The repeated reports of zombies, people in a trance like state working as slaves in the fields of Haiti, gain credence by virtue of a firsthand report by a former victim named Clairvius Narcisse from the village of L’Estere. (His story was related by the National Enquirer in 1982.) Narcisse, who had always been in excellent health, suddenly and inexplicably took sick in 1962. His sister brought him to the Albert Schweitzer Memorial Hospital in Deschabelle:
I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs [Narcisse said]. My heart was running out of strength. My stomach was burning. Then I felt myself freeze up. I heard the doctor tell my sister, “I’m sorry he’s dead.” I wanted to cry out, to tell her that I was alive, but I was unable to move.
Clairvius Narcisse points to his name on the grave from which he believes he emerged as a zombie slave. One investigator suggested that Narcisse may have been drugged, buried, and later disinterred.
The doctor examined him, pulled a sheet over his head, and signed a death certificate. Later in the day friends came to pay their respects, and Narcisse said that although he could see them and hear them, he felt no emotion. At the cemetery he heard the mourners lament and heard the dirt falling on his coffin. The next thing he remembered was standing next to the grave in a trance like state. There were two men who refilled the grave, tied a rope around his wrists, and took him to a farm where he became a slave working in the fields with about 100 other unfortunate souls.
According to Dr. Lamarque Douyon, director of the Psychiatric Center in Port-au-Prince, the so-called zombies are people who have been drugged by a voodoo sorcerer, pronounced dead, buried, dug up from their graves, and kept drugged during their enslavement as agricultural workers.
Narcisse thinks he had been enslaved for about two years when one day the overseer evidently failed to administer the dose of drugs that kept the victims in their subservient condition. Some of the zombies regained their faculties, realized the state they were in, and killed the overseer. Released from the effects of the drug, Narcisse soon became his normal self. He did not go back to his native village because he believed that the brother who lived there had made the arrangement to have him drugged by a voodoo sorcerer. But when in January 1980 he heard that his brother had died, he decided to return to L’Estere.
So 18 years after he was thought to be dead and buried, Clairvius Narcisse walked back into the lives of friends and relatives who had mourned his passing nearly two decades before.