Mark Reads ‘Countdown’: Part 2

In the second half of Countdown, The Rising begins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Countdown.

July 8 – August 1, 2014

This is simply stunning. I found Mira Grant’s prose to be unsettling and eerie from July 8th on, and I think that’s because her diction becomes more clinical and detached. She is simply describing the oncoming horrors as they happen, and it’s goddamn brutal. I don’t think she often deviates from what I’ve seen in other zombie movies that chronicle an outbreak, but when she does, I found her storytelling to be smart and evocative.

July 8 – Atlanta, GA

The actual outbreak itself is planted in this segment. We get the men in lab coats telling us serious things are, but here’s where this really fucks you up: the way Chris Sinclair tracks the spread of this new virus is by following patches of healthy humans. He’s following the opposite of what he normally does. It’s really unnerving, isn’t it? Because as more and more people get healthier, he knows that they’re actually going to get sicker. FUCKED UP.

July 10 – Reston, VA

A truly heartbreaking part of this story. Like Amanda Amberlee, the actual cause of death for John Kellis has nothing to do (at least biologically) with any virus whatsoever. Alex’s husband is beat to death when he stumbles on people vandalizing Alex’s lab. His death is slow and agonizing, but at the very least, he gets to see his husband one last time before he dies on the way to the hospital. It hurts because Alexander Kellis isn’t at all responsible for what happened, but because of how his cure was released, people are quick to blame him.

If there was any mercy in this – and there was no mercy to be seen, not then – it was that he died early enough to stay that way.

Wow, this is fucked up.

July 13 – Allentown, PA

Stalnaker’s meeting with the informant who got the Mayday Army arrested didn’t happen as I initially expected. I thought that Stalnaker would finally drop that air of self-satisfied pretense that he was operating under, but the dude was in denial right up until Matthew blamed him for everything that happened. There’s a fascinating message about the integrity and responsibility of journalism, and it sows the seeds for what we see in Feed. Georgia Mason understood that what she reported would have far-reaching effects, ones she could never predict or anticipate, and she knew she had to take her role seriously. Robert Stalnaker is the polar opposite of that. While ultimately, the Mayday Army are responsible for what happened in Dr. Kellis’s lab, Stalnaker shares some of the blame. His careless actions influenced these kids, and now look where they all ended up.

July 17 – Atlanta, GA

Well, when you start anything with, “We have a problem,” you know shit is going to get real. This part largely chronicles how the Kellis cure interacts with a whole host of other viruses and diseases, and it makes it all but outright confirmed to Chris Sinclair and William Matras that what they’re dealing with is fucking horrifying.

…and the two of them looked at each other, waiting for the end of the world.

Grant does a great job conveying the dull (but rising) horror in these two characters, who both understand what it is they’re up against.

July 18, 2014 – The Rising

As you’ll see in the video, I was bewildered and sobered by everything after this point. From here, it almost feels like Grant is knocking down dominoes. That’s how effortless she makes it seem documenting the fall of mankind in the wake of amplification. There’s a lot of blood and death here, but I enjoy that Grant doesn’t make it the sole focus of her storytelling. That’s been done a million times before, and it’s why I grew to love Feed so much. There are other tales to be told within the framework of a zombie apocalypse. Despite that she is setting this novella during that time, you can tell she, like Georgia, just wants to tell us what’s at the heart of this.

We get bits and pieces of The Rising from all over the world. We get a peek into Professor Mason’s classroom at Cal Berkeley, where his students discuss the growing fears that surround a possible zombie outbreak. Dave dies, ostensibly at work, possibly even on the air. There is no footage of this “flu” that he’s been assigned to report on, and it’s the beginning of the realization that the general public has been lied to.

Suzanne Amberlee cares not about the world crumbling down around her because that world already fell apart when her Amanda died. In a twist of terrible fate, she is the one who brings the Rising to Denver, Colorado. Brandon Majors gets a visitor, and I was shocked that it was Alexander Kellis. But there’s no bloodshed here, just a single question after Alex speaks openly about the tragedy that has befallen the world: Was it worth it? Brandon has no answer, and he’ll never give one. He is beaten to death that night in prison. We don’t find out if he came back.

Stacy Mason prepares for the end of the world. She does not prepare for the fact that her son Phillip still loves Marigold, but Marigold no longer has any concept of love when she bites Phillip, dooming him and setting into motion the events that will give birth to what happens in Feed.

Dr. Wells gives himself up to his family.

No one would find his body for weeks. If he reanimated, he starved without harming anyone. Alexander Kellis never harmed anyone.

Not on purpose.

OH BOY, THAT’S THE WORST FUCKING PART. I swear, my feelings aren’t going to survive this trilogy.

It’s during Dr. William Matras’s section that Grant also hints at the larger universe that will pop up during the future. After so many lies were spread by the big media outlets, it is Matras’s video, spread clandestinely on YouTube and other channels, that finally provides the public with the information they need to survive the onslaught of death and amplification that is sure to come. It’s one of the things that makes Newsflesh such a credible universe. The media empire that exists now is toppled by one with far less bureaucrats and a higher reliance on… well, reliability. That’s not to say it’s perfect, and I think Feed demonstrated that. But Dr. William Matras influenced the world before his death in ways he couldn’t have ever predicted.

“Welcome to the aftermath,” is how Countdown closes. And while I immensely enjoyed this foray into chaos, it’s the aftermath that I find the most interesting. Deadline has to address the aftermath of the end of Feed, and I am eager to see how Mira Grant is going to do this.

Thank you, Shiyiya, for commissioning these videos!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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