It may seem ridiculous now in hindsight, but there was a time when sane, rational human beings thought that it was possible to peacefully coexist with zombies. Heck, these same people thought that it would be possible to start a dialog between the living and the dead, kind of like a cultural exchange of thoughts and ideas.

Culture Shock

It's no surprise that the beginning of the First Outbreak was a time of mass confusion. People were loath to believe that the dead were now roaming the countryside, consuming everyone in their path. Seriously, it's kind of a hard concept to wrap your mind around: something that should by all-rights be stiff, cold and unresponsive, is now shuffling about looking to chew your face off-- it's madness I tell you!

What added significantly to the confusion was the fact that, on one level, a zombie is a person, and yet on another, it's not. For instance, one day your favorite Great Aunt could be baking you a pie. The next day, she may suffer a massive cerebral hemorrhage and die, only to seemingly come back to life minutes (or hours) later.

"Great Aunt Tippy is alive, hooray!"

Only, Great Aunt Tippyy isn't alive, and she would rather bite your throat out than bake you another goddamned apple pie. Tippy, in fact, died when she hemorrhaged; that shambling form before you is nothing but a husk. Still, in the early days of the First Outbreak this information wasn't clearly understood like it is today.

The U.S. government was eager to calm and assuage the panicky populace and to further this goal, the Federal Bureau of Zombo-Human Relations was formed.

The Federal Bureau of Zombo-Human Relations

The mission statement of the F.B.Z.H.R. was to study the root cause of zombieism, analyze its effects on the citizenry, and strive to forge diplomatic relations with the undead. Renowned super-scientist William Dembski was selected to spearhead the efforts to realize these goals and serve as the bureau's first chief.

Dembski, using his incredible intellect and science skills, was able to bring to bear upon the undead problem all that the latest in Intelligent Design Theory had to offer. Within two weeks of the Bureau's formation, Dembski announced that he found an underlying, intelligent pattern to the seemingly random moans, groans and other vocalizations of the undead. As astonishing as this claim was, Demsbski went one step further in saying that he believed that he could communicate with the zombies and negotiate a truce between the living and the dead. A small field outside of Seattle, Washington was chosen to be the place to test this momentous breakthrough.

Dembski's attempt at negotiating a truce is now seen as a pivotal moment of the First Outbreak. Ever the showman, and eager to show the U.S. citizenry that things were going to be all right, Dembski invited all the major television news stations to provide live coverage of his triumph.

With cameras rolling, Dembski boldly stepped from behind the military barricade and approached a trio of zombies standing in the middle of the field. When Dembski was within thirty feet of the zombies, they took notice of him and began to advance upon him in classic zombie fashion. At this point Dembski, unflinching and confident, began to croak out a series of unintelligible syllables that seemed to approximate a zombie's natural vocalizations.

A review of the footage shows that at that moment, the zombies did stop in their tracks, though this pause was only momentary, and they again began their advance. Dembski cleared his throat and began the vocalization again, louder and slightly more in earnest. The zombies continued their approach, though they began groaning themselves. Dembski (and subsequent supporters of zombo-human communication) took that as a sign that the communication barrier was broken and began a new string of vocalizations.

It is unnerving to watch the footage from that fateful night, as the steadfast Dembski continues vocalizing, even as the zombies draw ever closer to him and, eventually, surround him. At this point, it is generally agreed upon that Dembski realized that his efforts at communication were fruitless. The final, frantic and terrified look on his face was forever captured in High Definition video as the zombies began to feast.

The Dembski Debacle, resulted in the immediate shuttering of the offices of the F.B.Z.H.R. and redistribution of its funding to more useful purposes.

I say that Dembski's televised devouring was a pivotal moment during the early days, because it solidified in the hearts and minds of Americans the notion that the undead weren't an opponent that could be reasoned or negotiated with. With this realized, America could then begin to come to grips with the new reality that had dawned seemingly overnight.

Is Zombo-Human communication impossible?

Though Dembski's work is rightfully discredited, there is still a vocal cadre of wing-nut pseudo-scientists who are struggling to make a break through in communicating with the dead. To date, every field test has resulted in the death of the earnest Dembskiite.

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