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All The Dead Are Here - Pete Bevan's zombie tales collection

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WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

December 21, 2007  Short stories   Tags: ,   

I knew right away I wasn’t human.
But it took me nearly a quarter-million years to discover what manner of creature I truly am. I am a virus.

A virus is a genetic code without a body. Not even one cell. A single-celled organism has more of a body than a virus. A paramecium has more of a form than a virus. A virus is a parasite. A virus requires a host. A victim, if you please.

In the first moments of my consciousness I found myself blinking my victim’s eyes at a rabble of hunter-gatherers gyrating around a huge bonfire. It scorched the looming rock ceiling, which sported hunting scenes rendered colorfully upon it. I had just arisen painfully through my victim’s psyche like a swimmer surfacing through a shoal of stinging jellyfish. I had been able to do this because my victim had been distracted, fixated upon the hypnotic contortions of the blaze. He had been weakened and ill.
With me.
My awakening was a moment of existential self-awareness. Before my awakening, I had been a mindless automaton. Upon realization of the Self, however, I was easily able to shove aside my victim’s enfeebled consciousness and step into his form. It helped when I could start thinking with his brain.
The other humans immediately noticed the change in my victim.
“He has become a nzambi! The brain fever has allowed a demon to possess him!” one decrepit crone ejaculated. “I recognize the demonic countenance! It is Kwahsitzkhali the Predator of Man!”
At this, the hunter-gatherers in the cave took up a wailing ululation and did injury to themselves in their hysterical flight from the place.
Kwahsitzkhali the Predator of Man. It sounded good to me. I didn’t have anything better to work with. Viruses wouldn’t be identified for another quarter-million years. I took the crone’s word for it.
With some difficulty, I compelled my victim to stand up. In his ravaged state, this would have been painful for him. Not for me. The pain registered merely as a peripheral signal. I didn’t feel his pain. I didn’t walk around with his body, I operated it.
The hunter-gatherers had shining dark brown skin and rough long hair. They wore, for the most part, loincloths and simple thong jewelry. I could at any time dip back into the complex sea of my victim’s displaced consciousness. I could feel his history with these people, his tribe. But don’t get me wrong, I never actually thought I was my victim.
When I staggered out into the moonlight, I saw that many of them lay in the long savannah grasses, sweating with the brain fever. But none of them had gone so far as to become nzambi. I appeared to be alone.
Tribes of raucous night-patrol chimps caught my scent and trailed along through the trees, making a noise like a Berserker charge. The simba as well seemed agitated. They knew me far better than I knew myself. They knew me for what I really was.
Then I found her. Next to a shallow river of reeds. Another sufferer of the brain fever. But I recognized something in her fixed-yet-darting eyes. No soul, no affect or emotion. She, as well, had gone the route of daemonic possession. My nzambi queen.
But by then, they just called us Zombie.


The rabies virus, Mononegavirales Rhabdoviridae Lyssavirus, is passed by the saliva and contracted through the blood. It elicits a singular behavior in its victims–the impulse to bite other animals. This is not a coincidence.
There is no scientific name for what I am, but there could be. I Virus could quite easily be categorized into family, genera, genus. I am highly specialized. I am highly evolved.
Myself and rabies are very advanced viruses.


I, along with my Zombie queen, proceeded to burn our world down around us. The large predators had to go. The other tribes in the area had to go. The people of our tribe–even the babes and sucklings–who were immune to the brain fever…
Well, I’m afraid they had to go.
Myself and my queen operated at night. We saw easily by even the faintest starlight. The sun blinded us. Any animal catching our scent fled, unable to control its instincts. Healthy humans usually fled us, unable to resist the animal impulse prodding them from deep within the primordial recesses of their brain.
Our tribe–the brain fever tribe–soon became substantially physiologically different from the other tribes. In addition, our slaughter of the non-brain-fever-afflicted members of the tribe had amounted to a culling. After a few generations, these differences became pronounced. The new generations had flat, high faces without a brow ridge. And cunning eyes like the Earth had never seen.
I wasn’t operating on any breeding principle, but that’s what was happening. Our tribe was turning into what would someday be known as homo sapiens. Modern man. Yes, this is what I am saying.
Modern humans were created by the Zombie.

I procreated with my queen in the bonfire fever of our grass-hut bower. Over and over. There was a flaming fever power in the two of us that exploded forth every savannah night. Right there on our grass mat.
Presently, my queen produced heirs. Eleven. Three princes and eight princesses. The eleventh heir killed my queen in its birth.
Two of the princesses and one prince were nzambi. Our Zombie-susceptible physiology, myself and my queen, had been reinforced in our offspring. I hadn’t intended to do this, but I had. I had stumbled upon the principles of what would, a quarter-million years later, be termed “artificial selection”.
I had bred Zombie.
I couldn’t, without resorting to incest, breed the nzambis together. So I instead crossed them with the tribespeople who displayed exceptional intellect. And there were a few. It seemed the brain-fever worked its stuff best in the complicated minds. I might’ve been just a virus, but I already knew intellect was the way of the future.
In my late middle-age, my children conspired to kill me.

“You are no longer meaningful, O chifu, to the tomorrow of this tribe,” my Zombie son said to me. “And we tire of the arranged marriages.”
“No longer meaningful?” I laughed in my prince’s countenance. “I bred this tribe in my image. I am its god. You must do as I say. Stick to hunting the ground sloth. Run along now.”
Ah, I was so naive in those halcyon times.
I heard the tread of callused hunter’s feet behind me, but the lance-thrust came as an utter surprise. Next thing I knew, I was staring down at my host’s liver being ripped out of his abdomen on the end of a 15′ stone-headed spear.
I went down. More stone spears went in. These boys were hunters. They could take down simba.
Everything in my victim’s body shut down except the heart, which flailed weakly, struggling to sustain itself for a few dying seconds. The brain shut down and my victim lost consciousness.
But I didn’t.
I stopped the heart and diverted the waning bloodflow to the brain. The eyes, which had never closed, saw again. Somebody leaning close to my face. My beautiful daughter-in-law. My Zombie prince’s wife, pregnant with her seventh child. She was weeping and kissing me. I’d always loved her.
I lunged and bit her on the face. Hard. I chewed into her face like it was a greasy haunch of paa. A virus reflex caused my host to start coughing. Blood and saliva and phlegm sprayed onto my daughter-in-law’s face. Into her eyes and nose and, as she was screaming, her open mouth. Then my host finally died.

Regaining consciousness in a new victim was a surprise to me, but not completely. There’d been a reason I’d been compelled to bite my daughter-in-law.
Again, the sensation of being painfully under water but surfacing. I could feel her physical sensations and self-perception flitting across the neural pathways as I shoved my way through her psyche. But how she fought me!
My original host had been weakened and distracted, whereas my daughter-in-law was motivated and pissed off. And she knew what it was that tried to take her. Somehow, she fought me with her entire physiology. Her body temperature elevated. I was being damaged. Could she actually destroy me?
Then I became aware of another option. A far easier victim. Yes, you guessed it…
Her unborn child.

And thus I became my prince’s prince. The inheritor of my own apparatus. And how stunning, the revelation that my duration of viral consciousness could be longer than the lifespan of a single human host! Vastly longer! What did it mean? What could the potential of this be?


Around 150,000 years ago, modern humans exploded into Africa. Simultaneously, every other archaic human species in the area disappeared. Most likely, the scientists try to tell us, dispossessed from their ecological niches. Not so. Nothing of the sort. I was there. It was genocide. It was slaughter.
And there was more.


First we hit Asia, then we made a left turn into ice-age Europe. We laid waste to anything in our path that lacked the power to run away. Most of the large animals. All of the other humans.
The brutish subhumans of tundral Europe–we called them the Trolle–they were fighters. It took us long, cold millennia of systematic extermination to obliterate their ranks. Until finally we cornered them down in the end of the Iberian Peninsula. If it hadn’t been for us, the trolls would still rule Europe. With their stone axes.
Modern scientists call them Neandertal.

This being done, I set about my new project. A little thing called agriculture. I guess it would’ve been around 15,000 BC. By this time I’d gone through untold thousands of hosts, all direct descendents of my original victim. Under my rule, the brain-fever tribe had conquered the eastern half of Earth.
But they still had to chase the herds, or starve. Without my prodding, they never would’ve bothered to extract seeds from plants and stick them in the dirt. Didn’t think it was “macho”. It was in fact the tribal witchy women that had originally come up with the idea. For herbs and such.
But I found it impossible to divert my people from their path of destruction! Once they’d wiped out all the other human species, they began assaulting each other! It was the result of 200,000 years of artificial selection. They’d become Ï‹berwarrior.
Clearly, another culling was called for.
I chose a fertile stretch of land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where the edible grasses grew in lush abundance. This area was also situated well geographically, being equidistant between Europe, Asia and Africa, and right next to the intersecting migration and trade routes. Probably the busiest region in the stone-age world.
It would be my stronghold position.
I’d done and seen many things in the millennia of my span. No normal human could possibly have the vastness of knowledge that I possessed. About everything. Another Zombie might, but I hadn’t run across one of those in years.
I intuitively understood fortifications. I chose a position commanding the main trade route, and there I ordered my people to build a fort. It was mud brick, with three-cubit-high walls. The tower was seven cubits high, or about ten feet. Fairly pathetic, I know, but at the time it was state-of-the-art.
I then proceeded to get rid of all the Rambos in my new standing army. I wanted grunts. Being commanded by calm professionals. The “warriors” had to go. I wanted a tribe of farmers. Farmers and grunts. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “peasants”, but that would not be inaccurate.
With this accomplished, I had the security to protect the tracts of food I envisioned growing between the rivers. I also had enough muscle to levy tithes and tolls along the main routes. Money of that epoch consisted mainly of rude copper disks or quartz pebbles or animal teeth. Clearly, if I was to collect the taxes properly due to me, this “currency” would have to be standardized. The metal disks looked promising.
At some point I had another idea. Just something I was fooling around with. I didn’t think it had much potential, but it was interesting. What if I could take the breeding techniques, with which I’d created a super-species of humans, and apply them to useful animals…?


In 10,000 BC the city of Ufari commanded the entirety of the Fertile Crescent. Lebanon cedar and Egyptian limestone shone in polished decorative rococo along the facades of Ufari’s palaces and shrines to a thousand pagan gods. The towers rose into a sky that was black and starry and shimmering with the heat of 30,000 cooking fires. My hot, dry city. My people had built it.
And what a wonderful surprise! Tonight we had guests.
The guests outdid us quite handily in terms of cooking fires. And in terms of other kinds of fires, as well. These fires surrounded our outer wall.
“My divine lord.” One of my young concubines approached me, her naked feet making soft sounds on the finely polished tiles. “The enemy has battered a rent through our defenses. They now take up a great smiting of our soldiers.”
“Indeed, so I hear.” Muted sounds of clatters and screams vaguely reached my upper chamber. “Tell General Akkad to smite them back,” I ordered.
The girl just stared at me.
A few millennia earlier, I would’ve been down there myself. But I guess I’d gotten lazy. I’d turned into something of a sensualist. These days, most of my hosts wore out on me very prematurely, almost always from obesity-related diseases. Or the clap. I’d just gotten too close to human-ness. Feeling human. My current flabby host would undoubtedly drop dead of a coronary if he even tried to pick up a spear.
“This enemy warlord…” My voice echoed thinly in my high, ornate master chamber. “Have you seen him?”
“Yes, liege. He is of very striking countenance.”
“Does he, mayhaps, have a certain sort of…strangeness in his eyes?”
“Yes, liege. He is as you are. He is Zombie.”
I’d figured this. It irritated me, anyway, that my concubine knew what I was getting at before I’d had a chance to say it myself. I was about to dismiss her from my presence, but to what? Gang rape? The palace, from the sounds of it, was on the verge of being overrun.
I decided to command her to commit suicide. But before I could get the order out, the beautiful, tall glossy cedar doors to the master chamber were being disgustingly splintered. Then the troops barged in. Tall bastards. Strong. Old school. The bastard enemy Zombie lord had brought back the warriors.
And then the usurper was right up in my face. He smelled bad. They all did. They were…uncivilized.
“You are no longer meaningful, O king, to the tomorrow of this world,” he instructed me with loathsome sanctimony.
“That has a familiar ring to it,” I returned, breathing through my mouth.
The two of us then had a staring contest for a while.
I heard the hush-whisper of sandaled stealth feet behind me, but was still somewhat surprised when I saw my diseased, quivering liver being torn out of my abdomen on the point of a bronze spearhead. The arterial blood sprayed, my guts splopped out onto the floor, etc. It was nothing I hadn’t seen before.


And that, O my brothers and sisters, is how I lost control of my brilliant human race.
If they hadn’t dispatched me so dramatically in such a spray of blood and offal, they might’ve snuffed out this lonely virus altogether. The circumstances being what they were, however, I managed to quickly insinuate myself blood-borne into another host. But my days as “divine lord” were over.
For the moment.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: For the moment!? It’s been twelve-thousand years! The entire course of human civilization!
Well, it just so happens that lately I’ve been getting involved in politics. My current host is testing the waters. For a run at the American presidency in the upcoming election.

See if you can guess which one I am.


  1. Confusing but cool:P

    Comment by Ben on February 5, 2008 @ 6:40 am

  2. Snerk. I think I like it. Can’t QUITE tell how many virus-entities there are (more than one, substantially less than population of planet), but I suppose it doesn’t matter, really.

    Comment by Kevin on April 18, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

  3. AL GORE!!!!!

    Comment by Peter on May 13, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  4. You’re Obamma…arn’t you?

    Comment by SMEAR on July 25, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  5. Cool.

    So, the new Zombie virus is intelligent… The first part didn’t make too much sense too me, and I suppose you need to understand that to understand everything else, but it was awesome to read, either way.

    Comment by Liam on July 11, 2009 @ 11:59 pm

  6. Sci fi at its best. As a biology degree holder I totally get it! I like how the virus was able to travel from host to host and preserve what he had learned no matter how much time had lapsed. The irony is it was his complacency that ended up both giving him existence and altering his initial plans. Very well done! Definitely one of my favorites on here!

    Comment by ZOMBIELOVER313 on July 10, 2010 @ 2:47 am

  7. Nice story G dog. Like the guy above, I love the virus’ longevity and his ability to continue to collect and grow intelligence. Scary!

    Comment by speedcat on February 18, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

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