1. RabidChipmunk
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    RabidChipmunk Member

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    How Does My Zombie Apocalypse Begin?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by RabidChipmunk, Mar 15, 2011.

    The story I'm currently working out is a pretty basic idea: zombie apocalypse hits, survivors make their way to safety. I have the details for the most part worked out, including characters, plot points and a hopefully satisfying revelation, but I've encountered a major snag.

    In my original concept, the "creeps" (the name my characters give the zombies) were created by a biological terrorist attack involving a genetically engineered strain of the rabies virus. It worked for a while, but as my story line evolved, it didn't quite hold water.
    You see, as the story goes, its revealed that the creeps aren't mindless, slavoring beasts: they operate with a sort of pack mentality. They, as a whole, make up a massive apex predator of sorts, which I feel ups the ante beyond the standard zombie scenario.

    Problem is, a weaponized strain of rabies can't explain the incredibly powerful pack mentality the creeps exhibit. I know there's that whole "willing suspension of disbelief" thing, but in my opinion I shouldn't rely too heavily on that; after all, if I wouldn't be willing to believe it, why should I demand my reader to?

    So what I'm asking for is some help trying to come up with a new source for the zombie plague. I'd still like to keep the idea of a terrorist organization or a cult (possibly just some guy with a god complex and too many followers),and I'd like to stay away from mystical fantasy explanations, which have no place in my story. I'm willing to delve into sci-fi, but nothing like aliens or the like.

    I'm not asking anyone write my story for me; if you post anything, I'm sure it'll get the plot-bunnies bouncing. So, any ideas?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe you could have some parapsychology researcher who creates a drug that is supposed to give people telepathy, but a) it only works with others who have taken the drug, and b) it reduces the subjects to near-mindlessness. So you have a bunch of people who can't think for themselves, but who CAN think as a kind of hive-mind.

    Combine that with sufficient levels of unkillableness and general zombieness and insatiable hungerforbrainsness and you might be on your way. Or not.
     
  3. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I like the drug idea, but the hard part would be how to make it infectious (I'm assuming that's the intent?). The same idea could work with genetic engineering using a retrovirus, and I think I'd be more likely to believe telepathy from genetic modification than from a drug.
     
  4. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    How about as you siad a cult that tries to posion someone (eachother?) with some kind of toxin that would make them unable to think for themselves, thus making them into slaves.

    But ofcourse they turn aggresive and the posion/disease(maybe?) turns out to be infectious through blood. And since Zombies in themselves has some of the human drives to live(?) like eating, thier wish to move in flocks increase (since humans tend not to prefer being alone.)

    Maybe this would work? I dont know enough about either the story or you to be able to say what would suit best but its something you could make into your own. :)
     
  5. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I would be careful with something like this. You'll quickly lose suspension of disbelief. Even (good) fantasy and SciFi have to follow scientific laws -- even if some of those laws are made up or changed in consistent ways -- and scientifically dubious things like a contagious poison (poisons don't self-replicate, and they would quickly get so thinned out by removal from a person's body and transmission to others that they wouldn't have any effect on anyone anymore, and certainly not on the new "hosts") will quickly have the reader's mind revolting at the implausibility. Readers will readily believe that someone will turn into a zombie, but not that a poison will jump readily from one person to another. Go figure.
     
  6. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    I'm not totally sure that I see the problem. If it's weaponized rabies, why is it hard to believe that the original virus was modified in ways other than just to make it a weapon?
    If the scientists who created it tinkered around with its behavior and effect on the human mind, they could have made it do all kinds of things, even accidentally. Use the fact that science isn't an exact science, and whoever made this thing screwed up.
    OR
    Combine a couple of previous suggestions with your original idea. Let's say that there's this cult who wants to control the world. They want to lower mental capacity for the individual, and make each one a node in a larger network, effectively creating a hive-mind for the human race, with them at the helm. They pick some easily communicable virus that has few physical symptoms other than attacking mental capacity (rabies actually fits here, though the manner in which it's communicable is awfully violent; you'd think they'd look for something that can be spread by a sneeze or something), and they modify it to shut down parts of the brain while boosting others. So the individual host becomes basically mindless, but the enhanced brainpower in that specific part of the brain that allows telepathy aids the hive-mind.
    If you feel the need to explain the outbreak (and really at this point you could do just as well to leave it unexplained), take some time with it and put in a scene where the virus is created. Maybe the scientists screw it up, maybe they get exactly what they're looking for, but as far as I can see there's no reason that a virus couldn't cause the type of zombie that you're describing.
     
  7. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Viruses mutate all the time. I mean take the Flu Virus for example. That thing changes all the time.

    This virus just so happens to have mutated in such away that its hosts develop sort of a hive mentality...

    well have you considered parasites? In Resident Evil 4 you fight against villagers who were infected by a parasite. This parasite takes over the hosts body and controls it. They have a hive mind like thing going on where the leader of the cult controls them. They also retain some intellect and can use basic weapons.

    You could do something similar. A scientist discovers some parasite. Terrorist find out and they take the parasite and unleash it without realizing the full extent of what the parasite does. Perhaps they thought it was some sort of poison or what not because the larva stage is microscopic or something.
     
  8. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why wouldn't this work? As the virus wreaks havoc on the host's brain it could cause the higher functions to short out, leaving the person's mind in a primordial, animalistic state.

    Pack animals stay together because it makes hunting and surviving easier. Humans formed clans for the same reason.
     
  9. RabidChipmunk
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    I think this has given me the final idea. Thanks, this has helped.

    How it'll work is I think I'll keep the whole "genetically engineered, yet radically modified rabies virus" idea and have a mad cult leader infect his followers and unleash them to infect more, inflating his cult size so he can do something or other with them. This make sense to everyone else?
     
  10. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    How it will start ?..... At an Elvis impersonator contest help in Tulepo, Mississippi. Launching a zombie apocalypse epic from the sleepy southern city gives you bad ass fish out of water element,
     
  11. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    You got it. :)

    I almost wouldn't worry about the leader doing "something or other with them". Maybe he just gets off on being the center of the hive-mind. I mean, if he's raising an army for world domination, by the time the army is raised he'll have dominated the world.
    Then again, maybe he's after something greater... some kind of other-worldly goal. Maybe he needs to funnel (semi-)living flesh into a swirling vortex of doom to appease his mighty demon-god, who will give the cult leader all the powers of the universe.

    ...or maybe not. Who knows?
     
  12. RabidChipmunk
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    RabidChipmunk Member

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    I'm going with the standard "He thinks he's a prophet of God so he's swelling his ranks for a crusade" for now :)
     
  13. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    That works. :)
     
  14. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    I think the man-made virus bit has been done to death with the undead (no pun intended). Maybe you could talk about an invading force that tries to create an undead army, by injecting their blood into a set of abducted humans (which they don't take to fully, of course. Hence the zombie-ness), to help them take over Earth....?
     
  15. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you haven't decided on a (pseudo)scientific explanation, there's always the supernatural. The zombies could be created and controlled by a demonic entity, or by a human magician, as in the original Haitian folklore.
     
  16. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I think the zombie trend is odd and somehow profoundly negative about our culture is behind it. So, I suggest dumping it in favor of a slightly different idea.

    Your pack mentality idea is interesting, way more than zombies. What could cause that to form?

    How about using animal genes for a medical treatment? That process is being used in many ways from plants to making cats glow in the dark from squid genes, just for the luz, I imagine.

    So, this new gene, transmitted through a virus (actually used in medicine) and it doesn't make moving dead people (dumb) but thinking people with animal drives. There's no using human reason on them any longer and they're worse than zombies in every way.
     
  17. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    How would you feel about simply not explaining it? Thats what the new Dawn of the Dead movie did, and in some ways it kind of gives your the ability readers to give whatever explanation they want; whether it is supernatural or a super-virus.

    Not to mention, your characters are going to be running around in a post-collapse scenario. After zombie start appearing everywhere, things will fall apart quickly, including the ability to gather information. As to why the zombies are there is probably their least concern. Shooting them in the head is the first priority.

    Also, read Stephen King's book The Cell, his take on the zombie apocalypse is very interesting. First, everyone who answers a Cell Phones turns into a zombie. Next, there is an extremely strong "hive mind" element to the zombies. Recommend a read.
     
  18. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    You never asked my permission to use me in your novel. ;)
     
  19. Mewditto
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    Mewditto Member

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    One bad hamburger at a gas station in Texas.


    Wait thats taken....

    Hmm, maybe someone was working on a vaccine for cancer and mutated the cancer... stuff... and it blew up in his face and it started mutating him into a zombie.
     
  20. TheTranskinator
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    TheTranskinator Member

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    ...not sure...it's dark and I hear laughing... aww

    I have to agree with this. When I watch zombie movies I don't like being forced into a cause that is unappealing to me. It makes the whole movie boring to me if I find out that it was some form of witchcraft. Instead I prefer to think of it as a biological attack. Point being, it may turn some readers off by giving them a set reason behind it. Open for interpertation causes ensure that the reader will still be thinking about your book for at least a little while to come, and it will probably be more enjoyable. Unless of course you chose the cause they wanted...
     

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