Building a better zombie

Posted by Orville Bennett on 1 June 2012
Read time: about 7 minutes

People have been talking recently about zombie attacks, pointing to them as signs and portents of our impending doom as a race. At first there was the story of the man who ate the face off a homeless man. He was shot by police, refused to stop eating the man's flesh, then shot some more until, apparently, he died. Next there was the story of the guy who had someone's bones in his basement and was found later to have eaten him.

I'd like to point out that while the first story is a genuine sign of the zombie apocalypse to come, the second is just some weirdo doing a particularly bad job at being a cannibal, which is to say perp #2 should have been wearing the bones, not leaving them alone in the basement for relatives to see.

Having dismissed the second incident to general human weirdness, and barring further evidence of an impeding lycan revival, I started thinking about ways in which the 1st zombie attack might signal the start of the zombocalypse. You see transmission, is what we would have to worry about next. I've been pondering ways in which this might happen. Initial reports from the authorities are saying that this attack was due to drugs and honestly, I can believe it. A drug that modifies brain behavior and affects the endocrine system (releasing small bursts of adrenaline leading to temporary superhuman strength) is feasible.

Furthermore, if the effects were somehow sustained and muscle activity was constantly being stimulated—instead of the typical stimulation/desensitization cycle nerves (and their connected muscles) experience—the constant activity of the nervous system could indeed lead to increased internal body temperature. After all, we "burn energy" when we need it, and one of the most common results of energy being converted from form A to form B, is the loss of some of that energy in the form of heat.

But for the zombocalypse to occur this behavior must me transmissible, and sustainable. What we need, is a virus. Now we know from crackbabies that certain dependencies of a drug can be passed on from mother to child. I propose a scenario where someone who is with child takes this drug. The drug manages to get into the baby's system and thereby messes with the nervous system of the still forming child. But wait, there's more! In addition to this drug, the mother has a virus, let's just grab HPV from the existing mother to child transmissible virus pile and run with it.

Once birthed the child infects an adult, and the virus is able to accelerate its growth due to the proper nutrition of its new host. Crackbabies, since the mothers are mainly doing drugs, rarely have proper nutrition. Such would be the case with our zombie baby (Zombaby). But once the virus is transferred to a healthy individual, replication would be through the roof, thereby decreasing the time to zombification.

The story of how this happened for the technical minded might go a little something like this:

Our mother has already taken the drug and started chewing on her boyfriend, so she has to be put down by the police. It is of course captured on video but all the public see is a potentially deranged, pregnant woman, getting gunned down by the police. It doesn't matter that from the police's angle they couldn't see the womb, so now there needs to be some spin to put a positive angle on this. They try to save the baby.

Meanwhile inside the amniotic sac, the virus in combination with the drug, has given birth (see what I did there) to a situation where the HPV is now able to make its way to the brain. The drug has somehow managed to turn on the transcription of genes necessary for the fight or flight response. The new brain HPV recombines with these genes and incorporates it into its own genome. The virus then starts making more of itself. We have just witnessed the birth of HZV: the human zombie virus. Thankfully, this strain can only induce the "zombie response" from direct human to human contact.

Speaking of which, the doctors have begun there emergency C-section to save the baby. The doctors successfully deliver the baby and it cries. They notice that this freak of a child is one of those that already has all its teeth in (yes, this happens IRL). Regardless, they take the baby to the the nursery. Later, a nurse comes in to clean, and feed the baby before the inevitable press conference that the hospital has called to announce that they were able to successfully deliver the baby.

The nurse, tries to feed the baby formula but it keeps crying and spitting it out. Finally it throws up while she's holding it, projectile style. Right into her eye. Not expecting this surprise the nurse drops the baby accidentally. The virus, having saturated the baby's bodily fluids, travels along with the projectile vomit. We now have patient zero. And after being introduced into a well nourished adult with ample energy reserves the virus makes its way to the brain via the eye. Colonizing nervous cells as it moves along. This results in what will become the notable bloodshot appearance in the eyes of the zombified, indicating that they have well and truly "turned".

For now however the nurse stumbles out of the room, and informs one of the operating surgeons what has happened, and then a colleague helps her to go to wash the projectile vomit out of her eyes. The doctor rushes in to sees the baby crying on the floor and hurriedly picks him up, laying him on his own shoulder. The baby in a fit a superbabyhuman strength manages to bite the doctor in the neck, fortunately, no blood is drawn. The doctor, instinctively flings the baby across the room in response to the bite. Zombaby smashes into the side of wall, head first, and falls into the cot of another infant. He bites again, and this time there is penetration. Zombaby then falls over and dies as a result of the blunt force trauma to the head.

The doctor quickly looks at the glass pane separating him and the babies and notices no onlookers, so he rushes the where zombaby landed and recovered the now deceased child. He quickly inspects the original occupant of the cot, and noticing no wounds he moves on. The doctor now has a choice. He has a press conference to attend, one which may very well be the turning point of his career and he has possibly, just killed his claim to fame. But no one knows that but him. And so he makes a decision. He decides that he will bring the nurse that dropped the baby to the press conference, inform the press of her unfortunate actions, and his attempts to save the baby. The press conference will be crowded with both reporters, politicians, and members of the public. He thinks to himself "Once I bring the nurse in and hang her out to dry, things will probably get ugly." He has no idea how right he is.

And the nurse? Well, after rinsing her eyes off, and realizing that she dropped the child she became quite distraught. She's currently holed up in a room crying her eyes out. Eyes that are red and bloodshot. Perhaps from the crying, perhaps something else. She does not look well, but as far as anyone knows her appearance is due only to her constant crying and the realization of what she has accidentally done. The crying stops eventually, the nurse has fallen asleep.

And as she sleeps the virus is multiplying and quickly spreading throughout the brain. The HZV recombines with host DNA in the brain to interesting effect. In some areas it causes a reduction in motor function, i.e. slow movement. In others the result is constitutive activation of the "fight or flight" mechanism, primarily the fight response. In other areas it manifests as obsessive behaviors and combined feeling of hunger. Hunger that will need to be sated—with human flesh, specifically BRAAAAAAAINSSS!!! And so it began.

And so it begins? I guess we'll see :-) I did write more but this entry was getting too long, and possibly too technical.