Facility tour with: Dr Anders Haraldsson
The following text is transcribed from a recorded commentary given by Dr. Haraldsson during a tour around the newly refurbished CERN facility, buried deep under the mountains of the Swiss-French border.
A group of dignitaries from the UN was invited along, together with senior members of the armed forces from the combined UNZ (United Nations Zombie Task Force). The tour took several hours, and the full transcription has been edited for the purposes of this book, the content of which has been kindly scrutinised and agreed upon by Anders prior to inclusion here.
We join the tour as Anders takes over the commentary from the normal tour guide…
“Welcome to CERN ladies and gentlemen, or rather what was CERN. We’re putting the equipment to somewhat different use these days as you can see.
“Prior to the War, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, was an international organization whose purpose was to operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. You are currently located approximately 100m below the Northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border. The original complex was established in 1954. Up until the start of the war, the organization had twenty European member states, sadly that has dwindled, in some cases because those member states simply no longer exist, but the Swiss, French and British are still the major financiers of what remains of the project.
“At its height, the laboratory itself employed approximately 2,600 full-time employees, as well as some 8000 scientists and engineers representing 580 universities and research facilities, and 80 nationalities. As with many organisations, we are a shadow of our former selves, but we still attract the brightest minds from all over the planet and although our research has changed direction in some areas, we still continue to push the boundaries of science.
“As a little aside, this place, as you can see from the little plaque on the wall there is the birthplace of the World Wide Web, and, due to our location, our computers survived largely unscathed during the War. Thankfully, the small group of survivors who lived here during the war were predominantly scientists, who felt no need to plunder the computers for parts, being proved correct in their assumption that if the human race survived it would need a centre of learning to provide for the future.
“As a group of scientists, we have been here since 1954. Since our formation, we have studied beyond the atomic nucleus into higher-energy physics; utilising various scientific principles and developing technology along the way. This eventually lead us to construct the various particle colliders, and more recently in the history of the facility, the large Hadron Collider.
“Oddly enough in 1983, we discovered a particle which was called the Z boson, the 1984 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer for that one, more recently though we are looking into other, larger Zeds.
“And that ladies and gentlemen leads me neatly into the next chambers. Now, while you are all aware that our scientific work in the world of Physics continues, albeit in much-reduced scope, we are also developing ways to combat the continuing presence of the Infected. Prior to the war, this sort of science, which is essentially weapons development, would have been unthinkable, but recent UN resolutions, and agreement with all the remaining world powers have made this possible. What you are about to see is not pleasant, but it is necessary. Certainly in my opinion at any rate, although as always with these things there is a certain amount of controversy.
“Before we go any further, I must warn you that we test on Animated subjects. They were once human; they were once living breathing creatures. They are no longer either of those, and most are volunteers from recently infected victims, often from the armed forces. Only some of the older test subjects are not volunteers, but we have made efforts to trace living relatives prior to testing and so far, where we have had positive identifications, we have had no refusals.
“Right, we are now in the test area. As a precaution, you have been asked to wear the biteproof suits. These are made from woven Kevlar, with a fine chainmail backing on the hands and arms, which are the most common place that you are likely to get bitten in this facility. The chances of you getting bitten are negligible, as all of our subjects are restrained, but we prefer not to start testing on our visitors. Please do not feed the test subjects.
“Before we proceed through the double doors in front of you, please ensure your bulletproof plastic visors are securely fixed and all extremities are covered. Is everybody nicely sweaty and uncomfortable? Okay, then please follow me.
“As you can see, we have a range of subjects: both sexes, all ages, and varying stages of decomposition. Decomposition in the Infected occurs at a very slow rate, but we are still researching the various factors that possibly accelerate deterioration of the Animated form. As with most things, it generally appears to be the extremes; heat, cold, radiation, and so on. The more a Zed is exposed to any of these, the more rapid it seems decomposition occurs. Despite that, decomposition is still remarkably slow, and we have noted that if left untouched and undisturbed, the Zombie will simply go into hibernation, with only sound or movement causing any reaction. We have had one subject isolated in a soundproof booth for five years with no apparent visual change, and no movement. Another test subject was also left for five years and when we opened the door a few weeks ago, it instantly moved to try and attack us. There seems to be no end to their stasis capability as yet.
“As I mentioned earlier, many of our subjects come from the armed forces. As you can imagine, they are our frontline and are very keen to prevent more people from becoming Infected. So, the vast majority of them sign themselves over to us in any instance of Infection. We have developed a simple test now that tells a subject within minutes whether they are Infected or not, sadly we still have not developed a cure, although there are many learned people all over the world still working on that one. As soon as someone becomes Infected, they know they are doomed, but by working with us, they can help those who remain. At present, any willing volunteers are allowed to get their affairs in order and are then put into a deep sleep and transported here. They never wake up. Once in the secure unit, they are euthanized by use of lethal injection and instantly re-animate into the Zombie state. That sadly is where their humanity ends and the testing begins.
“As with any scientific test, we have a range of control subjects which are kept in storage so we can see what happens to them over time with no external influences. We also have a large number of test subjects that we use to further our knowledge of Zombie physiology and its weaknesses. We have some in permanent deep freeze, some in extreme heat, and even a couple in a wind tunnel.
“At the start of the Infection, my learned British colleague, Professor Colin James, carried out a series of experiments on the subject David. To read from his work if I may –
“He [David] was all but immune to everything we threw at him. Viruses, toxins, poisons, radiation; he was like a giant cockroach. Extremes of heat or cold did affect him. Extreme cold made him dormant, but as soon as the temperature rose he became active again. Extreme heat damaged him as it would any soft tissue, but it really did have to be extreme.
Ultimately, we found out that the only thing that affected a Zombie was having its brain destroyed. Anyone bitten became infected. We heard of no one who was immune, absolutely no one.
“Now, Professor James was severely limited in the scope of his studies by his location on the Isle of Wight, and of course by the fact there was a bit of a fight going on at the time. He and his team performed miracles with what they had though, and they have contributed hugely to our understanding of the Infection and the Zombie physique. Now, however, we have the wherewithal to take that research to the next level.
“With the array of equipment we have at CERN and the power available, we have extended Professor James’ work. We have exposed various subjects to a myriad of different tests in order to assess the potential for the development of some sort of weapon that can be utilised to try and minimise the cost to the remaining population. I’m all for having fewer subjects available to test things on as a result of that.
“Ultimately, there has to be a balance between what does affect the Zombie and what can actually be practically used in a field situation. Most of the exotic particles we can fire at the control centre, or brain if you prefer, of a Zed will have a deleterious effect on its animated state. Fire does work too, but in the field you do stand the rather dubious chance of not killing it and having not just a Zombie, but a flaming Zombie wandering around. It may sound like an exotic cocktail, in fact, I believe I may have had a Flaming Zombie in a bar in Sweden once, but when you’re facing a real one, I would imagine it’s rather unpleasant.
“Some of the lasers work very well, but the targeting has to be so precise that they are unmanageable: very satisfying, but ultimately a little tricky from the back of an armoured vehicle.
“Ionised particles, gamma radiation, lasers, cold, heat, electron bombardment, anti-protons, electromagnetic fields: you name it, we threw the whole lot at various Zombie brains over the months we have tested various hypotheses.
“Many of the methods tested worked and resulted in the destruction of the control centres of the Infected host. Two, however, are particularly useful; one especially has the potential for use in the field.
“Firstly, electromagnetism: this is something that affects many animals and can disorientate humans or pigeons alike. In extremely powerful electromagnetic fields, we can render the Zombie utterly motionless, allowing other more physical techniques to be employed to dispose of them. This particular method is still undergoing research, as the energies required to immobilise a small group of Zeds are immense. But, as time progresses, we are confident it will prove useful.
“The other far more exciting prospect is microwaves: as I mentioned earlier, lasers are perhaps the most effective method we have, but they are far too focused. Microwave-type weapons were already in development prior to the war, and the Russians, Chinese and Americans have all very magnanimously handed us a variety of prototype weapons. These have been utilised, tested, and improved upon, often by combining the best elements of various parts of all of the machines. They are useful in the field, but cannot be relied upon to provide the answer to all the problems we face as a now much-reduced race of people. Ultimately, we must look upward for the solution.
“We still have a myriad of orbiting space stations and satellites, which at present are providing no discernable function. Many are utilised in the global tracking systems that are tracking many of the still extant Zombies roaming the floors of our seas and lakes. Many more, however, are not being used to their full potential.
“Thankfully, most of the pre-war superpowers are co-operating, and the various versions of the Star Wars programs that operated have been turned, at least partially, over to our control. We have been given design drawings of many of these and we plan to fully equip as many of the larger satellites and the two remaining space stations with new weaponry. One thing the space stations are not short of is power. The solar cells that power the stations can garner huge amounts of energy and if boosted with additional cells could provide an amazing amount of power. This could also be used for power generation here on earth when not blasting Zombie brains.
“With that amount of power, we can quite readily produce beams of microwave energy, of variable intensity, virtually anywhere on the planet. Of necessity, they would have to be fairly tightly focused and we have a huge amount of work to do to get this program of work up and running, but can you imagine the potential?
“Can you imagine facing a line of approaching undead and being able to call on someone orbiting above you? At the press of a button, a directed ray of microwaves could fry the control centres of rank after rank of moaning horror without having to lose another human life.
“This is entirely possible ladies and gentlemen. All we need now is a spaceship. Anyone got a spare we could use?”