Prompt Day #152: Zombify a neglected or endangered species from the animal kingdom
First, as my husband pointed out; I do realize that Mammoths are not a “neglected or endangered species” but actually extinct, but I liked this premise and as zombies start out as dead, I didn’t think Mr. Arnzen would mind me taking that tiny liberty with his prompt. Then the Hubs continued to educate me on the biology of the Mammoth by giving me a lecture on its diet, which, in turns out, is only vegetation and not, as my story might lead you to believe, brains. Yeah, my husband doesn’t read much fiction and perhaps doesn’t understand that zombies don’t exist and therefore the whole foundation for his argument is nonexistent. I think this might be why I love fiction so much, I can ignore all of his literal and factual knowledge and do whatever I want much to his concrete thinker’s chagrin. Love you, Hon.
Secondly, I hate zombie stories. I hate them because they are so predictable and formulaic. Even the great Walking Dead, which I love as much as the rest of you, has the same basic premise of every other zombie show or book you’ve read. The only variation ends up being on how exactly the zombies became zombies. I suppose this argument holds true for vampires too and that may be why I tend to not write about them either. There are some amazing writers out there with the most creative minds who will write about these creatures and shake them up. But that’s not me. So, here is my best version of a zombie animal story….
A droplet of ice melt ran down the side of the frozen beast. Its ancient fur just beginning to surface beneath the ice. A rat lapped at the pool of water forming around the block of glacier ice. The rat had never tasted water so pure even in the lab, the water was flat and stale. He wanted to stay and have more but he needed to find food. He sniffed the air, there was something here but it was too deep to access just yet. He left some droppings and ran off.
The warehouse that held the frozen find was set warm enough to melt the ice slowly. The puddle grew larger and swallowed the rat feces. Particles of previously eaten lab pellets swirled and dissolved in the crystal blue water. Bacteria, previously injected into the rat before he’d managed to escape, thrived in the temperate climate of the water where nothing existed to overcome it.
Swimming through the sea left from the now free and thawing mammoth, the bacteria found a home. Working their way through the minute crevices of skin, they multiplied as they made their way instinctively to the central nervous system. There, they went to work making new connections, repairing damage done eons ago. Soon, the brain and nervous system of a beast dead since the beginning of man, was crawling with what the scientists called Resurrection Rods—gram positive rods genetically modified to function as a stem cell in the central nervous system, thereby repairing or even replacing damaged cells.
The Mammoth opened its eyes; grey, murky orbs seeing without truly focusing. Joints stiff with age and desiccated by cold tentatively moved the creature slowly at first, unbalanced and clumsy, and then picking up speed with improved coordination. The landscape was strange and unknown, but the feeling from deep inside was familiar. Hunger. Hunger drove it forward and through the facility’s hanger door.
Humans were not unknown to the mammoth. There were several memories buried deep in its amygdala surviving thousands of years. In its own time, these creatures meant death and were to be avoided at all costs. They meant little more than annoyance. Now, they meant food and there were many gathered standing still, watching, waiting to be taken.
The diseased brain of the once vegetarian titan drove it towards the closest human. The mammoth grasped the man with his tusk, wrapped it around the man’s head and squeezed. The skull exploded open reminiscent of Popeye’s can of spinach and brain matter, the consistency of baby food leaked out of his orbits, ears and nose. The zombie mammoth slurped the grey-pink pudding into its trunk and then its mouth. Humans ran haphazardly as the still hungry gargantuan lumbered along, plucking prey and sucking down brains.
A recently escaped lab rat looked up from the freshly dead dog it had found in the alley. One bite in, its attention was redirected to the carnage left by a familiar smelling behemoth. The human leftovers steaming in the street were an unknown delicacy for the rat who abandoned the dog for the buffet left in the wake of the beast.
The dog’s leg twitched and it opened its eyes in time to watch an anencephalic horde shuffling along in a parade of horror yet to come.