If you put your ear to bunker doors across the nation in the quiet before the dawn of the apocalypse, you will hear a fervent mantra whispered by many diehard survivalists as they polish the barrels of their pump-action shotguns just one last time.
“Please let there be zombies. Please let there be zombies.”
Since their first appearance in modern form in George A. Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, zombies have eaten their way into our hearts and minds to become pop culture icons. Dismiss zombies from the doomsday equation at your peril. If life teaches us anything, it is that you should expect the unexpected. And as there are few apocalypse scenarios more unexpected than zombies, this may be the one to place your bets on, even at astronomical odds. It would be a fool indeed who does not, at very least, have a contingency plan in place to deal with an undead world. Heaven help those who sneer at the thought of a zombie apocalypse, for they will invariably be the first ones clasping their entrails as they try and drag themselves away from a ravenous horde of living
dead on Z-Day.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
There are a few things that you probably need to know to avoid becoming a mobile Happy Meal.
Of all the possible apocalypse scenarios, zombies are, at least initially, one of the least dramatic. The chances of you actually seeing a zombie on D-Day is quite remote. The most you would be likely see is the tail-end of a television news report of a bizarre murder somewhere in the Alaskan tundra or an SMS from a friend directing you to some shaky YouTube cell phone footage that “just has to be a hoax.” But don’t let the lack of fanfare fool you. A zombie apocalypse may have a slow start, but it will soon snowball into a
gorefest that will leave the majority of humanity as walking leftovers in just a few short weeks.
While the first media broadcasts of people being eaten alive in the streets will be greeted with skeptical disbelief by most, consider it a sign to immediately implement your survival plan. Time is still on your side. You have up to twenty-four hours in which to escape to your rural retreat or mountain refuge before the roads from the cities are choked with those fleeing the undead hordes.
Although it will, at times, be difficult to believe a zombie apocalypse is actually happening, the sooner you accept the reality of the situation, the greater your chances of survival. You may not be at ground zero on Z-Day, but how you react on the first day will determine if you still have all your body parts by the end of the week.
Know Your Enemy
It is impossible to know the exact nature of the zombie threat prior to the apocalypse. But one thing is for sure: They won’t be running. Popular though the fast so-called zombies of recent celluloid features may be, real zombies are slow. Think about it. Death is the
ultimate inhibitor. If one comes back from death, one is hardly likely to be imbued with superpowers. You would be a mere shadow of your former self. Zombies shamble, shuffle and stagger; they don’t sprint, vault over abandoned cars or launch choreographed
attacks that look more like the New York City Marathon.
You can easily sidestep a zombie. Run rings around one if you like. But it’s the moment that you become overconfident and let down your guard that you will feel the shattered teeth of some legless ghoul latching onto your ankle.
Zombies should never be underestimated. They are relentless, merciless and almost unstoppable.
Pick Them Off From a Distance
Projectile weapons, such as bows and arrows, guns, RPGs and even nuclear missiles were invented for a reason: to put as much distance between you and your adversary as possible, while still inflicting a mortal wound. The closer you are to your enemy, the greater the chance that they can inflict an injury on you. Close-order combat with zombies should only be engaged in as a last resort; it poses significant risks to your safety. But sometimes, there will simply be no avoiding it. You will just have to get your hands dirty.
Although an assortment of handheld weapons have been used with spectacular results in many Hollywood movies, in reality, using bludgeons, such as baseball bats and gardening tools, is fraught with potential dangers and should only be considered when there are no other options.
A zombie does not need to take a bite out your left arm to contaminate you. The facts are that the zombie virus is transmitted through body fluids. Anybody slicing a zombie in two with a chainsaw or impaling one with a fence post is likely to be drenched in infected gore. It only takes one drop of blood or other body fluids for you to join the legion of undead.
Even with a handgun, the chances of you hitting a small, moving target, such as a zombie’s head, is very low. At close range (less than three yards), trained professionals, such as police officers, have less than a forty percent chance of hitting their target
in a field situation.
Play it safe. Pick them off from a distance.
Noise attracts zombies. Need I say more?
Wear Protective Clothing
That small scratch on the back of your hand you got while foraging for food in a dimly lit supermarket but never got round to putting a bandaid on could be more of a threat to what’s left of your life than you may first think. You don’t have to have your left leg
unexpectedly gnawed off by a zombie postal worker to become infected. Any cut or abrasion can be an access point for infection. Also, screaming for divine assistance as you plunge your 11-in. Stanley screwdriver into a zombie’s vacant eye socket may not be
as good an idea as it seems at the time. Infected blood or brain tissue spraying into your open mouth or eyes could see you joining the ranks of the undead before the weekend.
It is of vital importance that you be appropriately attired before engaging in any melee with the living dead. This includes full face protection, such as a handyman’s face shield or goggles and a surgical mask. Although you may look more like an abattoir worker than a hired assassin, at least you won’t have to worry about waking
up to find yourself dead the next morning.
Never Turn Your Back
It goes without saying that you can never assume a zombie is “dead” just because it is down for the count. Zombies have a nasty habit of lurching to their feet again when you least expect it, even if you have pumped a couple of quick rounds into their cranium. Bullets are strange things and can often be harmlessly deflected by skull bone, leaving a zombie’s grey matter fully intact.
Zombies have the remarkable ability to keep going despite dropping body parts like the leaves of autumn. It is prudent to give even fully dismembered zombies (think, Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) a wide berth, as they are sometimes capable of rolling like tumble weeds to savage their prey.
Also, bear in mind that, in certain situations, it can be quite difficult to distinguish between the living and the living dead. Those dearly departed, who have not long joined the ranks of the undead, may display few outward signs of decomposition. You cannot assume that the awkward gait and gormless expression on the face of the guy from apartment 101 means that he is a zombie. If in doubt, take evasive action.
Aim For the Head
When it comes to zombies, anything less than a head shot is a waste of valuable time and effort. Dispense with your classic “two to the center mass, one to the head” routine. “Double taps” or “hammered pairs” to the head are what counts; anything else is
just window dressing.
Overcome Your Squeamishness
The post-apocalyptic world of the undead is not for the squeamish. The sooner you overcome your natural aversion blood and guts, the sooner you will be able to take the new world order in your stride and carve a niche for yourself.