Beyond The Zombie – Why Our 2nd Brain Might Rejoice Undeath

I have a confession to make. I…like the Walking Dead.

I don’t like, like it. I just like fantasizing about it. I like getting buzzed on pruno and imagining a world devoid of modern responsibilities. Where the earth’s landscape has been re-defined by the apocalypse. Where we, the survivors, huddle in the dark together, burning the last of our dwindling resources.

In this scenario it’s up to us to be fruitful and multiply. And we face the constant threat of having our host shot in the brain before we come spilling out of his exposed bowels, like Noah’s ark broken by the flood, and we’d seep out of our rotting home without a pool of standing water in sight… a single tear escaping our collective membrane, spilling silently down our cell wall.

Didn’t I mention? I’m considering this zombie apocalypse from the aspect of the bacteria, not the people. And it makes a lot of sense to do so, if you think about it.

Cell-wise, you are more bacteria than person.

-- Wiki


According to sciency people, you have 10 times more bacteria cells in you than human cells. And if you didn’t have any concept of how itsy-bitsy those bacteria cells were compared to your human cells, you might have just imagined a bacteria-monster wearing a human skin-suit precisely one-tenth its mass. If you didn’t imagine that, please do it now.

You have a shit-load (pun intended by divine right) of bacteria in your gut. And those same scientists who claim we’re 10x bacteria cell to human cell, also claim that your gut is so advanced, and has so many neurons, it’s practically a brain all on its own. It’s approximately as powerful as a cat brain, in fact.

So for our Zombie outbreak theory, imagine telling the festering pouch of bacteria in you’re stomach that you’re the boss. And you, the boss, says all bacteria must be flushed into clean toilet bowls, processed, and killed with sanitizers. What would the bacteria say in response?

This isn’t just anecdotal on the bacteria’s part, because…

Bacteria is already living in a post-apocalypse.

-- Wiki


Nobody ever said the Earth was meant for humanity. Unless you’re listening to God. In which case bacteria was planted on Earth to test the zombie’s faith. Nature, on the other hand, is perfectly okay with bacteria taking precedence over man.

If you’re a malignant strain of gut bacteria, you relied on the filthy hygiene of early man to propagate your strain. Every time a human forgets to wash his hands after doing “the business” you get to reproduce and spread to another host.

Then, the modern age of porcelain and bleach comes along, and it’s just about the worst thing to ever happen for your kind. It’s a wasteland, where generations of cholera and plague have been extinguished by sanitary house-keeping. Toilets and Purell have all but wiped you out. So what’s bacteria to do?

-- Wiki


Zombies, says I.

Now, I’m not foolish enough to claim bacteria can change your rational behavior as a human being… Oh, wait, they totally do that in several ways already.

How much of a stretch is it to believe bacteria could start hijacking our 2nd brain– to make us shamble a few extra steps post-mortem to distribute that 10-to-1 colony of bacteria all over hell and creation? It already uses us to forage for more dairy and sugar than what’s healthy. Would it turn us into man-eating zombies? Nah. More like re-purposed bacteria-spreading crop dusters in human form.

The world of The Walking Dead is loyal to both humanity and bacteria.



It’s important to remember in The Walking Dead that humans turn into zombies after they die. One minute you’re a walking, functioning, reproducing human. The next minute your fellow homo-sapient has cut your jugular with an ice-skate for the last pack of Twinkies. Now suddenly your body is moving with new purpose and new goals.

In this hypothetical world human reproduction and bacteria reproduction aren’t mutually exclusive. In this world our undead corpses carry our bacteria out into nature like it was originally intended, far far away from Lysol. It’s only coincidence that the filthy bacteria-spreading zombies also happen to kill people with their disgusting mouths. Think of it as an unhappy accident that zombies now have the horrifying flesh-melting bite of a Komodo Dragon.

It’s a bit meta-nature to wrap your head around, I know. But that’s what evolution in nature is. One system hijacking another, hijacking another, and another, until you have a great mass of cells all working in concert in a larger being.

I hope all this clarifies things, now that you’re a zombie. Your new mission as an undead shambler will be to bite as many warm fleshy things as possible, listen to the bacteria that are steering you through your stomach-brain, and try to find a nice moist pond to rot in. You are now the bacteria mothership. So make ’em proud!


Written by Joe the Revelator for


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