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The Zombie Assassin
The gaunt, sallow-skinned, vacant-eyed, man stumbled down the empty dark street beneath a pallid full moon. He finally arrived at the quaint house he was commanded to find, climbed the rickety steps, and approached the door, then proceeded to knock hard but slowly. Soon the door creaked open, and a jovial fellow stood there, and asked, "Yes, can I help you?"
The dull-eyed man stared at the fellow's face, finding recognition that matched a photograph shown to him earlier. Then his right hand swiftly reached up and gripped firmly the fellow's neck, lifting him inches off the floor while he gasped and struggled for air. None was given him. The eyes bulged, the face turned purple and grimaced horridly, and then no sound remained. The pale hand released the neck, and the lifeless body dropped to the porch.
The zombie slowly stepped down the stairs and amble off along the street. His task was done.
It took only a few days for the police to link the murder to the human creature who they found sitting at a park bench, appearing disoriented. His fingerprints were all over the dead man's neck. They took the strange man to the station to be interrogated, but the man was a virtual vegetable; he could not respond except with mutterings and a blank stare. He was literally a useless basket case. They had no idea that this unperson, this living dead human creature, was a mere tool in a diabolical plot masterminded by a sinister voodoo witchdoctor, one who was an expert in the art of zombification. This pathetic creature was merely a victim in an insidious murder scheme, and the plan was for the police to never connect the grim assassination to this evil sorcerer. So far, the scheme had worked perfectly, as intended.
Introduction to a Zombie Nightmare
Hollywood zombies are overrated. Those crazy "Living Dead" movies, although horrifically exciting, are not based on reality. Sorry to burst your blithering bubbles, folks! So what's the reality behind zombies, those reanimated corpses that are accursed and accused of stumbling around and pursuing helpless victims? What is the origin of these strange creatures called zombies? What factors or ingredients are put together to transform a regular human into a deathly "unalive" zombie? What is their diabolical purpose and who is behind them?
Since we're in the Halloween season, an article about zombies is timely.
Part One: The Hideous History of Zombies
Technically, a zombie is a dead human that has been revived or supernaturally resurrected, and although Hollywood has been known to revive many of these corpses from graves, the real scoop is that voodoo witchdoctors are actually behind it all. These unromantic necromantic wizards know the real secrets for causing death to their victims and then reanimating them, transforming them into mindless, lifeless, obedient servants.
First let's get into the morbid background about these deadbeat characters. Etymologically speaking, the modern word "zombie" is debatable, but the strongest possibility is that it comes from the Haitian Creole word, zonbi. Essentially a zonbi is a person who has died and then is resurrected. In the Haitian Voodoo cults this has a negative if not a diabolical connotation.
The ghastly art of zombification originated from the Voodoo religion which came out of Africa, particularly West Africa, where in the 17th century primitives were captured, who in turn became wretched slaves, and most likely they developed their sinister art to get back at their captors. This voodoo cult consisted of a combination of primal African religious ritualism and Roman Catholicism that European settlers brought to the land.
The voodoo arts are found in various countries across the world, such as Haiti, Benin, China, Japan, parts of South America, and many of the black communities in North America, particularly the South, and it was especially popular in New Orleans.
Part Two: The Diabolical Art of the Dead
The insidious practice of voodoo zombification became commonplace on the island of Haiti in the Caribbean Sea as performed by sorcerers and witchdoctors in particular, or as some are called "bokor" or voodoo sorcerers.
These sinister necro-wizards would capture unsuspecting individuals to perform their evil magic on them, usually through a specific spell, or by giving them a magic potion, which actually amounts to a poisonous drug. The victim would undergoes a death state and was usually buried for a period of time. Then the victim was resurrected and could be used as a mindless servant to obey its master's bidding. They were technically brain-dead, and were void of self-awareness, but they functioned at an unconscious level where the free will is completely suspended, whereby they could only heed the will of their master. Often they were used as thugs or even assassins, to commit crimes or such misdeeds. For example, the dictator of Haiti in the 1960s, Papa Doc Duvallier, created a special army of zombies, to go out on various missions, performing various misdeeds, whether to just rough people up or to murder them.
There have been cases of individuals that died, and then they were buried by their families as expected, then many years later they were resurrected and came back to life, but as lifeless lethargic humans in most cases, although some did seem somewhat cognizant. Obviously these individuals were victims of voodoo witchdoctors.
Certain accounts describe a real life zombie in this way:
"The eyes were the worst. It was not my imagination. They were in truth like the eyes of a dead man, not blind, but staring, unfocused, unseeing. The whole face, for that matter, was bad enough. It was vacant, as if there was nothing behind it. It seemed not only expressionless, but incapable of expression."
This is from William Seabrook, who wrote The Magic Island, where he claims to have had first-hand encounters with these zombies in Haiti.
Obviously this description sounds a lot like those Hollywood zombies, so I can see where the moviemakers got their weird ideas. Or do they just have an overactive imagination?
Part Three: Magic Zombie Potion
The naively superstitious Haitians believe that zombies are created through black magic rather than drugs made by the voodoo sorcerers or witchdoctors. The gullible folks of this land do not subscribe to scientific methods, for to them magic is the real power to be feared. However, modern research into Haitian zombie rituals has revealed that the witchdoctors do in fact use certain drugs on their victims, consisting of powders formed from various plants and animals that have been macerated. One of the ingredients was found to be puffer fish, which consists of "tetrodotoxin," a deadly poisonous neurotoxin, found to cause paralysis and death. However there have been cases where individuals have taken tetrodotoxin, and only simulated death because they made a full recovery afterward. This is obviously a key to zombification.
The voodoo doctor will give the zombie powder to the victim, which in turn paralyzes the person and shortly delivers him into a deathly state. Sometimes the witchdoctor will bury the body of the victim himself, or he might allow the body to be found by the family, and then they will bury the supposedly dead family member, to which the Witchdoctor will later dig up the body from the grave. The poison is expected to dissipate, whereby the victim will revive, and then he would become a mindless, subservient zombie to obey his evil master.
Part Four: Unlawful Zombies
In Haiti, there was actually a law against zombification -- or something like it. In 1835 in Haiti, a law was announced that seemed to be directed at banning the creation of zombies. A poisonous drug that caused near-death to a victim who was also buried, was classified as attempted murder.
Alright, folks, we're splitting hairs here. Does this just refer to a deadly poison that fails to murder its victims, or does it have more to do with a specific zombie-creating drug that succeeds in creating a reanimated corpse, hence, zombification? Hmmm…one can never tell.
We don't often hear about zombie crimes in the daily news, except perhaps in backward countries such as Haiti and the other places voodoo magic and zombie arts exists. Perhaps it's because most people in modern societies don't want to believe this kind of thing exists. They just don't want to know. It reeks of the occult and the supernatural, and even the paranormal. You'll most likely hear about this kind of thing in the tabloids, but in the mainstream news it's completely void.
How do we know that certain crimes, such as robbery, vandalism, arson, or even murder, hasn't been committed by a subservient pawn, sent out by one of those bokor sorcerers? How do we know that these crimes have not been arranged by a modern-day witchdoctor, who sends out zombies to do his dirty work? In which case these crimes would most likely never be traced to him. Pretty ingenious. It would take a specialized police detective who is aware of the practice of such dark arts, and this person would be able to solve such crimes. But you don't hear anything about this -- except in fiction.
Part Five: Hollywood of the Living Dead
Is there any difference between Hollywood zombies and true-to-life zombies? Not much, except that the living dead folks that come from Hollywood are plastered with a lot of gruesome make-up, and I'm guessing real zombies do a better job at stumbling around and mindlessly staring into space. Also, the Hollywood zombies are basically a scattered crazed mob that eats brains, whereas genuine zombies are loners and do the bidding of their evil masters, whether that is doing acts of unkindness, or committing crimes, or perpetrating some vengeful plot, such as assassination. I believe the Hollywood zombies are more fun, but still full of mischief and mayhem.
If you thoroughly enjoyed (and got grossed out by) the classic Night of the Living Dead and the whole gruesome series of brain-dead movies that followed, campy and cheesy as they all were, then you can appreciate the whole Hollywood Zombie mystique without judgment, because they have little or nothing to do with real-life-zombies – pardon me, I mean real dead zombies. So, to sum it all up, zombies can be really fun – if not dangerous!
Wikipedia on Zombies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie
 Voodoo Zombies: http://zombies.monstrous.com/voodoo_zombies.htm
 How Zombies Work: http://science.howstuffworks.com/zombie.htm
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