Yes, the title messes with my mind also. When someone dies at the hand of another, that’s labeled a murder. Sure, there are various degrees of murder—ranging from intentional to unintentional with legal terms such as 1st degree, 2nd degree, negligent homicide, etc—but what if the dead person walks out of the morgue?
Well, that’s just crazy. You’re either dead or you’re not, and dead people don’t just get up and walk away—or do they?
First, let me say that there is a difference between mostly dead and all dead. A near death experience (NDE) is considered mostly dead, but it’s reversible. A truly dead person does not come back, at least not in the real world. But what about a person who appears dead with all the diagnostic clues: no tendon, corneal or gag reflexes? They may be pronounced dead, but are they truly dead beyond a shadow of a doubt?
In my current work in progress, the premise is just that—the murdered person gets up the next morning and simply walks out of the morgue. Impossible, you say? Maybe, but there is science to explain such an event and there are pharmaceuticals to mimic death that could make such a thing possible.
The first such drug that can be administered to mimic death is called dimethyltryptamine (DMT). DMT is a psychedelic compound that produces intense hallucinations when administered. In the first few seconds after administration, the experience is said to be “mind-blowing” and then it progresses to a complete loss of all senses and the ability to move. People who have survived stated that they were certain that they were dead, yet felt comfortable and peaceful about it.
DMT is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic in the United States and as such is an illegal, banned substance. The chemical is normally present, however, in minute quantities in the brains of all mammals and there are plant sources for this drug. DMT is a natural serotonin (a mood enhancer) and the science suggests that the drug can “clean” damaged brain cells.
A large dose of DMT can create a comatose state such that the user appears dead with virtually no signs of life. The drug can be inhaled, injected or ingested to produce such an effect. The appearance of death is short acting, but that can be prolonged with very specific dosing and further enhanced by concurrent use of certain antidepressant drugs.
Baclofen is another drug that, in specific doses, can create a virtual coma to mimic death. Baclofen is a common prescription medicine that has a variety of uses. It’s mainly prescribed as a muscle relaxant specifically for spastic behavior, especially those involving spinal cord injuries. This drug is also involved in early stage research as a drug to treat alcoholism.
The drug is rapidly absorbed and is widely distributed throughout the body to produce muscle relaxation. In cases of overdose, patients have had no significant brain stem reflexes and were thought to be brain dead. In some cases, organ procurement was arranged by hospitals, the staff thinking the person was brain dead, when suddenly the patient began to have purposeful movements and the medical personnel realized their mistake.
Large doses of the baclofen will not only result in a coma, but the user will also experience hypothermia, bradycardia and hyporeflexia—in other words, the person will be cool to the touch, have no detectable pulse and no reflex activity as indicators of life. The dose must be specific and large enough to mimic death, yet the dose cannot be so large as to actually cause death to occur.
Other drugs can mimic death and the list is actually longer than one would think, but most have the problem of being short acting and larger doses produce violent reactions like extreme nausea and vomiting. Because of these GI side effects, not enough drug remains in the body long enough to create the comatose state and the appearance of death.
However, a creative writer could use one or more of these drugs in combination to produce a unique death scene. Now it’s time to let your imagination take over and create the perfect murder scene. The question is, will your victim stay dead?
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!