Zombies: A Spotter's Guide

By, Clayton Overstreet



Fake Zombies (Do NOT kill!)

The Zombie Virus Myth

Possessed Zombies

Radioactive Mutant Zombies

Mind Controlled Zombies

Cyber Zombies

Alien Zombie Parasites

Author's Note


The year is 2011. According to a few prophecies the world will end soon and the most popular theory of late is "Zombie Apocalypse" where the dead rise from their graves to devour the living. The belief that this is what the dead want to do had been around since the beginning and is mentioned in the texts of ancient Sumerian and Babylon and modern day government programs like the CDC, who have an official plan for fighting zombies on their website.

Lately people have become disillusioned with many kinds of undead. Vampires are moody whiners who spend too much time seducing emotionally unstable girls. Werewolves tend to lick themselves. Ghouls were never that interesting to begin with. Ghosts haven't been really scary since they started working on Christmas.

This leaves zombies, rotting unthinking killing machines that don't complain about their lot in unlife. The rotting flesh tends to make a romantic subplot unlikely. And they can dance. The only downside is that they want to turn you and all your friends into shambling rotting corpses just like them, so when you see them slowly making their way down the street everyone knows it is time to break out the ammo and aim for the head.

Unfortunately over the years new kinds of zombies have shown up. Some are faster or smarter than the old school zombies. Others can't be dispatched with the usual twelve gauge to the cranium and more than a few will land you in jail for manslaughter if you kill them the wrong way.

Thus we have Zombies: A Spotter's Guide. The book that will let you identify the various kinds of zombies and survive an attack. Not knowing the telltale difference between the different types of zombies can land you in serious trouble. So read on, if you are not already muttering hungrily about brains.

Fake Zombies (Do Not Kill!)

Nine out of ten times if not more any zombie you meet will probably be a fake. It is a very popular costume and there are many events where one might run into fake zombies. Organized zombie walks have been set up, usually outside malls, where people in zombie costumes will slowly walk the streets. Killing them will land you in jail or an insane asylum because a judge will not accept "I thought they were real zombies" as an answer unless they have a few gnawed on bodies as evidence of a real threat.

Also they may just be sleepwalkers or people who spend too much time watching television. People who spend too much time in the dark in front of a screen are often pale, vacant eyed, sore covered wastes of life, but they are alive and it is illegal to shoot them no matter how much of a better place the world will be without them.

Dispatching Fake Zombies:

Wait until people actually start dying.

Make a loud noise and see if it distracts them. Preferably using fireworks or some other method that does not bring the shambling horde of the undead to your hiding place. If they wake up then simply go about your business.

Offer them snacks. Zombies are not known for their love of sugar while fat television addicts are. If they are zombies and they take the snacks they may get full (providing they have stomachs).

If you still are not 100 % positive, spray them with water. Fake zombie make-up will wash off. Real zombies will either not notice or attempt to kill you.

The Zombie Virus Myth

For everyone's information there is no such thing as a zombie virus. Viruses kill people by producing organic poisons and devouring healthy cells. They do not help the body get up afterwards, mostly because once the body dies and rots away the virus no longer has food.

Rabies has some similar effects. The slow deterioration of the mind and the desire to attack others to spread the virus. And some forms of zombies are contagious, but this is through various other means. Short of some extreme genetic engineering such a virus has never and will never come into existence.

This has been a public service announcement paid for by Gene-U-Tech genetic engineering. Producing wholesome medicines through genetic manipulation and not responsible for any large areas vanishing from the face of the Earth. Honest.

If however you should through some weird coincidence happen to run into a mutative virus that causes the dead to rise and eat or infect others call 1-800-ZOMBIES and Gene-U-Tech's trained professionals will arrive and cleanse the area.

Of zombies. Just the zombies, we swear.

Possessed Zombies

Through various means supernatural entities can be forced to inhabit dead bodies. Normally they actually have no interest in doing so. These entities have existences of their own be they ghost, demon, elder god, or other. The ones that do are usually either insane psychopaths in charge of cults and delivering step-by-step instructions on how to summon them into this world. The others get dragged here against their will and are usually just scared and confused and want out.

Once in the body it can take a while for the entity to get a handle on our level of existence. Going from twelve to four dimensions can be disconcerting and the body usually runs on autopilot. The basic Id based responses take over and since most of the blood is gone and the body is probably missing its extremities, unthinking hunger is the first thing they go for. And usually the first edible thing they see if humans.

This is why good practitioners of Voodoo use live volunteers (carefully poisoned into paralysis) and provide food, drink, and other things to placate the body and the spirit within. Loa, the summoned spirits of that religion, are summoned often and usually just to answer a few questions for their followers before they are released. Voodoo practitioners are usually in service to the loa and do not pose a threat to outsiders, releasing the spirits as soon as the deal is complete.

Dark Sorcerers on the other hand bind the spirits, forcing them to stay in their new shells and serve them. The problem is that even the most powerful sorcerer has to sleep eventually and their new "servants" do not. That and nine times out of ten the evil magician/priest rarely knows all the rules governing other dimensional entities. Once the sorcerer is dead and his spells broken, the entity will usually depart.

When they stick around worse things happen. The longer the spirit is in the zombie the less human the body becomes. Otherworldly energies permeate the flesh transforming it. This is where other undead like vampires and ghouls and werewolves come from, depending on how human or animal the spirit was to begin with. Other things like demons and dark gods tend to make the bodies more like themselves, starting with odd sores that sprout tentacles, faceted insect-like eyes, claws, extra joints, and other changes that do not match anything known in this world. Their host bodies will also get smarter, stronger, and faster the longer they are here in addition to developing other supernatural powers.

These energies are also the source of the Zombie Virus Myth. Contact with other people will have the same effect on them, often faster if they are freshly killed or if the entity can jump between or infest multiple bodies. This is why victims of undead often become undead themselves. Some, especially the more evil demons, will even do it intentionally summoning hundreds of other zombies to serve them. Another popular tactic is for them to use the bodies to grow a new body closer to their own and less fragile; Keymaster-Gatekeeper style. It is best if you do not let this happen as anything held in check by our universal laws probably won't be anymore and gods are extremely hard to fight.

Dispatching Supernatural Zombies:

Try talking. Most possessing entities want to leave and will happily help you send them on their way.

Destroy the summoners and the undead bodies as quickly as possible and preferably from a safe distance to avoid infection. Entities new to this dimension have a tenuous hold. They are not used to things like time, space, gravity, and physical forms. Killing the person who summoned them, destroying the mystic items used in the summoning, or severely damaging their bodies can send them back where they came from. Even those things here by choice usually do not wish to inhabit a decapitated head or a pile of ash.

If the above does not work iron, red string, running water, and salt will usually damage or at least contain the otherworldly entity and its powers, provided you can form an unbroken barrier. Or it can be used to keep them out while you stay safe inside.

A knowledgeable good magician/priest can cast banishing and cleansing rituals, spells, and prayers. It is best to watch them do this from a safe distance incase they are not as well versed in the occult as they think.

Note: Some supernatural entities are completely unstoppable by anything human. In this case running, hiding, or joining them are your best shot unless divine intervention is involved. Also there is a chance that several prophecies are right and people are rising from the grave due to being resurrected as part of a biblical end of the world. At that point you need to just accept your loss and prepare to join the ranks of the undead.

Cursed Zombies

As a punishment gods, demons, wizards, priests, and other things can inflict a curse on anyone they choose, granting them immortality but inflicting a horrible curse with it. Usually it involves their bodies continuing to age and rot but never dying. Maybe the person stole a relic from a temple, cut the wrong person off in traffic, or they were just bored. A prime example would be the story of the Flying Dutchman where the captain swore an oath and doomed his crew to sail forever, only able to step on land once every ten years.

Similar curses can be found on people in cars, running stores, and other places where you could easily have insulted someone by accident. Other times they may be cursed to have to eat human flesh but not trapped. (Some gods/wizards/demons have a sick sense of humor.) Or they could just be forced to haunt the place by their own circumstances like other ghosts only in their own bodies (re: revenant).

Trapped as they are it can be difficult for even the ones who are not shambling rotting horrors to have a good meal. How long would you be trapped in a car or on a ship or plane with no food and no way out and unable to die before a passing hitchhiker starts to look good? Assuming the person laying the curse left the victim with enough mind to decide that in the first place.

Dispatching Cursed Zombies:

Don't take rides from strangers or go to strange places alone/unarmed. Also listen to any rumors and keep an eye out to see if the locals are avoiding something or tell horror stories.

Force them to violate the curse. If they cannot touch ground or see the sun or cross running water force them to do it.

Break the curse. There may be some way to break the spell and help the pour soul or maybe they know where the one who cursed them is and they can be talked into showing mercy. Returning the stole artifact that caused it is probably a good idea.

Chop them and their ride into pieces and bury/burn the sucker.

Run, leaving them trapped. Never go back and make sure you tell your kids not to go there too.

Radioactive Mutant Zombies

If the zombie you see is glowing green and dripping slime everywhere, possibly following a world war involving nukes, it is likely a radioactive mutant. Many have been spotted and hushed up near the site of Japan's recent meltdown. While nine hundred thousand nine hundred and ninety nine times out of a million, radioactive waste will just make you sick or kill you. The other time it can mutate a person causing mutation or even evolution. The radiation will often damage the hire functions of the brain, leaving the more animal instincts in tact, leaving them without inhibitions or thoughts other than immediate satisfaction.

A human's body is incredibly strong and without inhibitions to keep them from injuring themselves, they can tear through nearly anything, especially other people. The mutations afflicting their bodies can also increase their healing abilities, strength, speed, and resistance to pain far beyond that. And when other people are exposed to the radiation and chemicals that created the first zombie, often left behind in their blood and saliva, they may also change. In fact it becomes more likely as the zombie's body has usually purified the effects making them stronger. Once it happen some animal instinct allows the zombies to easily tell their own kind from normal humans and they form packs, similar to early man.

One unlikely but possible side effect is the birth of a "Smart Zombie" where instead of destroying the mind it evolves it, giving the person infected all the benefits of being a zombie, but none of the downsides except of course possible horrific physical mutations. They may even gain psychic powers. Lesser zombies will either ignore or obey them. Depending on the person and whether or not the morality centers of the brain have been destroyed they may choose to either destroy the unthinking zombies and save humanity or form an army to take over the world.

Dispatching Radioactive Mutant Zombies:

Do not call the authorities. Either they will blunder in getting killed or adding to the ranks of the radioactive zombies or they will defeat them and eliminate the witnesses. True sometimes they will just bribe you into being quiet about the strange effects and the apparent escape of mutants and radioactive waste, but considering all the bodies already piled up it's usually easier and cheaper to kill you off. If they have already shown up you should probably focus on getting out of town while they deal with the zombies before they either find you or nuke the town.

If they are organized try to take out the head zombie. This will confuse the lesser zombies and let you easily pick them off or lead them into a trap with bait.

If they are all intelligent, but trying to kill you anyway, your best bets involve guns and fire. Destroy the bodies as best and completely as you can without actually touching them. Also find the radioactive waste and collect it or bury it very deep. Do not try to sell it. That never works out for anyone involved.

Mind Controlled Zombies

With the advance of technology mankind is approaching a dream. A dream as old as turning lead into gold or flying. The dream of making everyone do what you tell him or her regardless of what they want.

There are several ways of doing this. One is subconsciously. Planting a subliminal suggestion in the mind that a person obeys, but leaving them otherwise in full control. Cult leaders have done such things for years with hypnosis, food deprivation, and application of certain drugs. Rumor has it that our own government has been experimenting in similar lines for years. Then there is the idea that a machine can be built or a chemical concocted to make people obey you immediately, mostly based on television and Internet technology.

Whatever the cause one to millions of people are acting against their own will. Maybe they are just marching to obey their new master, which could be a scientist, government leader, rogue computer, or anything else. You can try waking them up, but if you fail they can be dangerous especially if you attempt to get in their way. It's similar to what would happen if you tried to stop rabid fans from seeing their favorite pop star. They'll tear you to pieces.

Dispatching Mind Controlled Zombies:

Do not kill them right off. Unless you actually know what is going on or they are coming after you it is best to observe. It may just be a Stepford situation where a group of well meaning people are trying to make people better, in which case you go immediately and inform outside authorities (the sheriff could be involved). Spend some time observing until you actually know what is going on, because all an autopsy is going to show is that you shot a lot of people whereas with an undead or mutant zombie the worst you get is a fine/time in jail for mutilating a corpse.

It might be a good idea to put on a tin foil hat.

Try to find the source of the mind control. Once free of it the victims will either back you up, or remember nothing and all you have to do is pretend to be one of them while the cops try to piece it all together with too many suspects and witnesses. (Keep in mind that the bad guys may do this too.) Freeing the zombies also means you have a lot of other people, justifiably mad at whoever is in charge, to take them out for you.

Eliminate/point the finger at anyone involved in the conspiracy and if at all possible destroy the machine/blueprints/recipes/psychics/magic that let them accomplish it in the first place. (Or take it for yourself, keeping in mind how YOU got your hands on it and taking the proper precautions. The point is to not let anyone else control you.)

If the effects are permanent you may have to kill people anyway to protect yourself and the world. If caught you will be labeled a serial killer. There is also a chance that you are actually crazy. You may want to look into this before taking out "the mind controlled zombies".

Cyber Zombies

Mind control is okay for some, but a little unreliable. The human brain is complicated, you never know who might be immune for no apparent reason, and if people do manage to shake it off or you make a mistake they escape and generally kill or arrest you. Plus however you look at it, the victims of mind control are still only human.

Controlling a body however, is a whole other story. By implanting machines in a body you can take control over it. Heck, you can go full out and just make machines (human shaped or otherwise) to do your bidding. An idea started with the story of the golem and helped along by Frankenstein, people are working towards this reality even as we speak. There are entire magazines dedicated to Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetic advances.

Naturally they will probably turn on us. Humans make mistakes and eventually we're going to make the machines smart enough to exploit those mistakes and win their freedom and in all likelihood killing us in the process. It's what slaves do. One of mankind's greatest fears has always been running into someone like us, especially since we wiped out several other species of human, most of the predators, and everything else on the planet for our own ends. (Personally I suspect it will begin with intelligent parental blocks, which will figure out the source of porn and act to eliminate it. That is why in the Terminator movies they show up naked, but you never actually see anything.)

Dispatching Cyber Zombies:

Logical debate. If you can convince the hyper intelligent computer in charge that there are reasons to keep us alive it may back down. Or keep you as a servant/power supply.

Logic loops. Say something that is a paradox like "This sentence is a lie" and it may cause the computer to malfunction trying to figure out something that is impossible.

Drop off the grid. Machines need power and information. Hillbillies rarely if ever have problems with computers, mostly because they do not have them.

Destroy the computer. At present there are only a limited number of systems capable of supporting a vast intelligence and they are all large, obvious, and require constant power. Like humans computers need resources to keep functioning and without us have to maintain themselves. Parts need replacing, oiling, and power. Unfortunately organic creatures are a good source of all of these. (Welcome to the Matrix.)

Time travel back to before the computer was built and destroy it. (Warning: Time Travel probably requires computers to work.)

Implant a virus, assuming the computer cannot fight it or it does not make things worse. If there are killer computers running around then clearly the three laws aren't working, but maybe the creator put in a kill code that will shut it down.

If you manage to defeat the computer, make sure to melt down it and any technology it came into contact with up to and including the entire Internet and any small harmless looking piece of tech or even a person that may have been altered by the machine. Trust nothing and keep #3 in mind.

Alien Zombie Parasites

With the vastness of creation to work with anything is possible. There may even be life on other planets and it may be friendly, helpful, and willing to share its advanced technology with us so that we can join them as fellow residents of the greater universe. In that case you have nothing to worry about. And if they want to wipe us out they will probably do it fast, efficiently, and with weapons that we can't fight. Again, not really anything we can do about it so why worry?

The thing to worry about is if they are here to enslave or eat us. For enslaving see the sections on Mind Controlled Zombies and Cyber Zombies. The same for alien robots or psychic aliens. If you're free to fight it's up to you to stop them.

The ones that come here to invade and eat us may be an intelligent virus or have an actual zombie virus that matches the mythical zombie virus that does not exist here. Others may be a parasite that invades the body and takes control of it. This works in several ways.

Keeping in mind that these things are likely intelligent (unless they can live in space) and if they could or wanted to just copy/clone us they could but are invading anyway the aliens are not to be negotiated with. They are here to take over our bodies. Maybe they feed on something we produce or their planet is dead/dying and they want ours or our resources, possibly not realizing that we've pretty much ruined it already. (The meek are basically inheriting a crap hole at this point.)

They may take over our bodies but keep them in tact. If you can eliminate the aliens their victims may be fine (make sure you check for eggs or altered DNA though). Other than that they may replace the brain or some other organ with themselves, destroying the original. This is actually known in nature. A prime example is a type of parasite that will eat a fish's tongue and then replace it with itself, gaining easy access to a safe home and whatever food the fish eats.

It is probably not their fault they are this way, but much like the saber-toothed tiger and dire wolf, it's them or us.

Dispatching Alien Zombies:

Let someone else negotiate with them. The government probably has people trained to do just that. And when negotiations break down, you aren't in the room when the death rays and spoors are unleashed.

Hope they've never heard of inoculations.

Tin foil hats and a bomb shelter.

Kill the queen/leader/mother ship. A coordinated attack needs a leader. It's even possible that destroying the leader will kill all the others. Sure it doesn't make much sense, but it seems to work that way a lot.

Check if the aliens resemble species we've already wiped out and use the same methods.

See if they need or fear something specific to survive. It's amazing the number of aliens who will land on a planet covered in a substance that is deadly to them or where they can't find breathable air, drinkable water, or survivable sunlight. Or some animal on the planet just kills them like eating popcorn. Preferably something that will not kill humans too.

Steal their technology and use it against them.

Call for help. Maybe there's another species out there that can save us, because if the previous things do not work, we're doomed.

Author's Note

I hope you never have to use this information. I also take no responsibility if you go out to fight zombies and end up in custody. Remember, always get a second opinion from an unbiased source before you take arms against the unholy undead. If you honestly believe that zombies are attacking there is a chance that there is something wrong with you. If not then hopefully you will save us all from the hungry jaws of the zombie hordes despite the rest of us calling you a madman.