I had an interesting idea a few days ago: a fully-intelligent zombie who looks and acts exactly like a living human. Picture a cross between Martin, Dexter, and Phineas Gage. I’ll call ’em “smart zombies” until I find a better name.
Shout-out: This is dedicated to Jack Summers.
I’ll turn this into an actual story at some point, but here are some rough notes: (WARNING: fairly graphic)
This version of the “zombie virus” is technically a type of sociopathy [think Dexter] caused by the removal of an entirely fictional part of the frontal lobes [think Gage]. The result is a weakened or absent sense of morality and a driving urge to consume brains — but only a very specific (and fictional) part of the frontal lobes. And so on.
Thus, the only physical difference between a smart zombie and a human is a major scar on the forehead, which can be easily hidden. There’s a lot of room for psychological drama here, because a freshly bitten zombie would, understandably, have reservations about lunching on somebody’s gray matter. In most cases, the constant hunger for braaaiiiiins would be too much, and the zombie would start planning its move [think Dexter or Martin]. Zombies with particularly strong moral compasses might become zombie-hunters instead.
The mechanism for zombie-creation may sound implausible, but it’s the only way I can find to reconcile “zombies eat brains” with “zombies with damaged brains die” and “zombies are created by zombie bites”. As far as I can tell, the classic horror-movie zombie can only spread by accident, with near-misses receiving bites to the extremities instead of the head.
That’s all I have for now; obviously, I am indebted to monster genius George Romero for both Martin and Night of the Living Dead.