Also Called Z-Day, Zombie Night
Observed by Almost everyone worldwide, non-observers tend to end up dead
Type International Public Holiday
Date March 22-23
Celebrations Decorating, "Barricading Up," Target Practice, Skirmishes, Video Competions, Survival Feasts, Mass Burials, and Survivor Vigils
Five years previously an unexpected outbreak of what have been publically termed "zombies" caused a massive disruption around the world. After marshalling their military forces, the world governments managed to defeat the outbreak. (In the US, The Posse Comitatus Act was temporarily suspended.) In the aftermath, it was discovered that a full ten percent of the world's population had been lost.
The next year an international day of mourning in rememberance of those lost to the outbreak was to be held, however a new outbreak occurred, which was much more quickly and efficiently dealt with by the already active military and police forces. Loss of life was only a fraction of the previous year.
The third year after the initial outbreak saw the majority of the world's population taking pre-emptive preventative measures, most even skipping work or leaving work early on the 22 of March in order to prepare their homes and families for the suspected annual outbreak. Weapon purchases, primarily firearms and chopping edged weapons, increased on this day, as did sales of building & construction supplies. Naturally, a slight upsurge in food shopping was also seen. As the zombies returned with the night, many people across the world waited for them, and, generally not being taken by surprise, were easily able to fight off the bands and hordes of zombies who attacked them. Civil and Military forces, having been put on alert also performed many rescue operations, as well as general clean up duties.
People around the world decided that this annual event constituted an important anniversary and thus the new holiday was born. Called Zombie Day, it occurs mainly during the night of March 22-23, with most of March 22 prior to sunset being considered a non-working day which allows everyone sufficient time to erect defenses (known as "Barricading Up") which prevent the zombies from getting to them, as well as to stock up on supplies, food and water, and weapons and ammunition with which to successfully take on the zombies.
At sunset, Zombie Night begins, with individuals and bands of zombies beginning to appear on the streets and in the wilderness as they search for humans to prey on. This generally results in zombies homing in on any perceived human targets in an attempt to attack, and often, eat them. As more and more zombies gather in a particular area, the begin to form into larger groups, known as packs (2-8 zombies), and bands (9-24 zombies), and hordes (25+ zombies). While packs and bands are generally more dangerous than individuals, zombie hordes typically have enough members to overcome or bypass many defensive obstacles, proving a more serious threat. In response to zombie horde formation, military forces and strikes are generally called in to deal with these superior threats.
Dawn generally heralds a release from the relentless attacks and skirmishes of the zombies, as many of them have been destroyed by this time. When the sun has cleared the horizon, a feast is generally held to celebrate the safe coming of a new day. The rest of the day (March 23) is often taken up by various media entertainments, such as watching videos (on TV and the internet) of how zombie attacks were dealt with, speeches, parades by civil and military groups, religious services, and generally many drunken parties and family gatherings. In addition, civil and military units are left to deal with the zombie remains, carefully (in armored hazmat suits) collecting the bodies and body parts, and transporting them to mass destruction sites, usually trash incinerators and large, newly dug pits into which the bodies are thrown into and thoroughly cremated. Many people also hold vigils for those lost in previous zombie days at cemetaries, monuments which have been erected, and various churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and temples.
Responses from various groups to the annual zombie outbreak.
- Civil and Government Response: The military, including National Guard units as well as many militias are called up to serve on the holiday, spending March 22nd preparing for night operations against the zombies as well as being deployed throughout the various regions of many nations in order to maximize anti-zombie coverage. Police and Emergency Services are required to be on duty for the holiday in order to help the military clear out zombie hordes, bands, and packs, as well as aid civilians injured or under siege by the zombies.
- Scientific Response: Scientists, particularly biologists, although medical examiners and forensic specialists are intensely interested in the Zombie Day phenomenon, though some information has been gained about the bodies of the zombies, not much is known about the cause of the problem. There are also rumors that some scientists are either responsible for Zombie Day, or are using it as en excuse to test either super soldier designs or some other type of new weapon. Some anti-zombie weapons and defenses have been developed by the scientific community, but nothing really major has yet to be invented or discovered.
- Religious Response: Most of the major religions officially have no comment on the cause of Zombie Day, however, off the record, many either see this as a sign of the coming apocalypse, or blame the problem on adherents of other religions. A wide variety of cults and sects with widely varying views and beliefs have also sprung up as a result of Zombie Day, occassionally causing riots or other civil disruptions, as well as minor skirmishes between these factions to occur. On Zombie Day, major religions provide a secure place to stay in their various temples, churches, synagogues, mosques, and shrines, aiming more for defensive and spiritual security rather than armed opposition to the threat.
- Conspiracy Theorist and Doomsayer Response: Consipiracy Theorists believe that one of the major super powers is responsible for creating Zombie Day, by testing new biological weapons that they can't completly control. Other folks see this as a sign of the coming apocalypse, and have responded with a variety of predictions about what is happening. Most generally turn into survivalists of some type or another, stocking up on supplies and forting up their homes.
- Psychic and Occultist Response: The occult, paranormal, and New Age believers are all crying about a great evil as the cause of the problem, and generally recommend trying a variety of esoteric devices, philosophies, and teachings in order to combat the forces of the great evil. While some are not above armed opposition to the zombies, many prefer other methods, which may or may not work. Because of this hysteria, many con men and frauds have prospered by selling miracle protections to the guillable.
- Marketing Response: Home security systems, including a return to some older methods of home defense, such as walls and moats, as well as modern door (portcullises have made a comeback, though altered in usage, generally being installed in front of or behind doors in order to reduce the chance of doors being opened, while still providing a barrier if the door is damaged), window (both armored shutters and dual sets of bars covering both the inside and outside are popular), and building rienforcement, have been selling like hot cakes. Arms sales have gone up, particularly in countries where firearms are legal or semi-legal, although the sale of chopping weapons has increased as well. Modern optics sales have also increased, reducing the price on things like video cameras, nightvision devices, thermal imagers, closed-circuit television systems, and motion detectors.
- Internet Response: YouTube has hosted its own subdomain of ZTube, a video website devoted exclusively to Zombie Day videos. The popularity of zombie death methods, commentary by anyone and everyone who has an opinion, as well as official reports, have all driven this web page to be one of the most visited webpages on the internet.
- Military Response: The military forces of the world generally see Zombie Day as a good thing, since it gives troops lots of live-fire practice against targets that can be killed, although they have also stepped up security at all military bases around the world, generally as an increase in defensive measures (to the dismay of signatory nations of the Ottawa Treaty, this includes the use of mine fields around military bases in those countries who are not party to the treaty). Additionally, many military dependents also seek access to military bases during the holiday, relying on the security of such facilities to protect them against the threat incurred by Zombie Day. While ensuring that the bases are secure from the zombie threat poses a standard military logistical strategy, keeping the family of serving troops safe also serves a strategic purpose, allowing those troops to do their jobs knowing that their families are safe (thereby reducing the chance of desertion during the holiday as soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen decide that keeping their families safe is more important than serving their nation).
The Threat: Zombie Day Zombies
The abominations which recur annually are commonly known as zombies because of their similarities to common film and video game zombies. They generally appear as corpse-like ambulatory humans. With skin coloration slightly off of normal humans, ranging from corpse black through sickly yellow-green, sickly orange, ivory to pale white, they are fairly easy to identify in sufficient light. Of course, their ragged hair, tattered clothing, and often wounded bodies are also tell-tale signs. While some people insist that their eyes glow with an evil reddish light, most people have not observed anything more unusual about the eyes than their apparent cloudiness. Zombies who have fed tend to have blood stained faces and hands, as well as blood on their clothing and the rest of their body, though only those zombies displaying open wounds tend to have much blood show up beyond that due to the large amounts of dirt, soil, and other stains and discolorations on them and their clothing.
- Sight: Zombies generally have a poor sense of sight, equal to mild cataracts. They can see light and movement, if it's close enough (about 200 feet or so), and they see stationary objects within 50 feet, but that's about it.
- Hearing: Zombies have generally the same hearing as humans, though they have no fear of loud noises (which will often attract all the zombies in range to hear the cause), and no reason to be concerned with hearing damage (generally rendering sonic weaponry reliant on hearing useless).
- Smell: Zombies may or may not have an advanced sense of smell which allows them to smell the blood of humans. So far scientists have been unable to prove whether or not this is the case, as the few live specimens they have managed to examine have yet to provide conclusive results.
- Touch: Zombies touch things, but it is unknown whether or not they process what they are feeling. Most humans who have tried to stay motionless to avoid being attacked by the zombies have died, but whether this is because of another zombie sense, or due to involuntary movement on the part of the victim, is unknown.
- Taste: Oddly, zombies only go after humans to eat. This may be because other animals "taste" bad to them, or for another reason. Scientists really haven't explored the concept yet.
- Speed: While zombies are generally slow, shambling about two miles per hour (depending on height) when not in direct pursuit of prey, they are capable of a stumbling sort of jog (roughly equivalent to five miles per hour of speed) for a few hundred yards, though coordination, not endurance seems to be the limiting factor, as the zombies tend to trip over things, stumble into objects, and otherwise eliminate themselves as a "speedy" (relatively speaking) predator.
- Strength: Zombie strength is on par with an average human's. Of course, since zombies don't appear to feel any pain, they can perform feats of strength (such as they are) which would destroy the muscles and/or bones of a human. Of course, since this destroys the same things in zombies, it generally results in a disabled zombie.
- Coordination and Combat Skills: Zombies generally aren't all that coordinated, often stumbling, tripping, or crashing into things if moving too fast. When attacking humans they generally try to physically grab them with their hands and then bite. Against physical objects and barriers they may try to tear, break, or bash. While they do not tend to ambush prey per se, coming upon zombies suddenly and unexpectedly will often give the feeling of being ambushed.
- Problem Solving: Only rudimentary problem solving skills are demonstrated by the zombies, they tend to stumble into objects, and, if trying to get at human prey on the other side of an obstacle, use the direct approach. Bashing, tearing, or breaking physical barriers is within their capability, as is using the bodies of other zombies in order to move past an obstacle, though in no way is this action cooperational, just incidental.
- Cooperation: Fairly low. While zombies will form various-sized groups, it is unknown as to why this is, as they generally do not use their group size to employ any sort of tactics, all zombies in a group generally try to get at the same perceived targets. Against a house, for instance, a group of zombies may crowd at one entry point, such as a door, with larger groups spreading out enough that they may be able to take advantage of other access points, such as windows or other doors. Any prey caught will be consumed by as many zombies as can physically reach the body to get some grub.
- Communication: While known to issue a variety of moans and groans, it is unknown if these sounds actually convey any sort of information. Coupled with the known limits of cooperation among zombies, it is unlikely that they have any form of communication.
- Diet and Danger: Zombies prey exclusively on humans, and will go to any length that they can to get at their prey. Interestingly, of those attacked by zombies, only about ten percent will then turn into zombies. It is unknown whether this is because most victims are consumed to the point that they can not turn into zombies, or because only ten percent of the world's population is susceptible to the cause of the zombie outbreak.
- Incapacitation: A variety of methods can be used to incapacitate or immobilize zombies, such as rope snares which completely pull them off their feet and leave them hanging in midair, deadfall or crushing traps which drop enough weight on them to pin them in place, cage traps, and trapping pits. Bear traps and other types of foothold traps are generally less effective, as they tend to snap through the limb rather than securely holding the leg (despite many attempts, it has been proven that even if a milder pressure is used, the zombie will often snap off it's own leg or otherwise be only minorly impeded by such traps). While swinging log traps and pendulum traps have gained a certain popularity, they are used more for comic effect or to aid in clearing an area than to cause significant impairement or damage to zombies (though some particularly funny inadvertant incidents of zombie death have been captured on video).
- Mortality: It has been repeatedly observed that massive cranial trauma (often in the form of decapitation, head shots from firearms, or just enough damage to, or the removal of the head) is the easiest way to eliminate the zombies. Attacking other parts of the zombies is generally futile as there are a plethora of examples where zombies survive a hail of gunfire directed at their torso, as well as zombies continuing to go after humans with the loss of one or more limbs. Of course, massive total body damage, for instance incineration or explosive destruction are also known to eliminate zombies, but these methods are generally not available to the general populace, and are usually employed by military forces. Just burning a zombie or setting it alight isn't likely to do much other than provide a well illuminated zombie, rather it has to be completely incinerated, usually requiring the use of a furnace, crematory, or incinerator. Without a sustained source of flames, they generally don't pose much of a fire hazard, unless they're on fire and in contact with flammable materials.
What Causes Zombie Day?
The oddity of an annually occurring zombie epidemic has not gone unnoticed by people, but the reason is unknown. Many theories about the possible causes this event to happen have been posited by the scientific community, religious community, governments, conspiracy theorists, occultists, and the common man.
- Scientific Theory: The radiation from a particularly fast comet, which reappears in the vicinity of earth once a year, causes the outbreak.
- Religious Theory: An evil cult performs rituals which cause the outbreak.
- Government Theory: A previously undiscovered viral plague is the cause for the outbreak.
- Conspiracy Theory: Conspiracy theorists maintain the rumor that a new bacteriological Biological Weapon, with the military code ZD, derived from a weapons-grade variant of Tularemia is the cause for the outbreak.
- Occult Theory: The outbreak is caused by fragments of dreams from an ancient sleeping "Old One" which herald the coming of an apocalypse.
- Common Theory: Cosmic spores, prelude to an alien invasion, are the cause of the outbreak.
Where Do the Zombies Come From?
Because the zombies are generally believed to only be active during the night, there are also many competing theories about what happens to zombies which haven't been killed, and how packs and band of zombies can be seen together initially.
- Scientific Theory: Zombies are those genetically susceptible to the source of the zombie outbreak.
- Religious Theory: Zombies are the result of "divine punishment" against inferior races, creeds, colors, religions, homosexuals, etc., depending on the particular views of the theorist questioned. While many religious bodies do not publically proclaim or back their worshippers claimed theory, they don't openly deny it either.
- Government Theory: Homeless people and other vagrants are the primary sources of infection and transmission, causing the outbreak.
- Conspiracy Theory: "Missing Persons" are kidnapped by government agencies in order to be experimented on, resulting in the outbreak.
- Occult Theory: Zombies not killed in the attack, or those possessed by dream fragments hide underground until the astrologically significant night of March 22-23.
- Common Theory: The zombies are the result of a precursor weapon which is the opening attack in an alien invasion (though most proponents of this theory argue over whether or not the cosmic spores cause the zombification, or the zombies are the results of alien abductions).
Worldwide Responses and the Fifth Anniversary of Zombie Day
- New York City has decided to hold a "Zombie Day Parade" by capturing and costuming zombies (as well as installing gags and muzzles for safety) and then using volunteer "human carrots" to bait the zombies to follow them through the parade route to a spectacular Zombie Slaughtering Park.
- The Caribbean has gone unnaturally quiet about the entire event, going as far as deporting tourists and immigrants during March 22-23 and denying access to foreigners during those days. All attempts to bypass or investigate the reason for this have met with silence, and generally a mysterious loss of life of agents.
- Most of Africa has seen a resurgance in witch doctors who seem to have some effect on the zombies, though reports as to what effect they have vary widely.
- The zombies of Egypt and it's neighboring nations tend to appear wrapped in linen bandages akin to ancient mummies, and they are more commonly referred to as mummies west of the Red Sea, while in the areas of the Middle East which are east of the Red Sea, they are more commonly known by the appellation ghul.
- In the western portions of South America, zombies generally appear as desiccated mummies, though this is generally attributed to the dry desert air of these regions.
- In India there has been an increase in spiritualists and mystics known variously as fakirs, gurus, swamis, sadhus, and yogis to combat the rising hords of zombies which are generally known as yaksha or rakshasa.
- Filipino lore calls zombies amalanhig and recommends fleeing in a zig-zag pattern, climbing trees or other high platforms, or running into bodies of water to escape them.
- The Nordic countries of Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland call zombies draugr and have seen a rise in Asatru and other mystics said to practice galdr magic.
- Spain has seen the rise of a new ceremonial practice, known as the Running of the Zombis, wherein streets in Spanish cities and towns are barricaded in order to create a convoluted path which participants run down while avoiding zombies. (Special thanks to my editor for the idea.)
- In China zombies are known as jiang shi, though they don't seem to hop.
- In Japan the zombies are called gaki.
- In Mexico and a few other nations of Central America, the Zombie Day phenomenon has seen an resurgance in Aztec, Mayan, Olmec, and Toltec worship. Several of the ancient Mesoamerican ball game courts have been refurbished and construction of several new facilities has been noticed as well. While the correlation between the ball courts and the occurance of zombies is unknown (even to those who are involved in work on the ball courts and those who play there), it is known that some of the courts have specifically been set aside for zombie use, though what the zombies do at these ball courts is unknown.
- In the eastern parts of South America, many of the indigenous tribes have developed certain practices and rituals regarding Zombie Day, but reports on specifics has been scattered and often contradictory (whether due to different ceremonies along tribal lines, or some other reason is unknown). The only thing known about the effects of Zombie Day in the jungles of South America is that the death rate of the population has been confirmed to be a higher 13% of the population, annually, regardless of preventative measures taken.
- Europe in general seems to follow the same pattern as the United States and Canada, though some regional oddities have occured (such as in Spain, or, more disturbingly, in the Transylvania region of Eastern Europe).
- Other parts of the world, such Central Asia, Australia, Oceania and South East Asia have provided little more than rumor, myth, and legends about the event, with few known facts about these regions.