We've seen the undead, or at least the organism that animates them, evolve to meet the needs of the environment around them. When The Fall began, some zombies were slow, shambling creatures. Some were fast, better coordinated. Then smart zombies started appearing, with the ability to infect a small percentage of others with their own version of the plague, sort of upgrading normal ones into smarties. When the cold became too powerful, the plague mutated again, making the zombies functional when the temperatures dropped. We've even seen one example of a zombie, who is still held captive in New Haven, that produces a...discharge that acts as some kind of territorial marker that drives away others of his kind.
I'm told that Evans, New Haven's head physician, has finally given it a name. George.
Early this morning, we came across a scene that stopped us in our tracks. Mason, Will, and I were out hunting before we left out toward our next stop when we stumbled upon a group of undead in the woods. They were inert, laying in neat lines in a small clearing. That isn't unusual; when there's a lack of food, most zombies will go into a deep rest mode to conserve the stores of liquefied proteins and fats they keep in their bellies. Hunting parties run across them fairly often, and for the most part smaller groups aren't that dangerous. They take twenty or thirty seconds to get going once they know you're there. Plenty of time to start running or, alternately, go on a killing spree if you're so inclined.
These were different. Will noticed it, and signaled for Mason and I to look carefully. Each of the six zombies laying before us had strangely rough skin, darker than the medium grey normally associated with the undead. The closest thing I can compare it to was leather, covered in small, fine wrinkles. Will took a few steps into the clearing to get a closer look, which was when they woke up.
We managed to kill all six of them, but it was a lot harder than it should have been. Their skin really was tougher than normal, and there were strong, fibrous growths in their necks that made hacking off heads one hell of a chore. We ended up going for the old classic: breaking their heads. Causing severe head trauma is the safest and easiest way to do it.
Except, their skulls were thicker. Will kept one of the heads to study, and he thinks the bone is about twice as thick as it should be. There was also a pretty dense layer of the same fibrous stuff under the scalp.
I'm putting out the word as widely as I can. Word needs to be spread if these things start showing up more elsewhere. I can't tell you where we found them on this blog, but send me a message if you've encountered something like this. We're on the road in ten minutes, heading southwest. We'll be at our next stop by tonight if all goes well, and will stay for a day or two. I'll do what I can to look into reports from anyone else who's seen these things then.
Keep your eyes open. I don't like this...