It's official, according to the Centers for Disease Control: Zombies do not exist.

Phew.

I don't know what's scarier -- the idea of rotting animated corpses craving human flesh shuffling down my street, or that the CDC had to tell people they don't really exist.

Last week, CDC spokesman David Daigle sent an email to the Huffington Post that addressed America's burning question about whether the undead walk among us.

"CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombielike symptoms,)" he wrote.

Obviously, Daigle has never seen the line outside an Apple store when a new gadget's about to go on sale.

What's going on?

Still, weird things are going on. People are eating people, and that has many of us non-human-flesh-eaters rightly concerned. Are we really that angry? Are we really that crazy? Are food prices really that high?

There may not be real zombies out there, but something's happening to make people act that way.

Oh, right, it's an election year.

There was the recent case of the naked face-eating guy in Florida. I'm so glad that someone bothered to post the video on the Internet (easily a 21st-century journalistic high point), because not enough of us lost our most recent meal just thinking about it.


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Then a New Jersey man stabbed himself and threw his own intestines at police. Those officers really deserve a bonus or extra time off or something. Most folks don't have to ask themselves, "I wonder if someone will throw their own innards at me today."

You want more evidence that something's not right? Just a few weeks ago, a Maryland college student was accused of killing a man and doing a sort-of Hannibal Lecter routine (minus the Chianti and fava beans, apparently). Note to social media users: When someone goes on a psychotic Facebook rant about human sacrifices -- like this guy did -- chances are you've friended the wrong person.

Then there was the Texas mother who in 2009 went zombie on her newborn. That kind of behavior has to set off warning bells, even in Texas.

So, yeah, people are afraid. Something real is happening. Not even the world's most attention-starved person would eat someone for headlines. Not even the Kardashians.

Well ...

Fear is palpable

Maybe these things have been happening all along, but we didn't pick up on it. Maybe this is like the 1970s, when TV shows and films about Bigfoot and UFOs suddenly inspired a rash of Bigfoot and UFO sightings. The human race is nothing if not easily duped (see: '80s Day-Glo, "Jersey Shore").

As you know, zombies are all the rage. Zombie movies started out as a guilty pleasure in the late '60s when George Romero unleashed "Night of the Living Dead" and its ensuing sequels and remakes. Zombies came out of labs in "28 Days Later" and "28 Weeks Later." They became hilarious in "Zombieland" and, in one case, almost friendly in 2004's "Shaun of the Dead." Someone has even managed to stretch the concept into a television series: AMC's "The Walking Dead."

There's plenty to be frightened of out there; zombies, however, should be the last thing on anyone's mind. But if believing in something makes life and some of the nasty things it occasionally unleashes easier to digest, then why not? Go buy your zombie apocalypse preparedness kit at Ace Hardware. Buy thick storm shutters guaranteed to keep out the living dead. Stock up on supplies. Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better -- as long as it doesn't involve gnawing on another human. Your local police force doesn't need that kind of headache.

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com or at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks.