Chapter 6. The undead


A banshee may keen for your death especially if your family cannot pay a professional to keen for you. The thing to fear is when you hear her keening and you are still alive.


In Japan, the jikininki are ghosts of greedy and selfish people doomed to eat human corpses. The preta in Hinduism or Taoism is a hungry or thirsty ghost of a deceitful, jealous, or greedy person that is desperate to eat or drink something disgusting but whose hunger cannot be sated. The Haitian zombie is a corpse that is reanimated by voodoo but which has lost its mind and soul. The modern zombie is hungry for human flesh, dead or alive, and you become a zombie if they bite you.


A vampire, like a zombie, cannot die but the vampire retains its mind, just not its soul. Vampires have evolved to subsist on blood alone with specialized fangs that work like straws. You’ll know a vampire because a mirror doesn’t reflect its image and a lamp doesn’t cast its shadow. To ward off or escape from a vampire eat garlic, brandish a cross, or jump across running water. By all means ward them off because if one of them bites you then you die and become one of them.


Vampires started in the Slavic countries and spread to English countries, whereas nachzehrers started in Germanic countries and spread into Silesia and Poland. A corpse becomes a nachzehrer after dying, maybe a suicide or maybe being the first to die of a plague, but its condition is not communicable. After becoming a nachzehrer, a corpse eats itself or its shroud. If it escapes its grave, it appears as a pig and eats its family or drinks their blood. Don’t let a nachzehrer ring the bells of a church; if you hear them, you’re dead. Also, don’t let its shadow fall on you; this is a shadow you’ll never escape. It’s hard to explain the difference between a vampire and a nachzehrer if we assume they are manifestations of the same thing. Assuming this leads to doubt, which may be fatal.