They were wrong. The newspapers, the Police, the Government, even Hollywood. All of them were wrong. They paid for that ignorance with their lives. Sure, they had some of the specifics right, like how you have to burn the bodies, but they didn't know why. They thought that immolation would kill off any disease that the things carried. It wasn't a disease, and it wasn't virus. It was parasites.
Anybody who kept up on the strange side of news could see it for what it was. A zombie outbreak, how droll. And these people thought that they could deal with it. After all, decades of Hollywood movies, comic books and even real books claiming to teach how to survive a zombie outbreak can't be wrong, right? So, they went out there with machetes and guns, attempting to destroy the brains of the shambling horrors freshly-deposited on the suburban battlefield.
Idiots. Fools. Poltroons. They learned the hard way that headshots do nothing. Decapitation slows them down and reduces infection ability, but they won't stop attacking. Complete dismemberment, followed by copious amounts of gasoline and a lit match is the only way to keep one down for good. Nothing less will suffice. Anything more is just being cautious.
D. lanceolatum causes ants to hang on plants in order to be eaten by grazing mammals. S. tellinii forces crickets and grasshoppers to drown themselves. E. californiensis makes fish swim and move in such a way that they become easy prey for shorebirds. T. gondii makes rats and birds seek out cats, and causes Schizophrenia in humans.
G. romeri (also commonly known as the 'Zedbug'), is not content with being eaten in order to breed.
This makes sense, as there are very few creatures that prey on H. sapiens. So, rather than cause us to find a bear or something to be mauled by, the parasites became more... proactive. Thus, the zombie 'Plague' that is painfully obvious to anyone still alive out there.
It was only a matter of time, I guess. After all, there was ample warning, assuming you were paying attention. Some of the people still left say that it's the Wrath of God, come to strike down the sinful. I laugh at that, because I've done some pretty sinful things. So it can't be that, otherwise I would be dead. Others call it a conspiracy. They claim that whatever their pet shadow government was created them in order to kill off the opposition.
I call it evolution in action. I'm not a scientist, but I've done some studying in an attempt to find out exactly how these things propagate. 'Know thine enemy', and all that jazz. So, I've got a basic understanding of these 'zombies', for lack of a better word. They're not humans, anymore. They look like us, but only because the parasites infect the body.
No, it's worse than that. They colonise the human body. Kind of like how an ant colony works, but setup throughout the body. They go through different growth stages, and change duties in the body like how bees change duties in a hive. Eggs are laid in the lungs, and are brought to the mouth by freshly-hatched zedbugs. It takes about a week for eggs to hatch, and another two for a hatched zedbug to become an adult. The 'bite' of the zombie helps provide nutrition as well as spread the young into a new host.
The 'king' of the colony insinuates itself into the optic nerves, which explains how the zombies 'see' in order to attack. The fully adult zedbugs bind themselves into the spinal cord, taking control of the host body's movement, with what I'm calling the 'queen' taking the prime spot at the top, where the spinal column meets the brainstem. Somehow the King communicates with them in order to actually move the body. I'm glad that this communication is slower than the speed at which our body talks to itself, or these monstrosities would be inescapable.
Zombies are not 'undead'. They live and breathe like regular people, but they are not in control of their bodies. It also seems like they get whatever nutrition the body needs from their activities. I've seen these things eating fruits and vegetables in an abandoned grocery store, so they don't eat just the flesh of humans. In fact, the host bodies of zedbugs seem to be healthier overall (with the obvious exception of the massive infestation). Apparently zedbugs like their hosts to be healthy.
Zombies will attack each other. They will bite chunks of meat out of other zombies, and feed that way. Zedbugs are careful about how much they will eat. A Zombie will only feed until the stomach is filled. The digestive system seems to continue working as normal. I have watched a horde of zombies tear a couple dozen of the group to shreds, eating until they are full.
From what I can tell, absolutely none of them take up residence in the brain itself. And since the zombies bleed and heal like regular people, I have to conclude that whoever is infected is fully aware that they are no longer in control of their body. This is a fate that I do not wish on anyone. To know that you are no longer in control of your body, and watch it doing unspeakable things without your consent? That is what I imagine Hell to be like.
It's pretty easy to diagnose an infestation. First, has the patient been bitten by anything recently? Zedbugs infest through bites. Second, have they felt like there are bugs crawling under their skin? This symptom is caused by the zedbugs heading for the spinal column. Third, have they had any unexplained 'tics', or muscle spasms? This symptom usually rears it's head three to four weeks after the patient was bitten. It is at this point that the zedbugs are starting to exert control over the victim. About six weeks after the bite, the bugs are fully in control, and act accordingly.
I am uncertain if immediate amputation of the bite area would be effective. I also don't know if we (as a species) can weather this storm. I have my hopes, though. From what I've been hearing over the shortwave, some doctors over in Europe claim to have successfully destroyed the colony of a patient who was infested. Something about chemotherapy, or another similarly harsh treatment. The doctors also say that the patient was clinically insane after the procedure. I don't blame them for trying, though. If they can come up with a way to cure these cases without making the patients insane, I'm all for it. Until then, I'll just keep killing them before they can do the same to me.
So goodnight everybody, sleep tight. Don't let the Zedbugs bite.
Right. So, I saw drakken22's post about a zombie comic he wants to draw, and it just inspired this piece. I've been working on this particular theory of Zombies for about six years now, I think. Thanks to Massey, it's now recorded rather than jumping around on the backburner.
Also, some of the reference material for the story: