Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.
When the dead rose from their grave, for no real purpose but to consume the flesh of the living, panic ruled. In those heady, chaotic days, looting reigned, blood was spilled, and indecisiveness crippled any immediate response.
Shrewder minds, however, noted that the problem was overblown. The undead were unintelligent, no stronger or faster than ordinary humans, easily vanquished by disciplined and well-equipped groups. In addition, despite the hysterical rumors, only certain parts of the world were directly affected by the rise of the dead. In the case of the United States, the inflicted regions were primarily in the Southwest and New England. While this was certainly bad news for Phoenix and Boston, it meant that hope was still alive.
The most difficult task, certainly, was restoring order. Uninfected cities were gripped with panic, the news media added fuel to the fire with well-intentioned but inaccurate reports, military and law enforcement personnel deserted en masse. Draconian measures were required, these shrewder minds realized. And so they were taken.
Looters were shot on sight. Deserters were executed without trial. News stations were seized and staffed by willing mouthpieces. Within months, the United States had become a virtual military dictatorship. However, for all the tyranny, results were achieved by the shrewder minds. The nation watched on live television with bated breath as inch by inch, ground was reclaimed from the dead. Americans danced in the streets as the flag was flown right side up over Bangor, sighed in relief as the besieged airmen of Kirtland AFB were relieved, cried together at the discovery of the mass suicides in El Paso.
Fifteen months after the first reports, the dead had been beaten back, the few that remained kept in fenced enclaves known as Hot Zones. The dead within the Hot Zones were preserved for study, as walking monuments.
And the shrewder minds retained their powers unabated.
Twenty years have passed.
For most, the war against the undead is little more than a bad memory. Only a small portion of the population actually directly fought the undead, with most of the rest having been swept up in the chaos.
However, the National Defense Board still runs the country, still warns Americans to remain vigilant, still engages in torture, extrajudicial executions, and the silence of dissent.
And they still run the networks.
Television is the new opiate of the masses. Massively popular programs provide some distraction from what the United States Police Force gets up to during the nights. In particular, reality shows are huge hits. One program, however, easily outdoes all others in viewership.
The premise of Dead Days is simple. A handful of people among the thousands of applicants are chosen (often more for their ability to create drama than for any actual skill). Each contestant is allowed to select four items from a cache of various supplies: weapons, tools, food, comfort items. With nothing more than these things and the clothes on their backs, they then enter a Hot Zone. Their words are picked up by mics, their movements recorded by numerous sophisticated camera arrays, supplemented by a first-person view from tiny cameras surgically implanted inside the eye.
The victory conditions of Dead Days are equally simple. Survive a full ninety days (three months) inside the Hot Zone and you will be entitled to an equal share of fifty million dollars with all other survivors, as well as a full federal pardon for any actions you may have undertaken during those fateful ninety days. In the past few seasons, it has not been uncommon for contestants to murder one another, either for supplies or the long-term goal of gaining a larger share of the eventual winnings, confident in the knowledge that the National Defense Board will pardon them.
Most seasons have a survival rate of around fifty percent.
Audiences love it.
You are one of the chosen few.
You are a contestant on Dead Days.
Anyone interested by this?