- Something happened in the Quad Cities. Something about a missing person, an Internet hoax, an H1Z1 virus, and the threat of artists going to jail for their craft. I set out not to just have a proper zombie event, but to have a massive Zombie Pride art project. The clincher was to make it an art project-- to essentially turn my home, the Quad Cities, into the setting for an elaborate, not-entirely legal plotline about Zacharia Furio disappearing after working for a secretive agency, the QC Department of Biological Sciences, who were researching the H1Z1 virus with extreme prejudice. Everything from here on out is a timeline of the fictional events as they were revealed via a website Zwatch.org
- The following took place between July 2009 through October 2009. It is a story of Zwatch and it's batlle to uncover and expose a conspiracy:
It all began with Zach. Zacharia Furio went missing in July. When his brother asked the police for help they said Zach was already a suspect in a confidential investigation and everything was under control. So without help from the police he took it upon himself to find Zach, by creating Zwatch. Using the site, he posted new information regarding his brother's disappearance by sharing any clues he could find and begging for help from the citizens of the Quad Cities. This is what he found...
- At the time all we knew was that Zach was a healthy twenty-one year old kid from the Quad Cities. He kept to himself for the most part. Zach's brother remembers Zach mentioning working at or volunteering at the QC Department of Biological Sciences. Except when he looked into it, the QCDBS didn't exist.
Zach posted suspicious twitter posts previous to his disappearance regarding the Department. Thankfully many fellow zwatchers were helping with the search but we couldn't find a trace of the QC Department of Biological Sciences. It's as if it didn't exist.
Then a breakthrough, A home recording of Zach in a violently ill state was anonymously emailed to Zwatch. The footage was already obtained by the Department and by what we could tell, Zach was filed as "infected" and was to be "quarantined". We tried desperately to reach this inside source from the Department with no luck. Not only did someone from the Department have sense of compassion but also someone from the Davenport Police Department because not much time later, we were sent search warrant files of Zach's car from the DPD. Upon examining these files we were shocked to learn that the DPD and the Department were working together in a Zvirus investigation.
- "This video was sent to zwatch August 8th anonymously by a source who I believe is somehow involved in the QC Department of Biological Sciences. The video is Zach's home recording of himself in a violently sick state which was confiscated by local police and sent to the department. If you read the data at the end you can see the department declared him infected and issued a class c quarantine."
- After going through the files sent to us from our source at the Davenport Police Department we found that not only did the QC Department of Biological Sciences exist, but the DPD was denying their involvement. Then something about a Zvirus investigation. Clearlys something was not right.
- "Myself and a fellow Zwatcher took action into our own hands after it became clear the police were not going to help. We went to the last place Zach was known to be staying but the Department had already quarantined it. They tore down the walls, cut up the mattresses, and took everything. Almost everything"
- The Quad Cities Dispatch Argus reported on zwatch.org in a front page article which has since been removed on the paper's website (my copy will be scanned shortly). They had the nerve to suspect our search was a scam. I'm not sure what they think we could possibly achieve through all this other than to find my brother. I would not be surprised to find that the Dispatch Argus is being pressed by either the police department or The QC Department of Biological Sciences. It's their way of keeping this H1Z1 virus hidden from the general public I suspect.
- Just as we planned, releasing the secret H1Z1 files upset them. The inside source from the Department emailed us again promising to tell me more about Zach ifwe shutdown zwatch, which we did, so that a meeting could be made. The meeting took an unexpected turn as Zach's brother was suspected of hiding Zach who apparently had escaped the clutches of the Department between the time the source contacted us and our meeting......
- It was great to hear Zach had escaped the Department but we were still worried because he was out there on the streets infected with the H1Z1 virus and being hunted by the Department. Soon, our email were flooded with sightings of Zach in the QC and other infected roaming the streets.
- And then out of nowhere, ZACH WAS BACK! He was half alive, nearly bleeding to death at his brother's doorstep. It took him weeks to recover if you can say he's truly recovered. He wouldn't talk about what had happened. In fact, he didn't do much but sit in the dark throwing violent fits and vomiting blood.
It did help him to know that just like him, there were other infected in the Quad Cities coming forward to Zwatch everyday. He was not suffering through this alone......
- Finally the mystery was solved. But we weren't sure where to go from there. Once Zach came to his senses he decided to use Zwatch as a means to gather all the infected of the Quad Cities and march through the streets to expose the truth. That day, the Zombie Pride Parade was born.
- "Still, people questioned whether it was real. In the end, it wasn't. At least, not entirely. Eventually, the truth was revealed, the purpose for the hoax made clear, it was an event, an art project. But many people, including the Davenport Police Department and the Scott County Attorney Office, did not appear to be amused. It's as if the Alexander Iaccarino's of the world united for one common goal -- a bit of mischief, art and fun.
And as officials came out to say that Alexander and others on the Z-Team could potentially be charged for their involvement, others stepped forward to name themselves in protest of such an atrocity. Many don't believe the small town Midwestern cities are the place to find such cutting-edge artists working collaboratively who have the mind and motivation to pull off a multi-media, potentially criminal zombie outbreak hoax successfully. But that's what happened. And that's no hoax.
And the end result was, though threatened by prosecution, eventually well-received by local media and civilians alike. It created excitement during a holiday that celebrates the dark, scary and fearful. People got it. Alexander and the Z-Team won.
Out of the movies, on to the streets.
- Now in it's fourth year, The QC Zombie Pride Parade is still alive and kicking! We have continued the story and while it's now known to be a fictional story, we have more fun and creative freedom to play around with it. Here's some highlights from following years.