A triffid is a highly venomous plant species. A triffid can grow to ten feet and is capable of movement. A triffid can attack humans. There is a picture of triffid above. The following is a transcript of an interview I had with Dr. Eerie at a conference on Metamemetic Warfare that was held in Geneva on February 22, 2,000. I was inspired to share this transcript by the recent release of the BBC version of Day of Triffids (2009) on the Scyfy channel Asia during the last couple of weeks.
Dr. Fox: I am talking with Dr. Eerie about how to kill triffids. Can you tell me something about your academic background?
Dr. Eerie: My pleasure, my general area of expertise is the application of exotic technology to the problem of warfare. I was a consultant with the Transgenic Warfare Institute. Our goal was to create genetically engineered organisms that would be useful in warfare. The institute focused on using DNA from one organism and inserting the DNA into another organism.
Dr. Fox: And the triffids were created by your institute?
Dr. Eerie: Correct, the triffids were created by combining animal DNA and the DNA of the Venus flytrap to make an animal/plant hybrid.
Dr. Fox: Why in the world would you create such a creature?
Dr. Eerie: Zombies!
Dr. Fox: I have heard about a zombie, triffid connection before.
Dr. Eerie: The US government has long known about zombies and realized that standard military measures were largely ineffective during a large scale zombie epidemic since human soldiers sent against the zombies in most scenarios ended up becoming zombies themselves making the problem worse. What was needed was an organism that could fight zombies effectively and be immune to the zombie infection. After much experimentation, the institute determined that an animal/plant hybrid would be extremely unlikely to mutate into a organism vulnerable to infection due to its plant DNA.
Dr. Fox: I have heard rumors that zombies are actually the result of your institute trying to create an invulnerable human soldier by injecting solanum nigrum, better known as Black Nightshade, DNA into humans. For some reason various so-called zombie experts think the name solanum refers to a virus rather than a plant genus. So in a way your institute was trying to make amends for your original science gone wrong experiment.
Dr. Eerie: That is a vicious lie and I will walk out of this interview this minute rather than listen to more lies.
Dr. Fox: Relax, let’s change the subject. Why triffids? Why not some other animal/plant hybrid?
Dr. Eerie: We had created a computer simulation called Plants vs. Zombies to test various animal/plant hybrids versus zombie scenarios and the triffids consistently had the most success in any number of scenarios.
Dr. Fox: Isn’t there a video game called Plants vs. Zombies?
Dr. Eerie: A simplified version of the original simulation was sold to PopCap games in order to defray some of the costs of the institute.
Dr. Fox: Why would triffids be so effective against zombies?
Dr. Eerie: Triffids are attracted to the distinctive odor of putrefication of zombies but are so slow moving that they would only be effective against zombies that are even less intelligent and even more slow moving than the triffids. Physical attacks by zombies would be largely ineffective against a triffid but would not occur in the first place since zombies do not attack plants even in self defense. The plan was to have humans hunker down during a zombie outbreak and let the triffids take out the zombies. The simulation showed that in an urban area a single triffid could be expected to consume 1,000 to 2,000 zombies per day. 1,000 triffids could clean out a city with one million zombies in less than three days.
Dr. Fox: Where do the triffids put it all?
Dr. Eerie: The zombies go in one end and come out the other end. The waste product created actually makes excellent top soil.
Dr. Fox: What about the danger of triffids to humans?
Dr. Eerie: That is total science fiction! I have seen the ridiculous movies that vilify triffids and make them seem like a danger to humans rather than the wonderful anti-zombie weapon they were bred to be. Humans can easily kill triffids!
Dr. Fox: How?
Dr. Eerie: Let me ask you a simple question. If you wanted to get rid of some weeds in your yard, would you “a” shoot up your yard with an M-16 or “b” spray herbicide on the weeds?
Dr. Fox: Well I would use herbicide.
Dr. Eerie: So why do the idiots in the movies use firearms against a plant?
Dr. Fox: You know that is a really good point!
Dr. Eerie: Exactly, the best way to get rid of triffids after they have destroyed the zombies is by aerial spraying. One helicopter pilot can easily kill hundreds of triffids per day using the US Army Pesticide Unit with a capacity of 150 gallons. One large fixed wing aerial spray system such as the Modular Aerial Spray System, MASS for short, can carry 2,000 gallons of spray liquid and easily destroy thousands of triffids in an area the size of New York City.
Dr. Fox: Won’t the triffids hide from the planes?
Dr. Eerie: Even the Triffid movies don’t give triffids that much credit and the fact is triffids are creatures of instinct rather than intelligence. Plants, including triffids, seek out light and make easy aerial targets unlike zombies that hide in nooks and crannies.
Dr. Fox: Wow! But can the triffids get those nasty zombies in those nooks and crannies?
Dr. Eerie: We gave the triffids really, really, long tentacles precisely for that purpose.
Dr. Fox: But I don’t have access to any aerial herbicide system!
Dr. Eerie: Any old herbicide in your garage will do the trick! Just don’t try to shoot the triffids. Spray em don’t shoot em. And here’s the best part, the triffids have been designed to be especially vulnerable to a homemade herbicide of vinegar and water. Vinegar is a common household ingredient even available in third world countries that would not have access to advanced fire arms.
Dr. Fox: Homemade herbicide?
Dr. Eerie: If you face a triffid, forget your gun and grab gallon bottle of water and add one ounce of vinegar and douse the body of the triffid. Bye, bye triffid!
Dr. Fox: Any other suggestions?
Dr. Eerie: Make a trench around your house and fill the trench with herbicide. The tentacles of the triffids will touch the herbicide and the triffid will avoid your house. In one particularly, stupid BBC triffid show, a nun sacrifices humans to keep triffids at bay! How hard is it to make a trench? Don’t they have shovels and herbicides in the tool shed of her church! Ok, the premise of the plot is that most of humanity is blind due to a solar flare but how many sighted humans do you need to make a trench around a building in a day? I think one could easily do the job! The sighted human in turn could direct dozens of blind humans to make a trench filled with herbicide around an entire town within a day.
Dr. Fox: Sounds easy enough.
Dr. Eerie: We even designed triffids to make a clicking sound that attracts zombies like crazy but should give even the dumbest human plenty of warning and time to get away.
Dr. Fox: What about the stinger that blinds you?
Dr. Eerie: Ok, I admit that is a major design flaw. Hey, wear glasses! Sunglasses, regular glasses, safety glasses, whatever! Is that so hard to do? And why do these same idiots in the movies that are trying to shoot a plant with a gun and know all about the stingers run around without any eye protection?
Dr. Fox: You know I am thinking triffid movies are much stupider than zombie films. In zombie movies the humans at least try to figure out how to fight the monster.
Dr. Eerie: Don’t get me started!
Dr. Fox: Well there you have it folks! Triffids are not your enemies but your friends! Thanks for the interview Dr. Eerie.
Dr. Eerie: My pleasure Dr. Fox
WereVerse Universe Baby!
Whilst I agree with your assertion that triffids are an ideal method of zombie-control I have to disagree with some of your observations, and certainly your suggestion that triffids are not a threat to humans. I feel you should revisit the original Wyndham classic to dispell some of the Hollywood-created myths that you mention. For more information visit Zombiephiles, you can even vote on who’d win in a battle between zombies and triffids.
I went ahead and took the poll and voted for the triffids and look forward to reading the other zombie showdowns. I am still pondering if the pirates or zombies would win in that showdown. Pirates are very adaptable unlike many militaries that are tradition bound. A cutlass is a low maintenance sword compared to a katana, Japanese sword, and could stand the rigors of chopping off heads pretty well. Dr. Eerie is nuts in asserting that triffids pose little threat to humans. Triffids of course would not aim for the head of zombies and perhaps in many cases would not decisively kill the zombie but a zombie missing flesh and limbs, especially legs, is an easy kill for a follow up human attack.
Zombiephile here. I must confess that I always secretly suspected that Plants Vs. Zombies was, in fact, a Triffids Vs. Zombies simulation system. People laughed at me, but I held my ground.
On the topics of the trouble with Triffids, I’d say that the real threat is the fact that people don’t take plants seriously enough. After all, when’s the last time a plant uprooted itself, waddled over in your direction, and whipped you with a poisonous stinger?
This is why I don’t trust any plants whatsoever. I kill them whenever possible and refuse to eat any vegetable matter. That way I won’t be caught by surprise when the Triffids finally come.
I have just finished Men Who Stare at Goats http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Men_Who_Stare_at_Goats
and I think the idea that Plants vs. Zombies is Triffids vs. Zombies scenario is not impossible:) The perceived harmlessness of plants can be a strength. Imagine selling a type of rose all over the world that looks like any other rose but when exposed to element X, whatever, that might be, turns into a vicious killing machine using its thorns to destroy its victims surreptiously at night but looks like a normal rose during the day. Who would ever suspect the rose in the room. Well maybe the blood trail would give it away but you get the general idea.