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Fish Tale

West Palm Beach Florida --David L, West Palm Beach Florida

Growing up in South Florida, it was not uncommon to see images of rafts filled with refugees being intercepted by the Coast Guard on the evening news or to even find an abandoned raft along the beach. They were predominantly Haitian or Cuban refugees who piloted these primitive crafts toward our Southern shores in search of freedom, and it was generally regarded with an ambivalent attitude as their populations grew.

However, with the 2006 outbreak in Haiti and subsequent flare-ups in Cuba and Miami, these innocent freedom-seekers could no longer be disregarded. Despite the vigilant efforts of the Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies, there would always be reports of reanimators attacking the vulnerable elderly retirees which cover the Florida coasts like locusts every winter. As a rational individual who appreciates the Second Amendment, I generally always carry my S&W loaded w/ 17 rounds of 9mm hollowpoint, because you never know when a Z-head will come shambling along out of nowhere. I never would have thought I would encounter one where I did last month though!

My friend and I are avid spearfishermen and freedivers, and we try to get out and dive as often as possible. The waters off of West Palm Beach are always warm and clear and teaming with sea life, thanks to the Gulf Stream current which gently grazes along the South Florida coast as it wells up from the Caribbean towards its terminus in the North Atlantic. We loaded our gear and spearguns into my friends boat and headed out early, with calm seas and a slight breeze making for almost perfect conditions. We ran a few miles off shore to try and find some floating debris that hopefully held large fish like mahi-mahi and wahoo.

As we ran East towards the rising sun, I was scanning the blue for signs of life when I saw what appeared to be a half-sunk boat riding the current. We coasted towards the flotsam and I quickly put on my mask, fins, weight belt and knife, and as I rolled into the water I loaded my speargun. The water was clear blue like Bombay Sapphire, and as I began to inspect the boat I noticed that there appeared to be a body tangled in some rope near the stern.

I yelled to my friend that I thought there was a corpse and to radio the Coast Guard when it began to thrash at the sound of our voices. What a time to be without Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson!As we debated what to do next, the z-head kept struggling against the tangle of rope it was trapped in and began to slowly sink out of the web. Seeing this, I immediately did what I would normally do if I saw my quarry slip away: with a long deep breath I kicked down after the sinking rean and placed a solid shot to its torso.

Now, I didn’t do this out of some macho Rambo idea, but because I figured it couldn’t swim but could sure as hell wash up on a beach somewhere and terrorize some poor family. Plus, with a steel shaft sticking through its back attached to 50ft of rope, we definitely have had worse critters on the line!Confident my shot would hold, I got back into the boat and we discussed our method of disposal. Aside from the spearguns, we had a gaff hook and a short baseball bat used to club large fish (inhumane I know, but better than asphyxiation!). I slowly pulled the skewered zombie towards the boat and gaffed it under the chin, effectively incapacitating his only weapon.

As I pulled it alongside the boat and lifted the head slightly out of the water, my friend delivered a few skull-crushing blows to the waterlogged z-head, and after splitting its head like a melon, we pulled the spear and watched amazed as it sunk, finally dead, into the blue... Only then did we realize that in the excitement we never took pictures of the incident! We relayed our story to the Coast Guard and marine patrol, but despite our detailed account, I think it was received as just another fish tale!-David L, West Palm Beach Florida

Dear David.Interesting report. It's not at all unfeasible for a reanimate to be found near a hot spot such as the Florida & Cuba Coastlines.

However, we did contact the Undead Research and Monitoring station in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. They released the following statement: "Although we do receive several reports of reanimate encounters each and every month, only two have been confirmed since the outbreak of 2007. We have no reason to discount your readers claim and do advise all residents or visitors to the area to keep a watchful eye. Particularly in the vacinity of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. or the waters off the coast of Miami."

 

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