Sure, she's an infected corpse.

Yes, maybe she sometimes dreams about slurping up some brains or chomping down on a bit of live flesh.

But what separates Missy Murkins, 37, from the 2,000 other zombies who packed downtown Lincoln's sidewalks Saturday evening is that Murkins is a corpse with a cause.

After four years of mindless flesh-feasting, Murkins spent her fifth-annual Lincoln Zombie Walk protesting on behalf of Zombies for the Ethical Treatment of Humans, or ZETH, with friends Alicia Bernadt, 27, and Renee Lahm, 45.

Their costumes came complete with signs reading "Grains not Brains" and "Friends not Food," and a human-free zombie food pyramid. Murkins got the idea from a ZETH T-shirt she bought online about a year ago.

The group's zombification was one of the more thorough at the newly named Lincoln ZombieFest, a two-day spectacle of the undead at the Pershing Center which featured a zombie makeup market, zombie games, seminars and demonstrations, a fashion show and a costume contest.

And, of course, the undead.

Among the zombies who made an appearance were Mario, Elvis and a Na'vi from the movie Avatar.

"Last year I dressed up like Wolverine," said the Elvis zombie, 22-year-old Roy Gonzalez.

Some, like Gonzalez, were casual fans of zombidom.

Then there were Sara and Mike Allen, who are members of the Omaha chaper of the Zombie Research Society. The group of about 30 zombie enthusiasts meets each month at an Omaha bar and, according to its brochure, "is dedicated to raising the level of zombie scholarship in the Arts and Sciences."

The Allens joined the group about a year ago after attending the Lincoln zombie walk.

They practiced shooting, swordplay, stick fighting, hand-to-hand combat, archery and food survival skills at a recent retreat in South Bend.

"We actually went to Zombiecon (an annual zombie festival) last year," Sara Allen said, "and Bruce Campbell (of "The Evil Dead" fame) renewed our wedding vows."

Reach Zach Pluhacek at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com.

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