Neil DeGrasse Tyson Ruins Your Zombie Fantasies Forever - Video
i mean that’s only if you assume that zombies are Actually Dead, which is ridiculous and improbable given their behaviour
mr degrasse tyson i find it hard to believe that you would be so simplistic about this fascinating and horrifying possibility!! fortunately i’ve given it way too much thought so it’s okay that you didn’t
zombies, at least pathogen zombies rather than necromancy zombies (which eat things because necromancy that’s why you don’t need to science that), aren’t dead, they are just dead appearing because they suffer from advanced necrosis
the really freaky thing about zombies to me is that all of the things involved in what we think of as zombies typically these days are things that are involved in actual stuff that actually exists, they just have never been combined by nature in that horrifying death cocktail (yet). a zombie apocalypse could potentially (though a long shot) happen if some scientist was dumb enough to breed a super pathogen or parasite or combination of the two (parasite as a carrier?) that gave infected the right symptoms
namely: first off. necrosis. you’re not dead, you just start to look that way (for reasons i’ll detail later here) the parasite (parasite makes most sense all things considered, so let’s assume that it’s a parasite) takes over the brain, devoting its host to the parasite’s purpose: survive long enough to complete its life cycle and reproduce, and get what it needs from the host to do so. zombies wouldn’t be able to live forever after “death”, but they’d last plenty long enough to make some damage
anyway, back to the symptoms. so first, necrosis, aka your body dying while you’re still living in it. you see that shit in leprosy, you know, bits of skin falling off, or like, bad spider bites can cause necrosis, i’ve seen it happen and it was nasty as shit, my da’s finger rotted to the bone while he was still you know alive and using it and it took months to grow back in the gnarliest scar ever
actually the first thing would be brain control. upon infection, the parasite begins to take over your brain function, making you into its shambling slave. there are plenty of actual real life parasites that do this in real life. for people who aren’t pathologically terrified of parasites like i am, this is a cool article about twelve of them. mind control parasites are real and this is why i live in fear and part of why i’ve clearly given the whole zombie pandemic thing so much critical thought
anyway. so the parasite takes over your mind. the parasite has two goals that it wants to use your body to do: 1) the parasite needs food. let’s say for simplicity’s sake that the reason the parasite wants you to eat fresh meat is because it needs a lot of iron to survive and there’s a lot of iron in blood. gross but practical? in order to keep getting food, the parasite needs the host to stay alive until its done doing its thing, so it encourages you to eat enough meat to keep you alive too, if not super healthy. the parasite doesn’t care also if you, the host, gets the shakes and goes nuts because it is using you and then killing you, so it doesn’t give a shit if there’s negative side effects to cannibalism. although without number two here, you could just as easily feed on exclusively animals. HOWEVER
2) the parasite’s second goal other than survival is to complete its life cycle and reproduce. let’s assume that the parasite chooses to live in your body because the human body is the right temperature to rear its gross horrifying young in, and that because of that, the human body is perfect for it and it will not want anything else. let’s also assume that the parasite starts out very very small and that it can spread its young through a bite. this actually raises the interesting possibility of two kinds of bites: feeding, which would be indiscerning and involve the full devouring thing: you’re feeding for consumption, no other reason. the parasite needs hemoglobin and your temporary survival, so you just feed, and then infecting, which would be just creating a wound big enough to spread its progeny and advance the species, with the express desire to not actually kill the victim. however, because you’re a mind controlled fleshsuit for a singleminded parasitic organism, it’s unlikely that you’d be particularly discerning, and instead the parasite would probably have to rely on you biting a lot of people and some getting away. alternatively, it could actually alter the way it inspires you to feed at different phases of its own life cycle, decreasing your need to feed once the young/eggs are ready to go and leaving you only with the need to taste a little bit, more or less. this would work nicely with the fact that by that advanced stage of infection, you wouldn’t be as effective a hunter as you once were.
as a means to its end, the parasite would disable any brain functions that don’t really serve it. your free will is gone shortly after infection. first symptoms might actually include urges in the direction of paranoia and increased social needs, with the goal to be to get you around as many people as possible but as unlikely to want to open up and possibly get the parasite treated in early stages of infection as possible. parasites can be terrifyingly “smart” to get what they want.
after free will goes, the parasite shuts off your nervous system to make you a better hunter. the parasite doesn’t care if something hurts: it wants you to take down prey. this is why as a zombie you wouldn’t mind running with a snapped ankle, or carrying on with several bullet wounds in you. the parasite makes your vitals go up to compensate and compensates by letting your nutrients and respiratory and blood system only feed what you absolutely need, hence allowing your nonessential flesh to atrophy in that necrosis i talked about earlier.
assuming the full life cycle of the parasite takes a few weeks, it doesn’t care if you get wrecked so long as you manage to keep biting people for those last two weeks. week one is brain takeover, with no physical symptoms, because if there were obvious physical symptoms, the parasite would be too easy to treat, and this is a Smart parasite that doesn’t want to get treated. it wants to take over the world and it needs your help to do it! the most logical explanation for how to spread parasite babies as a bloodborne pathogen is that it is an asexual organism and reproduces with what are basically spores kinda like a fungus
so in the end it wouldn’t matter if your BRAIN had no desire to eat food or whether or not you had leptin, although you probably still would because you wouldn’t be dead, just mostly brain dead and nerve dead and beginning to fall apart. you would live only to feed during those middle and late life stage days.
and then when the parasite completes its life cycle and dies, its mission complete, you die shortly after, because your brain no longer works without the parasite to tell it what to do, and all those accelerated vitals give up, leaving you to finish decaying in peace, at last.