Disclaimer: This post is about zombies. It’s nerdy, gross, and a little embarrassing. Read at your own risk…
Okay, I’m just as amped for the Zombie Apocalypse as the rest of America, but it’s time to set some things straight. Traditional zombies, along with vampires and werewolves, are supernatural beings. The only way they are explained is by saying they’re beyond explanation. Aaand here’s the problem: Modern zombies often forsake the supernatural entirely and claim to be products of science. Fail. Not gonna happen (I’ll explain why in a second).
I think a part of this push is due to the ebb and flow of rationalism in humanity. In today’s society, belief only comes after tangible proof, and, somehow, zombies reborn from a virus are more terrifying than those raised by an ultimate evil. I know, I know, I don’t get it either.
But wait! What if these shambling, moaning, rotting nightmares were debunked? What if I disproved the pseudo-science behind the modern-day Frankenstein? Is it possible that I could return supernatural zombies to their rightful place as TVs scariest brain-suckers (excluding Honey Boo Boo)?
I think it’s worth a shot, so here are 4 reasons why a scientific zombie outbreak couldn’t happen:
1) Circulation and metabolism: Zombies don’t bleed. They don’t get out of breath. They don’t have congestive heart failure. All body functions are arrested, and yet they walk. In short, if blood’s not pumping oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the human body, that body’s not going anywhere near your brains. A muscle needs calcium, electrolytes, water, oxygen, and calories to contract. End of story.
2) Taking #1 a step further, a brain devoid of oxygen for longer than 10-15 minutes will completely break down. Not even enough of the brain stem would be left for basic functions like breathing and pupil dilation, let alone jaw and finger function. And those severed zombie heads we’re always seeing rolling around on The Walking Dead? Come on. Really? For one, they’re moaning without lungs or vocal cords. And B, their moving jaws have no chance of getting nutrition even if the zombie did originally have an intact blood supply. Silly heads.
3) Dead things rot. It’s nature’s way of recycling. When an organism stops protecting and renewing itself, scavengers (vultures, coyotes) and decomposers (bacteria, fungi) move in and clean up the mess. And since I’ve never seen a zombie with a scar or a scab, I’d say there’s not a lot going on to fend off other invaders. Interestingly enough, Max Brooks’ books claim that the zombie virus scares off all other microorganisms, thus halting the decaying process. That’s impressive (and ridonculous). Zombies are scary even at the microscopic level! Sounds more like an Osmosis Jones sequel to me.
4) Invading microorganisms typically die with the host, so the most effective examples keep the host alive for long periods until the micro-monster can multiply and spread. Why, then, is the zombie virus’ main goal to kill the host, only to bring him/her back as a less-effective transmitter (because a zombie’s circulatory system is generally about as dry as Stephen Colbert’s humor)? I mean, it’s like saying the common cold would still be effective if its primary symptom was drying up all bodily fluids. Think about it…but not too hard. We are, after all, still talking about zombies.
So how’d I do? Did my facts reconcile your fear of the living dead? If so, I may need to add one more nugget of information. The zombies on 28 Days Later and I Am Legend weren’t exactly…dead. They were just crazy, roided-out humans with a desire to nomnom on your grey matter. Bath salts, anyone? Oh, and don’t forget about ACTUAL zombies. You know, the spawns of Satan waiting in every closet, basement, and dark alley? Sleep tight!
Andrew James Winch, MPT began his writing career in the third grade with an award-winning flash fiction piece. When he’s not editing Splickety or writing speculative fiction, Andrew dons his physical therapist war helmet to treat patients, train athletes, and assist with sports medicine coverage at local high schools. In his spare time, he enjoys leading his church youth group, playing music, camping, hiking, and floating (in Missouri, “floating” is defined as the lazy, out-of-work older brother of white water rafting).