The entire world remains numb with grief following Sunday morning's mass death
in Atlanta, Georgia. Authorities now estimate that close to 500,000 people
- nearly 12% of the population of the burgeoning metropolis - suddenly and
inexplicably died. An additional 25-30% of the population - over one million
people - suffered sudden and horrible maiming, disfigurement, and the loss
All of the victims of this completely unprecedented tragedy were members of
a now-defunct Atlanta-based cult known as The Church of His Divine Shadow.
In recent weeks, health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
had been tracking an alarming increase in the number of cult members evidencing
a condition described as "spreading hypermelanosis coupled with scleral
injection," but were unable to identify the viral or bacterial agent responsible.
"Even with half-a-million corpses to autopsy, we may never identify the
cause, since all evidence of the infection appears - thankfully - to have vanished," said
one CDC physician, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
With Atlanta declared a national disaster site, the National Disaster Medical
System (NDMS) has hurried members of their Disaster Medical Assistance Team
(DMAT) and Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team
(DMORT) to the area. Non-combatant National Guardsmen, specially trained as
emergency services personnel, are also being brought in, even as thousands
of American and International Red Cross workers are arriving.
Working in concert with municipal and state agencies, these groups are going
about the grim task of interring the dead, treating the wounded, and counseling
Meanwhile, Atlanta's mayor and Georgia's governor were both in the nation's
capital, where they were joined by the President and numerous world leaders
and dignitaries at the National Cathedral for a three-hour memorial ceremony,
part of a presidentially-mandated national day of mourning.