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While zombie enthusiasts may cry foul, the rest of the world can rest assured that the Apocalypse is not yet upon us, after a man had his face literally chewed off in Miami over the weekend. It seemed like the perfect set up for any classic horror film – from ‘28 Days Later‘ to the tongue-in-cheek ‘Shaun of the Dead‘ – a homeless man attacked by a naked assailant in broad daylight, the creature gnawing at the flesh of his skull and seemingly impervious to bullets as Miami-Dade police tried to end the grisly scene.
Almost immediately after news hit the World Wide Web, millions of individuals on the internet, from real conspiracy theorists to those just enjoying the fun, accused the culprit of being the first sign of a long-awaited “Zombie Apocalypse”.
The actual truth is likely much more anti-climactic, though just as indicative of a rising problem: Investigators in South Florida have pointed in the direction of a designer drug being sold legally in stores under the guise of synthetic “bath salts”.
While nothing stands as official, Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of police, has suggested that the symptoms exhibited by the attacker, Rudy Eugene, 31, are exceedingly similar to past cases Aguilar has seen with individuals high on the same drug. And those symptoms? Perhaps not as far removed from that of classic zombies than one would anticipate.
“The cases are similar minus a man eating another,” Aguilar told ABC News.
“People taking off their clothes. People suddenly have super human strength. They become violent and they are burning up from the inside. Their organs are reaching a level that most would die. By the time police approach them they are a walking dead person.”
Though Aguilar is careful to exclude the potential side-effect of cannibalism as a usual symptom, he does admit to ABC News that in the recent waves of incidents spawned from the drug, there has been at least one previous case of an intoxicated individual attempting to bite another human. Fortunately, police intervention was successful that time around.
With other, more common, side-effects including paranoia, hallucination, agitation and an increased risk of suicidal behavior, one has to wonder what the allure of these “bath salts” is. Sold under names such as “Ivory Wave” and “Vanilla Sky”, the drug has managed to avoid status as an illegal substance on a technicality – though that hasn’t prevented the majority of states from taking legislative action to ban it.
Whatever the case may be, it stands currently that the increase in use of this new party drug may be the closest the world will ever get to that fabled “Zombie Apocalypse.”