Sorry for the formatting but im not going to type out 30 pages by hand.
THE UNDEAD: MYTHS AND REALITIES
He comes from the grave, his body a home of worms andjilth. No life in
his eyes, no warmth of his shn, no beating of his breast. His soul, as
empty and dark as the night sky. He laughs at the blade, spits at the
arrow, for they will not harm hisflesh. For eternity, he will walk the
earth, smelling the sweet blood of the living, feasting upon the bones of
the damned. Beware, for he is the living dead.
ZOM-BZE: (Zom'be) n. also ZOM-BIES pl. I. An animated corpse that
feeds on living humanjlesh. 2. A voodoo spell that raises the dead. 3.
A Voodoo snake god. 4. One who moves or acts in a daze "like a zombie."
[a word of West African origin]
What is a zombie? How are they created? What are their strengths and
weaknesses? What are their needs, their desires? Why are they hostile
to humanity? Before discussing any survival techniques, you must first
learn what you are trying to survive.
We must begin by separating fact from fiction. The walking dead
are neither a work of "black magic" nor any other supernatural force.
Their origin stems from a virus known as Solanum, a Latin word used
by Jan Vanderhaven, who fust "discovered" the disease.
SOLANUM: THE VIRUS
Solannm works by traveling through the bloodstream, from the initial
point of entry to the brain. Through means not yet fully understood,
the virus uses the cells of the frontal lobe for replication, destroying
them in the process. During this period, all bodily functions cease. By
stopping the heart, the infected subject is rendered ''dead." The brain,
however, remains alive hut dormant, while the virus mutates its cells
into a completely new organ. The most critical trait of this new organ
is its independence from oxygen. By removing the need for this allimportant
resource, the nndead brain can utilize, but is in no way
dependent upon, the complex support mechanism of the human body.
Once mutation is complete, this new organ reanimates the body into a
form that bears little resemblance (physiologically speaking) to the
original corpse. Some bodily functions remain constant, others operate
in a modified capacity, and the remainder shut down completely.
This new organism is a zombie, a member of the living dead.
U~~fortunateleyx, tensive research has yet to find an isolated example
of Solanum in nature. Water, air, and soil in all ecosystems, from all
parts of the world, have turned up negative, as have their accompanying
flora and fauna. At the time of this writing, the search continues.
The timetable below outlines the process of an infected human (give
or take several hours, depending on the individual).
Hour 1: Pain and discoloration (brown-puple) of the infected area Immediate
clotting of the wound @rovided the infection came h m a wound).
Hour 5: Fever (99-103 degrees F), chills, slight dementia, vomiting,
acute pain in the joints.
Hour 8: Numbing of extremities and infected area, increased fever
(103-106 degrees F), increased dementia, loss of muscular coordination.
Hour 11: Paralysis in the lower body, overall numbness, slowed heart
Hour 16: Coma.
Hour 20: Heart stoppage. Zero brain activity
Hour 23: Reanimation.
Solanum is 100 percent communicahle and 100 percent fatal.
Fortunately for the human race, the virus is neither waterborne nor airborne.
Humans have never been known to contract the virus from elements
in nature. Infection can occur only through direct fluidic
contact. A zombie bite, although by far the most recognizable means
of transference, is by no means the only one. Humans have been
infected by brushing their open wounds against those of a zombie or
by being splattered by its remains after an explosion. Ingestion of
infected flesh (provided the person has no open mouth sores), however,
results in pemanent death rather than infection. Infected flesh has
proven to be highly toxic.
No infomation-historical, experimental, or othenvise-has surfaced
regarding the results of sexual relations with an undead specimen,
but as previously noted, the nature of Solanum suggests a high
danger of infection. Warning against such an act would be useless, as
the only people deranged enough to try would he unconcerned for their
own safety. Many have argued that, given the congealed nature of
undead bodily fluids, the chances of infection from a non-bite contact
should be low. However, it must be remembered that even one organism
is enough to begin the cycle.
4. CROSS-SPECIES INFECTION
Solannm is fatal to all living creatures, regardless of size, species, or
ecosystem. Reanimation, however, takes place only in humans. Studies
have shown that Solanum infecting a non-human brain will die within
hours of the death of its host, making the carcass safe to handle.
Infected animals expire before the virus can replicate throughout their
bodies. Infection from insect bites such as from mosquitoes can also
he discounted. Experiments have proven that all parasitic insects can
sense and will reject an infected host 100 percent of the time.
Once a human is infected, little can be done to save him or her. Because
Solanum is a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics have no effect.
Immunization, the only way to combat a virus, is equally useless, as even
the most minute dosage will lead to a full-blown infection. Genetic
research is under way. Goals range from stronger human antibodies to
resistant cell structure to a counter-virus designed to identify and destroy
Solanum. This and other, more radical treatments are still in the earliest
stages, with no foreseeable success in the near future. Battlefield experiences
have led to the immediate severing of the infected limb (provided
this is the location of the bite), but such treatments are dubious at best,
with less than a 10 percent success rate.
Chances are, the infected human
was doomed from the moment the virus entered his or her system.
Should the infected human choose suicide, he should remember that the
brain must be eliminated first. Cases have been recorded in which
recently infected subjects, deceased by means other than the virus, will
nonetheless reanimate. Such cases usually occur when the subject
expires after the fifth hour of infection. Regardless, any person killed
after being bitten or otherwise infected by the undead should be immediately
disposed of. (See "Disposal," page 19.)
6. REANIMATING THE ALREADY DECEASED
It has been suggested that fresh human corpses could reanimate if
Solanum were introduced after their demise. This is a fallacy. Zombies
ignore necrotic flesh and therefore could not transfer the virus.
Experiments conducted during and after World War I1 (see "Recorded
Attacks," pages 216m have proven that injecting Solanum into a
cadaver would be futile because a stagnant bloodstream could not
transport the virus to the brain. Injection directly into a dead brain
would be equally useless, as the expired cells could not respond to the
virus. Solanum does not create life-it alters it.
1. PHYSICAL ABILITIES
Too often, the undead have been said to possess superhuman powers:
unusual strength, lightning speed, telepathy, etc. Stories range from
zombies flying through the air to their scaling vertical surfaces like spiders.
While these traits might make for fascinating drama, the individual
ghoul is far from a magical, omnipotent demon. Never forget that
the body of the undead is, for all practical purposes, human. What
changes do occur are in the way this new, reanimated body is used by
the now-infected brain. There is no way a zombie could fly unless the
human it used to be could fly. The same goes for projecting force
fields, telepottation, moving through solid objects, transforming into a
wolf, breathing fire, or a variety of other mystical talents amibuted to
the walking dead. Imagine the human body as a tool kit. The somnambulist
brain has those tools, and only those tools, at its disposal. It
cannot create new ones out of thin air. But it can, as you will see, use
these tools in unconventional combinations, or push their durability
beyond normal human limits.
The eyes of a zombie are no different than those of a normal human.
While still capable (given their rate of decomposition) of transmitting
visual signals to the brain, how the brain interprets these signals is
another matter. Studies are inconclusive regarding the undead's visual
abilities. They can spot prey at distances comparable to a human, but
whether they can distinguish a human from one of their own is still up
for debate. One theory suggests that the movements made by humans,
which are quicker and smoother than those of the undead, is what
causes them to stand out to the zombie eye. Experiments have been
done in which humans have attempted to confuse approaching ghouls
by mimicking their motions and adopting a shambling, awkward limp.
To date, none of these attempts have succeeded. It has been suggested
that zombies possess night vision, a fact that explains their skill at nocturnal
hunting. This theory has been debunked by the fact that all zombies
are expert night feeders, even those without eyes.
There is no question that zombies have excellent hearing. Not only can
they detect sound-they can determine its direction. The basic range
appears to be the same as that for humans. Experiments with extreme
high and low frequencies have yielded negative results. Tests have also
shown that zombies are attracted by any sounds, not just those made
by living creatures. It has been recorded that ghouls will notice sounds
ignored by living humans. The most likely, if unproven, explanation is
that zombies depend on all their senses equally. Humans are sightoriented
from birth, depending on other senses only if the primary one
is lost. Perhaps this is not a handicap shared by the walking dead. If
so, it would explain their ability to hunt, fight, and feed in total darkness.
Unlike with sound, the undead have a more acute sense of smell. In
both combat situations and laboratory tests, they have been able to distinguish
the smell of living prey above all others. In many cases, and
given ideal wind conditions, zomhies have been known to smell fresh
corpses from a distance of more than a mile. Again, this does not mean
that ghouls have a greater sense of smell than humans, simply that they
rely on it more. It is not known exactly what particular secretion signals
the presence of prey: sweat, pheromones, blood, etc. In the past,
people seeking to move undetected through infested areas have
attempted to "mask" their human scent with perfumes, deodorants, or
other strong-smelling chemicals. None were successful. Experiments
are now under way to synthesize the smells of living creatures as a
decoy or even repellent to the walking dead. A successful product is
still years away.
Little is known about the altered taste buds of the walking dead.
Zombies do have the ability to tell human flesh apart from that of animals,
and they prefer the former. Ghouls also have a remarkable ability
to reject carrion in favor of freshly killed meat. A human body that
has been dead longer than twelve to eighteen hours will be rejected as
food. The same goes for cadavers that have been embalmed or otherwise
preserved. Whether this has anything to do with "taste" is not yet
certain. It may have to do with smell or, perhaps, another instinct that
has not been discovered. As to exactly why human flesh is preferable,
science has yet to find an answer to this confounding, frustrating, terrifying
Zombies have, literally, no physical sensations. All nerve receptors
throughout the body remain dead after reanimation. This is truly their
greatest and most temfying advantage over the living. We, as humans,
have the ability to experience physical pain as a signal of bodily damage.
Our brain classifies such sensations, matches them to the experience
that instigated them, and then files the information away for use
as a warning against future ham. It is this gift of physiology and
instinct that has allowed us to survive as a species. It is why we value
virtues such as courage, which inspires people to perform actions
despite warnings of danger. The inability to recognize and avoid pain
is what makes the waking dead so formidable. Wounds will not be
noticed and, therefore, will not deter an attack. Even if a zombie's
body is severely damaged, it will continue to attack until nothing
E Sixth Sense
Historical research, coupled with laboratory and field observation,
have shown that the walking dead have been known to attack even
when all their sensory organs have been damaged or completely
decomposed. Does this mean that zombies possess a sixth sense?
Perhaps. Living humans use less than 5 percent of their brain capacity.
It is possible that the virus can stimulate another sensoly ability that
has been forgotten by evolution. This theory is one of the most hotly
debated in the war against the undead. So far, no scientific evidence
has been found to suppoa either side.
Despite legends and ancient folklore, undead physiology has been
proven to possess no powers of regeneration. Cells that are damaged
stay damaged. Any wounds, no matter what their size and nature, will
remain for the duration of that body's reanimation. A variety of medical
treatments have been attempted to stimulate the healing process in
captured ghouls. None were successful. This inability to self-repair,
something that we as living beings take for granted, is a severe disadvantage
to the undead. For example, every time we physically exert
ourselves, we tear our muscles. With time, these muscles rebuild to a
stronger state than before. A ghoul's muscle mass will remain damaged,
reducing its effectiveness every time it is used.
The average zombie "life span"-how long it is able to function before
completely rotting away-is estimated at three to five years. As fantastic
as this sounds-a human corpse able to ward off the natural
effects of decay-its cause is rooted in basic biology. When a human
body dies, its flesh is immediately set upon by billions of microscopic
organisms. These organisms were always present, in the external environment
arid within the body itself. In life, the immune system stood
as a harrier between these organisms and their target. In death, that barrier
is removed. The organisms begin multiplying exponentially as
they proceed to eat and, thereby, break down the corpse on a cellular
level. The smell and discoloration associated with any decaying meat
are the biological process of these microbes at work. When you order
an "aged" steak, you are ordering a piece of meat that has begun to rot,
its formerly toughened flesh softened by microorganisms breaking
down its sturdy fiber. Within a short time, that steak, like a human
corpse, will dissolve to nothing, leaving behind only material too hard
or innutritious for any microbe, such as hone, teeth, nails, and hair.
This is the normal cycle of life, nature's way of recycling nutrients
back into the food chain. To halt this process, and preserve dead tissue,
it is necessary to place it in an environment unsuitable for bacteria,
such as in extreme low or high temperatures, in toxic chemicals
such as formaldehyde, or, in this case, to saturate it with Solanum.
Almost all the microbe species involved in normal human decomposition
have repeatedly rejected flesh infected by the virus, effecThe
tively embalming the zombie. Were this not the case, combating the
living dead would be as easy as avoiding them for several weeks or
even days until they rotted away to hones. Research has yet to discover
the exact cause of this condition. It has been determined that at least
some microbe species ignore the repelling effects of Solanum-otherwise,
the undead would remain perfectly preserved forever. It has also
been determined that natural conditions such as moisture and temperature
play an important role as well. Undead that prowl the bayous of
Louisiana are unlikely to last as long as those in the cold, dry Gobi
desert. Extreme situations, such as deep freezing or immersion in -
preservative fluid, could, hypothetically, allow an undead specimen to
exist indef~telyT. hese techniques have been known to allow zombies
to function for decades, if not centuries. (See "Recorded Attacks,"
pages 193ff.) Decomposition does not mean that a member of the
walking dead will simply drop. Decay may affect various parts of the
body at different times. Specimens have been found with brains intact
but nearly disintegrated bodies. Others with partially rotted brains may
control some bodily functions but be completely paalyzed in others.
A popular theory has recently circulated that attempts to explain the
story of the ancient Egyptian mummy as one of the first examples of
an embalmed zombie. The preservation techniques allowed it to fuuction
several thousand years after being entombed. Anyone with a rudimentary
knowledge of ancient Egypt would find this story almost
laughably untrue: The most important and complicated step in preparing
a pharaoh for burial was the removal of the brain!
Recent evidence has once and for all mscounted the theory that human
flesh is the fuel for the undead. A zombie's digestive tract is completely
dormant. The complex system that processes food, extracts nutrition,
and excretes waste does not factor into a zombie's physiology. Autopsies
conducted on neutralized undead have shown that their "food" lies in its
original, undigested state at all sections of the tract. This partially
chewed, slowly rotting matter will continue to accumulate, as the zom12
hie devours more victims, until it is forced through the anus, or literally
bursts through the stomach or intestinal lining. While this more dramatic
example of non-digestion is rare, hundreds of eyewitness reports have
confirmed undead to have distended bellies. One captured and dissected
specimen was found to contain 21 1 pounds of flesh within its system!
Even rarer accounts have confirmed that zombies continue to feed long
after their digestive tracts have exploded from within.
The lungs of the undead continue to function in that they draw air into
and expel it from the hody. This function accounts for a zombie's signature
moan. What the lungs and body chemistry fail to accomplish,
however, is to extract oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. Given that
Solanum obviates the need for both of these functions, the entire
human respiratory system is obsolete in the hody of a ghoul. This
explains how the living dead can "walk underwater" or survive in environments
lethal to humans. Their brains, as noted earlier, are oxygenindependent.
It would be inaccurate to say that zomhies have no heart. It would not
he inaccurate, however, to say that they find no use for it. The circulatory
system of the undead is little more than a network of useless tubes
filled with congealed hlood. The same applies to the lymphatic system
as well as all other bodily fluids. Although this mutation would appear
to give the undead one more advantage over humanity, it has actually
proved to he a godsend. The lack of fluid mass prevents easy transmission
of the virus. Were this not true, hand-to-hand combat would
he nearly impossible, as the defending human would almost certainly
he splattered with hlood andlor other fluids.
Zombies are sterile creatures. Their sexual organs are necrotic and
impotent. Attempts have been made to fertilize zombie eggs with
human sperm and vice versa. None has been succcssful. The undead
have also shown no signs of sexual desire, either for their own
species or for the living. Until research can prove otherwise, humanity's
greatest fear-the dead reproducing the dead-is a comforting
Ghouls possess the same brute force as the living. What power can be
exerted depends greatly on the individual zombie. What muscle mass
a person has in life would be all he possesses in death. Unlike a living
body, adrenal glands have not been known to function in the dead,
denying zombies the temporary burst of power we humans enjoy. The
one solid advantage the living dead do possess is amazing stamina.
Imagine working out, or any other act of physical exertion. Chances
are that pain and exhaustion will dictate your limits. These factors do
not apply to the dead. They will continue an act, with the same
dynamic energy, until the muscles supporting it literally disintegrate.
f While this makes for progressively weaker ghouls, it allows for an allpowerful
first attack. Many barricades that would have exhausted three 1 or even four physically fit humans have fallen to a single determined
The "walking" dead tend to move at a slouch or limp. Even without
injuries or advanced decomposition, their lack of coordination makes
for an unsteady suide. Speed is mainly determined by leg length. Taller
ghouls have longer strides than their shorter counterparts. Zombies
appear to be incapable of running. The fastest have been observed to
move at a rate of barely one step per 1.5 seconds. Again, as with
strength, the dead's advantage over the living is their tirelessness.
Humans who believe they have outrun their nndead pursuers might do
well to remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, adding, of
course, that in this instance the hare stands a good chance of being
The average living human possesses a dexterity level 90 percent
greater than the strongest ghoul. Some of this comes from the general
stiffness of necrotic muscle tissue (hence their awkward stride). The
rest is due to their primitive brain functions. Zomhies have little handeye
coordination, one of their greatest weaknesses. No one has ever
observed a zombie jumping, either from one spot to another or simply
up and down. Balancing on a narrow surface is similarly beyond their
ahility. Swimming is also a skill reserved for the living. The theory has
been put forth that, if an undead corpse were to he bloated enough to
rise to the surface, it could present a floating hazard. This is rare, however,
as the slow rate of decomposition would not allow by-product gas
to accumulate. Zombies who walk or fall into bodies of water will
more likely find themselves wandering aimlessly across the bottom
until eventually dissolving. They can be successful climbers, but only
in certain circumstances. If zombies perceive prey above them, for
example, in the second story of a house, they will always attempt to
climb to it. Zombies will try to scale any surface no matter how
unfeasahle or even impossible. In all but the easiest situations, these
attempts have met with failure. Even in the case of ladders, when simple
hand-over-hand coordination is required, only one in four zombies
2. BEHAWOWLPA TTERNS
It has been proven, time and again, that our greatest advantage over the
undead is our ahility to think. The mental capacity of the average zombie
ranks somewhere beneath that of an insect. On no occasion have
they shown any ability to reason or employ logic. Attempting to
accomplish a task, failing, then by trial and error discovering a new
solution, is a skill shared by many members of the animal kingdom hut
lost on the walking dead. Zombies have repeatedly failed laboratory
intelligence tests set at the level of rodents. One field case showed a
human standing at one end of a collapsed bridge with several dozen
zombies on the orher side. One by one, the walking dead tumbled over
the edge in a futile attempt to reach him. At no time did any of them
realize what was happening and change their tactics in any way.
Contrruy to myth and speculation, zombies have never been observed
using tools of any kind. Even picking up a rock to use as a weapon is
beyond their grasp. This simple task would prove the basic thought
process involved in realizing that the rock is a more efficient weapon
than the naked hand. Ironically, the age of artificial intelligence has
enabled us to identify more easily with the mind of the zombie than
that of our more "primitive" ancestors. With care exceptions, even the
most advanced computers do not have the ability to think on their own.
They do what they are programmed to do, nothing more. Imagine a
computer programmed to execute one function. This function cannot
be paused, modified, or erased. No new data can be stored. No new
commands can he installed. This computer will perform that one function,
over and over, until its power source eventually shuts down. This
is the zombie brain. An instinct-driven, unitask machine that is impervious
to tampering and can only be destroyed.
Feelings of any kind are not known to the walking dead. Every form
of psychological warfare, from attempts at enraging the undead to provoking
pity have all met with disaster. Joy, sadness, confidence, anxiety,
love, hatred, fear-all of these feelings and thousands more that
make up the human "heart" are as useless to the living dead as the
organ of the same name. Who knows if this is humanity's greatest
weakness or strength? The debate continues, and probably will forever.
A modem conceit is that a zombie retains the knowledge of its former
life. We hear stories of the dead returning to their places of residence
or work, operating familiar machinery, or even showing acts of mercy
to loved ones. In trnth, not a shred of proof exists to support this wishful
thinking. Zombies could not possibly retain memories of their for
mer lives in either the conscious or subconscious mind, because neither
exist! A ghoul will not be distracted by the family pet, living relatives,
familiar surroundings, etc. No matter who a person was in his
former life, that person is gone, replaced by a mindless automaton with
no instinct other than for feeding. This begs the question: Why do zombies
prefer urban areas to the countryside? First, the undead do not prefer
cities, but simply remain where they are reanimated. Second, the
main reason zomhies tend to stay in cities instead of fanning out into
the countryside is because an urban zone holds the highest concentration
D. Physical Needs
Other than hunger (discussed later), the dead have shown none of the
physical wants or needs expressed in mortal life. Zombies have never
been observed to sleep or rest under any circumstances. They have not
reacted to extreme heat or cold. In harsh weather, they have never
sought shelter. Even something as simple as thirst is unknown to the
living dead. Defying all laws of science, Solanum has created what
could be described as a completely self-sufficient organism.
Zombies have no language skills. Although their vocal cords are capable
of speech, their brain is not. The only vocal ability appears to be a
deep-throated moan. This moan is released when zombies identify prey.
The sound will remain low and steady until physical contact is made. It
will then shift in tone and volume as the zombie commences its attack.
This eerie sound, so typically associated with the walking dead, serves
as a rallying cry for other zombies and, as has been recently discovered,
is a potent psychological weapon. (See "On the Defense," page 74.)
E Social Dynamics Theories have always proliferated that the
undead function as a collective
force, from an army controlled by Satan to an insect-like
pheromone-driven hive to the most recent notion that they achieve
group consensus by telepathy. The truth is that zombies have no social
organization to speak of. There is no hierarchy, no chain of command,
no drive toward any type of collectivization. A horde of the undead,
regardless of size, regardless of appearance, is simply a mass of individuals.
If several hundred ghouls converge on a victim's location, it
is because each one is drawn by its own instinct. Zombies appear to be
unaware of one another. Individuals have never been observed to react
to the sight of one another at any range. This goes back to the question
of sense: How does a zombie distinguish between one of its own and
a human or other prey at the same range? The answer has yet to he
found. Zombies do avoid one another in the same way they avoid inanimate
objects. When they hump into one another, they make no attempt
to connect or communicate. Zombies feasting on the same corpse will
tug repeatedly on the meat in question rather than shove a competitor
out of the way. The only suggestion of communal effort is seen in notorious
swarm attacks: the moan of a ghoul calling others within earshot.
Once they hear the wail, other walking dead will almost always converge
on its source. An early study theorized that this was a deliberate
act, that a scout used its moan to signal the others to attack. However,
we now how that it happens purely by accident. The ghoul that moans
at the detection of prey does so as an instinctive reaction, not as an alert.
Zombies are migratory organisms, with no regard for temtory or concept
of home. They will travel miles and perhaps, given time, cross
continents in their search for food. Their hunting pattern is random.
Ghouls will feed at night and during the day. They will stumble
through an area rather than deliberately searching it. Certain zones or
structures will not he singled out as more likely to contain prey. For
example, some have been known to search farmhouses and other rural
structures while others in the same group have moved by without even
a glance. Urban zones take more time to explore, which is why the
undead remain longer in these areas, hut no building will take precedence
over another. Zombies appear to be totally unaware of their sur
roundings. They do not, for example, move their eyes in a way that
would take in the information of a new setting. Shuffling silently, with
a thousand-yard stare, they will wander aimlessly, regardless of location,
until prey is detected. As discussed earlier, the undead possess an
uncauny ability to home in on a victim's precise location. Once contact
is made, the previously silent, oblivious automaton transforms into
something more closely related to a guided missile. The head turns
immediately in the direction of its victim. The jaw drops, lips retract,
and, from the depths of its diaphragm, comes the moan. Once contact
is made, zombies cannot be distracted by any means. They will continue
to pursue their prey, stopping only if they lose contact, make a
successful kill, or are destroyed.
Why do the undead prey upon the living? If it has been proven that
human flesh serves no nutritional purpose, why does their instinct
drive them to murder? The truth eludes us. Modem science, combined
with historical data, has shown that living humans are not the only
delights on the undead menu. Rescue teams entering an infested area
have consistently reported them stripped of all life. Any creatures, no
matter what their size or species, will he consumed by an attacking
zombie. Human flesh, however, will always he preferable to other life
forms. One experiment presented a captured specimen with two identical
cubes of meat: one human, one animal. The zombie repeatedly
chose the human. Reasons for this are still unknown. What can be confirmed,
beyond any shadow of doubt, is that instinct brought on by
Solanum drives the undead to kill and devour any living creature they
discover. There appear to be no exceptions.
I. Killing the Dead
While destroying a zombie may be simple, it is far from easy. As we
have seen, zombies require none of the physiological functions that
humans need to survive. Destruction or severe damage of the circulatory,
digestive, or respiratory system would do nothing to a member of
the walking dead, as these functions no
longer support the brain. Simply put, there
are thousands of ways to kill a humanand
only one to kill a zombie. The brain
must be obliterated, by any means possible.
Studies have shown that Solanum can still
inhabit the body of a terminated zombie for
up to fortyeight hours. Exercise extreme
care when disposing of undead corpses.
The head in particular possesses the most
serious hazard, given its concentration of
the virus. Never handle an undead corpse
without protective clothing. Treat it as you
would any toxic, highly lethal material. Cremation is the safest, most
effective way of disposal. Despite rumors that a pile of burning corpses
will spread Solannm in a cloud of smoking plague, common sense
would dictate that any virus is unable to survive intense heat, to say
nothing of an open flame.
To reiterate, the zombie brain has proved, so far, to he tamper-proof.
Experiments ranging from chemicals to surgery to electromagnetic
waves have yielded negative results. Behavioral modification therapy
and other such attempts to train the living dead like some kind of pack
animal have similarly met with failure. Again, the machine cannot be
rewired. It will exist as is, or it will not exist at all.
THE VOODOO ZOMBIE
If zombies are the creation of a virus and not black magic, then how
does this explain the so-called "voodoo zombie," a person who has died,
been raised from his grave, and is doomed to spend eternity as a slave
of the living? Yes, it is trne that the word "zombie" originally comes
from the Kimbnndn word "nzfimbe," a term describing a dead person's
soul, and yes, zombies and zombification are integral parts of the Afro-
Caribbean religion known as voodoo. However, the origin of their name
is the only similarity between the voodoo zombie and the viral zombie.
Although it is said that voodoo houngans (priests) can turn humans into
zombies by magical means, the practice is rooted in bard, undeniable
science. "Zombie powder," the tool used by the houngan for zombification,
contains a very powerful neurotoxin (the exact ingredients are a
closely guarded secret). The toxin temporarily paralyzes the human
nervous system, creating a state of extreme hibernation. With the heart,
lungs, and all other bodily functions operating at minimal levels, it
would be understandable if an inexperienced coroner declared the paralyzed
subject to be dead. Many humans have been buried while in such
a state, only to awaken screaming in the pitch darkness of their coffin.
So what makes this living human being a zombie? The answer is simple:
brain damage. Many who are buried alive quickly use up the air
inside their coffins. Those that are recovered (if they are lucky) almost
always suffer brain damage from lack of oxygen. These poor souls
shamble about with little cognitive skills, or, indeed, free will, and are
often mistaken for the living dead. How can yon distinguish a voodoo
zombie from the genuine article? The telltale signs are obvious.
1. Voodoo zombies show emotion. People suffering from zombie
powder-induced brain damage are still capable of all normal human
feelings. They smile, cry, even growl with anger if hurt or otherwise
provoked (something real zombies would never do).
2. Voodoo zombies exhibit thought. As has been stated before, when
a real zombie encounters you it will immediately home in like a
smart bomb. A voodoo zombie will take a moment to try to figure
out who or what you are. Maybe it will come toward you, maybe it
will recoil, maybe it will continue its observation as its damaged
brain attempts to analyze the information given it. What a voodoo
zombie will not do is raise its arms, drop its jaw, unleash a hellish
moan, and stumble directly toward you.
3. Voodoo zombies feel pain. A voodoo zombie that trips and falls
will undoubtedly hold its bruised knee and whimper. Likewise, one
already suffering from some other wound will nurse it, or, at the
very least, be aware of the wound's existence. Voodoo zombies will
not ignore deep gashes in their bodies like a real zombie would.
4. Voodoo zombies recognize fire. This is not to say that they are afraid
of open flames. Some that have suffered severe brain damage may not
remember what lire is. They will stop to examine it, perhaps even reach
out to touch it, hut they will recoil once they realize it causes pain.
5. Voodoo zombies recognize their surroundings. Unlike real zombies,
who only recognize prey, voodoo zombies will react to sudden
changes in light, sound, taste, and smell. Voodoo zombies have been
observed watching television or brightly flashing lights, listening to
music, cringing at thunder, and even taking notice of one another.
This last fact has been critical in several cases of mis-identification.
Had the zombies in question not reacted to each other (they looked
at each other, made noises, even touched each other's faces), they
might have been accidentally exterminated.
6. Voodoo zombies do NOT have bypersense. A human who has suffered
the debilitating effects of zombie powder is still a sightdependent
human. He cannot operate perfectly in the dark, hear a
footstep at 500 ya~dso, r smell a living being on the wind. Voodoo
zombies can actually be surprised by someone walking up behind
them. This is not recommended, however, as a frightened zombie
might react in anger.
7. Voodoo zombies can communicate. While this is not always the
case, many of these individuals can respond to audiovisual signals.
Many understand words; some even comprehend simple sentences.
Many voodoo zombies possess the ability to speak, simply, of
course, and rarely for extended conversations.
8. Voodoo zombies can be controlled. While not always true, many
brain damaged humans have lost much of their self-realization,
making them very susceptible to suggestion. Simply shouting for a
subject to halt or even go away can he enough to get rid of a voodoo
zombie. This has created the dangerous situation of confused people
believing they could control or train true zombies. Several times
headstrong humans have insisted they could simply command their
living dead attackers to stop. As cold, rotting hands grabbed their
limbs and dirty, worn teeth bit into their flesh, these people discovered,
too late, what they were truly dealing with.
These guidelines should give you a good idea of how to tell a voodoo
zombie from a true zombie. One final note: Voodoo zombies are
almost always encountered in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean,
Central and South America, and the southern United States.
Although it is not impossible to find someone who has been turned
into a zombie by a houngan elsewhere, the chances of such an
encounter are slim.
THE HOLLYWOOD ZOMBIE
Since the living dead first stepped onto the silver screen, their greatest
enemy has not been hunters, but critics. Scholars, scientists, even concerned
citizens have all argued that these movies depict the living dead
in a fantastic, unrealistic fashion. Visually stunning weapons, physically
impossible action sequences, larger-than-life human characters,
and, above all, magical, invincible, even comical ghouls have all added
their colors to the controversial rainbow that is "the Zombie Movie."
Further criticism argues that this "style over substance" approach to
somnambulist cinema teaches human viewers lessons that may get
them killed in a real encounter. These serious charges demand an
equally serious defense. While some zombie movies are based on
actual events*, their goal, indeed the goal of almost every movie in
every genre, has always been, first and foremost, to entertain. Unless
we are discussing pure documentaries (and even some of those are
"sweetened"), moviemakers must take some artistic license to make
their work more palatable to the audience. Even movies that are based
on actual events will sacrifice pure reality for good storytelling.
Certain characters will be an amalgam of real-life individuals. Others
may be purely fictional in order to explain certain facts, facilitate the
plotline, or simply add flavor to the scene. One might argue that the
role of the artist is to challenge, educate, and enlighten her audience.
That may be true, but try imparting knowledge to an audience who has
either left or fallen asleep within the first ten minutes of the picture.
Accept this basic rule of moviemaking and you will understand why
Hollywood zombie films stray, in some cases wildly, from the reality
on which they are based. In short, use these photo-plays as their makers
intended: as a source of temporary, lighthearted entertainment and
not a visual aid to your survival.
Although each zombie attack is different, given the number, terrain,
reaction of the general populace, etc., its level of intensity can be measured
in four distinct classes.
*At the behest of the filmmakers andlor their estates, the titles of those movies based on me-life stories have been omitted.
This is a low-level outbreak, usually in a Third World country or First
World rural area. The number of zombies in this class of outbreak
ranges between one and twenty. Total human casualties (including
those infected) range from one to fifty. The total duration, from the fist
case to the last (known), will range between twenty-four hours and
fourteen days. The infested area will be small, no larger than a twentymile
radius. In many cases, natural boundaries will determine its limits.
Response will he light, either exclusively civilian or with some
additional help from local law enforcement. Media coverage will be
light, if present at all. If the media is present, look for common stories
like homicides or "accidents." This is the most common type of outbreak
and also the easiest to go unnoticed.
Urban or densely populated mral areas are included in this level of outbreak.
Total zombies will range between twenty and one hundred.
Total human casualties may reach as high as several hundred. The
duration of a Class 2 attack may last no longer than a Class 1 outbreak.
In some cases, the larger number of zombies will spark a more immediate
response. A rural, sparsely populated outbreak may extend to a
hundred-mile radius, while an urban outbreak may encompass only
several blocks. Suppression will almost certainly be organized. Bands
of civilians will be replaced by local, state, even federal law enforcement.
Look for an additional, if low-level, military response, the
National Guard in the United States or its equivalent abroad. Most
often, so as to ease panic, these units will take a more noncombatant
role, providing medical assistance, crowd control, and logistical support.
Class 2 outbreaks almost always attract the press. Unless the
attack occurs in a huly isolated area of the world, or one where the
media is strictly controlled, the story will he reported. This does not
mean, however, that it will be reported acc~lrately.
A hue crisis. Class 3 outbreaks, more than any other, demonstrate the
clear threat posed by the living dead. Zombies will number in the thousands,
encompassing an area of several hundred miles. The duration of
the attack and a possible lengthy mop-up process could last as long as
several months. There will be no chance for a press blackout or coverup.
Even without media attention, the sheer magnitude of the attack will
leave too many eyewitnesses. This is a full-blown battle, with law
enforcement replaced by units of the regular military. A state of emergency
will be declared for the infested zone, as well as the neighboring
areas. Expect martial law, restricted travel, rationed supplies, federalized
services, and strictly monitored communication. All these measures,
however, will take time to implement. The initial phase will be
one of chaos as those in power come to grips with the crisis. Riots, looting,
and widespread panic will add to their difficulties, further delaying
an effective response. While this is happening, those living withm the
infested area will be at the mercy of the undead. Isolated, abandoned,
and surrounded by ghouls, they will have only themselves to depend on.
(See "Living in an Undead World," pages 154-81.)
Every undead outbreak, regardless of its class, has a beginning. Now
that the enemy has been defined, the next step is early warning.
Knowing what a zombie is will not help if you are unable to recognize
an outbreak before it's too late. This does not entail building a "zombie
command post" in your basement, sticking pins in a map, and huddling
around the shortwave radio. All it requires is looking for signs
that would slip by the untrained mind. These signs include:
1. Homicides in which the victims were executed by head shots or
decapitation. It has happened many times: People recognize an outbreak
for what it is and try to take matters into their own hands.
Almost always, these people are declared murderers by the local
authorities and prosecuted as such.
2. Missing persons, particularly in wilderness or uninhabited areas.
Pay careful attention if one or more of the search members end up
missing. If the story is televised or photographed, watch to see what
level of armament the search parties carry. Any more than one rifle
per group could mean that this is more than just a simple rescue
3. Cases of "violent insanity" in which the subject attacked friends or
family without the use of weapons. Find out if the attacker bit or
tried to bite his victims. If so, are any of the victims still in the hospital?
Try to discover if any of these victims mysteriously died
within days of their bite.
4. Riots or other civil disturbances that began without provocation or
other logical cause. Common sense will dictate that violence on any
group level does not simply occur without a catalyst such as racial
tension, political actions, or legal decisions. Even so-called "mass
hysteria" can always be traced to a root source. If none can be
found, the answer may lie elsewhere.
5. Disease-based deaths in which either the cause is undetermined or
seems highly suspect. Deaths from infectious disease are rare in the
industrialized world, compared to a century ago. For this reason,
new outbreaks always make the news. Look for those cases in
which the exact nature of the disease is unexplained. Also, be on the
alert for suspicious explanations such as West Nile virus or "mad
cow" disease. Either could be examples of a cover-up.
6. Any of the above in which media coverage was forbidden. A total
press blackout is rare in the United States. The occurrence of one
should be regarded as an immediate red flag. Of course, there may
be many reasons other than an attack of the living dead. Then again,
any event causing a govemment as media-conscious as our own to
clamp down merits close attention. The truth, no matter what it is,
cannot be good.
Once an event has tripped your sensors, keep track of it. Note the
location, and its distance from you. Watch for similar incidents around
or near the original site. If, within a few days or weeks, these incidents
do occur, study them carefully. Note the response of law enforcement
and other govemment agencies. If they react more forcefully with each
occurrence, chances are that an outbreak is unfolding.
Hyperlinks are your friend.
Also: Can you imagine what a quote tree would look like with this baby?! "
I'm having trouble seeing it, personally.
No, I think... I see it now.
Are you sure?
One must be absolutely certain in these matters, for they are not to be trifled with.
I'd just like to say...I'm sorry. "