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A Vexation of Zombies
Mummies, golems, dhampirs, revenants, skeletons, vampires, wendigoes, and zombies are creatures of the night that some people think of only around Halloween, while the minds of others dwell on these creatures year-round. Some of those terms for the undead, such as golems and dhampirs, were completely new to me. Just in case some of you aren't familiar with all of them either, I explain what each of them are before telling the collective noun. One or more of any of the following creatures would make a haunting addition to any scary story. Or if your story needs to be given new life, if it has come to a grinding halt and needs some excitement, no matter what genre of story it started out to be, just throw in one or more of theses creatures.
A mummy is a dead body that has been preserved by embalming. But what is the body doesn't stay dead? What if this embalmed body, drained of its life-giving blood and many of its internal organs, actually rises up and roams around? Would the strips of cloth that his body was kept prisoner in unwind as he meandered along? How badly would you want to escape from a liberty of mummies that had finally found their freedom from the stuffy tombs they had been buried in for centuries?
Golems come to us from Jewish folklore. When persecuted, Jews would create artificial monsters to protect themselves from their enemies. These creatures would then do their bidding. But what would happen if a craving of golems decided that they wanted to be free to live their own undead lives? Would they have enough power to overthrow their creators? Could the golem legends be what inspired Mary Shelley to write the story of Frankenstein?
A dhampir (also spelled dhampyre, dhamphir, ordhampyr) is a child born to a vampire father and a human mother. Though able to become full vampires themselves, according to legend many of them would reject their vampire blood and return to the human race. Unfortunately, because of their vampire blood, they were often rejected by the humans they sought to protect. As dhampirs, they had an uncanny ability to hunt vampires. Someone that is prominent stands out from the rest of the crowd. A dhampir would stand out ľ one was said to have wild and untamed black hair along with larger than normal eyes, ears, and teeth. The most tell-tale sign would be the fact that a dhampir did not possess a shadow. A prominence of dhampirs fought to protect the city that was overrun with vampires.
A visible ghost or moving corpse believed to have returned from the grave (don't know where else it could have come from) in order to terrorize those who are still living is a revenant. A depravity of revenants would be a terrifying sight to see in the dead of night.
I never thought that skeletons would belong in the undead class, but I was wrong. I always thought of skeletons of being, well, dead. Apparently, animated skeletons have been popular in personifying death in an animated fashion since the Middle Ages in fantasy, gothic, and horror fiction. Depictions of them can also be found in mythical art. The Grim Reaper is an example of an undead skeleton. A drudge of skeletons is featured in a painting, The Triumph of Death, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In this painting, a drudge of skeletons is invading a town and brutally killing everyone who lives there.
Vampires are mythological creatures that need to drink the blood of the living for nourishment and survival. Many books, the most famous one is Bram Stoker's Dracula, have been written about these creatures of the night and just as many, if not more, movies, such as The Lost Boys, have been made about them. After reading one of the books or watching one of the movies, I don't think anyone would be happy to find that a basement of vampires was residing in their hometown.
The wendigo (also known as windigo, weendigo, windago, waindigo, windiga, witiko, and wihtikow) is a malevolent, cannibalistic spirit that appears in the mythology of the Algonquin people. This spirit was said to be able to transform into a human or to possess a human. According to Yukon legends, one is said to turn into a wendigo if forced to consume human flesh. This could happen during a long, hard, and cold winter in the unforgiving north. The consumption of human flesh is supposed to awaken a feral need to continue to feed upon human flesh that gradually turns one into a half-phantom, half-beast monster that can move with great stealth and speed. It even has the ability to fly. A group of these creatures, who are also supposed to be able to turn invisible, is known as an exigency of wendigoes.
Zombies, humans that were once dead and brought back to life by some magical means, have grown in ferocity since they were first introduced in a horror film in 1968. These monsters now crave human flesh, especially the brain. Anytime your book needs livened up a bit, all you need to do is throw in a zombie or two. Things will start jumping as your characters try and evade being bitten by a vexation of zombies. Believe me, the zombies will most definitely be vexed if they cannot make a meal out of each and every one of your characters they meet.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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