No one really knows how it started… The details never really mattered to anyone. But isn't that our way? The way of the human race as a whole? We get something… Something strange, something wonderful, something new, and out of nowhere a fanatic shows up spouting generic nonsense that everyone immediately accepts because that's easier than the thought that this thing could be toxic. Once people have something this wonderful, they don't want to risk losing it. Especially if it's the only apparent good thing in this godforsaken world.
I can't say there was a definite time this began. There was no explosion or experiment gone wrong or even much of anything on the news. It was as though the moment people became aware of the situation it became taboo to discuss it… And the government certainly wanted to keep it hushed up. Still, people needed someone to turn to, some easy explanation to fall on that would make sense of this thing.
Who better to fall into this role than power hungry fanatics?
The arrival of these groups was slow at first - a whisper here, a note slid under a neighbour's door there. They were nameless, faceless, and ten times scarier than any plague… But they offered the thing no one was getting. An explanation. It's all bullshit of course, (or at least that's what I have chosen to believe), but bullshit works on the world. The public is likely to accept scary things as long as someone else does the thinking and talking for them. Naturally, it didn't take long until these groups reared their ugly heads everywhere you turned.
At first it was just another social justice issue - "They're human too!", "We can't discriminate because we don't understand them!", until more and more people started dropping. It was easy to do those days; die. One scratch could be enough. When it became clear that this wasn't some sort of genetic mutation but rather an epidemic, the social justice groups turned religious fanatic. This became God's work, his gift to humanity, his promise:
'New World' temples began to pop up around the world. Old churches redone as prisons and sacrificial grounds, houses turned chapel, schools morphed into feeding grounds. It was in these temples that the sacrifices began. It was all willing participants at first, but it didn't take long for things to turn uglier. The ritual was simple. The 'sacrifice' was to be cleansed by the bite of one of these animals. They were seated and strapped to a chair in the middle of a room as a priest entered with a Reborn on a leash. It would be allowed a single bite of the sacrifice and then returned to the Cages. After this, loved ones and other members of the Order would crowd in the room and celebrate with song and feast while the person in the centre slowly dies. Celebrations would last until the sacrifice was fully… Reanimated.
Some celebrations lasted for days.
No one bothered to ask why the priests themselves never underwent this process of cleansing to receive the 'gift' of eternal life. Or why the Reborn were kept in cages and fed like animals at the zoo. People were simply happy to have a leader, someone in charge who apparently knew what they were doing. Someone to give their money to. Anyone who raised a hand in protest sooner or later found themselves either in a chair at the centre of a room or face down in a ditch somewhere with the wild Reborns feeding on your corpse.
Most people outside of the Order were happier with the lives they had.
So typical of the human race, isn't it? As soon as we're faced with something we don't understand, we shroud it in religion. We take the easy way out. The power hungry leaders take advantage of a confused and idiotic world. But who's to blame them, really?
After all, when the dead start to walk we have to put our faith in something. Me? I'm keeping faith in my shotgun.