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The Context

I am designing a type of zombie that is made through a ritual involving an eldritch abomination called the Unsound Vulture. These zombies manipulate their decaying flesh and bones to move, and they can only be "killed" by stopping the decay of their flesh and bone.
Other relevant information

  • The time it takes for the zombies zombies to decay extended by the Vulture's magic.
  • This zombification cannot be spread through bodily means.
  • If the zombies are set on fire they will remain on fire and are able to move their burning flesh just as well as their decaying flesh, due to the Vulture counting the act of burning as a form of decay.
  • All parts of the zombie will continue to move and act even when separated from the body.
  • The zombies, while insane, are just as intelligent as a human.
  • Despite their rotting nature the zombies are twice as strong and twice as fast as they were in life.

The Question

What is the best way to stop a zombie that can only move when its flesh and bone is rotting?

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    $\begingroup$ The decay of a body cannot be perpetual. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Feb 16, 2022 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ As written this is a question about how an individual can resolve a scenario in your world. To answer this question requires that your world is completely built. In general such story based questions are not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Feb 16, 2022 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ The fire thing makes it difficult to know the rules. Cooking and heat and even smoking is a good way to prevent meat from rotting because heat kills the germs and mold that cause rot. But here that does not work which suggests to me the mold and germs are as unkillable as the zombie. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Feb 16, 2022 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Willk I reworded it to hopefully make it more clear on how heat affects the zombies. $\endgroup$ Feb 16, 2022 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ If they remain on fire when set on fire, then the fire will never go out. This seems a more effective way to stop them than it would be without that property. $\endgroup$
    – user400188
    Feb 17, 2022 at 3:24

4 Answers 4

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If you can kill or inactivate the bacteria responsible for organic decay, decay will stop, thereby killing the zombie. This is a problem that has already been solved in various ways in the realm of food preservation.

Freeze them.

This is the basic idea behind refrigeration - low temperatures slow bacterial growth, and freezing inactivates all bacterial activity, preventing food from rotting indefinitely. Simply fight the zombies outdoors in cold climates, and they'll freeze to death. A zombie presumably does not produce its own body heat, so an ambient temperature anywhere below freezing will be deadly given enough time.

Irradiate them.

Irradiation is a modern food preservation technique that uses radiation to kill or inactivate bacteria. Simply expose the zombies to a high dose of penetrating ionizing radiation, and the bacteria responsible for decay will die.

Pasteurize them.

High heat also kills most bacteria responsible for organic decay. Engulf the zombies in an inferno, or blast them with microwaves in order to increase their body temperature significantly. This might not kill all bacteria, but will eliminate most microorganisms responsible for decay, significantly weakening the zombie.

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They'll split, they can't be stopped

These zombies would act like an invasive species.. Deploy a strategy to spread as quick as possible.

And that's easy. You said

"All parts of the zombie will continue to move and act even when separated from the body."

If I were a zombie, as intelligent as humans, I would go ride a lawn mowing machine and invite all my zombie friends to lie on their back, in front of it. Splash, crunch..

Your zombies have the size of hamsters now. Smart as humans, and still rotting (as zombies always are) so they move, twice as fast ?

Now supposed they'd slow down, they will still move.

Disinfect drastically

As a human, you could survive, for a week or so.. I'd keep some liquid nitrogen at hand.. and watch the floor all day. With other means, I don't see any daylight in your scenario. The zombies will win, they are too powerful.

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Although these zombies are fearsome, let's talk about non-magical ways to destroy them.

Mummification and Preservatives

Get these zombies into dry, dry places. Big deserts or high mountains provide natural places where they become mummies. No rotting means the magic doesn't work. This takes time, however, and requires preparation and understanding of the zombie's limits. Pits and other traps can be constructed to give these zombies a place to "dry out".

The same logic goes for using preservatives. If you can immerse the zombies in a preservative, you stop decay and therefore their movement. The problem is that this is a lot of oil, salt, and other preservatives to use on an actively hostile thing.

Eat the Dead

This isn't decomposition, this is feeding. Introduce the zombies to creatures who are not entirely opposed to chowing down on still moving but decaying meat (Bears? Wolverines? Ants?) and let them do the work for you.

Lean Into Decay

Obviously, there is only so much decay that can happen before these zombies are ideal plant food. Each one of these zombies is on a timer. Since their actions are fuelled by decay, simply get the zombies to do more things so they reach the point of totally decayed. Run away from them, build defenses, trip them- just make yourself protected and watch them lose steam until they are totally done.

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Entombment and Immobilization:

The best way to make something that can't be stopped stop is to seal it or it's components up so there is no opportunity to move. Then you can deal with the remains at your leisure.

  • Entanglement: First, you need to stop the thing from moving. Trap it in an immobilizing trap, like a pit. Ideally, a pit with a grate on the top, so you can fill in dirt or sand or mud around the thing.
  • Sealing in: A corpse is best buried, and this was the best option even in times where people feared the dead could rise from the grave. A body buried in such a way as to prevent movement is as good as dead. Have you ever been buried in the sand? It is REALLY hard to move. Stuffed into a chest, even a strong corpse can't move. A coffin wrapped in chains and buried. Pinned into place with dirt, sand, mud, or concrete, that sucker will sit and keep rotting until there's nothing left - helplessly.
  • Dismemberment: Yes, after being chopped up, the individual parts can move. But a leg or an arm has almost no leverage by itself. Toss it in a chest or a bag, and tie it up. Then put the part under a rock or bury it. A torso without arms or legs is pretty pathetic. The individual parts can be either buried apart, consumed by fire or acid/lye, or cut into such tiny pieces that no part of it can move. Then pour the mess into a clay pot and cook it until it's a nice, sterile bucket of steaming meat.
  • Commercial use: These things are able to burn perpetually, even as pieces. So if you can trap a part of it in a tiny cage, you have a perpetually burning lamp. Public lighting! Heat things, cook things, or just use them to start fires. If you can stand the smell.
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