Dead in 100 Tweets

The end of the world began with flu-like symptoms. The first cases of the Pandemic of 2011 were noted around Park City, Utah near the beginning of the Sundance Film Festival. I caught the bug one day later. By Thursday my family, and the world as we knew it, was destroyed. We had one voice in this maelstrom of malignance and cultural catastrophe; Twitter and the hashtag #pandemic11.

Lance Weiler and Chuck Wendig wrote a screenplay. That screenplay birthed a world. That world was reduced to a seed, a spore if you will, of a nine minute film for the Sundance Film Festival. That seed blossomed into an Augmented Role Playing Game experiment which sizzled across the internet for five days. That spore swallowed Sundance in a live role playing experience.

I’m much more familiar with Chuck, than Lance and I read Chuck’s blog often so I’ve followed this project for a while. I could not be in Utah, but I could be part of the game. As I love the global disaster/alien/zombie/WTF vibe of the whole thing, I jumped at the chance. As I am a writer, and enjoy a new medium, I vowed to write the story of how my family would fare in the Pandemic of 2011 with only 100 tweets. Thus, @Keith_Infected was born. With it I would save 100 lives in the ARG, write a roughly 2,500 word story, shifting between two perspectives, and hopefully enrich the gaming experience of my compatriots.

Here’s the story, in its entirety, with some interjection. Let’s call it the director’s commentary edition.

DAY TWO: All You Can Eat Wings Should Mean ALL

It begins with a simple tweet from @Keith_Infected. By tweet nine we have the introduction of my daughter Illyana. “IK” is what I called her. Then I moved to her three initials “I.C.K.” (irony, right?) But I still struggled. Personally, though a global pandemic of mysterious and sinister origin seems unlikely, I felt using her real name still too close to reality. I settled, later on “Anna” as we don’t call her that, but it’s still in her name. And, in reality she’s still too young to go to kindergarten, let alone High School. Our antagonist and protagonist defined, the tale begins.

  1. Gave up on work. Wanted to sleep…not anymore. Now, feeling weird…sunset soon. #pandemic11
  2. @Billy_HiM I’m not near, but if I can aid long distance, send word. Though….I’m getting…hungry(ANGRY)sickly(?).
  3. Dark out and now I wake up? This cold sucks. Blech. Well, I can’t just sit here typing, too much energy. #pandemic11  
  4. Sunday night dinner with the fam. Still off; feverish. Chicken looks great, though. Really. Great. #pandemic11  
  5. Chicken didn’t hit the spot. Need, spicier? Out for wings & beer. Fam gaped; not like me to go out on Sunday night. #pandemic11  
  6. But, really, what could happen? #pandemic11    
  7. All you can eat wings should mean ALL! “Scaring the waitress,” what does that even mean?! Still hungry… #pandemic11  
  8. I stole Dad’s laptop & locked my door. He’s home, but F’ed up. Drunk? Mom’s yellin. He grunts. Scared. -IK #pandemic11

    DAY THREE: Angst Never Closes

  9. Quiet now. Going to school early. Dad’ll kill me if he knows I swiped his laptop. Esp. with hangover. -I.C.K. #Pandemic11  
  10. Passed out. Ugh, cold! Shivering. Woke to crinkling sound. Why did I have 20 empty pork rind bags in bed?! Hurled. #Pandemic11  
  11. Kid had my laptop. Hello grounded?! Thinks I don’t know. Can smell her all over it. Weird. Go to work. So tired. #Pandemic11 
  12. Watching TV, getting ready. Interns are broadcasting News today. Said bosses called out. Lucky jerks. Ugh. Wild night. #pandemic11   
  13. Feel awful. Fell asleep putting on socks. But am therapist for teen mental hospital. Angst never closes… #pandemic11    
  14. Almost hit a car getting to work, guy nodded off at a light. Parking lot is a ghost town. Boss just woke me, nodded off in car. #pandemic11   
  15. I think i’ll just do paperwork today. Too sick. Glad i’m not hands-on staff, this kids will be out of control since we’re short. #pandemic11   
  16. I thought my wife had left before me, but her car was still in the driveway. Maybe she’s avoiding me after last night. #pandemic11 
  17. I’m remembering our argument in fevered flashes. My stomach is twisting. I should text her. Brain’s stuffed w/ rusty steel wool. #pandemic11 
  18. Did I just cough up blood?! #WTF?! #pandemic11 
  19. My Twitter’s frozen so I have to use my Dad’s 🙁 but OMG it’s the best school day ever. Almost NO teachers! We rule! -I.C.K. #pandemic 
  20. Wife isn’t responding to texts. My body is a mass of aches. Found boss in a puddle of snot & drool on her desk. Going home. #pandemic11   
  21. Can’t find wife. Can’t think. Am COUGHING BLOOD. Dr. won’t answer! Oh, God, what’s happening?! Blood trail. Don’t want to follow #pandemic11   
  22. Have you seen my wife?! I think she’s hurt. Daughter is locked in her room. Sunset soon. $1&4. #&4. Blood. #pandemic11

    NIGHT THREE: Broken. Bloody. Greasy. Delicate.

     This was my insane story concept. I had altered Illyana enough so that she was a unique character with a strong resonance. My wife? I didn’t think it would be kind to give her an active role, since she dislikes horror. And three personas on one account would get confusing. But, every story needs a victim.

  23. Nononono. Followed the trail. Someone was in the house last night. They killed her. They did…things…oh God #pandemic11 
  24. Called 911! No answer! #WTF! Someone get the cops! Gut is acid can’t type xh. Nnnn #pandemic11   
  25. @LingoSlider Horrible! Eaten! Can’t believe typin…venting! Wait….on ground…#pandemic11  
  26. …oh no. Oh no. #pandemic11   
  27. …stepped on pork rinds. Broken. Bloody. Greasy. Delicate. Hungry…#pandemic11   
  28. it’s just a cold. it’s just a cold. it’s just a cold. it’s just a cold. (this can’t be happening) #pandemic11 
  29. hello anyone? I got the laptop. You guys are Dad’s friends, right? He’s sick. Bad. He’s sobbing or something. Im so scared. -IK #pandemic11 
  30. I think we need help dhsjxve HE’S BANGING ON THE WALLS! Do you know where my mom is?! -IK #pandemic11  
  31. @LingoSlider i’m just a kid! 15. I mean i’m 15. Anna. Short for Illyanna. Oh no! He’s at the door! Help! Why is he grunting?! #pandemic11
  32. @LingoSlider But he’s my dad! I pyshed the bbed in front of it. Violent?! F*ck! It’s just a cold! Mom wasn’t sick! #pandemic11
  33. oh God. I don’t want to get sick. He’s in the kitchen now. Stuff’s spilling. He’s yelling! I’m all alone #pandemic11   
  34. @inpatient191 It’s good, I think. Are you a friend of Dad’s? This is his account, mine’s fried or something. Oh, on the stairs! #pandemic11
  35. @LingoSlider THEY?! My dad is a THEY? We called it the Godflu in school today, like “Thank God, it only got the teachers.” #pandemic11
  36. I couldn’t believe you guys so I googled. It’s everywhere. People sick, f’n dying, killing each other! I’m trying to chill. #pandemic11 
  37. My mom’s missing, my dad’s some sick, violent They, laptop’s going dead, I have to pee & i’m barricaded in my room #FML! #pandemic11

    Is Keith_Infected a Real Player or a Creative Troll?

     I wanted to write a strong Twitter narrative. I wanted to have people interested. I did not want to detract from the actual story being told which did involve interaction with Twitter accounts. At this point in my narrative I was getting high responses from five different accounts who were quite invested in the story. I wanted to let them know that Keith_Infected was a non-essential storyline while not breaking character. Therefore I signed up to the fan group on Facebook. It may have caused more questions than it answered. It did provoke the title question above. I am in no way a troll, creative or otherwise. But thanks for the “creative” part.

  38. @rev_g00d @missunderstood8 @ligoslider I’m not a troll, i’m a girl! & I just had to pee in my fern. I was normal this morning. #pandemic11
  39. The battery light is blinking. My dad is snarling in the den. Neighbor’s house is on fire. Nobody came. It’s pretty. Awful. #pandemic11   
  40. @LingoSlider I can’t get out! I’m just tired now. This is all ugly. Fire’s ugly. Dad’s ugly. The world can’t end from sniffles. #pandemic11
  41. Terrorists? Maybe it was. I wish i’d heard from mom. Sometimes she messages Dad. This thing’s dying. G’night mom thanks everyo* #pandemic11   
  42. LingoSlider Players – Retweet my message to the festival goers! We need their help tomorrow! #pandemic11 Retweeted by Keith_Infected
  43. Can’t sleep. Wanted to save battery but too quiet. Can’t believe I miss the screaming. -Anna #pandemic11 
  44. heard me typing! Scraping at the door. Ugh, the noises! Tomorrow I’m finding mom! Ah! Warning beeps…the light -Anna #pandemic11

    DAY FOUR: It Goes Down Tonight

     I had ceased to be an active character, as I had become fully infected by the pandemic spore, or virus, or illness, by the middle of night three. Anna had come into her own and garnered a degree of interest. It was time for her to face the monster; find her mother’s body and kill her father. Or, what was now living in his flesh. But it would not be easy.

  45. Sun’s grey & cold but i’ll take it. Trusted @lingoslider‘s advice about daytime. Snatched the laptop cord & pee’d #pandemic11   
  46. Still hard to believe that was Dad last night. The house is vulgar. Everything is broken, holes in the walls, fridge tipped #pandemic11   
  47. Food already spoiling, stinking, smells like he pissed everywhere. I used to be Daddy’s lil Girl now he’s…ugh #pandemic11 
  48. Thanks @misunderstood8 @inpatiend191 &@rev_g00d for seeing me through the night. Now face the day. Scared to find dad, need mom #pandemic11 
  49. Why is there some big rat’s nest of sticks & crap in our family room? Wait…blood… #pandemic11   
  50. 50.        …blood. Blood on the carpet. On the walls. Oh God. The bathroom. Body parts. Dad, what did you do?! What are you?! Not mom’s. #pandemic11 
  51. LingoSlider FESTIVAL GOERS: WE NEED HELP!! Read this: and if you will help us Reply to: #pandemic11 Retweeted by Keith_Infected
  52. 52.        @inpatient191 Thanks. You too. Wish I didn’t. Mom’s missing. Dad’s a monster. Never going in that bathroom again. #pandemic11
  53. Anna_HiM Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 #pandemic11 Retweeted by Keith_Infected
  54. I lost it for a while. Body parts. Not mom but fear I know what happened. Searching the house for “her.” Twisting gut. #pandemic11 
  55. Can hear dad panting in basement. Bloody parts when I blink. Oh, mom. Be ok… #pandemic11 
  56. oh. Oh no. Found my mom. No words. No tears. No mom. Cold now. May not post again. -Anna K #pandemic11 
  57. No. I’m not f’n killing myself. Like @LingoSlider said, something’s IN my Dad. It did this. It goes down tonight. #pandemic11
  58. Wish I had a gun. Have a tool shed. Sun’s setting. Need to be fast. Scared now. #pandemic11 
  59. #WTF! There’s too much junk in this tool shed! Dark’s coming, can’t choose! What would kill one?! #pandemic11   
  60. i’ve been standing outside reading the posts. It’s crazy out there. Crazy right here. Stalling. Hear him inside. Sad. Scared. #pandemic11

    NIGHT FOUR: Eat or Kill Self?

     Up to this point, Anna has been communicating through a laptop. Now, in the confrontation with the antagonist, she must lose something. That laptop will be the loss. And once she kills her monster, she will need to embark on her journey into the larger Pandemic. Thus, she finds a smart phone on the corpse. FYI: Always loot the bodies.

  61. TY for all suggestions. Found a duct tape handled machete & grill lid. Saw Gladiator. Terrified. If I don’t post, you know…#pandemic11   
  62. F*ck. He’s crazy. I’m hurt. Lost my grill-shield. Think I got him, thouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudjdn<\lk{ #pandemic11 
  63. DEad/chArged/me. HIt w/ lApt0p. Fr1ed it. Ow. Al!ve. B100DY. #pandemic11 
  64. Found Dad’s smartphone on him. Inside, doors locked. Noises when was outside. Blood called them. Gonna clean my house. #pandemic11   
  65. @inpatient191 Yes, if she was still mom when she did it. She paid her price. My Dad chewed my mom’s fingers off. #pandemic11
  66. Moral Dilemma: just beat Dad’s monster head in w/ laptop & old machete. Loved him. Hungry for 1st time. Eat or kill self? #pandemic11   
  67. @amandadadesky Thanks. I know it wasn’t him anymore. Feeling guilty for trashing snot in a tissue. But. Jr. Prom. Softball. Dad. #pandemic11
  68. Gave up on cleaning. Nuked insta-mac n cheese. Barricaded doors & windows. Will channelsurf & veg. Heart hurts. & ribs. #pandemic11   
  69. only thing on is Em. Broadcast System. Hate that noise. 78% infected. USA State of Emergency. Someone’s beating in the door! #pandemic11   
  70. TV off, hiding in my room again. They left. Hate this! Gotta find some kids & a plan. Sleeping w/ machete. Survive all. -Anna K #pandemic11   
  71. @Dominic_HiM Call her Newt. From an Alien move my dad liked. -Anna K #pandemic11 about 9 hours ago
  72. Slept for a bit. Killed my dad-monster but actually slept. Flipped channels. World gone. More mac’n’ cheese. #Pandemic11

    DAY FIVE: Hope is a Boat Named The Spirit of Philadelphia

     Again, not wanting to step on the larger narrative, I had to think end-game. It struck me as sensible that if the kids were now in control—or at least the adults out of control—some kids would want to get out of Philadelphia, on to the Delaware River, maybe out to sea. I’ve seen these Delaware River cruise ships advertised, and the concept of bedraggled kids making an exodus from a virulent Philadelphia on a luxury river-liner was too swell to ignore. Finally, I had to believe that some small branch of a prepared government would still be active, like the Center for Disease Control. So, I through in a few of them, not as a villain so much as a new unknown faction since the Infected had become “common” by this point.

  73. Kids must have got to the school. Posted messages to parents on the local school info Cable channel. Watched for hours 🙁 #pandemic11  
  74. Kids posted about leaving on the Spirit of Philly, that Delaware River cruise ship. Penn’s Landing 5pm. I’m there. #pandemic11  
  75. I googled the ship it’s real. To get to the river, I gotta go through the city. Wish me luck. #pandemic11  
  76. Ok. Supplies gathered: gallon of water, granola bars, pop tarts. Back pack. Directions. Flash lights. Machete. Lighter. Not much #pandemic11   
  77. Philly, here I come. Only one thing left to do. Funeral. Goodbyes. Need gasoline. #pandemic11   
  78. Snow?! As if getting to Philly through crazy Suburbs, USA wasn’t bad enough! #pandemic11   
  79. Laid mom on top of dad outside. They didn’t look sick or fingerless. Used to love the smell of gas. 1 match. Goodbye family. #pandemic11   
  80. @Anna_HiM It’s how my world ended. Now hope is a boat named Spirit of Philadelphia. Heart cold. #pandemic11
  81. Slow going. No plows. No traffic. Took Broad St. Go around abandoned cars. Accidents. All burned; broken. Snow turns grey. #pandemic11   
  82. Dark in a few hours, needle almost on E. Which will fall 1st? See…things in some houses. Cold & scared. #pandemic11   
  83. Grrr! Getting dark too fast. Cop lights ahead? #WTF? #pandemic11   
  84. Barricades. Cops, Army or something in yellow space suits! I pulled off on Aramingo but they saw me, I think! Car’s stalling! #pandemic11 
  85. Still miles off! Car’s almost dead! Anyone heard of army/feds/cops in spacesuits? Don’t know what to freak over 1st! #pandemic11 
  86. Running. Car gone. Close. Not sure how close. Hailing. So cold. Ribs ache. I hear scuffling around me. Megaphone from spaceguys. #pandemic11 
  87. What was that?! Hiding…so tired of being scared! #Pandemic11

    NIGHT FIVE: Guilty and Glad. Free.

  88. Any post could be last. How did this become my life?! Slime? Spores? Mold? Monsters?! I miss zits & being too fat! #pandemic11 
  89. Mom gone. Dad gone. World gone. Hiding in some waterfront warehouse on Columbus. I’m just gonna run. Just run. I don’t care. #pandemic11  
  90. Yellow space suit guys may get me. Infected slimers may get me. Or I may get to the ship. I’m almost out of time. 3..2..1..! #pandemic11 
  91. I see the ship! The dock is still lit up with Christmas lights. So wrong. Catching breath. Cold burns lungs. Something’s coming! #pandemic 
  92. Can’t run anymore! Lot’s of shuffling behind me! Not too far. If you pray; pray! There’s a line. Last dash! #pandemic 
  93. I’m in line! In the light! Safe! Ow. Ribs. Kids with guns, bats, axes. Haggered. Music, oh, music. Crying. No shame. #pandemic11 
  94. Guard kid’s a jerk. Other kid taking temps. Happy danci;”dty/=9vvvv #pandemic11 
  95. I’m on the ship but they hate me! It’s my fault! The things followed me! Everyone’s running! #pandemic11   
  96. We’re pulling away but the things are on the kids at the dock! Oh, it’s my fault. #pandemic11   
  97. The yellow spacesuit guys are all over the dock too yelling “CDC turn back!” & shooting the infected! Don’t go back. Please. #pandemic11   
  98. We’re on the river. Everyone chills. I’m noticing how cruddy I am. Weird to be around people again. Guilty & glad. Free. #pandemic11   
  99. Thank you for keeping me connected, alive & sane @amandadadesky @lingoslider & @missunderstood8. Be strong @inpatient191 #pandemic11   
  100. What came before was the death of the Karabin family in the Pandemic of 2011. What comes after is mine alone. -Anna Karabin #pandemic11

The death of my family in 100 Tweets. Gruesome? Sure. But a fun writing challenge. I met some awesome people and had a great time “living” in the Pandemic 1.0 world. Weiler and Wendig, you two (and a ton of people I don’t know) crafted a rich and crazy storyworld that I was delighted to step into, and would welcome doing again. If you’ve read this and feel like you’ve missed out, just keep your eye to, I’m sure this is just the beginning.


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