I don’t know how many of you out there watch AMC’s "The Walking Dead" or read the comics of the same name. I, personally, don’t. It’d take too long to explain, but I don’t read or watch zombie fiction, and the whys-and-wherefores are immaterial. I do, however, know about the show and the book upon which it's based enough to know about some of the main plots and some of the characters, but the one thing I don’t know is if the origins of the zombies, or “walkers”, has ever been explained. In mid-January I had a dream about how the walkers came to be, and, believe it or not, it involves the Hulk.
Now, this isn’t the Hulk from Marvel’s The Avengers or the 2 Hulk movies that preceded it, but the old 70s-80s tv show starring Bill Bixby. For those that don’t know, in 1978, CBS aired an Incredible Hulk television show starring Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner (or David Bruce Banner) and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. In the show’s opening sequence, it was stated that the gamma radiation altered Banner’s body chemistry causing the changes into the Hulk at times of extreme anger or rage. This is the basis of the dream and my origin of the Walking Dead walkers.
**Quick sidebar: I told this story to a friend of mine who paid me the most amazing compliment. She called me “the hugest nerd”, and I gotta admit I blushed a little as I chuckled in my chair. End sidebar**
Now, the dream. In The Walking Dead, there are pockets of survivors, Rick, Carl, Darryl, etc., but in my dream I’m part of a different group of survivors and we’re running through a school/warehouse looking building. As we’re running, we reach an open warehouse doorway, shooting walkers as we go. All of a sudden I see Bill Bixby running along with us. As I train my gun on him I realize “That’s Bill Bixby!” We reach a sanctuary spot some time later and I find Bill Bixby and we start talking about how he came to be here. Turns out he has no idea who “Bill Bixby” is. He is David Banner.
He explains how the Hulk in him makes him immune to the bites of the walkers and that the walkers may, in fact, be his fault. He explains that, through the Hulk, Banner is effectively immortal. Any damage he suffers, even as Banner, is healed almost instantly, so nothing that is done to him will kill him or turn him into a walker. Therein lies the reason that the walkers exist.
The people he’s helped in the late-70s and early-80s were exposed to low levels of his gamma-irradiated body and, thus, any antibodies to infections, like colds or chicken pox, he had inside him. Those, now, gamma-infected antibodies, viruses and bacteria gained his relative immortality and infected others. They colonized and then spread to others across counties, cities, continents and finally to the entire world.
When their host-bodies died, they tried to revive them, as they do Banner. However, since they are not Banner, they did it the best they could. They reanimated the corpses’ motor functions, but whatever made them them was lost. The way he described it in the dream, “The mutated viruses turned the lights on, but there was no one to left to live in the house.”
Now, here’s where the dream kinda ended and I started filling in what I didn’t get a chance to have “revealed” in the dream…
"So, why", I asked, "do the walkers not regenerate after they’re beheaded or finally put down? Why don’t they keep coming back?”
"Because," Banner explained, "the viruses, like all irradiated objects, only have so much time before they break down completely. Once they’re inside, they begin breaking down. They can’t rebuild tissue that died before the point of infection. That’s why you don’t see 50-year-old or older corpses rising up out of the ground. They were dead before my accident and didn’t get a chance to get infected by my mutated bacteria. But once the switch is on, it burns out. If someone comes along to turn it off, then it’s out for good.
"They’re not like me. They weren’t altered at the cellular level, like I was. They have foreign objects firing synapses. My cells constantly regenerate. All of them. But once their brain cells die, they’re dead. What makes them thinking humans is gone."
Here endeth the dream.
I hope you liked my fan-fiction explanation of The Walking Dead. Let me know what you think of it…