It’s been a little while since I’ve written. It’s been a busy (and depressing) week, and I’ve had a bit of a cold.
Anyway, not all that much has changed on the ground. I’m biting fewer zombies per day now. I guess we’ve exceeded ICU capacity a few times. We have the beds, but the acuity of the patients that we are sending up is sometimes pretty severe. Lots of hemothoraces. Blood pressures seem to be unstable in the hours after phenoconversion to the human state, and they can have a mild coagulopathy similar to von Willebrand disease. Infection can also set in pretty early, probably mostly because of the many wounds that they have. Occasionally they are seeing some kind of late granulomatous reaction, which Nick thinks is due to exposure by some of the zombies to a failed “miracle cure” that was attempted back in the mid-90’s. Apparently the ICU is putting them all on vancomycin, ceftriaxone and ampicillin for the first few days, and even with that there have been one or two meningitis cases due to occult skull-base fractures.
That said, many of them seem to do quite well. There have been a few scenes of ex-zombies (ex-zees in recently coined ICU parlance) reuniting with family. The first zombie that I converted to human – the one who started all of this, when she attacked me down by the soda machine and I bit her in self-defense – left the hospital after just a week. I understand that she is going to be releasing a memoir soon.
Actually, I am really looking forward to reading it. You know, I haven’t really had any in-depth discussions with any ex-zombies, despite my work. I’ve stopped by the SICU a few times and seen them up there, and I’ve had short conversations with a few ex-zees and their families, but that’s really all. One of my fellow IM residents told me that they don’t have any memory of their period of undeath, but that they also don’t feel like they were completely unconscious during that time. I don’t pretend to understand it. Nick is fascinated by this – he keeps talking about minds and bodies and Cartesian dualism, but whether he’s for or against the latter, I really can’t say.
Of course, the backdrop has been the unadulterated shitshow of the first week of the Trump presidency. The media circus surrounding our country’s ongoing autophagy basically drowned out the press release about our new zombie conversion procedure (which still involves my biting the shins of zombies, resulting in their instant reversion to a human state). Not to say that it was completely ignored – the BBC was actually prompted to do an interesting article on zombie conversion through history. It was pretty cool. I had been aware of a few cases, of course. My favorite was Chipper Arnie, from 19th century London, who supposedly bit and converted thirty zombies all in one evening. Apparently he had just lost a finger in a kitchen accident, and his boss had given him a little extra money as compensation. He ended up going on a four-day drunk, culminating in a rowdy dice game on a balcony in Old Nichol. Arnie was on a winning streak, and this – combined with his constant grating cheerfulness – so incensed one of his fellow players that the man pushed him through the rotted balcony rails. Arnie fell to the street and crashed through a locked bulkhead, rolling right into the middle of a basement zombie mill. Zombie mills were essentially giant engines that fed off of the near-relentless energy of zombies. They mostly consisted of huge wheels to which zombies were chained, often with a ratchet mechanism so that they could only move in one direction. These zombie-powered engines were used for textile manufacture, flour-grinding, drawing and pumping water, etc. Some of them had people who were paid to run in front of the zombies, so that the zombies would move faster and in a more unified direction. This work was usually performed by young, agile men from the countryside (called “clodhoppers” because of their sustained sprinting in circles over the uneven floors of the mills), and was the source of the famous old nursery rhyme “Jack be nimble, Jack have skill, Jack lead zombies around the mill”. In any case, Arnie was immediately set upon by the zombies in work gang, but supposedly converted all of them back to humans by biting them, just like I do. The story goes that he then resumed his dice game, lost all his money and went home to sleep it off. Apparently the owner of the mill subsequently brought Arnie to court for destruction of property, and he was briefly sent to prison before being freed by a delegation of Quakers from the United States, who wanted him to convert some of their brethren who had become zombified in Connecticut (during the Second Great Quaker Zombie Plague of the 1800s). However, Arnie died before he made the trip, after another drunken fall put him beneath the wheels of a carriage.
The BBC article also mentioned Nasrallah at-Tabiib al-Ghul, supposedly a physician in the court of Saladin who could convert zombies (not clear how) and who, despite being a Muslim, is renowned as a folk saint by certain Maronite Catholics for his having converted all the zombies of Jerusalem. There was a considerably more mercenary zombie converter in France during early part of the reign of Louis XIV, a Dutch mountebank called Jan Kreupel who was also known for biting zombies back to life. And more recently there was Altynai kyz Joldoshbek, a farmgirl from somewhere in Central Asia – one of the ‘stan countries – who could also do it, back in the Soviet times.
So the BBC article was interesting, but with everything going on, I think our success with zombie conversion just hasn’t been as big a splash as Dr. N wanted it to be. She’s still fairly happy, but I heard Dr. S mention offhand that the CPTLD is actually a bigger profit center than the ICU, even with zombies that have favorable insurance policies. They want to line up some donors to help support the conversion process. I guess we’ll see what happens.