Monday, November 18, 2013

#4


I will never forget the day when everything came crashing down. Martial law was finally declared and curfews were put into place as an effort to contain the unrest that had spread across the island but by then, everything was so chaotic that normal day to day functioning seemed to have come to a halt. Businesses stopped their operations. No one dared ventured out of their houses. We were seemingly cut off from the rest of the world in our cozy little bubble. Because of that, we could only depend on our only remaining link to the outside world, the internet. Hours were spent devouring the information about what was happening in the country and the world at large and from what we saw, nothing seemed good.

The internet was rife with rumours by then. There were too many people saying too many things at the same time and it was difficult to discern between the truth and myth. People were sharing information too fast before any credible sources could confirm them and not many bothered to question the information that they were reading before sharing it to the world. As the zed outbreak went viral outside, misinformation went viral on the web. After all, it is easier to start a myth than to dispel it.

In Singapore itself, there were mentions of how outbreaks had been happening all around Singapore and the martial law was in fact put into place to deal with the outbreaks, not the anti-testers movement. The rumours also mentioned about how the government was failing at keeping the threat contained and how the entire island will be filled with nothing but dead people before we all know it.

It was difficult to know what was true or what was not during those final few days of peace. In response the rumours of the martial law being in place for the outbreaks instead of the activists, there were others who talked about how a fraction of the army has broken off to join the anti-testers movement. Skirmishes were reported to have broken out around the city between the two sides and the martial law was enacted to keep civilians from being caught in the crossfire. As the few of us spent most of our time in the hostel, we had no idea what was really going on outside. The internet connection itself was unstable too with frequent disconnects and terribly slow speed. Certain websites were also inaccessible, including foreign news website, and a friend wondered aloud whether the websites have been censored by the government or whether they have been taken down itself. It was a period of uncertainty and frustration for all us who were still stuck on campus grounds. My parents called me almost every night to see whether I was doing fine and I assured them that I was. Secretly, I was thankful that my brother and sister were still with them back in Malaysia.

Sadly, Singapore was not the only country with problems during that time. With every country experiencing their own share of random outbreaks and CGT testers witch hunt, a large part of the world was by then swallowed in their own internal turmoil which in turn caused the whole world to come to a standstill. Borders were closed, diplomatic relations ceased and countries threatened war with each other over problems like refugees and perceived lack of effort in controlling the outbreaks and mess within their borders. There were also reports on the collapse of the world's financial system but the amount of information that flooded the net during that time was so great that we could not digest all the details of the situation itself. In addition to that, servers were also going offline across the world as the situation worsened and one by one websites start going dark and connectivity started to falter.

From the eyes of a university student who is cut off from the world, it seemed unbelievable how the entire world could be swallowed up by conflict in such a short time. Somehow everything was just going downhill, as absurd as it sounded. One would think that the systems put into place by nations such as the army, the ministries and the agencies will somehow maintain a certain degree of functionality to keep society intact, but somehow everything just erupted and imploded. A hostel mate of mine got so frustrated about how weak the governments around the world seemed to him on the internet, and mentioned how the quick rate of everything breaking down did not made sense to him. Something else must be at work, he stubbornly declared, and with that statement, marched off to the streets saying that he will find the truth out there. We never heard from him since.

It was scary how a single incident was able to throw the entire world into turmoil. Somehow it reminded me about the Tunisian incident that happened years ago, the one that sparked the Arab Spring movement, where one event sent shockwaves throughout the world and destabilized everyday lives. The specifics of the initial unrest vary, some were demonstrating the lack of action by the government, others the over-involvement of the government and yet others hate for a particular group (foreigners, in Singapore’s case) but all of them shared a common cause.

And yet instead of addressing the situation as a whole, somehow we ended up fighting against ourselves. It was ironic seeing how our world was gripped by an unknown force and we were busy at each other’s throats. Of course, there were people and groups calling for calm and patience, urging people to think rationally first before acting on their impulses, but these voices were quickly drowned out by those urging for blood and vengeance. The good people were just not loud enough. And violence was always easier to carry out than restrain. I did not have to look far.

Sometime around the middle of the first week that I was spending in my hostel, I remember watching with horror how a politician in Malaysia started blaming the Chinese for perpetuating the outbreaks in the country as all CGT providers in the country were run by the Chinese, and urged his fellow Malay compatriots to take up arms against the “imbeciles”. Not to be outdone, other Malay politicians adopted even a more radical stand, saying how the zeds outbreak was a Christian attempt to cleanse the country of Islam and say that unless Christians were completely eradicated, all the Muslims will be turned into zeds by the Christians. Rather than mobilizing the security forces to quell the radicals, authorities stood idly by as thousands were slain in cold blood by radical groups and before long, everything erupted into a total racial warfare. It should therefore come without surprise that Malaysia was the first country in Southeast Asia to suffer a total breakdown in society.

By the time the government decided to intervene and impose martial law like what Singapore did, it was too late to restore order. Aside from the racial conflict itself, civil war also broke out amongst the ranks of the Malays. Not all bought into the Chinese scapegoat myth and those who did not were accused of being colluders and were killed alongside the Chinese. It was not long before people start killing everyone else and when the first serious zed outbreak broke out, the zeds did not have much trouble in finding their next infection target as bodies were piling up in the streets. There was a chilling account that described how a single zed had managed to increase its number from one to twenty zeds simply by feeding on the dead bodies on the street while people clashed around him.

Ironic, indeed, how we are literally killing each other off to bolster the zeds’ numbers. Many Malaysian Chinese tried to cross the Singapore border during the conflict, only to find that PRC Chinese, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Indians and even Malaysian Chinese were trying to cross the border into Malaysia. It should come as no surprise too that most outbreaks started at border checkpoints and advanced rapidly from there.

During my last phone call with my parents, they mentioned how they were lucky as the Malays in their residential area did not believe in the nonsense spewed by the radical groups. They told me how they and my siblings were going to hide at the neighbourhood mosque together with others for the time being. Their Malay friends themselves would stay at the mosque to hide them and told me not to worry as they believed that the pro-Malay group would not harm the people of their own race in their holy place. I told them about the ongoing civil war between the Malays themselves and advised them against it, but I was told that some of the radicals have began conducting house checks and the only way for them to stay safe was to go somewhere else. I was worried but there was little I could do either, being so far away and I just told my brother to stay safe and to keep everyone safe. He promised me that he would die defending the family. I just hoped it would not come to that stage.

It was not until tomorrow that I heard about how the pro-Malay group descended upon the mosque based on information given to them by an informant, and when they found out that some of the Malays were indeed harbouring Chinese and Indians in the mosque, proceeded to call them traitors and slaughtered all of them first. I gave up reading the Facebook post halfway because I did not want to see what came next. For the next two days my calls went unanswered and until today, I could only assume the worst.

To be honest, it was not the zeds who brought humanity down, it was ourselves. There were idiots, so blinded with their own irrational beliefs or god knows what motivation, that they failed to see beyond their immediate beliefs. Look at what it has cost us in the end. Be it for religious, racial, nationality or class reasons, we have, in a way, accelerated our own apocalypse. Our own fear and paranoia did a better job at wiping us out than the zeds and I still find it hard to believe that I lost my family to a politician’s attempt in gaining political mileage. And sadly he was not the only one. In the US itself there were pastors who declared that it was the testers who brought the fate upon themselves and how we should kill every single one of them and their families as an act of God. My faith in humanity was all but lost by then.

Even those who claim to be scientifically influenced was guilty of quickening our demise. The Humanity Alliance, far from acknowledging its mistakes in UK, proudly announced that they did the right thing in showing the world the role of CGT. However, far from the initial stand that they took in response to CGT, they now claim that the zeds outbreak is a next step in our evolution and instead of fighting it, we should embrace it as it would elevate us to a higher evolutionary existence. The process was inevitable, they went on. There was no point fighting it. Greenpeace, on the other hand went with another claim saying that this was nature's way of hitting back at us for having recklessly damaged the environment for so long. They proclaimed that by transforming into a zed can we finally be in harmony with nature and actively encouraged people to get bitten.

To top it all off, you have pranksters who still had the nerves and time to propagate urban myths even when we already have to deal with irresponsible parties and their actions. From claims about how switching to a full vegetarian diet consisting of raw plants could make you invisible to the eyes of the zeds to stories about how a man gained immunity by getting bitten by a child zed, the internet was filled with myths such as these, shared fervently by people who think that they were doing good when in fact they were not. I have no idea if there were any people who fell prey to these claims but looking at how some shared the statuses without even stopping to think (Finally, a cure! Please share it with everyone), I had trouble believing that no one did.

The concept of the survival of the fittest, or the smartest, in this case, was in full display during this catastrophe. Seeing how most of it were self inflicted, I did not know how should I feel after reading all the posts. A part of me was somehow thinking how we as a species deserved what was coming to us. Perhaps the Humanity Alliance were right in saying that being a zed was somehow a step up in the evolutionary cycle. At least the zeds did not fight against each other over abstract terms like self-righteousness, pride or power.

When the internet finally went down near the end of my first week in the hostel, I was somewhat relieved. While I might be cut off from the rest of the world, but at least I did not have to know how we were digging our own graves. Out of the entire hostel, only ten of us remained, six girls and four guys. Aside from us, the entire place was deserted. Not even the residential professors remained. None of us dared venture out of the comfort of our place, preferring the relative peace that we were having during that short period of time.

We were lucky to be spared of the mayhem that was going outside beyond the fences our hostel and the two weeks we spent together, if anything, looked more like scenes from a romantic coming of age film rather than a zombie apocalyptic film. We spent most of our time together in the common room, talking about our lives or just sat idly by staring at the wall. Sometimes two of us would disappear into a room, what better time to get laid than the end of the world right, and it almost seemed as if we could wait out the remainder of the zombie apocalypse in the relative comfort of our hostel. Little did we know how our biggest threat would come from within.

#5

*****

P/s: As this is a work in progress and as I am trying to finish the story before November ends and not forgetting that I have work from 9-6 everyday, there might be grammar errors here and there and if you spot one, I would sincerely apologize for it. I am looking to publish this story, so if you spot any spelling or grammar mistakes, I would greatly appreciate it if you could let me know by dropping a comment after each post. Proofreading your own work is confusing after all. I won't forget your kindness!





ShareThis

Related Posts with Thumbnails