Friday, February 22, 2013

Day #1 (later): Taipei City Public Safety Hotline

Unfortunately, not every undead shopper decided to seek new blood on the upper floors of Taipei 101, only to be liquidated (a more than appropriate term here) by S.W.A.T. teams later in the day, away from media and public scrutiny. Some, while the living still conducted their business or gazed out at the city from the observation deck, chose instead to venture outside, a turn of events that immediately scuttled any chances of containing the incident. Later in the day, as the president was calling out to his longtime adviser in Washington, reports started coming in of people filling ERs with odd bites that doctors imagined could only have been caused by large wild animals. In Taiwan’s amphetamine-boosted media environment, it didn’t take long for those reports to turn into an airtime feeding frenzy, with talking heads — experts on absolutely every subject under the sun, the lot of them — exchanging barbs and accusations, while news channels spread word of the developing epidemic. More than once, the Z word was used, with undead cartoons crawling across most screens. In a matter of hours, Next Media’s News in Motion already had an animated re-enactment of what had occurred at Taipei 101.

As the airwaves filled with news of doom and gloom, the Taipei City Public Safety Hotline received its first question from a worried resident. “I’m worried about zombies using the MRT [mass-rapid transit system, or “subway”] to spread around town. How does one recognize a zombie on the train?” To which an employee at the hotline, after consulting the powers that be, replied: “It’s easy. While all passengers look zombie-like, real zombies will not be mindlessly staring into their smartphone or iPad. Steer clear of anyone who isn’t using an electronic device of any sort.”

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