I've been reading Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth zombie-apocalypse trilogy, and I'm feeling pretty zombied out as I approach the end of the third book.
But the thought struck me that the archetype for zombie stories, the ur-zombie story, had no zombies in it.
I'm speaking of "Leiningen vs. the Ants" by German writer Carl Stephenson, first published (in English) in a 1938 issue of Esquire. In my school days, at least, it tended to show up frequently in textbooks for English courses.
The story, of a South American plantation owner facing an advancing horde of carnivorous army ants, pretty much has it all for the zombie fan: The army ants are essentially mindless, they're seemingly without number, and they will eat you if you get in their way. Leiningen is the hero struggling to save his plantation (a stand-in for "civilization") and his workers ("humanity") from the Godless horde. Defenses are put in place, with some success. ("Peace through superior firepower" is, in part, through actual fire-power in this case.) But the defenses fall, one by one, until the hero finally has to directly confront the ants/zombies, at near-insurmountable risk to his own life, in order to save the remaining outpost of civilization and the humans still alive there.
Doesn't that sound like a template for a zombie story?
The link above includes an interesting article about the story and its author, as well as the story itself.