenario (if it didn't suck).

I really liked Feed and its bretheren, although I thought Blackout (out as of this past week) was the weakest of the three. But I think they're all big fun popcorn books. More on the Doc Smith side than the Chip Delaney side of the SF axis, though.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:05 PM on May 27, 2012


I saw the cover for Feed and mentally vomited at how it was the perfect conceptual trainwreck between the two trendy cliche locomotives of "blogging" and "zombie apocalypse."
posted by Apocryphon at 10:23 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fido is a great family movie too. They manage the impossible. A good zombie movie and not a single cuss word. I think "knucklehead" was the strongest language used
posted by Redhush at 6:19 AM on May 28, 2012


Oh, Fido was a delight of a zombie movie. A zombie film set in Pleasantville. What's not to like?
posted by rmd1023 at 6:20 AM on May 28, 2012


Zone One by Colson Whitehead explores what its like to try and re-establish civilization in a world where the zombie apocalypse is lengthy and on-going. Its worth a look if you're into that sort of thing.

Also, this was great and [SPOILER]I'm glad there wasn't one final scare shot[SPOILER].
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:41 PM on May 29, 2012


This was an interesting short film, and it left me wondering what the world would be like outside of Los Angeles. People there apparently live like prisoners, in retrofitted apartments that double as execution cells.

Naw... just in that part of Marina Del Ray.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:16 PM on May 29, 2012


> Naw... just in that part of Marina Del Ray.

I actually lived in that apartment building for the year I was in LA.

So watching this was extra freaky, as they did have big fire doors that would slam shut to isolate parts of the building in case of a fire alarm going off, which was quite frequently actually.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:03 PM on June 9, 2012


Add me as another person that would sign up to watch this as a weekly series.
posted by antifuse at 2:36 PM on June 21, 2012


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