As I move into an adjacent room, Sarah’s voice tells me that I will be allowed 11 (precise!) minutes. Unsurprisingly, I won’t be receiving her in person. She is instead present on a TV screen in front of me as I slide behind a table situated to face her directly. The solemn guards dutifully maintain their positions either side of the main door.
No matter. Present or not, this is an opportunity few have been offered. Sarah is from suburban London I’m sure – based on the accent – and is dressed impeccably. She appears to be around 30 years old, though her glasses lend her expression a worldly-wise quality that is reassuring. I am intrigued as to what she did before all this and how she found herself on the Global Council of the Preservation at such a young age. Alas, that data is classified. Nevertheless I put myself in the position of you, the reader, asking questions that I believe you would like answered about the most successful and respected governing body of them all and how it saved us from the Zombies.
First I ask Sarah for a summary of the situation the Preservation was being sworn into. It should have been absolute chaos and yet the leadership appeared definitive and ruthless in its approach. What did we get right?
“I agree with your assessment, it would have been dangerously easy to fail,” she says, after a short time delay. “To take down the huge number of Zombies we faced, coupled with the raging uncertainty of it all, required a global initiative unlike any in history and in the Preservation, a name designed to ensure that we, humans, avoided extinction, that is precisely what we got.
“The sufferers of Neurological Zombosis (NZ) had a decent head start. Their infantry already had 86 million members and were setting to work on the humans in their vicinity. It was immediately apparent that NZ had made these people hostile so we had to operate under that blanket assumption. While all of us came to terms with the chaos, the Preservation’s role was to circumvent individual governments and regulate the international response to the outbreak. The reasoning was to avoid countries attempting to execute diverse approaches to dealing with NZ, particularly those that could have a negative effect on the overall effort to reclaim our towns and cities.
“By creating an independent centralised body with participants from every nation, a co-ordinated retaliation could be realised. From a UK perspective it has been my job since to ensure that level of co-ordination is upheld and fed into the overall battle plan.”
I tell her that I continue to marvel at the Preservation’s efficacy post-NZ — its ability to amass a gigantic workforce and manage to retain some semblance of a financial system without money becoming meaningless in the context of our predicament.
“Most of the major economies held reserves for a ‘rainy day’,” she says. “An unforeseen international event that would require synchronisation and resource to overcome.”
“What kind of event?” I ask.
“Each economy would correlate its assets based on patterns so, if governments were faced with, for example, another bank bailout, there would be funds available. If there hadn’t been a multinational conflict for a while, they could buy up arms if one arrived. If they needed to respond to a particularly destructive earthquake, volcano or tsunami, they could do so without raising taxes.
“Granted, there were a few more outlandish examples of why certain treasuries held assets. One or two were concerned about an asteroid or even an alien invasion. I won’t criticise because it’s hardly any more fantastical than what actually happened but, in any case, this was off-the-books expenditure and, if any country didn’t have this kind of reserve, we looked to fill in the gaps to ensure total coverage.”
I wonder if there were any nations reticent to become involved in such an enterprise, particularly post-communist philosophies such as China and Russia. Even as citizens died and cities burned, was political power still a virtue to some?
Even with a time delay, Sarah composes herself, wisely, to find the right words. “As you know my role was mainly to keep the UK’s situation in order and, from a diplomatic standpoint, you will understand that I won’t provide specific examples but yes, even as the world collapses around them, some would rather die as powerful men than cede to the greater good.
“But, to be frank, we simply didn’t have the time for protracted negotiations and that most certainly worked in our favour. Countries and governments can prepare contingencies for plenty of scenarios like the ones I outlined above but the Blood Turned so suddenly, I think… I think leaders were as terrified as their citizens. Power plays wouldn’t count for much if the population was undead.
“At that famous UN conference, once we had made it clear that we would only supersede their authority on this very specific issue of responding, managing and monitoring the Zombie invasion, they softened to the idea. Yes, it would cost them money but, in order for the concept of wealth to endure, it would be a worthy expenditure. The UK government was always wholeheartedly bought in.”
That, I’m sure, explains what some of us had wondered: who pays for the Preservation and the equipment for the seemingly innumerable fearless troops sent to the front line? It seems that it was a concerted effort but, even with that welcome head start, we were facing 86 million aggressors worldwide (meaning in the UK mainland, including Scotland, there were 600,000-625,000 Zombies, at a conservative estimate) at once with no real idea about the rules of engagement. What were the first bullet points of the response?