We started small with a strategic partnership in the 1960s with an unknown filmmaker, George Romero, and since then our business and our budget has grown exponentially. Through due diligence on our part, we have inserted zombies into all segments of popular culture. From inserting zombies into "Call of Duty" to the creation of "The Walking Dead" to writing "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (okay, Jane Austen deserves some credit for that one but still), we have been behind it all. Our mission has been singular and absolute.
Our mission has been to prepare all of you for this; you cannot say we didn’t warn you. We here at the American Zombie Research Initiative have been working across all forms of media to get each of you psychologically and emotionally prepared for this day and now it’s here: The Zombie Apocalypse. We hope you have been paying attention.
We also tried getting you all physically in shape by distorting images of already beautiful celebrities and models in advertisements to get you to ascribe to an impossible standard of duty. Unfortunately, we failed to take into account that as Americans you simply don’t want to exercise.
This memorandum is not to inform you how to survive or what to do next. You should have that committed to memory by now. This is strictly our first public communique to explain the possible causes for this outbreak. At this time, we don’t have enough information to pinpoint the exact nature of this outbreak which may, in fact, be a combination of several factors. We will not know for several more days and by then all routes of communication are likely to be cut off and survival will be the only thing that will matter.
Our internal data points to one or more of the following causes:
5. Inexplicably Resurrecting Corpses
As seen in: The Walking Dead, Cemetery Man
Recent occurrences: Brazil http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/brazilian-boy-comes-back-to-life_n_1578283.html and Argentina http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/argentina-baby-alive-morgue_n_1417041.html
This may seem a bit of a cheat since in every zombie apocalypse, the dead rising is kind of how this thing works. The difference between this and the other apocalyptic scenarios is that this is how the whole thing starts - just the dead rising from their tombs for no real reason other than that’s what they feel like doing at the moment.
Yes, this is the least likely scenario to explain our current situation, which is good. What is bad, however, is that this is the absolute worst scenario that could occur. If these zombies started off by rising out of the ground, we would need to deal with nearly every human who has ever existed and each person who succumbs to the dead for any reason will rise up. If this is the case, humanity is doomed.
If this truly is the case, there is only one piece of advice that we can give: either give up right now or aim for the head.
As seen in: Resident Evil 5
Recent occurrences: Ever hear of a little place called Haiti? Non-verifiable claims come from the island on a regular basis. In 1996-1997, there were three cases worthy of publication in the academic journal, The Lancet. http://mindfull.spc.org/vaughan/talks/ns_assignment/Zombification.pdf
According to all of our data, this is where the zombies first began to appear. These isolated incidents were of little interest to us until the Cold War, when we realized we could turn these husks into stand-ins for the Ruskies as well as start our program of infiltration as a way of advance warning about this impending terror.
From tests first conducted in the 1930s and then reconducted in the 1980s, when we actually had a grip on things like basic science, we have determined that a neurotoxin is a highly probable cause of the current zombie outbreak. According to our analysis from data collected by anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis, the active neurotoxin used in zombification is a compound known as tetrodotoxin. The sources of tetrodotoxin are varied, but the most common is found in the pufferfish.
Combine the tetrodotoxin with other ingredients in the traditional zombie powder, namely more animal derived poisons and some human flesh, and you have the beginning of an outbreak. The downside to this is that the traditional method of zombie-making cannot turn humans into zombies, but that doesn’t mean that a rogue cell hasn’t been able to weaponize this toxic compound and make it transferable from zombie to human.
3. Astronomical Anomalies
Heavily hinted at in: “Night of the Living Dead” and seen in: “Fido”
Recent and near-future occurrences: ‘Supermoon’; Annular and total eclipses of the sun; Transit of Venus across the sun; Massive solar storms
The fact of the matter is that we don’t know the exact ramifications of the high volume of astronomical phenomena we have and will continue to experience throughout the year. The sheer amount of solar radiation generated by the massive solar storms and increased solar flares this year could create incalculable damage on our infrastructure and electronic devices. In addition to the possibility of fundamentally changing the way our society functions, the consequences from massive amounts of solar radiation are little known. There are also strange fluctuations in gravity and the magnetic field in cases of eclipses.
We’re not saying we are definitely going to have zombies and that the Maya were right or anything, but think about the fact that the transit of Venus across the sun is even rarer than Halley’s Comet. The event has only been documented in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and, most recently, in 2004. By the time the next one rolls around, we will all be dead. In conjunction with all of the other astronomical events, this seems to be an indicator of major problems in the present.
2. Street Drug Proliferation
As seen in: “Planet Terror” [yes, it is technically a chemical weapon, but the fact that if a person gets a continual supply, the side-effects can be slowed dramatically puts it into the drug category on a technicality]
Recent occurrences: Miami http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/news_archives/miami-zombie-attack-story-video-among-many-gory-incidents-causing-online-zombie-talk-to-grow, Louisiana http://www.opposingviews.com/i/health/addiction/new-zombie-attack-louisiana-man-carl-jacquneaux-bites-chunk-victims-face, California http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/mma-fighter-jarrod-wyatt-allegedly-ripped-training-partner-taylor-powell-heart-murder-case-article-1.446328, Miami again http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/brandon-deleon-high-on-cloud-9_n_1570560.html and several others
Okay. We know that this has been going around a lot lately. We have known about this combination of chemical compounds – methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone – and their ability to turn humans into bloodthirsty cannibals without higher brain function for quite some time. (Yeah…Sorry about that one.) Why do you think we gave it such a terrible name? I mean, come on, bath salts? Are you a 50-year-old woman with a single glass of pinot grigio taken from a box in the fridge soaking in a tub and reading Nora Roberts?
Sometimes we fail to take into account the abject stupidity of drug abusers.
So now that this horrifying combination is known by everybody and legally available in most states – sometimes even available at gas stations, because that’s a good idea – there are a lot of people who want to copy something stupid they saw on the internet. We used to refer to this as “The Jackass Effect” and before that “The Three Stooges Effect”.
This drug basically shuts down the body’s ability to function at a higher level or fall asleep. After prolonged ingestion, a person can suffer from a form of psychosis leading to all sorts of atypical and asocial behavior.
At this moment though, we can inform all members of the general public that although your face might get eaten off, these people are not technically zombies. Yet. They’re probably developing something a little closer as we speak though. Therefore, although there are probably a few of these guys roaming the streets right now, more than ever before actually, these guys probably are not our biggest problem and probably will not be in the future. That’s really good because even headshots tend not to take these guys down quickly.
1. Brain Parasites
As seen in: Resident Evil 4
Recent occurrences: You’re probably infected right now…
Half of all humans on the planet are infected with Toxoplasma gondii. That’s about 3.5 billion people.
The favorite animal and unofficial mascot of the internet is the common housecat.
There’s a connection.
The housecat: haser of cheezburgers, eater of flies, destroyer of cardboard, guardian of the litterbox and hunter of rodents. Most of that is just fine; it’s the last two parts of that that have probably doomed humanity’s collective existence.
Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that is known for contributing to schizophrenia in humans, but it’s what happens in rats that makes this interesting. You see, humans and rats are not all that dissimilar, which is why rats are used for all sorts of medical testing reasons, and it’s the rat connection that is worrisome. When a rat is infected with toxopasmosis, it will actively search out areas where cats are likely to be found in order to get eaten. Toxopasma gondii will then use this opportunity to reproduce in the belly of the cat. The cat then defecates and then we get infected when we demean ourselves to clean up their mess.
The most terrifying aspect of this parasite is that it completely affects judgment and the instinct for self-preservation in rats. With little more than a slight mutation, this could do the same thing to humans and turn us, as a species, into a bunch of mindless, shambling, living corpses – no longer human, yet remaining in human form.
Of all the reasons behind the legions of humanoids bent on the destruction of our society, this is probably the most likely reason behind it and it’s all the cat’s fault.
Enjoy the apocalypse, fellow citizens. It was a pleasure to serve you all these years. If we’re lucky, we might just make it through this. In the meantime, get away from heavily populated areas and aim high.
Joe Vampire is horror movie aficionado and a writer for HalloweenCostumes.net. One strategy he suggests for surviving the evil undead is to blend in and dress like a zombie.