On this day in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a nationwide state of emergency in the US as an airborne plague which had mutated from a biological weapon developed by China in the late 1960s continued to ravage most of America's major cities. The bioweapon from which the plague evolved had been used by the Chinese against Soviet troops three months earlier as a vicious border war between China and the Soviet Union escalated.
On this day in 1971, US Army biowarfare specialist Dr. Robert Neville was summoned to the White House to debrief President Nixon on his progress with efforts to develop a vaccine against the airborne plague that was devastating the United States.
On this day in 1971, news anchor Jonathan Matthias of the Los Angeles CBS-TV affiliate KNXT became the latest to get infected with the airborne plague now known as "the China virus " which had been devastating the US ever since it mutated from a bioweapon used three months earlier in the Chinese-Soviet border war.
While the plague didn't kill Matthias, it did seriously impair his mental health and he eventually had to be taken off the air. Deranged, he would eventually become the leader of an anti-science cult whose followers camped in the ruins of Los Angeles after the China virus wiped out most of the earth's human population.
On this day in 1971, President Nixon signed an executive order quarantining New York City from the rest of the United States.
Within hours after the order was issued, US Air Force jets bombed the Brooklyn and George Washington bridges, destroying both structures and leaving thousands of people stranded in a city tearing itself apart.
On this day in 1971, the Soviet government declared martial law in Moscow and Leningrad as both cities were rocked by antiwar demonstrations; by now the Soviet death toll in the USSR's still-raging border war with China had risen to 40 million, double the total number of Soviet dead in World War II, and with the China virus continuing to mutate into ever-more lethal variants that toll was fated to climb still higher.
On this day in 1971, anti-Nixon riots broke out in Washington, D.C. in protest of the quarantine of New York City which had been imposed four days earlier.
During the riots FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was killed defending his agency's headquarters against repeated attempts to storm the building: at the height of the rioting US Army units had to be called out to guard the White House and Capitol Hill.
|J. Edgar Hoover|
On this day in 1971, Robert Neville left his California laboratory on an urgent top secret mission to deliver samples of his successful experimental vaccine against the China virus to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Halfway to his destination, the plane he was flying in crashed after its pilot and co-pilot simultaneously manifested symptoms of the virus; remarkably, Neville survived the crash with barely a scratch, and thanks to self-injection of a sample of the vaccine he was immunized against the virus.
On this day in 1971, British prime minister Edward Heath declared a nationwide state of emergency after the first cases of the China virus were detected in London.
|GB Prime Minister|
On this day in 1971, violent mobs in the Chinese capital Beijing sacked the Communist Party of China's central committee headquarters and lynched most of the CPC's senior officials, including Chinese ruler Mao Zedong and Mao's chief deputy Zhou Enlai. The riots were a reaction to the Chinese government's failure to stem the China virus pandemic within its own borders.
On this day in 1971, the Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC-TV went off the air for good.
On this day in 1971, French president Georges Pompidou was killed as riots swept Paris in reaction to the news that the China virus had reached France.
On this day in 1971, President Nixon ordered all US combat forces withdrawn from South Vietnam within 72 hours to shore up domestic military units being strained by the China virus emergency.
On this day in 1971, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was lynched in Havana by anti-government mobs angered over his regime's failure to prevent the China virus from reaching Cuba.
On this day in 1971, the British royal family fled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland after riots devastated half of London.
On this day in 1971, KNXT-TV took news anchor Jonathan Matthias off the air for good; KNXT itself would abruptly cease broadcasting two days later.
|United Nations Building|
On this day in 1971, a group of New Yorkers desperate to escape the dying city attempted to fly a jet airliner out of the now-abandoned Kennedy Airport only to lose control of their plane somewhere over Manhattan and crash into the deserted United Nations headquarters.
The crash killed everyone on the plane and left the UN building in ruins.
|New York City|
On this day in 1971, Chilean president Salvador Allende and army general Augusto Pinochet were both found shot to death in Allende's office; the two men had been arguing about the implementation of martial law after a China virus outbreak in southern Chile when Pinochet whipped out his sidearm in a fit of rage and fired twice into Allende's chest at point-blank range, then turned the gun on himself in a fit of depression and blew his brains out.
On this day in 1971, South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu committed suicide at his presidential palace in Saigon, convinced the Viet Cong and NVA would overrun the city any minute. He was unaware that North Vietnam was in fact on the verge of extinction as the China virus continued to wipe out what was left of that country's population.
|Nguyen Van Thieu|
On this day in 1971, Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that the 1971 MLB playoffs and the start of the 1972 MLB season were being indefinitely postponed. Of the 26 MLB teams which had been in business before the China virus pandemic, only nine were still functioning, and of those nine only five still had an adequate number of players on their roster.
On this day in 1971, entertainment legend Elvis Presley was shot and killed defending his Graceland mansion against looters.
On this day in 1971, Pope Paul VI and his senior aides evacuated the Vatican in an attempt to preserve the Holy See against the chaos sweeping Italy after China virus outbreaks in Rome and Milan.
On this day in 1971, Japan's Emperor Hirohito disappeared.
On this day in 1971, the last remaining television station in Los Angeles, the ABC affiliate KABC-TV, went off the air for good.
On this day in 1971, West German chancellor Willy Brandt was assassinated in Bonn by a deranged China virus victim.
On this day in 1971, rioters in Washington, DC sacked and burned the Pentagon as President Nixon and his surviving cabinet evacuated to Mount Weather.
On this day in 1971, U-2 recon flights over North Korea confirmed what U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials had suspected for weeks: the China virus had effectively wiped out the entire senior hierarchy of North Korea's Communist regime along with 99.7 percent of the population of the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
But South Korea's government had also taken some staggering blows as a result of the virus: most of the South Korean presidental cabinet was dead, and because of nearly endless rioting in Seoul the National Assembly was having to meet in Inchon.
On this day in 1971, NFL comissioner Pete Rozelle announced that the remainder of the 1971 season was being cancelled and the start of the 1972 season indefinitely postponed due to the China virus emergency.
As it turned out, there would never be another pro football game played in America; just days after his announcement, Rozelle was himself dead from the China virus and the league was starting preparations to file for bankruptcy.
On this day in 1971, the Israeli government, which due to the China virus pandemic was unable to find sufficient numbers of trained personnel to keep the Dimona nuclear energy complex running, ordered the complex shut down indefinitely.
On this day in 1971, BBC News, making one of its final broadcasts before it went off the air forever, announced that Prime Minister Ted Heath had died of a stroke the previous night.
The stress of trying to hold his country and government together in the face of the China virus pandemic had been too much for him to take; his death would in turn shatter Great Britain as a country by opening a political vacuum that proved impossible to fill as the pandemic decimated what was left of the British political elite. By early November London and Manchester would become ghost towns as their last human inhabitants either succumbed to the virus or fled to the countryside in a desperate last-ditch effort to avoid being infected.
Also on this day in 1971 Islamic extremists assassinated Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy in Tripoli. Khadafy was one of a half-dozen Middle East heads of state to become casualties of the China virus pandemic and its resulting erosion of human civilization; Egyptian president Anwar Sadat died of the virus two weeks before Khadafy's assassination, and within month after Khadafy died King Hussein of Jordan would be lynched by angry mobs who blamed him for an outbreak of the virus in Amman. By early 1972 the leaders of Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia would all be overthrown and the Shah of Iran would commit suicide.
On this day in 1971, Montreal hockey fans were stunned to learn that Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden, who in his rookie season had helped the team win its fifth Stanley Cup since 1965, was dead from the China virus.
In the short time Dryden had been with the Canadiens he had become one of the NHL's most popular and recognizable players; his passing struck a devastating blow at Montreal's collective psyche and underscored how deeply the global China virus pandemic was affecting Canadian society. Within three weeks of Dryden's death, most of his teammates and the entire Canadiens coaching staff would also fall victim to the disease; within a month the franchise itself would dissolve, ending more than a half-century of NHL hockey in Montreal.
Another casualty of the pandemic: the FLQ separatist movement, which saw its ranks decimated not only by the virus but also by a steady exodus of refugees fleeing Quebec in hopes of finding safety elsewhere. By December of 1971 the organization would effectively cease to exist; by the spring of 1972 the province of Quebec itself was essentially a vast ghost town.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.