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Interactive Case #4: Zombie Outbreak! (Part 1)

Our fourth interactive case is a little bit different. While previous cases have been based on actual FVZA incidents, this new case represents a hypothetical present-day scenario. As in, what if a zombie outbreak occurred? What would you do? Read on and find out.

Date: October 24, 2004
Place: Somewhere outside of Austin, Texas

Background: The fall chill in the morning air means it's time to get out of Austin and head to your cabin in Texas' hill country for a weekend of deer hunting. It's a chance to commune with nature, catch up with your friends Travis and Greg and get away from all the negative news, including a spate of recent stories about some flesh-eating bacteria that's put several people in the hospital in the Austin area. And so on Friday afternoon you pack your pickup truck and head for the hills in the company of Travis, a burly, bearded man who does not suffer fools gladly, and Greg, an indolent, slow-witted fellow who provides a comic foil for Travis.

Your rustic cabin
Just after sunset you arrive at your cabin in the hills outside the town of Goldthwaite. It's a rustic place with no TV or telephone; what little electricity you have is supplied by a rusting, flatulent generator outside. You open the place up, chase out a few varmints and crack open a cold one. Travis, who takes his hunting seriously, does some last minute checks on his .270 Winchester rifle. You know he's thinking of the legendary Texas Titan, an enormous whitetail deer that haunts these hills. The Titan is a majestic, elusive animal, and in all likelihood a record breaker. You have his sheds from the past two years and you've caught fleeting glimpses of him, but never long enough to get a shot off.

Day 1:

Dawn finds you examining an immature oak tree along a trail known to be frequented by whitetail does. During the rut, or breeding season, whitetails like to rub their heads on trees to leave their scent. But this is no ordinary rub. The trunk of the tree has been virtually shredded away. Something big made this.

You creep further down the doe trail, come over a bluff and there he is: the Texas Titan: 250 pounds of deer with a neck like a tree trunk and a perfectly symmetrical 12-point rack. He surveys the landscape with arrogance befitting his status before rubbing his head vigorously over a mountain laurel sapling.

All is quiet as Travis crouches and takes aim. But just then, Greg, who had been lagging behind, comes up and shouts "see anything?" The deer immediately bolts into the underbrush; Travis pivots his rifle in Greg's direction and for a moment you think he's going to shoot. But he lowers his rifle slowly and stomps away in silent fury.

The Texas Titan
The rest of the day is spent in a fruitless search for the big deer. You slog back to the cabin after dark, weary and defeated. A few beers do little to lighten the mood, so you decide to bring in your CB radio from the truck for some entertainment. On a Saturday night, the CB radio brings out the screwballs, like preachers yelling about eternal damnation and truck stop hookers, also known as "concrete blondes," trolling for johns.

The reception is less than ideal, but after a little scanning you pick up a male voice cutting through the static. "Please, anyone, help me," he says. "They're all around!" A series of blood-curdling screams follow, and then nothing. You look at each other and exchange nervous laughs. "Someone's got a little too much time on their hands," says Travis. You switch to another channel and hear a trucker warn that several people are wandering in the middle of Interstate 35 outside of Austin. The reception fades amid a cacophony of panicked, unintelligible voices, along with shouts and screams.

"That's fucked up," offers Greg, displaying his usual insight.

But Travis wants none of it. "Someone's messin' with us," he says. "Shut that thing off. We got a busy day ahead of us."

You decide he must be right, shut off the radio and turn in for the night.

Day 2:

You awaken just before dawn to find Travis packing his gear. "I'm gonna get that deer today," he says. "Mark my words." But the Texas Titan is the last thing on your mind; you can't stop thinking about what you heard on the CB the previous night. When Travis makes a quick trip to the outhouse, you turn on the CB and Greg joins you as you start scanning for news.

The first voice you hear is that of a trucker warning others to stay away from Austin. "I don't know what's going on there, but they're not letting anyone near the city limits," he says. "Got I-35 blocked off in both directions." Another trucker comes back: "It's some kind of infection," he says. "People are going crazy." A preacher on a different channel says the end is here. "I say woe, woe, great city of Babylon," he shouts. "Your doom has come." Travis returns from the outhouse just in time to hear a trucker say, "I tell ya, the city's crawlin' with zombies. Zombies!"

All three of you run out to the truck and you turn on the radio. Reception is terrible, but you manage to catch snippets of a traffic reporter breathlessly describing the situation in Austin from a helicopter. She describes a plague of catatonic, flesh-eating monsters impervious to bullets. "We've seen them in Travis Heights, Town Lake, on the UT campus," she says. "The National Guard has sealed off the city. No one is being allowed in or out. Troops are on the way from Fort Hood. All residents are being advised to lock their doors and windows and stay inside their homes."

The three of you sit there in stunned silence, unwilling or unable to believe what your are hearing. Zombies running amok in Texas' state capital? It can't be.

What should you do?
(Click the number corresponding to your choice)

Relax. I mean, really. Zombies? The whole thing smells of a hoax, especially with Halloween coming up. Get out there and find the Texas Titan and credit yourself for being too smart to fall for this nonsense.

This is not a drill, people! Load up your truck and get back to Austin pronto. Your friends and loved ones need your help. And if you see any zombies on the way home, run them over! The police and military are ill-trained for this type of situation, so it's up to civilians like you to pitch in and help save the day.

The smartest thing you can do is stay right where you are. You've got shelter, food and water and the zombies are unlikely to find you up in your mountain retreat. You can monitor developments with your radio and CB to find out when the worst is over. Going back to Austin now would be pointless. The city is cordoned off and even if you did get through, you'd only get in the way of the rescue personnel.

Go to Part II of the case.

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