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The Serpent And The Rainbow- The Frontier of Death - 3

The Serpent And The Rainbow- The Frontier of Death - 3The Serpent And The Rainbow- The Frontier of Death - 3In 1980 eighteen years later, a man walked into the L'Estere marketplace and approached Angelina  Narcisse. He introduced himself by a boyhood nickname of the deceased brother, a name that only intimate family members knew snd had not been used since the siblings were children. The man claimed to be Clairvius and stated that he had been made zombie by his brother because of a land dispute.In Haiti, the offical Napoleonic code states that land must be divided to the male offspring. According to Narcisse, he had refused to sell off his part of the inheritance, and his brother had, in a fit of anger, contracted out his zombification.

Immediately following his resurrection from the grave he was beaten and bound, then led away by a team of men to the north of the country where, for two years, he worked as a slave with other zombis. Eventually the zombi master was killed and the zombis, free from whatever force kept them bound to him, dispersed.Narcisse spent the next sixteen years wandering about the country, fearful of the vengeful brother. It was only after hearing of his brother's death that he dared return to his village.

The Narcisse case generated considerable publicity within Haiti and drew the attention of the BBC, which arrived in 1981 to film  short documentary based on his story, Doyon, meanwhile, had considered various ways to test the truth of Narcisse's claim. To exhume the grave would have proved little. If the man was an impostor, he or his conspirators could well have removed the bones. On the other hand, had Narcisse actually been taken from the grave as a zombi, those responsible might have substituted another body, by then impossible to identify. Instead, working directly with family members, Douyou designed a series of detailed questions concerning Narcisse's childhood-questions that not even a close boyhood friend could have answered -These the man claiming to be Narcisse correctly.

And over two hundred residents of l'Estere were cerain that Narcisse had returned to the living. By the time the BBc took a copy of the death certificate to Scotland Yard, and their specialists verified that the fingerprint belonged to the sister, Marie Claire. It was several moments before I could accept the seriousness of their conclusion. I stood up and moved, escaping the white whorls of cigarette smoke, anxious to shake loose a dozen thoughts and questions."How do you know this isn't an elaborate fraud?"

Perpetrated by whom and for what end?" Kline replied. "In Haiti a zombi is a complete outcast. Would a leper stand upon Hyde Park Corner and boast his disease?""So you are saying this Narcisse was buried alive .""Yes, unless you believe in magic.""What about oxygen in the coffin?""His survival would would have depended on his level of metabolic activity. There is a medically documented case of an Indian fakir consciously reducing his oxygen consumption and surviving ten hours in an airtight box hardly larger than a coffin?""It is worth pointing out," interjected Leham, " that damage due to oxygen depravation would be progressive."

"In what sense?""If certain brain cells are without oxygen for even a few seconds they die and can never recover function, for as I probably don't have to tell you, there is no regeneration of brain tissue. The more pimitive parts of the brain, those that control vital functions, can endure greater abuse. Under certain circumstances the individual may lose personality, or that part of the brain that deals with thought and voluntary movement, and yet survive as a vegetable because the vital centres are intact."

"Precisely the Haitian definition of a zombi,2 noted Kline. " A body without character, without will." Still incredulous, I turned to Kline."Precisely the Haitian definition of a zombi,2 noted Kline. " A body without character, without will." Still incredulous, I turned to Kline."Are you suggesting that brain damage creates a zombie/""Not at all, at least not directly, after all, Narcisse was pronounced dead. There must be a material explanation, and we think it is a drug." 

Finally I knew what they wanted from me.Finally I knew what they wanted from me."I first came across rumors of a zombi poison some thirty years ago," said Kline. " During my first years in Haiti I tried unsuccessfully to obtain a sample. I did meet an old vodoo priest who assured me that the poision was sprinkled across the threshold of the intended victim's doorway and absorbed through the skin of the feet. He claimed that at the resurrection ceremony the victim was administered a second drug as an antidote. Now both the BBC and Douyon have sent us very similar reports.

"Douyon brought us a sample of areputed zombi poison some months ago," said Lehman,. "we tested it on rats but it proved to be completly inert. However, a brown powder given to us recentlyu by one of the correspondents of the BBC may be of greater interest. We prepared an emulsion and applied it to the abdomen of rhesus monkeys; it caused a pronounced reaction in activity. We have absolutely no idea what the powder was made from.""Douyon brought us a sample of areputed zombi poison some months ago," said Lehman,. "we tested it on rats but it proved to be completly inert. However, a brown powder given to us recentlyu by one of the correspondents of the BBC may be of greater interest. We prepared an emulsion and applied it to the abdomen of rhesus monkeys; it caused a pronounced reaction in activity. We have absolutely no idea what the powder was made from."

Lehman's grave dark face had changed; it was luminous, trembling. I found his excitment contagious. Yes. it was completely conceivable that a rug might exist which, if adminintered in proper doses, would lower the metabolic state of the victim to such a level that he would be considered dead. In fact, however, the victim would remain alive, and an antidote properly administered  could then restore him at the appropriate time. The medical potential of such a drug could be enormous... as Kline obviously appreciated.Lehman's grave dark face had changed; it was luminous, trembling. I found his excitment contagious. Yes. it was completely conceivable that a rug might exist which, if adminintered in proper doses, would lower the metabolic state of the victim to such a level that he would be considered dead. In fact, however, the victim would remain alive, and an antidote properly administered  could then restore him at the appropriate time. The medical potential of such a drug could be enormous... as Kline obviously appreciated.

" Take surgery. " he said. " Someone is about to have an operation. What do they want to be sure of/" Before I could reply, he said," Their surgeon? They want to know that the surgeon is qualified, but the truth is that most surgery is absolutely routine. The real liability, the hidden danger that kilss hundreds of patients every year, no one ever thinks about."" Take surgery. " he said. " Someone is about to have an operation. What do they want to be sure of/" Before I could reply, he said," Their surgeon? They want to know that the surgeon is qualified, but the truth is that most surgery is absolutely routine. The real liability, the hidden danger that kilss hundreds of patients every year, no one ever thinks about."Lehman was restless, anxious to finish Kline's thought. but Kline went on. " Anesthesia. Every time someone goes under, it is an experiment in applied pharmacology.

Reference: The Serpent And The Rainbow: Wade Davis

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