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The Serpent And The Rainbow-The Frontier of Death - 2

Kline left the room and returned with a document which he presented to me. It was a death ertificate in French of one Clairvius Narcisse. It was dated 1962. "Our problem," Kline explained, "is that this narcisse is now very much alive and resettled in his village in the Arbonite Valley in central Haiti. He and his family claim he was the victim of a voodoo cult and that immediately following his burial he was taken from his grave as a zombi."Kline left the room and returned with a document which he presented to me.

It was a death ertificate in French of one Clairvius Narcisse. It was dated 1962. "Our problem," Kline explained, "is that this Narcisse is now very much alive and resettled in his village in the Arbonite Valley in central Haiti. He and his family claim he was the victim of a voodoo cult and that immediately following his burial he was taken from his grave as a zombi."" A zombi....." A dozen conventional questions came to mind but I said nothing more.

"The living dead ," Kline continued." Viidooists believe that their sorcerers have the power to raise innocent individuals from their graves to sell them as slaves.It is to prev ent such a fate that family members may kill the body of the dead a second time, sometimes plunging a knife into the heart of the cadaver, sometimes severing the head in the coffin.

"I looked at Kline, then back to Leham, trying to measure their expressions. They appeared altogether complementary. Kline spoke in visions, in ideas that spun on the edge of reality. Lehman held the reins and balanced the conversation with reason. This made it that much more impressive when he too began to speak of zombis.

"The narcisse case is not the first to come to our attention. A former student of mine, Lamarque Douyon, is currently the direc tor of the Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurologie in Port-au-Prince. Since 1962, in collaboration with Dr. Douyon, we have been systematically investigating all accounts of zombification. For years we found nothing to them. Then came our breakthrough, in 1979, when our attention was drawn to a series of most singular cases, of which this Narcisse was only one."

The latter, according to Lehman, was a woman, Natagette Joseph aged about sixty, who was supposedlyu killed over a land dispute in 1966. In 1980 she was recognized wandering about her home village by the police officer who, fourteen years before, in the absence of a doctor had pronounced her dead.The latter, according to Lehman, was a woman, Natagette Joseph aged about sixty, who was supposedlyu killed over a land dispute in 1966.

In 1980 she was recognized wandering about her home village by the police officer who, fourteen years before, in the absence of a doctor had pronounced her dead.Another was a younger woman named Francis Illeus but called "Ti Femme," who was pronounced dead at the age of thirty on February 23, 1976. Before her death she had suffered digestive problems and had been taken to the Saint Michel de L'Attalaye Hospital. Several days after her release she died at home, and her death was verified by a local magistrate. In this case a jealous husband was said to have been responsible.

There had been two notable features of Francina's case-her mother found her three years later, recognizing her by a childhood scar she bore on her temple; and later, when her grave was exhumed, her coffin was found to be full of rocks.There had been two notable features of Francina's case-her mother found her three years later, recognizing her by a childhood scar she bore on her temple; and later, when her grave was exhumed, her coffin was found to be full of rocks.

Then in late 1980, Haitian radio reported the discovery near the north coast of the country of a peculiar group of individuals, found wandering aimlessly in what appeared to be a psychotic state. The local peasants identified them as zombis and reported the matter to the local authorities, whereupon the unfortunate party was taken to Cap Haitian, Haiti's second city, and placed under the charge of the military commandant.

Aided in part by an extensive media campaign, the army managed to return most of the reputed zombis to their home villages, far from where the group had been found. "These three instances," Lehman remarked, "while curious, were still no more substantial than many others that had periodically surfaced in the Haitain press."Aided in part by an extensive media campaign, the army managed to return most of the reputed zombis to their home villages, far from where the group had been found. "These threee instances," Lehman remarked, "while curious, were still no more substantial than many others that had periodically surfaced in the Haitain press."

 

"What made the Narcisse case unique," said Kline, "was the fact that he happened to die at an American-directed philanthropic institution which, among its many features, keeps precise and accurate records." Thus Kline began to describe the extraordinary case of Clairvius Narcisse."What made the narcisse case unique," said Kline, "was the fact that he happened to die at an American-directed philanthropic institution which, among its many features, keeps precis and accurate records." Thus Kline began to describe the extraordinary case of Clairvius Narcisse.

In the spring of 1962, a haitian peasant aged about forty approached the emergency entrance of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital at Deschapelles in the Artibonite Valley. He was admitted under the name Clairvius Narcisse at 9:45 P.M. on April 3oth, complaining of fever, body ache, and general malaise; he had also begun to spit blood. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and at 1:15 p.M. on May 2 he was pronounced dead by two attendant physicians, one of them an American.In the spring of 1962, a haitian peasant aged about forty approached the emergency entrance of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital at Deschapelles in the Artibonite Valley. He was admitted under the name Clairvius Narcisse at 9:45 P.M. on April 30th, complaining of fever, body ache, and general malaise; he had also begun to spit blood. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and at 1:15 P.M. on May 2nd  he was pronounced dead by two attendant physicians, one of them an American.

His sister Angelina Narcisse was present at his bedside and immediately notified the family. Shortly after Narcisse's demise an elder sister, Marie Claire, arrived and witnessed the body, affixing her thumbprint to the official death certificate. The body was placed in cold storage for twenty hours, then taken for burial. At 10:00 A.M., May 3rd, 1962, Clairvius Narcisse was buried in a small cementry noth of his village of L'Estere. and ten days later a heavy concrete memorial slab was placed over the grave by the family.

His sister Angelina Narcisse was present at his bedside and immediately notified the family. Shortly after Narcisse's demise an elder sister, Marie Claire, arrived and witnessed the body, affixing her thumbprint to the official death certificate. The body was placed in cold storage for twenty hours, then taken for burial. At 10:00 A.M., May 3rd, 1962, Clairvius Narcisse was buried in a small cementry noth of his village of L'Estere. and ten days later a heavy concrete memorial slab was placed over the grave by the family.

Reference: The Serpent and The Rainbow: Wade Davis

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