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I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sick of zombies in general–at least, the undead, stumbling, murderous variety. The real thing is much scarier.

In the early 1980’s, a Canadian ethnobotanist by the name of Wade Davis traveled to Haiti to investigate reports of zombies–people who had reappeared in their communities after death.

Clairvius Narcisse was one such man. Narcisse was declared dead in 1962 at a Haitian hospital–his sister Marie Claire identified the body.

When the man returned to his family many years later, they were understandably freaked out. Narcisse had an incredible story to tell–he said he remained conscious even while everyone thought he was dead. Three days after his burial, he was dug up and forced into slavery at a plantation in northern Haiti.

His kidnapper was an evil sorcerer called a bokor–in Haiti, bokors are often blamed for the creation of zombies. Eventually, Narcisse escaped, but he didn’t return home until the death of his brother, whom he suspected had ordered his enslavement. Family members swore that Narcisse was who he claimed to be.

During the course of his research, Davis found that the bokors’ zombie powders almost always included puffer fish, which contain a deadly poison called tetrodotoxin.

Victims of tetrodotoxin poisoning suffer total paralysis. Their breathing is extremely shallow and their vital signs very weak, even to the point where Narcisse’s own doctor could easily have thought the man was dead.

While Davis’s theories were met with some skepticism, no one has been able to disprove them. The scientist left Haiti convinced that real-life zombies do exist. He wrote a book about his experiences called The Serpent and the Rainbow, which Wes Craven turned into a movie in 1988.

Have you seen The Serpent and the Rainbow? What did you think? Do you believe real-life zombies exist? Imagine how terrifying it would be to be buried alive and then sold into slavery while everyone you love believes you are dead.

Thanks to everyone who read my posts and commented during the A-to-Z Challenge! It’s been fun–I’ve met a lot of great people this month and read some fantastic writing. I’d love to keep in touch. Here’s where you can find me:

Twitter
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Pinterest

I always follow back! Have an awesome weekend.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

42 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I have seen Serpent and the Rainbow. (And still cringe at that one scene.) I think it’s possible. Not to turn someone into a zombie but to make them look dead.

    Reply
    • JH

      It’s an interesting way to get indentured slaves for life. From what I understand, most are brain-damaged to the point they can’t run for their freedom like Narcisse did.

      Thanks so much for your support during the A to Z Challenge, Alex. You ROCK!

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    Zombies are tiring and what’s funny is that I posted about them for my Z post too. Haha! I never though a zombie would be mindless and stumbling about like an idiot. Just like I even though a vampire would be beautiful, but rather look more like a corpse.

    That’s a scary story about Clairvius!

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh, I’m so sick of the horror movie ones. Brainnnnsss….brainsssss….it’s so tired.

      I have a high respect for voodoo and the people who practice it. I’ll keep my distance.

      Thanks for your support during the A to Z Challenge, Chrys! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts.

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Enjoyed your post over at Terrible Minds – commented over there. πŸ™‚

    Congrats on finishing A-Z! Fun, creepy stuff. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Madeline! I really appreciate your support. For some reason, the comments aren’t showing up yet. Perhaps Chuck is moderating them, but I didn’t think he did that.

      I really appreciate how supportive you’ve been during the challenge, especially since you weren’t participating! You kept me going. xoxo

      Reply
      • Avatar

        You’re very welcome! πŸ™‚

        Every once in awhile, my comments don’t show up on some blogs. Maybe it’s a blogger/wordpress thing? I don’t know, but here’s what I said over at Terrible Minds:

        *****

        “I like your original title! But it probably was too subtle and not creepy enough. πŸ™‚

        And I need to start telling my inner critic to β€œsuck it” more often than I do. It’s really starting to hold me back. Again.”

        *****

        Reply
        • JH

          Thanks, Madeline. That’s a great comment! Since Chuck is traveling, I think everyone who hasn’t previously commented and been accepted on his blog is stuck in moderation.

          Reply
  4. Avatar

    Zombies are the one monster that truly freak me out. Ugh *shivers*

    Reply
    • JH

      I don’t find them interesting unless they’re the real thing. I have my standards, I guess. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for commenting, Elle!

      Reply
  5. Avatar

    I’m with you about being burned out on Zombies. I was never much of a fan, but the craze has made me crazed. πŸ™‚ Anyway, this story was quite eerie and does have a plausible cause, so it was interesting to read. Besides, what else could be here today except Zombies?

    Thanks for making April interesting. I enjoyed coming to your site each day and reading the tales of horror and suspense. Great job.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Lee. I really enjoyed your posts as well. I hope we will continue to visit each other’s blogs after the Challenge.

      I’m sure I could find something else with a Z. I’ll figure it out for next year! πŸ˜€

      Reply
  6. Avatar

    This was a really fun theme, and great posts! Congrats on finishing! πŸ™‚ I’ll be back to read the ones I missed, and also for new ones πŸ™‚ Looking forward to the reflections!
    Cheers!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much! Congrats to you as well. See you in the reflections.

      I’m very glad I met you. I know way more about epics now.

      Reply
  7. Avatar

    I’ve heard of these real life zombie stories from time to time. They are fascinating and make me wonder what exactly happened.
    Congrats on making it to the end. =)

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee’s Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    Reply
    • JH

      Congrats to you, Patricia! Let’s keep in touch. I’ve always liked your IWSG posts as well.

      I believe Narcisse. I think he went through a horrifying ordeal, and I don’t see why he’d have reason to lie about it.

      Reply
  8. Avatar

    I’ve always been fascinated by these zombie stories. The idea of tricking people into thinking someone is dead so you can then use them without pesky missing persons reports.

    Congratulations on an excellent A to Z. I’m glad I’ve found your blog. Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

    TD Harvey
    A to Z participant
    http://www.tdharveyauthor.com

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Tee! I’m glad I found yours as well. It’s been fun. I hope we can keep in touch after the challenge.

      Yes, I think zombifying someone in order to make them a slave is the epitome of evil.

      Reply
  9. Avatar

    I don’t which is scarier the undead ones that try to each you or being turned into one and enslaved and near non-sentient.

    Definitely not into zombies.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Btw, congrats on finishing!

      Reply
      • JH

        Thanks! You as well!

        Reply
    • JH

      I think it’s pretty creepy that some people have paid to have their family members or enemies enslaved for life. I’d be more scared of that than the fictional kind.

      Reply
  10. Avatar

    You did it. Congratulations on making it all the way through the A-Z challenge. I’ve enjoyed all of your posts and learned a few new things too.

    This take on zombies seems the most plausible too me. The movie versions lack the essential “why”.

    Reply
    • JH

      I agree, Bonnie.

      Thanks so much for your kind words and support along the way! I’m glad I didn’t lose you.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        I don’t know. Being eaten while alive would be pretty terrifying.

        Reply
        • JH

          I don’t believe in the fictional kind, which makes them way less scary for me. Plus, I agree with what Stephen King says…”They’re decaying. Wouldn’t they just fall apart in a few days?”

          Reply
  11. Avatar

    I have never understood zombie lore. They bore me. While I did like the first season of the walking dead, by season 2 I was over it.

    The real zombie thing, and that horrible buried alive part, is scary in a whole other way.

    Congratulations on completing this years challenge. Your posts were so long and well researched, I almost felt guilty with my entries!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Frank! That’s very nice of you to say. Last year I didn’t have do any research, but I definitely made up for it this year.

      I don’t much like zombies either, but voodoo is a whole ‘nother matter. Creepy as hell. But the whole apocalypse thing? Yawn. Pardon the pun, but it’s been done to death.

      Reply
  12. Avatar

    Well, that’s pretty unsettling, isn’t it? The idea that a disgruntled family member could turn you into a zombie with a judicious dose of puffer fish is just plain creepy.

    Good on you for making it through to the finish line. It’s been so much fun reading about unsolved mysteries, the supernatural, and things that do a whole lot worse than go bump in the night. πŸ™‚

    It was great to connect, and I hope we stay in touch now that the challenge is over.

    Reply
    • JH

      Me as well, Kern. The worst part about the Challenge is how after it’s over, you never see these people again (except on the occasional IWSG day). I don’t want that to happen this year.

      Congrats on finishing as well. Yay, us! I think champagne and cake are in order.

      And yeah, creepy to the utmost degree!

      Reply
  13. Avatar

    Interesting story! But how would he have survived underground for three days? Wouldn’t he have suffocated? I guess it’s good that in America they now embalm people…but that’s after all of the extensive tests to make sure they’re actually dead are done.

    Reply
    • JH

      Their breathing is so shallow that they don’t need much oxygen. Still, from what I understand, most of these zombies are severely brain damaged. Lack of oxygen probably plays a role in that. That’s why few escape to tell the tale.

      Narcisse somehow managed to keep his wits.

      Reply
  14. Avatar

    That’s pretty interesting using puffer fish muti for enslavement … (not so pretty actually) …

    I’m going to miss my daily fix of horror J.H. a sort of faster beating heart, and raised hackles etc …

    Congratulations on getting over the finish line and doing it so well all the way through!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Susan! I’ll still write about this stuff on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so you don’t need to miss me too much. πŸ™‚

      The exception will be next week, when we do the Reflections and IWSG posts.

      Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Tami! Sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. I needed a bit of a break from ye olde blog.

      I’m glad we connected too.

      Reply
  15. Avatar

    Now that IS a horrifying thought. And if the family was convinced, the guy had to have come back from the dead. I mean, how else would you convince the people who know you best for prolonged periods of time?

    Reply
    • JH

      Exactly. The fact he was so open about being interviewed and photographed by the media as well tells me he probably wasn’t lying.

      Reply
  16. Avatar

    What an evil, but perfect way to kidnap someone! No one would ever come looking for them.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, but I think you have to be a witch doctor of some sort to pull it off…At least this limits the number of real zombies in the world!

      Reply
  17. Avatar

    Interesting read on zombies, much different from the movie ones.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks! I thought it would make for an interesting post.

      Reply

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