Bloodied, corroded, and teeming with infection from tiny cuts and lacerations, the hands and fingers of the undead are almost as lethal as its teeth. Often overlooked, the digits on a ghoul’s hands are a leading cause of human infection; second only to that of a bite. It is for this reason that close combat with a ghoul has an extremely high probability of infection, even if the human avoids being bitten. A single scratch that comes in contact with undead fluids will ultimately result in infection, death and reanimation, albeit at a slower rate than from a more pronounced wound. For this reason, female zombies can be as dangerous, if not more so, than males. Long, polished fingernails, like the claws of a feral animal, can easily tear into flesh, potentially causing infection.
The grip of a zombie is another commonly misunderstood element of its attack. Victims who have survived the clutches of the living dead have described their attacker having a “vice-like grip” of seemingly superhuman strength. Does this mean that a zombie’s strength is greater than that of a normal human? Studies that have measured the pound-for-pound compressive strength of the undead have found that, like its bite, a zombie’s grip is no greater or more powerful than that of its average human counterpart.
There is, however, one difference in undead physiology that may explain this phenomenon. The muscles in our hands and forearms behave like all fast-twitch muscle fibers in the body – they contract powerfully but quickly fatigue, causing our grip to eventually fail. In the living dead, these same muscle fibers contract, but do not fatigue, and will continue to grip with the same level of intensity and power as when first grasped. In greater numbers, this grip becomes even more lethal. Anecdotal records show that as few as three zombies can pull a human being limb from limb in a matter of minutes.