First came Miami: the case of a naked man eating most of another man's face. Then in Maryland, a college student telling police he killed a man and ate his heart and part of his brain.
In New Jersey, a man stabbed himself 50 times and threw bits of his own intestines at police. They pepper-sprayed him, but he was not easily subdued.
He was, people started saying, acting like a zombie. And the whole discussion just kept growing, becoming a topic that the Internet couldn't seem to stop talking about.
The actual incidents are horrifying and, if how people are talking about them is any indication, fascinating. In an America where zombie imagery is used to peddle everything from tools and weapons to garden gnomes, they all but beg the comparison.
So many strange things have made headlines in recent days that The Daily Beast assembled a Google map tracking "instances that may be the precursor to a zombie apocalypse."
The federal agency that tracks diseases weighed in as well, insisting it had no evidence that any zombie-linked health crisis was unfolding.
The cases themselves are anything but funny. Each involved real people either suspected of committing unspeakable acts or having those acts visited upon them for reasons that have yet to be figured out. Maybe it's nothing new, either; people do horrible things to each other on a daily basis.
But what, then, made search terms like "zombie apocalypse" trend day after day last week in multiple corners of the Internet, fueled by discussions and postings that were often framed as humor?