On Being A Zombie 6/25/07

When we’re human, we don’t really pay attention to the way things feel. We don’t spend a lot of time paying attention to how it feels to sit, or stand, or walk. It’s a function that just happens on it’s own. You don’t put much thought into getting from point a to point b. You just have a small synapse fire, and it occurs.
This changes.

I’ll start from the beginning of it.

The bite:

Being bitten by a zombie is like nothing you’ve ever felt. It’s not a dog bite, or any animal bite for that matter. It’s not like being bitten by a human. It’s as if a living machine has locked onto your flesh. It’s wet, and sharp. Vice grips on either side, holding you still so that the flesh may be torn and ripped.
You can feel your skin and muscle pull away from the bone. You can feel it bruise. It burns like tiny fires at each point where tooth meets meat. No amount of struggling will pull you free, and in fact, only makes things worse.
Your heart beats faster than it should be capable of. Your blood pressure rises. All brain function except the most primal needs fail you. All you can do is scream, cry and panic. You know you should stay still and just let it happen, but your body wants to fight.
They gnaw after the initial bite. Trying to get more flesh and meat, they start to chew on you. One would think perhaps it might stop hurting after a while, but it doesn’t. You’re too aware for adrenaline to kick in or for numbness to occur.
Eventually, however, you can count on shock to cause you to pass out. You don’t quite feel the pain then, and you’re not able to watch it happen any longer, but you’re still kind of aware that there’s someone out there on the outside of it all, eating your flesh.

For a long time after this, you feel fine. The site of the bite throbs a bit, and there’s a sort of aching pain in the area, but it’s nothing like when the bite was occurring, so it’s kind of easy to ignore. The bleeding stops, for the most part. You’re not dripping blood or anything. But it never really coagulates. It’s always a little bit moist. A simple wad of tissue will insure that it doesn’t get all over everything, so it’s not really a bit deal. You wrap it up and go about your day, not really thinking much about it. You’re just rather glad that you came out of the situation alive.

It doesn’t take very long, however, to start feeling bad.
It sort of feels like the flu. You feel sort of… laggy. You want to drag your feet around, shuffle instead of walk. It just seems like too much effort. You’re hungry, yet nothing you see looks satisfying. You feel groggy. Your throat hurts. Your eyes hurt when there’s too much light. In fact, they just kind of hurt to be open. You want to lay down. Go to sleep. Sleep always makes you feel better. Really, it feels like a very extreme case of the flu.
Eventually your stomach starts to ache, and you feel like you want to vomit.

It’s not so much that you finally do fall asleep, as it is that everything goes black and the brain completely shuts itself off for a while. Really, it’s sort of the best sleep that you’ll ever get in your life. No dreams. No waking up. No tossing and turning, you wake up in the same position you fell.

When you do wake, however, things are different. Time is different. Time doesn’t matter anymore. It just sort of floats by on a tangible breeze. You notice it’s there, and that it’s passing, but it just doesn’t mean anything.

Brain function is still pretty much the same. You don’t have to actively think about the way things happen. You’re just very very aware that they ARE happening. Like being in slightly thicker water, you feel when your limbs move. When you turn your head, it’s like being immersed. The world kind of blurs for a bit, until you stop moving your head.

There is a hyper awareness of general body movement. Where before, your arms, legs, fingers and toes would kind of do their own thing and you wouldn’t really notice it, now you feel everything. Every muscle pull, every tendon movement. You’re aware of every joint when it bends or unbends. You’re aware of the bones, and how they move. You’re aware of your skin, and how the airflow moves around and over every inch of it. Movement feels a little heavy, not extremely, but the awareness gives weight to everything. Again, almost like being in water, but not quite so restrictive.

When you start to decay, you feel that too. But it feels like a lurking blackness that moves through you. You can see it happening in your mind’s eye. It’s slow, achingly slow. It’s like you’re fighting against it, and time. Because even though it’s slow, it feels like you’ll never have enough time.

In my strain of the virus, every bit of the brain is still there. The primal needs tend to surge to the forefront, and you tend to act on those first. The need to eat, the need to survive. But under that, you still remember what it was to be really alive. You still remember your loved ones. Family and friends. And perhaps that’s exactly why you tend to go for them first. You want to get to them and tell them that you still love them, and tell them what you are, but instead, when you finally do see them, your feeding instinct hits, and you end up eating them.

You plot on how to survive longer, how to keep yourself whole longer. And the only way to do that is to feed. Your body and mind fight on how best to take care of that. Your mind sets up traps and complicated catching mechanisms, but your body votes for brute strength, overpowering your prey.

Movement isn’t simple. With the hyper awareness, sometimes the mind gets a little confused. It’s not used to having all the extra information up front. It’s not easy to get used to, either. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to see why one would think us zombies as being basic and stumbling. There’s a large argument going on between body and mind, and occasionally that is reflected on the outside.

Everything sense wise seems heightened. Every little noise is amplified, and you’re waiting for that one specific sound that means food. Every motion is caught by your eyes, and your brain tries to work as quickly as it can to identify what it might be. Taste is extraordinary. You can literally taste if someone is bleeding, without having to taste their blood directly. You can find easy prey by finding someone who is already wounded.

Knowing that you have several sources of competition doesn’t really make anything easier. It’s true that you might be able to form your own Destruction, and work with those within toward a common goal, finding food and defeating other zombies and other Destructions, but it’s not easy to know who you can trust, and who is just riding your coat tails because you’re stronger than others. It’s also not easy to know who is going to let their primal instincts just take over.

You know, there’s a lot of trust issues in being a zombie. One would think that all the problems of being alive would be left behind once one is dead, but one would be wrong.

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