Clairvius Narcisse- The Real Life Zombie
Clairvius Narcisse was a Haitian man who had been ill for quite a while, with symptoms consisting of body aches, a fever, and he had also begun to cough up blood. On April 30,1962 he checked himself into the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti, and his condition rapidly worsened. Finally, on May 2, he was pronounced dead. His body was indentified by his sister, Marie Claire, and he was buried the following day.
Eighteen years later, his other sister, Angelina, was walking through the village marketplace when a man who identified himself as Clairvius Narcisse approached her. He told her in perfect accuracy of all the symptoms he had experienced before he died. He also said that even though he was not able to move or speak, he was still aware of everything that was going on after he was pronounced dead and could also feel the sheets being pulled over his face. He was even 'awake' when his coffin was nailed shut and he was buried. In addition, he was able to tell her the nickname he had received as a child.
Clairvius claimed that his coffin was eventually opened by a boker (sorcerer). He beat, bound, and gagged Clairvius, and he also gave him a paste made from a weed known as datura, which can cause hallucinations and memory loss at certain levels. He was then taken to work on a sugar plantation alongside many other 'zombie' slaves. For two years, he labored on the plantation from sunrise to sunset, until one of the zombies finally killed the boker. As a result, they were released from enslavement, and Clairvius regained his sanity back, since he was no longer receiving the hallucinogenic drug.
He spent the next sixteen years wandering throughout the area and wrote numerous letters to his family, although he never received a reply from any of them. He only decided to return to his village after the death of his brother, whom he was convinced had been the one that poisoned him as they had been arguing over land prior to Clairvius' 'death'.
Clairvius' story later was later recorded in the book, The Serpent and the Rainbow, written by Wade Davis. One toxin that Clairvius was assumingly poisoned with is derived from the puffer fish, which produces a neurotoxin that causes paralysis, as well as can mimic death in modified forms by reducing the heart rate and metabolism. The other is the poisonous secretions of the Cane Toad, which was supposedly used to create an additional anaesthetic-like effect.