Friday, February 22, 2013

Day #12: The Resistance

That day, Tsay Ting-kuei shaved his long scruffy white beard. As the war raged between the dead and the undead across the country, the authorities eventually concluded they had no choice but to empty the jails, judging that abandoning inmates to a certain fate was a form of death penalty that could not be afforded under the circumstances.

From the size of the mirthful crowd that had gathered outside Taipei Prison in Taoyuan County and the wall of green banners that those present wave at the end of long wooden poles, one would have believed that the worst was over, that one had awakened from a long, terrible nightmare. The mostly elderly men and women who turned up on that day, and who made the perilous journey to the prison, knew deep in their hearts that the nation was on the brink of disaster. But today, as jails spewed out petty criminals and murderers alike, was a day for celebration. At long last, Tsay, who over several months — and well before the first zombie sank his rotten teeth into a victim’s soft jugular — had obstinately grown his beard, looking less and less like the academic that he was, could finally shave it.

Just as the main gate opened, a strong gust of warm wind sent the banners aflutter like some gigantic bird taking flight. He finally emerged, unaccompanied, a red scarf tied round his ample forehead. On cue, a pair of large speakers hastily installed for the occasions started blasting what would become the theme song for the living as they struck back: Uprising, by the British rock band Muse (Chen’s own idea, rumor has it). To Matthew Bellamy’s hymn to victory, loud cheers and the blaring of gas horns, former president Chen Shui-bian, the son of Taiwan, sallied forth into the crowd, guns blazing. He looked a decade younger. For the weeks ahead, the controversial politician would lead platoons of elderly fighters on suicide raid after suicide raid, more than ever energized by the sense that he was on a mission to save his beloved Taiwan. Others from the DPP, including chairman Su Tseng-chang, a former rugby player, as well as Tsai Ing-wen (an adept strategist who would only use small-caliber pistols), also rallied behind Chen.

Chen being Chen, he still gave the occasional long speech in his very local accent, leading some to think that he once again had presidential ambitions after all of this was done with, and he still managed to anger people with his occasional jabs. But A-Bian, short A-Bian, had a special knack for slaying the dead, and he did that with gusto. The time for internal divisions was long gone. The walking dead had taught them that.

Chen wasn’t alone in taking matters into his own hands. As the central government fell apart, others did so too, organizing small resistance groups all over the country and launching what could only be described as a guerrilla campaign against the dead. In the South, the military and civilians alike, looking more homogenous in a rag-tag kind of way, rallied round Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, who also, as it turns out, wasn’t a bad shot at all (she had a special fondness for grenade launchers). In central Taiwan, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu also emerged as a natural leader. After abandoning his initial plan — everybody in the city was encouraged to follow his lead by wearing whatever Halloween zombie costume they could put their hands on — the Beijing-born leader turned to the most organized force within his constituency: gangsters. Soon enough, tattoo-bearing, black-clad thugs, accompanied by scantily clad yet equally deadly young Taiwanese women (including a mama-san who became famous for her effective use of six-inch high-heels as a weapon), were slugging it out on the streets.

In the east, DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim took over, for the second time being parachuted (this time literally) to Hualien, where she joined forces with the local army from Huadong Command. Soon afterwards, that arm of the resistance was joined by local Aborigines, who more than a century before had with great skill used difficult terrain to their advantage against a foreign force (like heavily armed Japanese soldiers, zombies were rather clumsy on narrow suspension bridges, which turned into great scenes of carnage as the living turned their guns on the stranded undead).

After convincing the military, KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang, accompanied by about 50 soldiers, secretly chartered a C-130 transport aircraft, laden with ammunition and food rations, and flew off to Taiping Island in the Spratlys, which he intended to defend to the last man until the situation was resolved in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, a well known Washington-based lobby organization was hard at work trying to convince the White House to intervene in Taiwan. The main thrust of that effort was, well, a letter campaign.

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