We’ve already touched on the likelihood that a new class of citizen will be created if zombiism has a long incubation period (see: Rights of the Infected). The closest model that currently exists for this potential reality is the forced segregation of people with leprosy before that disease was fully understood. And no book better illustrates the leper’s plight than John Tayman’s bestselling work, The Colony.
The Colony chronicles a dark chapter in Hawaiian history, when thousands of lepers were forced to live on a remote island, separated from their families, and doomed to live out their last days in deplorable conditions. Their sickness was ruled an illegal act, their rights were stripped, and they were considered living corpses.
“The patients were judged to be civilly dead, their spouses granted summary divorces, and their wills executed as if they were already in the grave.”
No matter how they were legally defined, the lepers were still alive when they were shipped away from the world. In fact, many lived years, even decades in isolation, making them the first true example of the walking dead.
Tayman’s exhaustive research helped him to create a full picture of what life was like in the colony of exiles. And because of this, it takes little imagination to see that the governmental and public response to the dreaded leprosy of old may be shockingly similar to that of the coming zombie pandemic.