Whether you’ve woken up in a zombie-filled hospital or found yourself in Louisiana Cajun country with a mob of the Voodoo trance slaves, there are things you need to consider in order to survive.
Remember, you are only one person of a few scant living human survivors. Chances are the police are either dead or have fled. No one is running any of the utility companies. Chaos is rampant in the streets. Even going to the local store for some last second groceries is problematic.
Leave alone the fact that every bit of information from the news is highly suspect. Any message telling you to go anywhere or any message advising you to stay home until the national guard arrives could spell your end.
Your opponents only want one thing – YOU. They want that succulent brain thingy you’re carrying in your skull between your ears. Perhaps they only want to feast on your entrails which somehow is less comforting.
This enemy is unique. They are like nothing you’ve ever faced. They don’t breathe, drink, sleep, go to the bathroom, or grow bored in what you will learn is the proper meaning of “relentless”.
They are 24/7/365 all about “getting you”.
So what do you do? Are you ready to fight for your survival?
If you have no clue what to do, here are some things to consider:
1. Are you physically fit?
This is not a time to be vain. Telling your doctor that you feel fine and than stretching the truth a bit when he asks if you “go to the gym”, is not really good.
Can you run? Can you run fast… for a long time? How long does it take you to catch your breath? Do you lead an active lifestyle – one that doesn’t include video games and does include long distance running and rock climbing? Can you lift your own weight?
Are you like me? A man who considers cheese doodles as one of the main food groups. Exercise for me is “jumping to conclusions” and “skipping to the end of a book”. I break a sweat peeling a banana. Ordinarily, in zombie survival parlance, I am considered “bait”. People in better shape than me don’t have to outrun zombies; they just have to outrun me.
If you are not physically fit, your survival lies in how well you use your wits. It’s something you have to consider when you fall in with a group that has an “alpha leader” who wants to run four or five miles to the nearest sanctuary.
2. Are you in a safe place?
Discovering you’re living in a zombie apocalypse can be a little stressful. It doesn’t matter whether the undead have awoken because of a unique extraterrestrial irradiated isotope, reanimated human corpses, or because of a virus turned people into carnivorous cannibalistic unthinking automatons.
The fact is that the open road is one of the WORST places to be.
You need to hole up somewhere because you need to sleep. They don’t, but you definitely do. Where you consider sleeping is paramount to your survival. You need to be in a place that is difficult to enter, has access to an emergency exit, and causes a lot of noise when anything tries to get in – in that order. The first two are essential, the last you can skip if you have a partner who’s willing to sleep in shifts. It’s best to have all three so you and your party are refreshed when you decide to move on or go out to get food.
I suggest someplace remote that requires either a bit of climbing or has some kind of obstruction around it – like a fence or a deep moat. The best places to consider are offshore oil rigs, prisons, or castles with natural fortifications. The worst places are hospitals, apartment buildings, and basement apartments.
If you can’t get to an oil rig (understandable), find a house with a second story with access to the roof, then barricade the stairs and booby trap the entrance with obvious traps (you can even put a sign that says “trap” – zombies don’t read). The difference between a zombie and a thinking person is that a thinking person will see the trap for what it is and avoid it. Whatever barricade you make, be sure that it makes a lot of noise if someone tries to cross it. Rig some empty cans or bells to wake you as an alarm.
3. Do you have food and water?
Zombies don’t really eat things outside of you. They prefer a man-sized meal.
You, however, need food, water, and sleep to keep from having a psychotic break. Once again, places like an offshore oil rig have food supplies that last for months. All you need is to hole up there, have a beer, and wait for that entire zombie apocalypse thing to all blow over.
Chances are, you won’t be going to an offshore oil rig. You might be lucky enough to find sanctuary in a prison where they have security, barred cells, a huge store of food, and probably a separate generator for electricity. Provided that the prison is free of convicts (possibly, you never know) and that the wall is secure and sturdy. You can stay until the food runs out – or possibly beyond that, provided that you can send (or be part of) a forage party to raid whatever abandoned houses or stores around the prison.
Depending upon the environment and how well you can operate under a siege, you can last quite a while provided that you can get to a place that stocks a lot of food.
You need to move freely, avoid zombies, and subdue them. You also have to have a way to carry the provisions back. That means you either need a working car (problematic) or a wheelbarrow (also problematic). Whatever the case, you’ll need to plan these raids carefully.
The important thing is that you’ll need to stock up on rations, regardless of wherever you stay.
Regarding water, you should plan it like you were trying to survive a hurricane or extended power outage. Fill a tub full of tap water and draw from that when the running water runs out. The water utilities won’t last forever.
4. What kind of weapons will you need?
It is a huge fallacy that Hollywood perpetuates that you need a machine gun in a zombie war. The protagonist is always ready to rush the horde of zombies with an Uzi and goes in to “rock n roll”.
In reality, that kind of guy is dead (and eaten) after his first expended clip. There’s only one target that matters when you shoot a zombie. You need a kill shot, dead center just over the eyebrows.
Regarding hand to hand combat with a zombie – don’t do it – especially if the undead are contagious. While you might have the best odds fighting a “voodoo zombie”, fighting one of the tireless undead will get you either killed or turned.
And no one wants that.
The best way to kill a zombie is from a distance with a high-powered rifle with a really good scope (or laser sight works, too). I would also suggest the sniper use a silencer or work from a place where the acoustics will echo in different places and work to the sniper’s advantage. Depending upon how many zombies are in the area and how much ammo is available, this can work for you.
Should you actually encounter a zombie and need to fight it off, the one thing you shouldn’t do is shoot him with a noisy handgun. You might win the battle, but you’ll certainly lose the war. The report from a handgun will definitely attract any zombie that hears it. What you want above anything else is to just dispatch the zombie – quickly and quietly.
Remember – stealth is your friend.
I suggest an axe. They’re easy to get and they don’t require reloading. All you need to do is raid the first deserted Home Depot or any store with a hardware or garden section. It has to be an axe and not a hatchet. You want something that can either give you distance or allow you to cut off the head. If the zombie is up close and personal, consider the back of a hammer or a short sledgehammer. All you need to do is crush the brain or skull.
Neatness doesn’t count. You’ll probably splatter something.
Conclusion: If you’re smart enough, you’ll survive
While I’ve stressed physicality plays a huge role in surviving a zombie apocalypse, it isn’t the defining factor. Remember when you were in high school and the idiot quarterback seemed to be the alpha male and the nerdy computer geek did his best to avoid him? You can give some points to the idiot quarterback for having the physical stamina and strength to be the warrior who rushes bravely into the oncoming storm to later be sung about in song and story.
You can side with the computer geek who knew enough to avoid anything that required physical stress and suggested to some football playing blockhead to do a frontal assault while you and every other cheese-doodle-eating-slob slipped out the back door where he’d hidden seven mountain bikes after planning the perfect diversion to help make your escape.
Bait comes in all shapes and sizes. Scruples are a luxury.
Like anything that’s worth winning, you have to use your head. When you think about it, you’re really up against some easily distracted flesh-eating automatons. If you record someone screaming on an iPhone and hang it off a cliff with some speakers, I guarantee that seventy zombies will fall to their destruction, chasing after that noise. When you think like an engineer, you can get the most output from the least amount of effort. Engineers are engineers because laziness is an asset.
The world is full of really stupid people who want nothing more than to grunt and impress someone who they can mate with. These brain dead jocks call us “bait” because we’re not Adonises. We thinkers call them “pawns” because “lobotomy patient” takes too long to say. We can always use a pawn. In a zombie apocalypse, there needs to be someone brave enough and stupid enough to walk into an abandoned building first to check if it’s actually empty. You want to be the person who can say, “Poor Trevor, if only he hadn’t made so much noise.”
Hollywood has filled everyone’s head that we need to be Bruce Campbell–esque in order to win a war against the undead. That’s a myth. In actuality, we need to remember that it’s easier to spot and catch a deer than a chipmunk. While the deer is cautious and fast, hardly anyone sees a chipmunk – and by the time they do, it’s gone. Stealth is your friend.
You want to be the chipmunk.