screen grab from Grey's Anatomy Thriler episode Grey's Anatomy's take on the Miami's face-eating zombie.
It's been almost a year and a half since the incident. The rest of the nation shook their heads at how unrealistic the cannibalistic cheek-chewing seemed, but viewers in Miami sank into their seats and gasped: THE FACE-EATING ZOMBIE IS BACK.
After most people had moved on from the ordeal of Miami's real-life zombie, the likeness of him and his face-eaten victim were wheeled in on stretchers at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.
"He just attacked me, came out of nowhere. He started snarling and growling," the victim hysterically explains, his face covered in bloodied bandages.
"A person did this to you?!" Dr. Kepner says in disbelief.
"And he started eating my face like some sort of..." the victim trails off.
"Zombie?!?!?!?!" Dr. Murphy ominously answers for him.
Don't act so surprised, Doc.
On a sunny afternoon at the end of May 2012, 31-year-old Rudy Eugene tore off his clothes on a sidewalk near the MacArthur Causeway and began attacking then 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, a homeless man. Eugene was biting Poppo's face off. When Eugene refused to back away from Poppo, a Miami Police officer fatally shot the frenzied Eugene. But it was too late; most of Poppo's face had been destroyed.
Even though Thursday marked Grey's Halloween episode, the show played the PG-version of events. The victim's face on the show is not nearly as disfigured as Poppo's. Poppo lost his vision, his nose, and nearly all the skin on his face while the victim on the show only had a palm-sized laceration on his cheek. The cannibal on the show, despite being shot in the chest, survives, even though Eugene was shot dead on the scene.
Other than a minor HIV scare after the human-zombie bit Dr. Murphy's neck (isn't he supposed to be a zombie and not a vampire?!) the episode understates Miami's zombie incident. The test results even turn up HIV-negative.
The cannibalism and super-human strength on the show were scientifically attributed to drugs and a rare disorder where the organs appear backwards in the chest. In real life, Miamians have no definite answers: Eugene's autopsy revealed only marijuana in his system. While some blamed LSD or bath salts, others claim it wasexcited delirium, and others still believe the incident was cooked up by Haitian voodoo. The uncertainty and randomness of the attack haunt the city to this day.
On the show, the victim is anxious after his attack. He believes he is turning into a zombie, that he belongs in quarantine, and he hallucinates his body going into rigor mortis. He recalls "rituals in Haiti" and spirals into conspiracy theories, blaming the CDC for placing a gag order on the case.
"You are not under quarantine!" Dr. Kepner snaps at him. "You're in the ICU, which is where we take patients after they have surgery. You were attacked by a normal guy who took a bunch of drugs, lost his mind, and attacked you. He didn't die because he has a condition called situs inversus which puts his heart on the opposite side of his chest."
"That's random," the victim responds, speechless.
"Yeah, completely random and not in the least bit supernatural. And if you think about it, isn't that 100 times scarier than a zombie apocalypse?"
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We couldn't agree more.
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