Zombie Apocalypse Forthcoming…Seriously Speaking

Yes, that’s right. I believe we’re headed for a zombie apocalypse down the road. I may or may not live to see it, but it’s coming. And I’m as serious as Parkinson’s Disease.

The apocalypse won’t be supernatural as it was in City of Brotherly Death, or the short story trio, Trilogy of the Dead, where the dead have major scores to settle with the living. In my forthcoming book, Steel Rose, and its sequel, aliens inject a chemical into live humans, turning them into flesh eating zombies. Sometimes the aliens implant microchips in the dead to make them walk and attack. However, I doubt aliens will have anything to do with real world zombies. I acquired a taste for zombie fiction, having read Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, and other books by Jonathan Maberry. He’s a brilliant writer, but I don’t foresee viruses causing zombie-like behavior either.

Jim Gurley touched on my suspicions about zombies in his book Hell Rig, which opens with Global Oil Rig #13 claiming twenty-one lives during Hurricane Katrina. When Ric Waters, the half-mad sole survivor, return with his restoration crew, they discover the presence of vengeful Voodoo Loas on the haunted rig. Now I don’t believe people will use Voodoo to make zombies in the future, but the weather will cause the dead to rise. I’m thinking about Katrina, Irene, and now Sandy. These monster storms seem to be our new normal. Ditto for the extreme winters where you get two feet of snow or more.

Sandy left behind many battered trees that fell on live wires and property. My local buddies and I have had to change driving routes to avoid the live wires and detours. I got to thinking what if some of those live wires landed near a cemetery. The thought takes me back to Frankenstein, where electricity gave life to a dead body. We’ve just gotten through Sandy, with another nor’easter coming in a couple of days. As the years pass, all of that rain and flooding will cause graves to open up. Lightning and live wires may electrocute the bodies, and cause them to move…and walk.

The zombie’s behavior will depend on how long it was dead before reanimating and the condition of the heart and brain at the time of death. In a recently deceased person who died of say, a gunshot wound to the stomach, the heartbeat might resume, delivering blood to the vital organs, including the brain. Such a person might be able to think, make decisions, and recognize people. They might speak clearly, know right from wrong, and be able to express affection.

A close relative or friend might feel wonderful about being reunited with his Uncle Joe, enough so that they bring the person home with them. And that’s where trouble begins. Basically, we’re talking about a crapshoot. By the time the person reanimates, the brain has sustained moderate damage, and resumption of circulation doesn’t guarantee that deterioration will stop. The first signs of brain damage include agitation, combativeness, and confusion. In the newly reanimated, family members may not pick up these signs in Uncle Joe. So after a couple of days, the “happy reunion” ends when the person fails to recognize his family, acts out, and bites. The bitten may not turn into zombies, but they will pick up a nasty infection, perhaps the kind that kills without timely treatment.

Most of the newly reanimated won’t be able to think because their brains have decayed so much. Their voices will sound like pebbles lodged in the windpipe. I picture them shuffling the streets like the fictional zombies, but not necessarily tearing up and chewing on people. They may become agitated and bite without provocation. If the bitten dies from the infection, they won’t rise from the dead unless another storm comes along, and lightning strikes the grave.

By the time our apocalypse happens, most people will own generators. I pray they do. I pray that someone comes up with a battery-powered generator because many landlords and homeowners’ associations won’t permit residents to own gas-powered generators. That stinks because when the dead rise, a power outage is inevitable. Howcumzit? The dead might go after people who run the power plants, and a plant can’t run itself. Also, if the dead break into a plant and start batting at the buttons and controls, the power from the plant will become history. I’m optimistic that given our track record of storms, most people will pony up the money for a generator and keep it hidden.

These zombies are not going to be strong brutes that can tear down telephone poles and transformers, so we may have electricity in some areas. Again, a crapshoot.

If the zombies come during my lifetime, I’m going to look over my shoulder wherever I walk in case one of the reanimated heads my way. As for my balloon stories or photos, I might share them with a friend who just died and reanimated, and thus able to appreciate a good balloon tale. At the first sign of agitation or confusion, though, I’m running as if King Kong were after me. I’m hoping by the time this apocalypse happens, science invents plasma guns, like the kind in Steel Rose. The kind that’s user-friendly for delicate hands.

How do you feel about zombies? Do you think we’re headed toward an apocalypse? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Aliens injected a chemical that turned Barbara Custer's characters into zombies in Steel Rose.

If live wires or lightning strikes a grave, we’ll get a visitor like this zombie.

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