Zombie preparedness is often looked down on by some in the shooting world as fantasy garbage, nothing more than make-believe readiness for an event that will never happen.
But what if the Zombie Apocalypse had a real-life parallel? What if there was actually something out there eerily similar to zombie lore, something that would actually put all this zombie gear to practical use?
For 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, Saturday, May 26, probably began just the same as any other sunny Miami day.
The homeless man had frequently sighted in that area, and that day, was lying underneath the elevated Metromover track when his life took a horrific turn.
Rudy Eugene, 31, had been visiting his girlfriend in Fort Lauderdale when he drove up to Miami Beach early that morning.
Somewhere along the way, he abandoned his car and began walking along the sweltering highway, shedding his clothes piece by piece until completely nude -- it was around that time he encountered Poppo.
After beating him unconscious, Eugene climbed on top of Poppo and began an assault that is best described as "cannibalistic," chewing off a majority of the man's face.
When Miami Police officer Jose Ramirez arrived on the scene and ordered Eugene to freeze, the crazed attacker ignored the warning, growling at the officer instead. Ramirez shot Eugene once, then four more times when the first shot didn't seem to have an effect, killing Eugene, but not before 70-80 percent of Poppo's face had been chewed off.
Poppo is now recovering, but the profoundly disturbing attack left many across the world wondering what could have possibly caused such craziness.
But the horror didn't stop in Miami. The next day, 43-year-old Wayne Carter in Hackensack, N.J., disemboweled himself with a knife, then threw parts of his intestines at officers who had responded to a call that the man would harm himself.
A 21-year-old college student named Alexander Kinyua admitted to the Harford County Sheriff's Department that he murdered his roommate, 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, and ate part of Agyei-Kodie's brain and heart.
Earlier this week, reports out of Florida indicate that 21-year-old Giovani Martinez bit a nurse, attacked a hospital staff, and threatened to eat their faces and rape their wives.
Horrifying and tragic are both words that spring to mind when you read about these attacks -- like I said, zombies even enter that stream of consciousness. While these incidents may not be literal zombie attacks per se, they exemplify what Zombie Nation is all about: being able to defend yourself in the face of unthinkable, horrifying danger, which in this case could very well be a common source.
Given names like "bath salts," "Ivory Wave" or "Cloud 9," drugs containing methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) or similar chemicals have been suspected in these attacks and others like them -- which in itself isn't breaking news. After all, drugs have had people acting like maniacs for years.
But not this gruesomely, unless you believe the PCP urban legends that may have inspired Mason Verger's fate in Hannibal.
So why take it? Users are led to believe the drug will act as some sort of aphrodisiac, increased arousal and a sense of euphoria. But what actually happens is far from bliss: Overstimulation, agitation, extreme paranoia and suicidal thoughts are among the psychological effects listed by the DEA.
Remember all the ridiculous notions about marijuana you learned from watching Reefer Madness? Well, if the movie was about bath salts, it might not be so laughable today.
Of course, it's only natural when we see some suspected bath salts user ripping someone's flesh off that we go to zombies; in an attempt to grasp the bizarre circumstances of a real event, our minds will naturally go to what we're familiar with, no matter how outlandish that may be.
Although these attacks may just seem like random occurrences, there will always be drugs like bath salts or PCP floating around, causing the same horrific effects as their predecessors.
And chances are, you may never experience it. You may go through your whole life blissfully without having to stare into the bloodshot eyes of some drug-crazed lunatic.
Then again, if you're unlucky enough not to beat those odds, it's better to be prepared on how to deal with the situation, lest you suffer some life-changing injury.
At any rate, when you find yourself under attack by someone in a drug-induced stupor, time is of the essence. Know how to defend yourself and your family from such an attack. The odds may be in your favor, but there is always that chance. Just ask Ronald Poppo, he's recovering, but it's a long road, and the damage inflicted is all too real.
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