“Rising” refers to the reanimation of a person who has died, anywhere from 8-48 hours after their death. Only observed in humans and two species of great ape (chimpanzees and bonobos), rising results in a slowing of active decay, a resumption of movement, and in most cases, the ability to see, hear, and speak. Sensation appears to be greatly deadened but not absent, as is the sense of smell. The sense of taste is completely absent, and indeed the GI tract is largely non-functional other than occasionally expelling matter that was left in the system pre-mortem. While ingestion can occur, the material simply sits in the stomach until it is regurgitated or rots. Cognition can no longer be measured, as an EEG will show a flatline or sporadic and seemingly random impulses, but in most cases the risen seem to retain all memories of their life and full intellectual function of a sort.

What causes rising is currently not well understood. The use of modern embalming chemicals seems to increase its incidence, accounting for the perceived increase in risings since the early 1800s, but it has been argued that preservatives simply increase the chance of a successful rising, as in pre-modern mortuary systems bodies would have been buried or burned too quickly to rise. One thing that can be conclusively proven is that embalming chemicals can delay the onset of rising, stretching the 8-48 hour window of an un-embalmed body to days, weeks, or even months. Careful research indicates that risings have taken place throughout history, though in most cases the risen were detected almost immediately and destroyed.

Traumatic injury also seems to decrease the chances of rising, as those killed in a severe automobile or airplane crash are 90% less likely to rise. However, once rising takes place, traumatic injury seems to have little effect on the risen, as they are able to remain motile and communicative even up to the point of being completely skeletonized. Immolation or systematic destruction by dismemberment seem to be the only ways to destroy a risen body. Eyewitness accounts and anecdotal evidence indicates that such destruction is as traumatic and painful for the risen as it would be if inflicted upon the conventionally living.

Obviously, the mechanism of rising is poorly understood, and this is not helped by a total ban on studying the process, even in apes, passed by the International Medical Foundation in 1956 and renewed in 2016. The advocacy organization Association Internationale des Ressuscités (AIR) holds that rising is a scientific, quantifiable, and researchable process; it is simply one that is not understood at present. The official position of many other organizations, including the Universal Church Council, the Imamate Consultorium, the Ecumenical Rabbinical Society, and Buddhist Unity, is that the risen are unholy abominations possessed or influenced by infernal powers.

The religious position, one which is shared by many secular people and institutions, has led only 61 out of the 195 internationally recognized sovereign entities to grant risen the same civil rights as they possessed before their rising. The remaining 134, including China, India, Brazil, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and 26 states in the United States, regard risen as legally dead. As a result, there are generally no laws protecting risen or their property in those jurisdictions other than general statutes about desecration or grave robbing. Indeed, as in 16 states in the United States, many jurisdictions criminalize the risen themselves (under the aegis of so-called “body autonomy” laws) and any risen encountered are subject to harassment, imprisonment, and summary cremation–the latter of which is particularly horrifying to activists. In one oft-cited piece of precedent, the US Supreme Court, in Davis v. Doe (2015), ruled that the risen are not citizens and have no rights explicitly granted by the Constitution in a landmark 8-1 decision.

As a result, many risen are forced to exist on the margins of society, either attempting to pass as traditionally living or banished to shantytowns or imprisoned for menial labor. Still more are forcibly cremated or interred, with the latter often leading to clashes between cemetery guards and groups of risen and their allies attempting disinterments. As horrifying as cremation is, many risen activists consider forced interment to be worse, as it imprisons a sapient being in a dark box without recourse and is considered a particularly cruel and extended torture.

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