What is a Zombie? [Article]

We are only 2 weeks into the merry month of May and it is anything but merry. A collective part of the internet recognizes May as “Zombie Awareness Month” and we here at The Yurei want you to be aware of this shambling threat.

Sometimes it’s very obvious. Sometimes it isn’t.

In order to have a great start for Zombie Awareness Month, what better way to prepare than to know your enemy? Even the CDC recognizes that zombies, while fictional, pose a serious threat to the world if left unchecked and unprepared for. Don’t believe me? Google search CDC and Zombie and you’ll be led to the Center for Disease Control website, which actually has its own comedic documents about how to prepare for a zombie outbreak. So, now that we are talking about zombies: what are they?

Zombies come in many shapes and flavors. From track runners to slow, shambling bags of meat. Thanks to Hollywood and the B-Movie scene, the typical idea of a zombie is green skinned, walks around with its arms raised, and constantly moans out the word “Brainsss…” while searching for victims to eat.

But you and I know better, don’t we?

In order to fully understand what a zombie is, we can take a look at the definition of the word. A zombie is a corpse that has been given life again, through the means of magic or witchcraft. It was a prominent word in voodoo culture, as well as African and Carribean religion and myths. This is where things start to mix with actual facts and folklore. Zombies were real, but they aren’t the type you would expect. Specifically, they were people that were manipulated with drugs and toxins, created by witch doctors that would fake their death and make them slaves with the drugs.

Clairvius Narcisse was a Haitian man rumored to have been a zombie. Declared dead by 2 doctors, he was found in a drugged and delirious state. Born 1922, Died 1964.

The zombies we are worried about here are much worse. Through the years, the image of a zombie has transformed slowly from “Voodoo Slave” to “Rotting Corpse with a biting habit” and we are here to talk about the latter.

It’s all of us against them and there will always be more of them…

More often than not in today’s age, a zombie is portrayed as a person that has been re-animated from actual death. Not a faked death. The body continues to decay as the newly made creature, now known as a zombie, hunts relentlessly for the living. Their sole purpose is to devour humanity and scrape our bones clean of all the flesh. But how is one of these zombies made?

It can be a number of things depending on the media you prefer, all ranging from a viral infection to radiation, nuclear fallout, magic or evil powers and even altered forms of diseases we have here in the real world. Despite the many different ways to create a zombie, they all share very similar characteristics. Hopefully, you will not miss any of them when you encounter one, but here is the list for you to check for yourself:

  1. Pale, rotting or missing skin. (Since the zombie is a dead corpse, its rate of decay varies on how recently the body became a zombie and how it died.)
  2. Cracked, bloodstained teeth. (Teeth become deadlier, often cracking as bone or other material is chewed through.)
  3. Lack of basic motor functions. (Such as opening doors, operating any mechanical items, even writing and speaking. Rare cases include zombies created by magical or demonic origins.)
  4. Dilated, bloodshot or milky, cataract-covered eyes.
  5. Missing limbs or eviscerated bodies. (A zombie continues to function even if most of it’s parts are missing. A zombie does not feel pain as it is dead.)
  6. Complete and total memory loss. (Zombies won’t ever remember who they were or who their family is. So, don’t try to hug one. Exceptions include magical and demonic zombies.)
  7. Complete disregard of physical worth. (A zombie will never cover its face with its arms to protect itself, nor move away from dangers. They’ll even walk through fire if they spot a worthy meal!)
  8. Smell. (This one is pretty obvious for all the aforementioned reasons. )
I mean, maybe, just MAYBE this is a zombie. Do you see any signs?

So why exactly is a zombie a big threat? It all boils down to a game of numbers. One bite that breaks the skin is all it takes for virus-infected saliva, radiation or magic energy to fill your blood stream, infecting you. After a few hours of fighting against whatever is changing you, you will eventually succumb to the influence. Then you become one of them. And the next person you bite becomes one and so on and so forth, creating a mass of even more zombies to roam and terrorize humanity – it is viral. It doesn’t even need to be a bite that can turn you, simply splattering a bit of blood into your mouth or eyes can infect you as well. It’s a hellish domino effect full of carnage and bloodshed.

Now onto the bigger question: exactly how does someone kill something that’s already dead? Well, in this case, you have to hit the off switch. You have to destroy the head. Crush the brain, but it isn’t that easy; at least not as easy as Hollywood makes it seem. Human skulls have been recorded to be completely crushed at 235kg, which is exactly 520 pounds. You need to strike the skull, a very small and constantly moving target, with that much force to break through and hit the brain. Cutting the head off leaves the head still biting, so don’t try to pick it up.

I sure hope this article has illuminated you on what a zombie is, and hopefully, just hopefully you’ll never run into one this month. Or any other month…