Zombies - what are they?


When someone dies, his parent is notified of the sad event, and he (the parent) is supposed to take care[1] of the dead. After he does, the dead disappears and does not trouble the living any more. Unfortunately, some folks are careless in taking care of their dead. Thus, a zombie is someone who is dead but whose parent did not take care of him.


The zombie is harmless. It is dead, so it would not rob you of your possessions. It is rather inconvenient and confusing though, that it is mentioned in the list of the living[2]. Also, the sloppy parent, who did not take care of the poor dead child, will sometimes try to talk to the child, not realizing its condition, and will wait for the response from the zombie forever, while ignoring you --- which can be quite annoying.


As was mentioned above, the zombie is already dead, so you cannot kill[3] him (even with the ninth[4] spell). The only way to get rid of him is to have the parent take care of the dead. You do that by telling the parent to check all his children for being alive, and take care of the dead ones. You use the seventeenth[5] spell for that.

Unfortunately, some delinquent parents will ignore your information and refuse to take care of the dead child. In that case you can kill the parent. His zombie children will be inherited by the One[6] who was before everyone else and who will be there after everyone else is gone. This One, who has a 4-letter name, only three of which are different, will take care of the dead.

Usually, you do not know off hand who the zombie's parent is, so you have to use a magic incantation[7] to find that out.


  1. by calling wait(2) or waitpid(2)
  2. a zombie (aka "defunct") takes a slot in the process table
  3. kill(1)
  4. SIGKILL: kill -9 PID
  5. SIGCHLD: kill -17 PID
  6. init(8)
  7. pstree(1)