An uncontrollable, deadly virus ravages America, shutting down civilian institutions and triggering martial law. Vaccinations are compulsory, and there are mass quarantines throughout the country.
It's the stuff of Hollywood — but rumors that it could be real are spreading like the flu in the blogosphere, where some people are loudly expressing their fears that the federal government is seriously considering such measures as it maps out a worst-case-scenario response to the swine flu pandemic.
During the bird flu scare of 2005, the Bush administration added novel forms of influenza — including the swine flu — to the official list of "quarantinable communicable diseases," clearing the way for the forced detention of people who exhibit symptoms of the disease.
Now a proposal awaiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates' approval would allow the military to set up regional teams to assist civilian authorities in dealing with the impact of the swine flu pandemic. And some observers see this level of government preparedness as little more than a pretext for tyranny.
"The implications are far reaching," Michel Chossudovsky wrote on the Global Research Web site, which averages 18,000 visitors daily. "The decision points toward the establishment of a police state," he said.
"It would be extremely troubling and raise serious constitutional questions," Chris Calabre, ACLU counsel for technology and liberty, told FOXNews.com when asked how the civil liberties group would react to mandatory quarantines. "We opposed this in 2005 and will do so again because it gives the government blanket authority to hold anyone and has no due process."