ATTN potential Contributors. The following is the dyszombie milieu. This is “privileged” information, which means that you need to know it if you want to contribute, but your character will not necessarily know it. (For what a Character knows outside of his or her own experiences, see the Field Report and the “Objective” History.) Your writings must conform to these “physics”, at the very least, and of course, I will have to judge whether some other ascertainment which is not covered here is in or out of the milieu. Again, cannibalism is outside of the milieu unless it is an uninfected person eating an uninfected person. The dyszombie will never do something like that. If you base your story on traditional understanding of zombies, it will not meet the standard for publication and will be rejected.
The accounts themselves are all in the first person (or a modified version of the third person, where the main character is merely the narrator and is relating a story he or she witnessed.) Similarly, the writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Few people who are writing for themselves, and fewer people who are writing for posterity, really make an effort to demonstrate that they care about spelling. But your writing has to be clear enough to make sense. Even fewer will care in a world where marauding hordes of undead are hunting people like animals. The accounts should be between 2000 and 4000 words long.
1. The accounts that you write are being “published” by a future archivist, who none of your characters will ever meet or are ever aware of. How far in the future these accounts are collected has not been determined yet. But at some point, someone collects these writings as he finds them, and stores them at the library where the “Objective history” was composed. The archivist then later opens the library and discovers them.
2. Your characters will never refer to the infected as “Dyszombies”. That is a term coined by the author of the “objective” history. Your character can call them whatever he or she likes, but the common term is “Z” or “Zed” or “Dead”. If you want to be respectful, call them “infected”, as in the infected or an infected. For all any of your characters know, these are zombies straight out of the movies, but they seem to violate a serious number of expectations. Like they don’t eat people. They don’t eat anything. They kill by dismemberment or disembowelment of their target. They don’t “moan” or growl or hiss either. They proceed, as if they are a robot gone awry, and mess up their target very quickly and very efficiently. They are significantly more healthy and significantly stronger than the uninfected. This means they can take a LOT more damage, feel zero pain, and never go into shock. So they have many of the same immunities to human fighting tactics that regular zombies have, but for VERY different reasons.
3. The Dyszombie is more or less the embodiment of the human conscience. When a character is doing something that is morally questionable, like taking something or fighting with someone, even if necessity dictates that he do it to survive, the dyszombie will attack. They make no distinction between someone who steals for sport and someone who steals out of necessity. Conversely, things that we consider morally wicked behavior but aren’t actually morally wicked, like gambling, will not set a dyszombie off. The characters have zero idea, however, what sets a dyszombie off. They labor under the paradigm that these zombies spend their days roaming, seemingly lifeless until they happen upon someone and randomly attack. And our characters cannot understand anything other than that. The accounts we write must present the attacks as apparently random, though they must be precipitated by some sort of anti-social behavior, like fighting, or not saying sorry to someone for pushing them. Even if it is accidental, a dyszombie will not think of it. They will simply attack. The dyszombie can be defused, before the awakening, by an apology, or by dropping an item that the dyszombie thinks was stolen.
4. There are obviously a higher concentration of dyszombies in urban areas than there are in the countryside. And for the most part, some of the countryside has been completely cleared of dyszombie by the small handful of survivors who banded together out there. It is from these strongholds that the combined assault that triggers the “Awakening” is launched. If you want to set your story out in the country, chances are, you will come into contact with more uninfected than you will with dyszombie. But in many other countryside settings, the entire country has gone over to dyszombie, as many of them have wandered out of the cities inadvertently, and just the sheer number of people who turned to dyszombie in the first place, and the VERY few number of uninfected who survived. Overall, the population of the entire world is smaller, less dense, and more evenly spread across the face of the planet than it is before the plague.
5. There is no way to transmit the disease from dyszombie to human. The ones who survived did so because they possessed a genetic mutation that made them unsusceptible to the Airborne DZ. This genetic mutation is not inheritable, by the way, so if a parent has it, it is still incredibly unlikely that a child will, and vice versa. But your characters don’t know this. They labor under the paradigm that contact is to be avoided at all costs.
6. Consequently, a bite will not infect them. As a matter of fact, bites of dyszombies, if such ever occurred, would actually not become infected by anything at all, as the dyszombie cannot carry bacteria at all (they don’t smell like anything, by the way, while survivors stick comparatively.) If a Dyszombie were to bite a person, the bite would not get infected unless the survivor him or herself was filthy, which he/she is.
7. The Dyszombie makes a key distinction between humans and animals. They will only ever fight an animal if the animal is attacking them. But most animals note that the dyszombie doesn’t trigger their sense the same way a human does, and will mostly avoid the dyszombie completely.
8. The only thing which will completely kill a dyszombie is to completely destroy the body, by fire, or by acid or complete dismemberment (meaning, chopping them up into little pieces) or something else. A bullet to the head will heal, believe it or not. Our survivors don’t understand this. The dyszombie who is shot in the head, as our zombie literature teaches us to do, will indeed fall to the ground, allowing the shooter the opportunity to escape. Even fifty bullets to the brain will not be enough however, because in a day or so, the dyszombie, being a MUCH higher functioning organism, will have rejected the foreign objects and will begin repairing the damage. The code to do so is genetic. So the only way to keep the dyszombie from regenerating is to destroy the genetics or make it impossible for the genetics to actually work. NO SURVIVOR knows this for sure, because they rarely ever meet the same dyszombie twice, and attribute the disappearance of any of the bodies they observe to the actions of the dyszombie who have been known to stash corpses in abandoned buildings.
9. Your character can hold a conversation with a dyszombie, provided that it is very short, and incredibly simple. It is true that the dyszombie, in its inert mode, has the attention span of a goldfish, and in its activated mode, has the focus of someone with severe OCD. So if you want, your characters can talk to dyszombies, and they will answer him with one or two words, very clearly. After that, the dyszombie will wander off. And if your character becomes insistent and asks the same question over and over again, the dyszombie will turn on him.
10. It is true that the dyszombie does not walk well on ice. He lacks the attention necessary to take careful steps and will fall repeatedly. If your character observes this and begins to laugh out loud, this will activate the dyszombie, who will get off the ice as soon as possible and then come after your character. Additionally, if there are other dyszombies around at the time, they will also be activated at your character’s failure to help someone in need.
11. Your character must not be important. These accounts are from run of the mill survivors, who have somehow lasted in this weird world, complete with a collapsed society, for years. They are tough as nails, and they assume that it is only a matter of time and energy before the human race will return to prominence, and the last of the dyszombie will be extinguished. Think like a quasi-optimistic Sarah Connor. But they are wrong, and they have no idea how wrong they are. But the one thing they are not is in control of anything larger than a band of two or three people
12. Speaking about the “Awakening”. Before this event occurs, the dyszombies spend their days roaming very slowly across the face of the country. They may run into some obstacle, but then they just change direction, and continue walking. This is their inert state. Before the “Awakening” it is also their default state. When they are activated by some act of moral incorrectness, they become single minded and very deliberate in their moves. They tend to anticipate the moves of their opponents, the same way expert martial artists do. They can move significantly faster than they did in the inert state, though they will never run unless the target attempts to run away. They become way more “Terminator” like (you’ll have to forgive me for the comparisons. I am currently making my way through the second season of the “Sarah Connor Chronicles” and it happens to be at the front of my mind.) And they keep tracking until the target leaves their field of vision and senses. At this point they immediately return to their inert state, and continue wandering in the same direction they were going when they lost contact. They may eventually happen upon the target again, but they neither remember, nor care about the existence of that person, and do not re-engage automatically, the way a regular zombie would. Unless the person was continuing in their wicked ways, and then the dyszombie treats it as a new encounter.
13. AFTER the “Awakening” the dyszombie never disengages. He kills every human who is not infected, regardless of what action that person is engaged in. And his senses are heightened, due to his superior physical composition, so he can detect people hiding in places, and will come after them. His nose smells the human, his ears hears breathing and heartbeat, and even blood circulation, his eyes pick up heat signatures, and he tastes the air around a person. In short, the dyszombie can find humans even in the best hiding places. And the assaults are relentless.
14. After the “Awakening” the dyszombies act more like one single collective organism. If a dyszombie discovers a human in one area, every dyszombie literally in a four block radius will focus on that target, unless a more immediate one presents itself. And unlike regular zombies, the dyszombie retains all the problem-solving abilities that he or she had before being infected. So if there is a wall between the dyszombie and the target, and the dyszombie is able to acquire a ladder, he will use it, as will every single one behind him. The uninfected perish because they are simply outnumbered by an unstoppable foe.
15. The “Awakening” is caused by a coordinated effort around the globe by bands of survivors who have formed themselves into armies going and attempting to take back the cities from the dyszombie. At first, the attackers are semi successful. They put down a number of the dyszombie with firearms and etc. The initial assault pretty much expends their ammunition. Meanwhile, a switch in the dyszombie is flipped. It is a “psychic” switch, which links the seemingly oblivious dyszombie into a single solitary mass bent on the destruction of the invaders. The dyszombies eventually recover what was taken from them by the bands, who quickly run out of ammunition, and meanwhile, those put down regenerate and join their partners. The “Awakening” signifies the acquiring of a universal consciousness by the dyszombie. They awaken from their slumber, so to speak, and become the final cleansing of the planet of the old, faulty variety of humans. What started as a decimation of the dyszombie population becomes nothing less than a genocide conducted by unthinking, unfeeling infected hordes. And the dyszombies do not stop in their relentless pursuit of uninfected until they are at last all wiped out, to the last man, woman, and child. The dyszombies ultimately win.
16. Several years after the last survivors are abolished, the dyszombies still roam across the planet. Slowly, the clouds in their minds are lifted, maybe over the space of a year, as the disease which infected them has run its course. They have no memory of what has occurred, but the reason that the symptoms of the disease end is because there is no more “contagion” (or moral ambiguity in the world) anymore to which they were constantly exposed before and during the “Awakening”. It’s as if they were allergic to amorality or immorality, and now that the allergen has finally been suppressed, their systems begin to recover. it takes a few years for them to completely get over the symptoms.
17. They view the world around them, destroyed as it is, and begin to rebuild society. They of course begin to communicate with one another, remembering their respective languages. But they have zero idea why the whole world is destroyed, nor do they remember anything about where they came from. Eventually, families are formed, people begin to repopulate the planet, and children are all born with the modified genetic code. The species can no longer be called human, though they retain many of the trappings of humanity, like the ability to read, write, and speak. Some people adopt various professions that they seem to know, inexplicably, how to do (because they knew how to do it before the world was infected), others labor and learn trades.
18. At some point, many decades after the events chronicled in our story, a historian, now well into his eighties, uncovers a trove of papers left in a library (they were left there by someone who compiled them before hand from various parts of the globe). He is able to read these papers, and what he reads is the pre-history of his society.
This is the milieu as it exists right now. Any additions will be noted directly above, and will be results of significant judgment calls on my part.