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Originally published October 22, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 22, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Lurching "undead" liven Fremont

It's hard work being the undead. Staggering to the grocery store takes so much longer than walking. It's hard to make conversation with...

Seattle Times staff reporter

It's hard work being the undead.

Staggering to the grocery store takes so much longer than walking. It's hard to make conversation with friendly passers-by when your primary instinct is to lunge and attack. And who knew life as a zombie could be so messy?

More than 150 zombies — or rather, software developers, structural engineers, administrative assistants and other upstanding folks oozing fake blood from a variety of costumes — lurched across Seattle's Fremont neighborhood Sunday afternoon, groaning through a third-annual Zombie Walk.

Zombies, as the stories go, are trapped between the worlds of the dead and the living, on an unending quest for human brains or flesh. And just as "Pirates of the Caribbean" helped spawn a pirate resurgence, movies like "Shaun of the Dead" and "28 Weeks Later" have raised the undead's profile and spurred zombie fans across the nation to organize walks and other zombie-themed events.

But why devote hours to playing zombie over some other horror-flick staple?

It's the horde mentality, says Eric Pope, one of the Seattle walk's organizers. Werewolves, vampires and other monsters tend to be loners.

These part-time zombies, brought together for film festivals and other gatherings by zombie aficionado and local jewelry designer Cleo Wolfus, say they're on a quest for togetherness, for free expression, for fun. (The next walk is set for next Monday; visit www.myspace.com/seattlezombiewalk for details).

"We put a lot of smiles on people's faces. Now I understand why clowns do what they do," Pope said.

Most shoppers at Fremont's PCC Natural Markets store laughed as the zombie procession staggered into the bakery, past the frozen-food aisles and through the produce department. Teens lounging outside a nearby coffee shop laughed off the first few zombies, then looked increasingly concerned as the horde advanced. A bookstore under "attack" had a fitting title in its display window: "The Zombie Survival Guide."

Like any urban gathering, a few participants carried signs of political protest. "Stem cells might have saved me," read one. And, there were chants, logic aside.

"What do we want?"

"BRAINSSS!"

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"When do we want them?"

"BRAINSSS!"

Robert Riedl, of Bellevue, shuffled in red slippers and a green terry bathrobe, his mouth bleeding a concoction of corn syrup, cornstarch, red dye "and some mint — to make it taste better." Traci Biegenwald, of Seattle, thrashed arms that bore several gashes crafted of liquid latex, tissue and makeup.

"You look hideous!" Katherine Lee complimented a fellow zombie, whose martini was garnished with a fake eyeball. Dressed as a corpse bride complete with a dead bouquet, she joked that the walk was a dress rehearsal for her upcoming wedding to fiancé Chris Stearns. He showed up as a construction worker, a fat screw poking out from his bloody forehead.

Nick Goossens, of South Africa, watched the horde lurch by from inside companion Dena Singleton's silver BMW, a bloody handprint on the hood.

"I thought it was a riot, then he was like 'No, they're in costume,' " Singleton said as Goossens laughed beside her. "Now he's going to think all Americans are like this."

"I'm from Madrona," Singleton said. "A zombie-free zone."

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or kgaudette@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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