A Zombie Primer

I’ve always wanted to write a zombie Q&A for Monday Mayhem. Given some readers visit my site via search engines, I thought I’d provide answers to the most popular questions. Of course these are my opinions and I wouldn’t want to give the impression I know all there is to know about the subject. So think of me answering these questions flying by the seat of my pants.

Zombie banner
Zombie banner

What is the definition of a zombie?

In its purest form, a zombie is a soulless human either brought back to life by supernatural or biological means, or changed by a foreign agent. It is not sentient, thus it lacks the ability to question one’s own existence.

How does one become a zombie?

There are two schools of thought: (1) a human dies, and comes back from the dead. This can happen by voodoo, witchcraft or science. (2) A virus infects a human rendering them intellectually dead but physically alive.

How does one kill a zombie?

The most popular belief is to destroy the brain. Methods to achieve this result are as follows: shooting, stabbing, drilling, traumatic impact, etc. Decapitation may seem like a workable solution, however, in all likelihood it will lead to a bodiless zombie. When unsure, a sharp object to the brain will do the trick.

How to Identify a Zombie
How to Identify a Zombie

Why do zombies crave human flesh?

There is no real answer. Some sources (legend, history, and Hollywood) may attribute zombie health to human flesh eating. If this were the case then it would necessitate zombies to require drink, sleep and other means by which to maintain proper balance of bodily functions normally attributed to humans. The closest answer is zombies eat human flesh because it’s in their nature, much like sharks (see my post The Three Commandments for a more elaborate answer).

Are there different types of zombies?

Yes. There are humans who were once dead, have risen from the dead, and are now alive. These are classic zombies. Then there are those humans who have changed into zombies due to the ingestion of a virulent agent.

Why do zombies hunt in packs?

Not all zombies hunt in packs. There will always be stragglers. The majority do though because of how the zombie apocalypse may have affected a particular area. If huge swaths of people become zombified, the natural tendency is for survivors to encounter them in packs. This will happen in countries where cities are more densely populated.

What is the zombie apocalypse?

The zombie apocalypse is a fictional scenario where zombies rise in an attempt to overthrow humans as the dominate species.

Do zombies take restroom breaks?

Most fictional accounts of zombies indicate an awful stench emanates from their body. It is not know what this smell is. Therefore, it would be difficult to assume that zombies practice proper hygiene in regards to their elimination habits.

Do you have any questions I may have missed? How about opinions?

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28 thoughts on “A Zombie Primer

  1. So what is the official Jack Flacco statement on the -walking- dead? Do they run, or not? If we’re going with the scientific explanations that the dead need to be fresh in order to become zombies then maybe they really would be able to run.

    But that’s completely against the tradition, and feels like taking away an essential quality from the undead. What is your take on the (absolutely serious! :D) issue?

    • This is a serious issue. How will the zombie world be the same without knowing the full extent of zombification?

      So, here’s my take: I think zombies that have recently died can run. The same goes for zombies that have never died but have transformed due to contracting a virus. It’s the zombies that have died, risen, and been around for a while that should never see the light of day on the track field. They’re too stiff or flaccid to have the physical capacity to run.

      Then again, if voodoo or magic is involved then we might as well throw scientific theory out the window.

  2. Very well written Jack! you actually covered some of the topics I planned to explore later in my posts and mentioned a one I forgot! l should just invite you to co-write some of the zombie debates with me. two minds are better than one.

  3. i used to have a lot of dreams where my sister and i were killing zombies. although quite scary, i kinda liked these dreams. if they’re any indication, when the zombie apocalypse hits, i’m already trained, dream-style.

  4. Great job explaining the basics! I did take issue with one thing:
    “The zombie apocalypse is a fictional scenario[…].”

    Yes, it’s a fictional scenario FOR NOW… 😀

    • Archery lessons are a good idea even in countries where there’s lots of guns. After all, arrows grow on trees while bullets don’t!

      Okay, I’m being a bit flippant there but the general point is that you can make you own arrows much more easily than you can make you own bullets so knowing how to use a bow will be useful in a zombie apocalypse regardless of where you live.

  5. Thanks, Jack, for keeping the public informed. i think hollywood has changed the “zombie” to make it more realistic and plausible there fore scarier. i haven’t seen a good zombie pull itself from the ground since “cemetery man”.

  6. I found this to be very helpful, thank you! I’m going to print it and use it for a bookmark in my Zombie Survival Guide as an addendum. Right now, however, I’m going out for a long run. I only have to be faster than one of the rest of you.

  7. The quesiton that seems to be quite common in searches that lead people to my blog is: ‘If you amputate a limb after being bitten by a zombie will it stop you turning into one?’

    I’ve already posted my thoughts on this subject (http://wp.me/p2PdIc-5j) but I’d be interested to hear what your views on that one are Jack.

    • Hey Colin, the only way I can relate to this question is thinking how one would act if bitten by a rattlesnake. In the old westerns, someone gets bit by a rattlesnake, their buddy would whip out a knife, slice the flesh where they’d gotten bitten, suck and spit the venom out.

      Zombie viruses seem more potent than a simple snake bite. Amputation seems to be the solution. However, if the zombie is of a non-virulent type, best keeping the limbs away from amputation instruments. No one needs to loose an arm for something that’s not contagious.

      • Hi Jack, that’s pretty much my conclusions too – although the snake bite analogy isn’t one I’d thought of before (will need to file that away for future reference!). All the best, Colin

  8. Hi Jack- I have a question. How come some people end up zombie food and don’t turn, and others turn instead of being food? If my question isn’t clear I will try to rephrase. Thanks!

    • Hey Jess, I think what you’re asking is how does zombification take place. Depends if the zombies are carrying viruses. For instance, if they are, and someone gets bit by them, then that someone will turn into a zombie. However, if the zombification process does not have a virus involved then a someone can get bit by one and not turn.

      Is this what you meant?

      • Yes. I think so. So if you are bit but don’t carry the virus or other agent, you will end up zombie food. But if you are carrying virus, etc. you will turn?

      • In its simplest form, yes. But if you’re resilient enough to fight them off, I wouldn’t worry about becoming zombie meat. They’ll worry about you instead.

  9. Do you watch The Walking Dead? If so, can plz explain to me how they are born with it and how they turn after death? I have yet to make my way through the comic series. I am not much of a comic book person. Thanks!
    Great posts on the zombies BTW. I love them alot!

    • I know that one, because I write the reviews for the show. According to the creator of the comic book who is now one of the executive producers, everyone has the virus inside them and as soon as they die, they turn. Rick and his team find out from a government scientist. I’m not sure if we’re told what turned on that virus for the apocalypse to begin in the show

      • Hi Gilbertspeaks. Yes, I know that much. Maybe it will come out later in the show or maybe I ought to just trying to keep on reading the comic books. Thanks!

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