You’ve probably read something on it before. The age old (well, maybe not AGE OLD, but old enough) question of Slow Zombie vs Fast Zombie.
You’ve heard the arguments, the great debates about decomposition, thermodynamics, undead vs. infection, and so much more, but I’m hear to make a case for the existence of BOTH slow AND fast zombies in the same plain of existence.
When writing my serialized novel DISEASE, the first serial of which is due out September 18, 2014, I had to sit down and make a decision. Besides character, plot, and all the bells and whistles that go into a good story, I had to pick between the classic slow zombie, and the newer – and some say scarier – fast zombie. So, I started my trip down the rabbit hole, I opened my browser and typed in “slow zombie vs. fast zombie”, and I was not disappointed by the plethora of very well thought out arguments and the scientific support for both kinds.
I’m a zombie lover, and I generally go with the flow of whatever film or book is depicting them, but when it comes to zombie anatomy for my own book I just couldn’t see a good reason that there wouldn’t be both kinds of zombies.
Now, let me preface my argument here by saying that my zombies are of the undead variety, not the infected. I’m a firm believer that although there are many good works out that that portray “zombies” as merely humans infected with a virus or parasite of some sort, that if the human is alive (i.e.- 28 Days Later) than your zombie is not in fact a zombie. To me, the definition of a zombie is a corpse that has been reanimated by some means. That means could be natural or supernatural in nature, but the basis of a zombie is a dead body. Everything else is an honorary zombie.
Dead bodies mean decomposition and rigor mortis. A few hours after a person dies the muscles and tissues of the corpse stiffen, and remain so until about 72 hours later. Unless the process of reanimation has somehow prevented rigor mortis (and in DISEASE it has not), even if a body rises again it’s going to have a very hard time actually getting around. In my novel this is one way slow zombies are created.
Of course, even a zombie with rigor mortis can move, but it will be the stilted, lumbering walk from the classics we all love and adore, like Night of The Living Dead. A particularly aggressive zombie may be able to shorten the rigor mortis phase simply by virtue of moving around a lot and breaking the rigidity of their tissues, but this act in itself is likely to cause damage to the corpse.
Another way a slow zombie can come about is based on its state of dismemberment or decomposition. Zombies that are falling apart, either due to wounds or rot, are bound to move slower. These are the ones that sneak up on you after you’ve spent all your energy combating their more agile siblings. They are the ones that lie low in the weeds, barely recognizable as a human cadaver, and yet deadly and unforgiving.
This brings us to a little side note on decomposition. In this author’s opinion, and how I wrote my zombies in DISEASE, decomposition is a very slow process, even a halted process, for most of the living dead. If this were not true the zombie apocalypse would only last a few months, especially in hotter and more humid climates.
In DISEASE, although it’s not blatantly stated, the organic process which creates the state of decomposition is barely present. Nothing is capable of living in or off of a zombie, including bacteria. Zombies that are decomposed are bodies that rose from the grave in a state of rot. In DISEASE the recently dead didn’t just reanimate, but so did the long ago dead, assuming they had enough brain tissue to do so. Also, the time-frame in which a corpse reanimates is variable. While most corpses only take a few hours or less to rise again some take considerably longer, leaving time for decomposition… but I digress.
By setting parameters in DISEASE as to how a slow zombie could exist I naturally gave myself the space for fast zombies. Zombies that are intact and are not hampered by rigor mortis, are fast. Not supernaturally fast, just regular person fast, but that’s fast enough to be damn scary, especially considering that they never tire. Slow zombies are easy to dodge, but if you’re worn out from being chased by a fast zombie, and are unlucky enough to run into a horde of slow zombies, you might find yourself saying your prayers.
So there you have it. My argument for both slow and fast zombies in the same universe. Did I convince you? You probably have thoughts on slow and fast zombies yourself. Which is your favorite? Which do you think is the scariest? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you’re interested in my book DISEASE it’s available as an eBook on Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, and more, and soon to be available in paperback. Head on over to www.mfwahl.com for more information.
As a child M.F. Wahl quickly ate through the local library’s entire sections on the paranormal, true crime, serial killers, magic, and hypnosis. By the age of 11 “IT” by Stephen King was the reading material of choice, hidden in a school desk (much to the dismay of one math teacher who wrote home that Wahl “read too much!”).
As an adult M.F. Wahl spends as much time writing as possible. Days are spent funneling creative energies into penning dark tales. Nights are spent watching horror movies and TV curled under a blanket with the family. At the end of the day when eyes finally close other people’s nightmares are fuel for M.F. Wahl’s dreams.
DISEASE is a serialized novel and is M.F. Wahl’s debut. Currently it’s available for purchase on Amazon, iBooks, KOBO, Smashwords, and more. The paperback is slated to be released just is time for Halloween, and an audiobook is in the works as well.
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