It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like....Zombies?
October 12, 2011
For a while, vampires had become a very popular staple in modern pop literature. Lately, however, we’ve been experiencing a zombie wave. Both undead creatures create pretty interesting problems for our heroes. And their afflictions are pretty similar, when you think about it.
Now before you ask where I'm headed here, no, this won’t turn into a Jacob vs. Edward discussion. Werewolves are not undead, and therefore belong to an entirely different category. Still, we must address how to handle the other two post life pests.
Square one is identifying your enemy. You can’t defeat him if you don’t know what kind of undead he is. Shoot a vampire in the head and he will spit the bullet at you and laugh. Stake a zombie in the heart and he will eat your hand. He won’t laugh, but he might moan at you.
Both vampires and zombies are infected with something. Modern myths attribute those infections to viruses. Both viruses are transmitted through blood. But to be infected with the vampire virus, you have to be bitten and sometimes, you have to exchange blood with the original host of the virus. The old-style vampires could only bite your neck. The modern ones can use any convenient vein. The zombie virus, according to Max Brooks’ World War Z, can be contracted through bites, or you can get it by getting zombie blood in an open wound or a mucus membrane. So when you are zombie hunting, be sure to wear protective goggles.
Vampires keep their consciousness. They may be predators, but they still carry memories of their human condition. That tendency can make them more dangerous like the vampires created by Anne Rice and more recent ones conjured by Stephenie Meyer. The vampires in Josh Cronin’s The Passage, however, have lost a good deal of their sentience and have become more zombie-like.
Zombies, on the other hand, are truly no longer human. They are merely bodies animated by the virus, and the virus is trying to reproduce in any way it can. You can outwit a zombie just by, well, thinking. But vampires are a different animal entirely. Their brains still work. Vampires tend to be solitary hunters. Zombies will mob together. Getting away from one zombie may be no great trick, but keeping your brain from a crowd of unthinking undead is pretty tough.
Vampires heal. Their form of undead allows them to regenerate the cells required to fix injuries and keep aging at bay. Immortality is their big bonus. They have the luxury of remaining elegant and beautiful, if still carrying the coldness of the grave. Zombies rot. No injuries will heal. They can be shredded, mashed, mangled and bashed, but they’ll still shamble on as long as they can. Their shelf life is limited, though, so if all else fails, we can just hunker down and wait them out.
Okay, I lied. I WILL mention werewolves, simply because I thought that’s where the latest trend in horror fiction would take us. But the appeal of the undead has pretty much kept the shape shifters in the shadows. Is it because all men long for immortality of one kind or another? Or is it because no one wants to wear a flea collar?
Platte City Branch