Killer Thursdays

How To Build A Zombie

Zombies. What are they really? Magically animated corpses or victims of a mutated virus that reanimates the dead or drives the living to become monsters.

 Zombie Pose Spidey…spidey-senses…mrmph…brainz…

In a recent post, Rafael of Neither Here nor There pointed out that zombies just don’t work, as least not from a “realistic” explanation point of view. There’s too much suspension of disbelief required to buy the virus-infection origin of the zombie. A supernatural origin, on the other hand, would be believable.

 Zombie CatCome forth, my undead minions…and get me a latte pronto.

So what do you think? How would you build your zombie? Rabies virus gone mad (because, you know, rabies isn’t mad enough on its own)? A wicked spell that reanimates the dead? Radiation from outer space? Tell us how you’d build the perfect undead creation.

Image Credit (in order of appearance):
Zombie Pose Spidey by shane o mac, on Flickr CC BY 2.0
Zombie Cat by Mr. Ducke, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

41 thoughts on “How To Build A Zombie

  1. Richard Matheson’s I am Legend makes realistic vampires plausible using a blood borne pathogen, a virus, that makes the vampires neither living or dead—they are basically hosts to a parasite of sorts that manipulates them toward its means to reproduce and survive. In fact, a good part of the novel has the protagonist trying to reason out and discover how the virus works.

    1. Actually…necromancy as it was originally practiced was not about animating the dead but about speaking or communing with spirits, be they spirits from other realms or the spirit of the deceased, not unlike a psychic medium. It was the Church who came down hard on necromancers, condemning them of communing with demons who trick them into making dark packs and sharing forbidden secrets. Then again, there is no reason for both to be true, at least not in my weekly serial(s). 😉

  2. Interesting thoughts. This (sadly) is a conversation I’ve had several times with one of my managers, no less. He says it’s got to be a disease, and I am inclined to agree. Either that, or a possessive parasite. Though one cannot easily through off the intrigue of Necromancy, as aforementioned.

  3. Well, this is an interesting post considering my newest WIP is about a different sort of Zombie. They turn into Zombies via bad onions. I can’t tell you anymore.
    Gosh, I get a tingle in my belly when I talk about it!
    Great post, Sonia.

  4. We don’t have to build them, they build themselves. They are walking among us, those dead souls who feed off others’ fear and anguish. Those dead souls who are not loving, only fearing…THAT’S IT! They caught the virus that was accidentally, on-purpose released into the environment. Oh wait…that was 12 Monkeys? Well…you got me…?

  5. I once actually had an idea for a zombie story – based on voodoo myths. The idea was that there were these alien creatures called the Guede (as in the myths) who’s planet was ravaged by a disase. They came to Earth and possessed the bodies of the dead, causing a sort of zombie apocalyse. So I guess that’s kinda a magic/science fiction explanation, but I never got round to really doing anything with it.

  6. Over the last few years I’ve explored a couple of different moderately plausible explanations for zombies. In PATIENT ZERO (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009) I build a pathogen on a prion disease. In DEAD OF NIGHT (Griffin, 2011), I use the Green Jewel Wasp and a bunch of other parasites. The science is as close as nature can get without futzing around in a genetics lab, but it actually addresses the endless hunger, the apparent lack of respiration and circulation, the awkward movement (onset and passing of rigor, and subsequent decomposition of connective tissue), and even the drive to kill. So, weird –no doubt; completely impossible? Sadly, no.

    1. But in all those cases the disease ends up killing the host anyway, it’s not like they become immortal. Their behavior becomes zombie-like but doesn’t last too long because the parasite/disease. Now, if the “zombie” disease did an alien chest buster bit on human, well that would be different.

      Just saying.

      1. True. Eventually, the muscle tissue would rot away and the body wouldn’t be able to move anymore. The brain might continue…until it rotted away.

        Unless the disease somehow slowed decay or regenerated tissue.

  7. Zombies, if they ever arise, will be souls that couldnt be reincarnated but hadn’t reached enlightenment for whatever reason so they just go back to their old body. Or souls that were meant to go to hell but hell was full so they got sent back to their body.

    1. In my novel, DEAD OF NIGHT, the consciousness of each ‘victim’ is trapped in the reanimated body of the zombie. They see/feel/experience everything that body does, but they have no control over it. It creeped me out to write those scenes.

  8. Okay, giving the comment thing one last try….

    On Necromancy. The original practitioners of the art claim to speak with spirits, either from nature (animistic belief systems) or the spirits of the dead, like modern medium claim to do today. It wasn’t until the rise of Christianity that the practiced got tied to demonology and dark forces The Church claimed that it was impossible to speak to the dead and that instead the necromancers (knowingly or otherwise) was conferring with demons from Hell.

    Still technically spirits from beyond our reality and there is nothing stopping anyone using them that way. I certainly have done so in my writings.

  9. So many great ideas, folks!

    The necromancy idea is pretty fun. A lot of potential there for a fantasy story there.

    And it’s rather terrifying that the idea of an actual biological cause for zombies is not that far fetched. I was kinda hoping it was a lot more far fetched than that. But…I asked so I only have myself to blame. LOL

    *Note to self* Get a machete and a crossbow. Invest in heavy duty physical training. Right now.

  10. I like all the reasons I’ve read so far: necormancy, viruses, medication gone bad. It’s all very, very thrilling. Can you tell I heart zombies? 😀

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