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Friday, 2 October 2015

[Redux] What If: Night of the Living Dead actually happened?

As a horror movie fan the month of October is full of horror related media. Last year throughout October I did a month of horror where each post had something to do with the horror genre. To start this year off I'm remaking one of my past alternate history scenarios. Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero is one of the greatest horror movies of all time and has left a major impact on the zombie movie with World War Z and The Walking Dead being directly inspired by it. What if though the events depicted in Romero's hit film actually happened?

Initial Outbreak
From the opening of Night we can assume that the outbreak occurred rather rapidly. On the 1st October 1968 (the date of the film's release) in rural Pennsylvania. Immediately hundreds of people become infected as they are set upon by the infected and those who manage to escape either hold themselves up in farms or otherwise form armed posses to keep order. Within the first few days in certain areas the posses quarantine the infection and start burning bodies (such as at the end of the film) until the National Guard is called in to fully deal with the problem. As conflict erupts between the Guard and the posses what was left of the infected manage to bite more people. Quickly organization between the posses and National Guard break down as many of their own number turn and start biting one another. The government starts covering up the infection and installing a curfew in Pennsylvania to avoid a panic and to limit the infection but to no avail. Quickly the infected start to overrun the state and the populace start fleeing to neighboring states such as Ohio and New York. Hundreds of infected turn to thousands and thousands turn to hundreds of thousands. As Manhattan gets overrun by the infected the government comes clean and announces a state of emergency. The National Guard is brought in to keep the peace but riots from the non-infected and the ever growing hordes of the undead cause the Guard to be quickly overran. People take to the highways inadvertently carrying the infection across the United States making the infection even worse. 

Collapse of governments
As the infection spreads the government recalls the army from West Berlin, Okinawa, South Vietnam and any other place where the US had military presence. However there would be mass desertions from the army with soldiers not wanting to possibly shoot their own friends and family as well as large amounts of disinformation coming from conflicting news stories. Washington DC is soon overrun and the government relocated to NORAD where Richard Nixon is sworn in as President. This would largely be futile considering that the continental United States would have fallen to the undead. People would flee north into Canada whose government soon collapses. Considering where the outbreak originated and that it borders heavily populated Quebec the infection would soon rapidly spread into the capital. The remnants of the Canadian government would relocate to the United Kingdom. In the south people would run to Mexico taking the infection with them. Poorer roads compared to the United States and Canada would mean that the infection would spread less rapidly in Mexico but soon the Mexican government would fall as well. Nations in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean would bar entry of flights and ships from the Americas to stem the tide of the infection although Japan, France, West Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom would see low level outbreaks. Quite likely these nations may be able to control the outbreak due to the fact that only one or two people would be infected instead of the huge hordes that attacked Canada and Mexico. Guatemala and Belize may see some outbreaks on their borders with Mexico although it is difficult to tell how large these outbreaks would be.

Life under the undead
In the United States, Canada and northern Mexico we would likely see images similar to that in the sequels to Night of the Living Dead. Where the living once roamed such as malls (like in Dawn) the undead would aimlessly prowl around looking to eat live humans. Those still alive would live the rest of their lives either as nomads, going the dystopian city to dystopian city looking for food and fuel while all the time avoiding the undead hordes, or would form small micro-societies in fortified towns or large buildings (like malls in Dawn, army bases or prisons like in The Walking Dead). In some of these micro-societies there may even be strong tensions that could lead to race riots. A year before Night was released eight race riots had broke out over the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the entire cast of Night were deeply distraught about how fellow actor Duane Jones had been treated in the past. In areas where issues over race had been prevalent likely riots would break out, thus compromising the safety of the settlement and further spreading the infection. In southern Mexico and the border areas, which were more rural, the uninfected would have a better chance at surviving as there would be fewer zombies to contend with. Likely the Mexican government might even relocate there and start to push back against the undead. Meanwhile scattered around military bases in the United States we would see something similar to Day of the Dead. Generals would try to make failed attacks to thin out the undead population while using any scientists to find a cure. A mad general or captain, like Captain Rhodes in Day, may crop up but with the collapse of the normal hierarchy they would last long. Meanwhile in NORAD the President would vainly try to bring the army bases together to fight back against the undead with limited or no success.

The rest of the world
With the United States, Canada and Mexico gone it is hard to tell what the history of the world would be like. Whether the Cold War would end or another member of NATO, like the UK or France, would fill the void left by the United States it is difficult to tell. We can tell though that there would be an economic slump and possibly even a global depression following the removal of the United States from the world economic scene. International politics would depend entirely on if a powerful member of NATO took over from the US in their foreign policy tactics. However, a few things can be certain from this scenario. Communist China would gain international recognition in the UN as it took until the Nixon administration for it to get a seat on the Security Council. South Vietnam would also fall to communists as without US intervention the successive regimes in the South could can up by themselves. There would be an international scheme set up by the WHO to find a cure for the virus funded by multiple rich nations. Eventually this would peter out as they hit brick wall after brick wall trying to find a cure and global opinion starts to put the infected nations to the back of their minds.

Years into the future
 As the years drag on the number of the undead slowly start to decline. With people trained to avoid the bites and generations being born in secure facilities the undead cannot build their population up any higher. A fight back starts to occur with it being most successful in Mexico thanks to an established government in the south. City states like in Land of the Dead would crop up as figures of central authority although some would be true democracies while others would be despotic like in Land. The central government would have less control over these areas due to the lack of an army, poor communication and the fact that they have no real way to exercise any form of central control. Farming would start to return outside the facilities but these would be under armed guards, to shoot zombies and possibly dissenters in the despotic cities. Foreign armies would land on US and Canadian soil to aid in the clearing of the undead. Areas such as Alaska and Newfoundland would be the first to be zombie-free, however large cities like New York, Chicago and Toronto would remain infested for possibly decades. For the rest of the US, Canada and Mexico an almost feudalistic, rural life would happen for the most of the population by the year 2010 although it would be constantly dominated by the threat of the undead...

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