the reality of the ‘zombie apocalypse’ .

— the zompocalypse ☠

“This is the strange thing about life, when people are confronted, they all say that the truth is what they want but when the truth disagrees with them, they balk at it as if it were an unwanted zombie apocalypse that only wants to destroy civilization.”

Leviak B. Kelly, Religion: The Ultimate STD: Living a Spiritual Life without Dogmatics or Cultural Destruction

So this is how it ends.

Dark. Bright.
Cold. Hot.
Life. Death.
Sadness. Relief?

There are a thousand somethings outside your barricaded doors and windows, and the somethings — well, someones? — want in.
But who knows what they want when they get inside.

Pudding? Do they want pudding?
Do you have any pudding?
No, of course not.
That was the first thing you ate when things all went to hell.
Comfort food.

Rumor has it they want to eat you.
Rumor has it they were dead once — then came back.
Rumor has it they can’t speak, only moan unintelligent garbles.
Rumor has it they’re pretty stupid, actually.
Rumor has it this is the end of the world.
Well. Rumor has it this is the zombie apocalypse.

Ah. Guess you should have watched The Walking Dead some more, huh?

The Walking Dead, Zombieland, Resident Evil,
World War Z, Night of the Living Dead, Warm Bodies
— the undead are everywhere (to name a few).

Entertainment culture has crafted this perfect end-of-the-world scenario that has everyone on their toes, obsessed: the zombie apocalypse. But how much ‘truth’ is there to this idea? How much of it could actually happen?

The typical theory of the ‘zombie apocalypse’ goes as follows: somehow, the world has been overrun by these human-flesh/brain-craving creatures who were totally dead but then came back to life, doomed to forever aimlessly roam the earth in search of nothing in particular except for a solution to their insatiable hunger for human flesh/brain — which could never actually be solved, anyway; the creatures, deemed as zombies, don’t hold any memories from their ‘life’ before they died, and they are incapable of feeling any emotion or feeling of any kind, whatsoever; they walk slowly, with a limp, and mindlessly, and they will do anything — no matter how completely stupid and irrational — in order to eat, even if it means walking straight into danger’s path.

Different sources in entertainment have added different details to the theory, but the general bits tend to stay the same. Clearly, there’s a bit of fantasy involved. These people die — yes, completely dead — and then just come back to life as cannibalistic, slow-as-a-handicapped-turtle, mindless beings — which scientifically just can’t happen. People have tried to back up this particular theory, but there’s no getting around the fact that you can’t just come back to life magically like that. That would take, well, magic. And, unfortunately, this isn’t Harry Potter. No matter how much I may wish it to be (oh, don’t I wish that a lot).

However, what if these ‘zombies’ never actually died? What if they were still completely alive, but incapable of any relatively human behavior — reduced to those zombie-like tendencies we have all come to recognize?

Historically, there are things called “culture-bound syndromes”, which is “a combination of psychological and physical symptoms that are considered to be a recognizable disease only within a specific society or culture”.

e.g. in Malaysian cultures, there is the Amok syndrome: where an individual will suddenly take a weapon and kill mass amounts of people, often ending in suicide. In early Canadian culture, there is the Wendigo syndrome: where an individual will suddenly become cannibalistic — overcome with the urge to consume human flesh.

With this said, what if there were actual diseases that could contribute to and cause zombie-like behaviors? What if these diseases could render an individual incapable of any relatively human behavior, yet still be completely alive? How could these diseases exist? How could they be stopped? Would they infect a population quickly? Would it even last? Could it really cause the mass zombie apocalypse that entertainment culture has crafted?

Over the next two months, I will explore these possibilities and report on my findings. I will discuss various ways an infection could actually begin, spread, and last; how living in any ‘realistic zombie apocalypse’ would be; and conclude my studies with my own opinion on the matter. Hopefully, some truthful light will be shed on the possibilities.

After all, anything could happen.

Works Cited


Brooks, Max. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. New York: Three Rivers, 2003. Print.

Mogk, Matt. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Zombies. New York: Gallery, 2011. Print.

Schlozman, Steven C., and Andrea Sparacio. The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse. New York: Grand Central Pub., 2011. Print.

Verstynen, Timothy, and Bradley Voytek. Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain. Print.