You might find the following stories interesting. In Haiti, witch doctors practiced voodoo, creating real life zombies to work as slaves. This was done using certain poisons, for example the venom taken from the spines of a puffer fish.
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When author Alfred Metraux was in Haiti studying voodoo, he was told about a beautiful woman who was engaged to the man she loved. An evil boko
was also in love with the young beauty. And he, too, asked her to marry him. Unwisely, the girl followed her heart and not her head. She turned down the boko
and prepared for her wedding. Before she could marry her true love, the girl became ill and died.
When it came time to bury the dead maiden, the family bought a coffin in a nearby town. But when they returned home, they saw that the coffin was too small. Her family had to bend her neck to fit her body into the coffin. To make matters worse, during the wake, someone accidentally burned the corpse's foot with a cigarette.
A few months later, rumors spread through the village that the girl had been seen - with the boko
. She was easily recognized because of her bent neck and the cigarette burn on her foot!
While visiting Haiti, author Zora Neale Hurston actually had the chance to photograph a zombie! The zombie was a woman named Felicia Felix-Mentor, and Zora found her in a Haitian hospital.
In her book, Sorrow's Kitchen
, Zora describes Felicia as having "a blank face with dead eyes."
Of course, before Felicia became one of the undead, her eyes were very alive and vibrant. According to legend, in life she was a loving wife and mother, and she took pride in running a small grocery business with her husband. Then one day, while her son was still quite small, Felicia took ill and died. Her death was official - the government even gave her husband a death certificate.
years later, a woman was found wandering around a farm. She was totally confused. The owner of the farm identified the woman as his deceased daughter, Felicia Felix-Mentor!
Felicia's husband, who had since remarried, was also called to the farm. He, too, identified the woman as his dead wife.
Felicia's condition terrified her family - so much so that they had the zombie woman committed to an asylum.
Joseph was a voodoo sorcerer who kept many zombies as slaves. But Joseph did not take care of his zombie slaves. He left that to his wife.
One afternoon, Joseph's wife treated the zombies to a snack of pralines and salted
peanut crackers. That was a big mistake! She obviously didn't know what happens to zombies when they eat salt!
Well, as the story is told, these particular zombies immediately realized what had happened to them. Rather than turn on Joseph's wife, they ran to their graves and began digging fiercely at the dirt, trying to find their eternal peace. But as they dug, the zombies turned into decaying flesh.
Here's more links on the subject:
THE STORY OF ZOMBI IN HAITI. By Louis P. Mars