Friday Report: Zombie starvation on Capitol Hill
“What’s your column about this week?” my wife asked.
“Zombies,” I replied casually, not looking up from the paper.
Always supportive and encouraging, she asked, “Why would you bore people with made-up stuff that nobody cares about?”
“Bore people?” I said, “Made up stuff? Are you nuts? Haitian public health officials report more than a thousand cases of Zombiism every year. There are only 10 million people in Haiti. If that rate of infection hits U.S. shores with our 300 million people, that means we’d have . . . uh . . . um . . . well, a whole bunch of Zombies lurking in abandoned Detroit malls.”
“So, I’ll stay out of abandoned Detroit malls. Since when did you become an authority on things that don’t exist?” She said with a smug little smile.
I sniffed back before answering, “For your information, Zombies in Haiti were well-documented as far back as 1494 by the hermit monk, Father Ramon Pane, who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the new world.”
She looked at me like a beetle on a pin and said, “I read somewhere that Columbus’ biggest ship was the Santa Maria. It was only 57 feet long by 19 feet at the widest part. The crew of 38 took turns sleeping in nine bunks. Sounds like tough quarters to be a hermit.”
“Come on,” I said, “Pane was an early scientist who, like a lot of his peers, happened to belong to a weird religious order that encouraged scientific study and independent thinking. They were intellectual leaders until they were denounced as heretics and the Pope chopped their heads off. In Pane’s case the king and queen of Spain sent him along with Columbus to record the expedition. When he got to Haiti, he stated matter-of-factly that the dead lived in seclusion during the day but at night they went out for recreation and were always stumbling around at festivals and keeping company with the living. I mean, this guy was a priest. You can’t just pooh-pooh an eye-witness account of a real, live . . . well, make that a real, undead, Zombie.”
She smiled, “Did you hear there was an Elvis sighting last week in a Tupelo auto-body shop?”
“Oh man, which is your point? We can’t believe our eyes, or Elvis is a Zombie?”
Scientists are of three minds regarding Zombies. First, they say they don’t exist. Secondly, they say it’s a voodoo thing, the result of intentional poisoning by witch doctors using a concoction that partially paralyzes the victim while leaving them sort-of conscious. These doctors have such potions at their fingertips. Tetrodotoxin is a powerful neurotoxin extracted from the organs of the Tiger Blowfish that dwell in Haitian waters. It is compounded with Jimson weed, a powerful hallucinogen that grows abundantly. The resulting brews easily cause psychosis, permanent memory loss and even death. The matter is so serious in Haiti that Article 249 of the Haitian Penal Code states that poisoning someone into a prolonged lethargic coma “shall be considered murder no matter what result follows.”
Zombies are an everyday part of Haitian life. They’re described as having blank expressions, unintelligible speech and purposeless actions, all traits that make them indistinguishable from a U.S. Congressman. A recurring theme in Haiti is the abrupt disappearance of a family member who reappears years, if not decades later, exhibiting Zombie-like characteristics. This could go a long ways towards explaining Jeb Bush and Chelsea Clinton.
The third hypothesis deals with the cultural expectations of Haitians when confronted with afflictions like schizophrenia, brain damage, learning disabilities and Alzheimer’s, all of which abound in Haiti. Because Haitians firmly believe in Zombies, that’s what they see when they encounter these stricken individuals.
Whichever the cause, we could solve the whole problem by busing all the Undead to Capitol Hill. Zombies depend on a diet of brains and would quickly succumb to starvation.
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