Showing up just after the global crop failure that started the first global famine since the Ice Ages, the “Zed Virus” was well-timed to decimate civilization.

So called because it turned people into “zombies” — though scientists, doctors, and horror movie enthusiasts all decried the name, which really just made it stick more — the disease started with fever, reduced inhibitions and coordination, and headaches, and then progressed quickly to loss of personality and memory, and finally aggressive violent tendencies. Eventually, subjects became comatose and died. Technically, it was a mutant strain of rabies, but nobody ever called it that.

The best way to prevent death from the disease was to prevent infection, which was easy as long as you stayed away from other people. The virus spread through fluids like blood and saliva, but the infected progressed from “feeling sick” to “biting you in the neck” fast enough to make those vectors viable. Major population centers were hit the worst.

Well, as a plus, world hunger and poverty really were only problems because of overpopulation.

The nature of the disease made it difficult to identify patients, and global hospitals and media sources were flooded with John and Jane Does. One such became known as New York Mercy June Seventeen, who was successfully detained, isolated, and observed for the middle and late stages of the disease, and whose subjection to varied tests allowed the development of a resistance serum. The serum allowed recent infectees a radically-improved chance of survival, up to six or seven percent, and given as a vaccine it provided up to about fifty-fifty chances of resisting a new infection. The global distribution of serum was funded by the Black Cross.

There has not been a reported new infection in the last fifty years.

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