SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Easter, one of the most important holidays in Christendom, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, who was said to have risen from the dead three days after his crucifixion. This supernatural event serves as the foundation of the religion, and is also cited as proof that God granted faithful adherents “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” But based on reports recently leaked from a cemetery in the small Italian town of Buffalora, Jesus was not the only soul to return from the dead around this time of year. Even more troubling, according the cemetery’s current caretaker, is the increasingly unmanageable number of “resurrections” that have taken place over the past two Easters.
Said Francesco Dellamorte, who oversees the graveyard, “It’s getting worse, and because of the sensitive nature of the subject, I can’t publicly appeal for help. But Buffalora was overrun by zombies this weekend, so the corpse is out of the crypt, as we say.”
Origins of Easter
Early Christians initially marked Christ’s return from the tomb as the “Paschal” season. The term “Easter” itself invoked the Anglo-Saxon goddess Ēostre.
The pre-Christian customs for honoring Ēostre employed icons that have persisted to the present day, such as rabbits and eggs. The 19th century scholar Jacob Grimm proposed that the pagan aspects of Easter survived because “hares and gilded eggs, while absent the light of the Messiah’s divinity, perplexed and frightened rural children considerably less than the image of a ghoul risen from the grave to prey on the minds of men.”
Grimm had also published a manuscript -- banished from Germany by the French during their occupation of the country -- that documented the incidents of walking dead in Eurasia during the time around Passover and Lent. Scholars claim that only a single copy of Grimm’s treatise on zombies survives, but in three separate parts. One section is housed at San Narciso College, while a second resides at Miskatonic University in New England. The location of the third remains unknown.
In the San Narciso codex, Grimm makes only one direct reference to Jesus’ resurrection:
“...in which witnesses recount, with frighteningly keen similarities, an uncanny volume of living dead returning from the grave within seven days of their burial, usually near Passover, when the Jews believe the Lord passes the homes of the devout while slaughtering the first-born offspring of less holy sires. It would seem fitting, then, that during this season, with Jesus a Jew besides, an element of the preternatural stalks the otherwise corporeal world. Perhaps it is the transient rebirth of the dead. Are these hollow shells, which are refilled at Passover, tasked with the Lord’s darkest bidding at this time? Do the dust and clotted earth from whence they sprout spell out designs of hallowed ground -- something divine and beatific -- or soil most besmirched, desecrated, and bestial?
“We have explored and recorded such events long before Jesus escaped the confines of his cave: nosferatu in Egypt, in the dense jungles of Africa, in the Orient, and in the Holy Land. Yet so many country folk deeply attached to the lore of German tribes -- to the pagan and heathen dogma -- would tell you that Jesus was but another corpse recalled hither to earth for some dire purpose, then plunged back to slumber after the doing of the deed. And yet, I believe Jesus does not easily walk with this wormy company. He rose after three days, not seven. His miracles prior to the crucifixion were beyond reproach in their generosity and grace. And, perhaps most crucially, there endure no testimonies of Jesus attacking his mortal counterparts and feasting on their innards.”
Secret Protectors in Italy
The Buffalora cemetery is not the typical resting place. In fact, it seems quite restless.
“My family began guarding this burial ground twenty generations ago,” Francesco Dellamorte explained. “To those outside the cemetery gates, my job might seem like the torture of Sisyphus. But it’s my duty. ‘They Will Resurrect.’ That’s the warning wrought into the iron over the entrance to Buffalora. And there are many more places like this around the world. We’ve learned of an alarming number in the American South, particularly around Georgia. It seems that every spring, about a week after being buried, the dead come back to life. We call them ‘Returners.’ My job is to make sure they don’t get past the grounds.”
However, Dellamorte is no longer able to contain the growing population of zombies. Friday, six reanimated bodies managed to escape and reach the main village that forms the downtown area of Buffalora.
“I stopped them before they could kill anyone,” Dellamorte said, nodding toward a bloodied and dented shovel hanging on the wall. “Otherwise, it would’ve been worse. When they eat someone, there’s another potential zombie. You can’t let that happen, can’t allow them to multiply. But I can’t erase the panic this has created. The people of Buffalora have had to face a truth they’ve hidden from themselves for centuries: that the dead can return. And that they might not be here to save souls. But I won’t be getting help.”
Despite the terror of this afternoon’s rising, the mayor has refused to provide Dellamorte with any direct assistance. The beleaguered undertaker says this is nothing new.
In his office on the grounds of the cemetery, Dellamorte points to a mountain of forms and binders. “The mayor tells me that I must get through all this bureaucracy before he can consider getting involved. It’s been sitting on that desk for three years. It’s easier for me to just to shoot them.”
When asked for his professional opinion about the nature of resurrections in Christian traditions, Dellamorte said, for his part, that he holds no solid opinion of Jesus as zombie or savior: “Just because nobody wrote about Jesus eating another person’s brains doesn’t mean it never happened. I do not personally believe that the case of Christ is the same as these others. I was raised Catholic, as most children in Italy. But if I saw Jesus today, I would do my duty. Returners are all the same to me. I see the dead roaming, I put them back in the ground.”
“I ask no questions,” he added stolidly. “This is my business. The town pays me for it.”
2015. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.