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So I have been thinking about zombies for a year or two now. Actually, I started thinking about zombies long before that, but I am talking about zombies in the literary sense. I "wrote" a "novel" back in 2004 for National Novel Writing Month called The Nazi Zombies of Underground Louisville. (The quotation marks are meant to imply that I typed more than I wrote and the result was a fucking mess rather than a novel.) The species of zombie in the book was derived from the Romero zombie. In otherwords, it was slow, mindless, and could be killed by severe head trauma. At the time I thought I should try and come up with something more original, but since I had only 30 days to bang out 50,000 words, I abandoned creativity for speed.

Since then I have decided that the George A. Romero zombie, while perfectly fine in his movies and their rip-offs, has been done to death. And as a matter of principle, I am against the "fast zombie" featured in House of the Dead, Resident Evil, and 28 Days Later*. Insofar as I want to inject some realism into a horror genre that is fantastic by definition, reanimated corpses cannot move too quickly or they will fall apart. As the connective tissues degrade, stuff will just start falling off, like when that one non-dancing zombie's arm fell off in the video to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Plop.

And I don't want to deal with the actual zombies of Caribbean folklore. These poor creatures are real and, therefore, are less scary. Nor do I want magically created zombies, as in various role playing game and fantasy universes. In my fiction, magic doesn't exist if for no other reason than it is convenient -- too easy. I don't want to get into a flame war with any of you real-life wizards, witches, wiccans, and whatever. Regarding magic here in meatworld, my mind is wide open.

Also, I have to abandon, sadly with with much regret, the iconic image of zombies reaching up out of their graves, their hands erupting from the soil like unholy flowers. As the Mythbusters have clearly demonstrated, it would be nigh impossible for anything to emerge from a modern casket buried more than a couple feet deep. Even if you used kung fu, like The Bride in Kill Bill Vol. 1, you'd still have hundreds of pounds of earth on top of you and no leverage with which to use to dig out.

So what is left? What are the biology and physics of my zombies? I don't know for sure yet, but I have some ideas. First, there must be some biological imperative for why they exist and why they attack humans, especially to the extent that they attack humans exclusively. My first thoughts are that the zombies are host to a puppeteer type of parasite that employs the corpse as a vehicle to get from place to place and perpetuate itself. Its life cycle would be something along these lines. First, the parasite enters a corpse and begins devouring it, using it to grow. The parasite grows to form a sort of parallel nervous system with electro-chemical connections touching each of the host's largest muscles. The parasite then activates and begins flexing the muscles. The corpse, like a marionette with the strings on the inside, gets up and walks around. The parasite exudes eggs or nymphs in the saliva, and when a victim is bitten, the parasite invades another host.

Naturally, this mechanism makes killing the zombie a little more difficult than simply popping it in the head. If the controlling functions of the parasite are centralized, then destroying the "nerve center" would make sense. But to make things more interesting, why not have these functions distributed/decentralized? Hack off an arm, and the arm still wants to feed. Your choices are reduced to total disintergration (e.g., burning) or incapacitation (e.g., dismemberment, removing lower jaw.)

Another idea I had, but have not developed as fully, is what I like to call the "It's life, but not as we know it, Jim" model. (Star Trek reference == geek cred++) This model means that the normal, traditional model of "life" is radically reinterpreted. Death isn't the end of the organism -- just the soul. The organism continues to feed and procreate as a zombie with strange metabolic functions and other whacked out shit. In other words, it's like someone playing SimReality hacked the code and changed the rules mid-game. This is tinkering bordering on fantasy so I am less inclined to go this way.

I'm still thinking about all this. I just wanted to jot these ideas down somewhere.


* Yes, I know they technically were rage victims and not zombies.

The gods have smiled upon me. With the latest XP adjustments, I am now a proud level 4 user. This means I am now a Scribe.

Wow... I have waited so long for this moment... At least three years. I was missing 4 writeups or 5 writeups before the adjustment in the level system, and now it's been given to me gratis.

Talk about anticlimatic.

I've been lately a little aloof from e2. No, it's not that I've become disenchanted with the site in any way. It's just that I want to be very busy with my life and with my Master's, so I turned off the Chatterbox and Other Users nodelets.

It's amazing how much quieter this site is without all the gabber in the chatterbox. I feel a bit more distant from everyone. As if I were living in an island somewhere else and had to communicate by putting messages in bottles instead of being able to chat face-to-face.

I'm even out of practice on how to properly use pipelinks. I can't think of anything clever to pipelink here!

Well, not a bad thing entirely. Renovation. Rebirth. It's the cycle of life.

All that lies ahead of me is that time-honoured ritual and rite of passage on choosing what shall be my first ching. Not a ching power granted to me, but something I have supposedly earned through my participation in the site.

What will it be... what will it be? Hmm....

Addendum: It has been decided. The City of Angels, Mexico. Because although I cannot give eien_meru back the love he has shown me, I can still understand its depth, and I appreciate it sincerely. There scarcely is a greater gift someone can give you than understanding and comprehending exactly what your dreams are like. Thanks, Andy.

Lawrence Conrad VanDeWal,

Today, at about 8:48am, I was on the Metra on the way to work, and I was thinking about you. Well, the abstract concept of you at that point, since I didn't know you existed yet, let alone who you were. At about the point where the train reached the Clybourn stop, you came into the world. I, of course, had no idea at the time. I still haven't talked to my brother, your father, at all today. I assume he's probably a little busy. I haven't heard anything about webbed feet or weird mutant arms sticking out of your head, so I'm going to assume that everything is fine with you.

I don't have anything particularly profound to write at the moment, so I'm not even going to sit here and write some big words in an attempt to sound smart or wise. I figured that I should at least say something on the day of your birth, even if it was rather boring. I'm not sure that anyone else in the family will take a moment to write down their thoughts today, so I wanted to make absolutely sure that I did.

Ever since I heard that your mother was going to have you any second, I got to thinking about my childhood. By that, I don't mean running around the playground or going to kindergarten; that would be too simple for me to be able to absorb and discuss at length. Instead, I've been thinking about it in the dusty photo album, remodeling the house in South Schodack, rusty used truck with a baby seat in it kind of way. Obviously, I don't remember being an infant in any respectable way, but I've been thinking about it almost continually. That seems like it was impossibly long ago, and that things must have been so different back then, which they obviously were. But then I compare that time frame to today, the day of your birth, and I'm trying to imagine looking back on that in the same way that you inevitably will. It's such a strange juxtaposition that I couldn't help obsessing over it. I'd like to think that it won't look the same for you, but I'm sure that it will. We will all seem so quaint and obtuse, so limited in our lives, that you will wonder how we managed to do it with all the hassle involved.

But all the same, here we all are. I've been waiting to be an uncle for 15 years now: ever since your Uncle Steve and Aunt Rachael got married. Maybe it's a bit selfish of me to put it in those terms, but it's true. I've been excited about you since I heard that you were coming. Last night, I don't think that I slept more than two hours in a row. It felt like christmas eve. I really wish that I could have been there today, but I will be out there soon enough.

I'm so very glad you're here.

- Uncle Tim

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