I love Zombie fiction, this is a new found love which really began when I saw the original Dawn of the Dead a few years ago and then continued as I worked my way through all of the available zombie movies. When I finally caught up to the current state of Zombie fiction and started watching the back episodes of The Walking Dead I was well and firmly hooked, but I needed more! So I started reading the comics and those were good, but still there were large chunks of my day where I couldn’t sit and read, so I found audio books and specifically the Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo. I also listen to any interview with zombie related creators that I come across(Andrew Lincoln, Robert Kirkman, George Romero, Greg Nicotero, etc.)
Over the course of these Interviews I have heard a number of peoples zombie plans and have been confused by a particular point. Almost universally people have a plan based around a specific kind of zombie, but that zombie type is sometimes different for each individual. Now I will admit that the chances of a zombie based apocalypse is very slim at best, but I think almost everyone would agree with that point. What people don’t seemed to always agree upon is what form those zombies will take. In my opinion this is one of the most in important points.
My point is this zombie up to this point are fictional, Unless you count the drugging and brainwashing the occurs when a voodoo zombie master takes another victim, which most zombie enthusiasts wouldn’t So the question is what form could the zombie apocalypse take? Since this is a fictional threat I think it only wise to use these fictional examples as a model. Let’s take it from least likely to most likely, shall we?
First on the list, and therefore least likely to happen, (Thank goodness, because if it did we’d all be screwed!) is the retro-active global curse. This is a curse set place on humanity by some malevolent force, whether that’s god, the devil, or some sort of space wizard is not important, because we have bigger issues to deal with. Namely all of the corpses that have ever died that still have enough left of themselves to be considered a corpse. This cursed based zombie is the crappiest for humanity and is not really worth planning for because if it were to happen we would be screwed because not only would there numbers match ours pretty closely right off the bat but the ratio would quickly start to swing their way shortly after.
Now there are other type of zombie curses that would be easier to manage if only because of the smaller scale involved. That is the “hell’s full” curse, where any one who dies from that point forward will come back. Another factor that is an unknown when you add magic as a possibility is intelligence. If a zombie as been reanimated through magic it is just as likely that it could retain their intelligence and personality like in the comic book The Sandman where hell is shut down and so all the souls are put back into their bodies on earth but they are still themselves, everything goes to shit as you would imagine but in a very different way than the traditional zombie movie.
Moving on to a slightly more likely possibility is voodoo zombie, I say it is more likely because in essence no one is really dead, what you are dealing with is an army of brainwashed soldiers who will do their masters bidding, they would spread a bit like the cybermen from Doctor Who but with a voodoo theme instead of space robots. They would swarm the earth grabbing new victims to be zombified and growing their numbers. This premise would make an interesting plot for a film but would be fairly easily thwarted since the zombification process is a long one and the resulted zombie is still vulnerable int all the same ways that a person is.
Now we start to get into the more scientifically based zombies, which in my opinion are much more likely to happen and are therefore a better scenario to prepare for. Now within this vein of zombies there are a couple of variations. The first, and again the least likely, is some sort of puppet zombie, that is the corpse as become host to some sort of parasite that is controlling the body manually thing type of zombie is by far the toughest because there is no permanent solution short of dismemberment or incineration. Slightly easier to imagine is a parasite based zombie in which it takes advantage of brain chemistry to control you in which case it has all the same weaknesses as the voodoo zombie because its not already dead.
Up until now the zombie that I have considered have been fanciful at best and impossible at worst, so lets talk disease based zombies. These zombies are by far the most likely to occur since there is an actual avenue of transformation and transmission that can be described. But in keeping with our journey up the scale of likelihood, lets start with dead zombies. Now Most zombie enthusiasts will tell you that these are the only true zombies, that by definition a zombie is a human who has died and come back from the dead. However this type of zombie is extremely unlikely since movement quires muscles, muscles require fuel to burn, and metabolism requires a pulse, oxygen and food. But barring all that, let’s say there were some way for a virus to seize control of a corpse the result would be the slow lumbering zombie that you probably most familiar with.
Now these last two versions are in my opinion the only two real possibilities, the first and slightly less likely to occur is the man-made, or naturally mutated virus that appears in 28 Days Later or in I am Legend. While these two viruses differ in slight ways, they are basically the same, in that they require a live host and that they simply insight violent and cannibalistic behavior, not much is left of their true personality but there is no reason to think that there core intelligence has been destroyed. They are capable of staging, and they retain a good part of the dexterity and mobility. By far one of the more chilling types of zombies.
The last type of zombie, and in my opinion the most likely to occur, if it is likely for the zombie apocalypse to occur at all, is a mutation of the rabies virus. Now I am sure there are some that would lump this type in with that of the previously described type. But I think that there is an important difference between that and this example, that being a virus that only infects humans and, in the case of I am Legend, dogs. The real insidious fact of a mutation of rabies virus is that the disease is already known to cross species barriers with ease, at least between mammals. And that means that there would be zombie dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, beavers, you name it is a potential zombie candidate. The really unsettling part of this possibility is that rabies is not all that dissimilar from a zombie virus as it is, in the later stages victims experience drastic personality changes, violent outburst, even some instances of cannibalistic behavior have been recorded.
One of the first and in my feeling toughest hurdles to get over at the start of a zombie apocalypse is Identifying just what you are dealing with so that you know your choices, and can plan appropriately. I’ll be doing another post on this topic shortly where I will go into my own zombie plan, in generals and specifics, addressing some of these scenarios.
And that’s my take on comparing zombies.