An essay by Dr. Robert Anstruther, as provided by D. J. Tyrer
Art by Luke Spooner

This is my seventieth day here in this bunker and I am no closer to understanding the true nature of the scourge afflicting mankind. Why are the dead walking the earth rather than resting easy in their graves? What has caused this? What motivates them? These are all questions I swore to answer. These are questions that must be answered if mankind is to survive. Only by understanding the hows and whys may we devise the strategies with which to combat this horror, perhaps discover a cure or a vaccine that can prevent the living from this terrible post-mortem fate, maybe even find a means for the living and dead to coexist.

All we know for certain is that this phenomenon is a new one, at least on this scale. Of course, there are all sorts of legends and folk tales about the dead returning to life, but few that hold any credibility as precursors to this global disaster and none that are comparable in scale. Thus any traditional explanations such as sin, curses, and pacts with the Devil can be rejected. Equally, the drug-induced state of certain Haitian zombies is of no help.

Although apocalyptic pronouncements that Hell is too full or that the dead are rising pending the final Judgement have been made, there is no empirical evidence to back such claims, and they are a poor fit for much observed behaviour.

Thus it is that the most popular explanation is that what appear to be the dead returned to a state of unlife are, in actuality, infected by a virus. Unlike supernatural claims, this possesses scientific plausibility and fits with the evidence that bites spread the infection. Unfortunately, there are many accounts of the dead rising without being bitten, meaning that bites are not the sole vector, if a source of infection at all, and calling into question the entire hypothesis. Unfortunately, any such virus has yet to be isolated and cannot yet explain the dead nature of victims: all the evidence indicates that the walking dead are just that and not infected humans.

In short, I remain mystified.


After initial attempts to isolate a virus went nowhere, I turned my attention to the dead themselves. Our earliest experiments focused upon their physiology. If there was no virus, nor any obvious sign of a parasite, perhaps we could still isolate the cause for their anomalous behaviour.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2015 collection.

Dr. Robert Anstruther was born in London to an English father and an American mother. He studied Biology at Cambridge University before moving to America to study medicine at the Yale Medical School, where it is claimed he was a member of Skull & Bones. He joined the CDC and later liased with the British HPA, before disappearing from public view. It is rumoured that he was seconded to USAMRIID. His current whereabouts are unknown.

D. J. Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines in the UK, USA, online and elsewhere, most recently in Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), Tales of the Dark Arts (Hazardous Press), Cosmic Horror (Dark Hall Press), and Serial Killers Quattuor (JWK Fiction), as well as Tigershark ezine. In addition, two novellas are available on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dynatox Ministries) and Acting Strangely (Jazzclaw Publishing).

D. J. Tyrer’s website is at http://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

The Atlantean Publishing website is at http://atlanteanpublishing.blogspot.co.uk/

Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.

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