World War Z
Part I: Warnings
- I remember thinking, This had better be damned serious. Once I saw their faces, I regretted my wish.
- I found “Patient Zero” behind the locked door of an abandoned house across town. He was twelve years old. His wrists and feet were bound with plastic packing twine. Although he’d rubbed off the skin around his bonds, there was no blood. There was also no blood on his other wounds, not on the gouges on his legs or arms, or from the large dry gap where his right big toe had been. He was writhing like an animal; a gag muffled his growls.
- Their family usually had them bound and gagged. You’d see something moving in the back of a car, squirming softly under clothing or heavy blankets. You’d hear banging from a car’s boot, or, later, from crates with airholes in the backs of vans. 'Airholes' … they really didn’t know what was happening to their loved ones."
- In the cab there was a very wealthy investment banker from Xi’an. He’d made a lot of money buying up American credit card debt. He had enough to pay for his entire extended family. The man’s Armani suit was rumpled and torn. There were scratch marks down the side of his face, and his eyes had that frantic fire I was starting to see more of every day. The driver’s eyes had a different look, the same one as me, the look that maybe money wasn’t going to be much good for much longer. I slipped the man an extra fifty and wished him luck. That was all I could do.
- Immediately we began to see bodies, men killed by their own booby traps. They looked like they’d been trying…running…to get out.
- They teach you how to resist the enemy, how to protect your mind and spirit. They don’t teach you how to resist your own people, especially people who think they’re trying to “help” you see “the truth.”
- Why did so many outbreaks begin in hospitals? Illegal Chinese immigrants weren’t going to hospitals. Do you know how many thousands of people got illegal organ transplants in those early years leading up to the Great Panic? Even if 10 percent of them were infected, even 1 percent…
- “Please,” I begged, “you have to run!” I reached for her but she stabbed my hand. I left her there. I didn’t know what else to do. She is still in my memory, when I sleep or maybe close my eyes sometimes. Sometimes she’s my mother, and the crying children are my sisters.
- I know a lot of credit has been heaped upon the South African war plan, and deservedly so, but if more people had read our report and worked to make its recommendations a reality, then that plan would have never needed to exist.
Part II: Blame
- When you think about the CIA, you probably imagine two of our most popular and enduring myths. The first is that our mission is to search the globe for any conceivable threat to the United States, and the second is that we have the power to perform the first.
- The facts were out; it was now a question of who would believe them.
- We were in the hallway when I heard Jenna scream. I ran to her room, threw open the door. Another one, big, I’d say six and a half feet with giant shoulders and bulging arms. The window was broken and it had Jenna by the hair. She was screaming.
Part III: The Great Panic
- The swarm continued among the cars, literally eating its way up the stalled lines, all those poor bastards just trying to get away. And that’s what haunts me most about it, they weren’t headed anywhere.
- That was the worst part, watching the other ships we passed. Some of the onboard infected refugees had begun to reanimate. Some vessels were floating slaughterhouses, others just burned at anchor. People were leaping into the sea. Many who sank beneath the surface never reappeared.
- We relinquished our freedom that day, and we were more than happy to see it go. From that moment on we lived in true freedom, the freedom to point to someone else and say “They told me to do it! It’s their fault, not mine.” The freedom, God help us, to say “I was only following orders.”
- No one would have expected [the escalation of nuclear hostilities], but then again, no one would have expected the dead to rise, now would they? Only one could have foreseen this, and I don’t believe in him anymore.
- The opening bombardment took out at least three-quarters of them. Only three-quarters.
- Sure, we were unprepared, our tools, our training, everything I just talked about, all one class-A, gold-standard clusterfuck, but the weapon that really failed wasn’t something that rolled off an assembly line. It’s as old as…I don’t know, I guess as old as war. It’s fear, dude, just fear and you don’t have to be Sun freakin Tzu to know that real fighting isn’t about killing or even hurting the other guy, it’s about scaring him enough to call it a day... “Shock and Awe”? Perfect name, “Shock and Awe”! But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war. The fact that we couldn’t shock and awe Zack boomeranged right back in our faces and actually allowed Zack to shock and awe us! They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!
Part IV: Turning the Tide
- Paul Redeker always believed, well, perhaps not always, but at least in his adult life, that humanity’s one fundamental flaw was emotion.
- First of all, there was no way to save everyone. The outbreak was too far gone.
- There was another reason for this partial evacuation, an eminently logical and insidiously dark reason that, many believe, will forever ensure Redeker the tallest pedestal in the pantheon of hell. Those who were left behind were to be herded into special isolated zones. They were to be “human bait,” distracting the undead from following the retreating army to their safe zone.
- We were also under strict orders not to move the civilians. Even worse, we were ordered not to inform them of our departure!
- We got everything we deserved. "Where are you going?" they shouted from buildings. "Come back, you cowards!" I tried to answer. "No, we're coming back for you," I said. "We're coming back tomorrow with more men. Just stay where you are, we'll be back tomorrow." "Fucking liar!" I heard one woman shout. "You're letting my baby die!"
- As soon as the report came in, [General Lang] sat down at his desk, signed a few final orders, addressed and sealed a letter to his family, then put a bullet through his brain. Bastard. I hate him now even more than I did on the way to Hamburg... he knew this was just the first step of a long war and we were going to need men like him to win it... That's why he deserted us like we deserted those civilians. He saw the road ahead, a steep, treacherous mountain road. We'd all have to hike that road, each of us dragging the boulder of what he'd done behind us. [Lang] couldn't do that. He couldn't shoulder the weight.
- They say eleven million people died that winter, and that’s just in North America.
Part V: Home Front USA
- The first labor survey stated clearly that over 65 percent of the present civilian workforce were classified F-6, possessing no valued vocation. We required a massive job retraining program. In short, we needed to get a lot of white collars dirty.
- The Allies had the resources, industry, and logistics of an entire planet. The Axis, on the other hand, had to depend on what scant assets they could scrape up within their borders. This time we were the Axis.
- I remember the attorney general suggesting that we dump as many of them into the infested zones as possible, rid ourselves of the drain and potential hazard of their continued presence. Both the president and I opposed this proposition; my objections were ethical, his were practical. We were still talking about American soil, infested yes, but, hopefully one day to be liberated. “The last thing we needed,” he said “was to come up against one of these ex-cons as The New Grand Warlord of Duluth.” I thought he was joking, but later, I saw the exact thing happen in other countries.
Part VI: Around the World and Above
- Ignorance was the enemy. Lies and superstition, misinformation, disinformation. Sometimes, no information at all. Ignorance killed billions of people. Ignorance caused the Zombie War. Imagine if we had known then what we know now. Imagine if the undead virus had been as understood as, say, tuberculosis was. Imagine if the world’s citizens, or at least those charged with protecting those citizens, had known exactly what they were facing. Ignorance was the real enemy, and cold, hard facts were the weapons. (Page 194-195)
- When the last broadcast came from Buenos Aires, when that famous Latin singer played that Spanish lullaby, it was too much for one of our operators. He wasn’t from Buenos Aires, he wasn’t even from South America. He was just an eighteen-year-old Russian sailor who blew his brains out all over his instruments. He was the first, and since the end of the war, the rest of the IR operators have followed suit. Not one of them is alive today. The last was my Belgian friend. “You carry those voices with you,” he told me one morning. We were standing on the deck, looking into that brown haze, waiting for a sunrise we knew we’d never see. “Those cries will be with me the rest of my life, never resting, never fading, never ceasing their call to join them.”
- I wonder what future generations will say about us. My grandparents suffered through the Depression, World War II, then came home to build the greatest middle class in human history. Lord knows they weren't perfect, but they sure came closest to the American dream. Then my parents' generation came along and fucked it all up--the baby boomers, the "me" generation. And then you got us. Yeah, we stopped the zombie menace, but we're the ones who let it become a menace in the first place. At least we're cleaning up our own mess, and maybe that's the best epitaph to hope for: "Generation Z, they cleaned up their own mess."
Part VII: Total War
- Attack. When I first heard that word, my gut reaction was, "oh shit". Does that surprise you? Of course it does. You probably expected "the brass" to be just champing at that bit, all that blood and guts, "hold 'em by the nose while we kick 'em in the ass" crap. I don't know who created the stereotype hard-charging, dim-witted, high school football coach of a general officer. Maybe it was Hollywood, or the civilian press, or maybe we did it to ourselves, by allowing those insipid, egocentric clowns- the MacArthurs and Halseys and Curtis E. LeMays- to define our image to the rest of the country. Point is, that's the image of those in uniform, and it couldn't be further from the truth.
- Two hundred million zombies. Who can even visualize that type of number, let alone combat it? At least this time around we knew what we were combating, but when you added up all the experience, all the data we'd compiled on their origin, their physiology, their strengths, their weaknesses, their motives, and their mentality, it still presented us with a gloomy prospect for victory. The book of war, the one we've been writing since one ape slapped another, was completely useless in this situation. We had to write a new one from scratch.
- For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth. That's the kind of enemy we had waiting for us beyond the Rockies. That's the kind of war we had to fight.
- Hope, New Mexico. Hope. I'm not kidding. The town was actually named Hope. They say the brass chose it because of the terrain, clear and open with the desert in front and the mountains in back. Perfect, they said, for an opening engagement, and that the name had nothing to do with it. Right.
- Did you see the movie, the one Elliot made about us? That scene with the campfire and the grunts all jawing in this witty dialogue, the stories and the dreams for the future, and even that guy with the harmonica. Dude, it was so not like that. First of all, it was the middle of the day, no campfires, no harmonica under the stars, and also everyone was really quiet. You knew what everyone was thinking though, "What the hell are we doing here?" This was Zack's house now, and as far as we were concerned, he could have it. We'd all had plenty of pep talks about "The Future of the Human Spirit." We'd seen the president's speech God knows how many times, but the prez wasn't out here on Zack's front lawn. We had a good thing going behind the Rockies. What the hell were we doing out here?
- The officers didn't tell us the attack was almost over, but you could see them looking through their scopes, talking on their radios. You could see the relief on their faces. I think the last shot was fired just before dawn. After that, we just waited for first light. It was kinda eeries, the sun rising over this mountainous ring of corpses. We were totally walled in, all sides were piled at least twenty feet high and over a hundred feet deep. I'm not sure how many we killed that day; stats always vary depending on who you get it from.
- They let us sleep as late as we wanted the next day. That was pretty sweet. Eventually the voices woke me up; everyone jawing, laughing, telling stories. It was a different vibe, one-eighty from two days ago. I couldn't really put a finger on what I was feeling, maybe it was what the president said about "reclaiming our future." I just knew I felt good, better than I had the entire war. I knew it was gonna be a real, long-ass road. I knew our campaign across America was just beginning, but, hey, as the prez said later that first night, it was finally the beginning of the end.