It seems zombie fever has swept the populous in recent years, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t swept up in it with the rest of the world. I would also be lying if I said I liked zombies back before they were cool, because I actually hate zombie movies (with only one exception) and only developed an interest in this particular brand of undead with the publication of The Zombie Survival Guide (which still has a home on my bookshelf).
Of course, it’s been years since that book came out, and the zombie madness has swelled immeasurably. Zombie Apocalypse (ZA) survival plans are the new bomb shelters. The number of zombie-themed video games and films has skyrocketed. It seems everyone is waiting for the ZA… and everyone thinks they are going to survive.
I, on the other hand, pretty much know I’m fucked. And here are the top ten reasons why:
1. Columbus in Zombieland wasn’t wrong in believing the first rule to follow to be prepared for the ZA is a strict cardio workout. And, while I can run for 2 miles without much of a problem, during the third I’d seriously falter and slow… and then I would die. Because the zombies would catch my sweaty, heavy-breathing, rubbery-legged self. Besides, once I started to tire, I would probably trip and fall. Which leads me to…
2. I am one of the klutziest, most accident-prone individuals on the planet. This is 98% likely to be the reason the zombies feast upon my juicy brain-bits. If I don’t trip and fall while trying to escape, there are other ways my innate gracelessness will do me in.
For example: melee weapons. Melee weapons are by-and-large considered to be the most effective weapons against zombies, because they don’t require reloading or the carrying of ammunition and because they are more effective in close quarters than firearms. Now, that’s all fine and dandy. Except… okay, have any of you ever handled a sword or a machete? It requires skill and finesse to properly hack and slash with a bladed weapon. You can’t just pick it up and flail about- you’ll hurt yourself. Now, when I get frazzled and scared, my initial reaction is to… panic. Which involves a lot of flailing of the limbs. Give me a sharp weapon on top of that thrashing craziness and I’ll probably hack myself into bite-sized appetizers for the zombie horde.
But all that is small-potatoes when you take into account the biggest problem my constant state of injury will cause. And that is the ever-present danger of infection. One thing that most people agree on is that the infection will spread via contact with zombie bodily fluids (thus why a bite would do the trick). The thing most people don’t realize is, if you kill a zombie and its suped-up infected juices get in a cut or wound, no matter how small… you’re now infected. On any given day, I have at least two or three little cuts and scrapes (often on my hands). I would be infected the first time I killed a zombie (because I always make a mess). Balls.
3. I have absolutely god-awful depth perception. I attribute my utter lack of grace to this. But my depth perception is its own problem in the ZA. Ever watched a zombie flick? Or any action sequence, for that matter? The good guy always gets grabbed by whatever is chasing them. And then there’s a smooth maneuver where the hero rolls/twists out of the way just in time to avoid a killing blow. I could never dodge such an attack- I’d misjudge the distance and still end up bitten by ye olde zombie.
4. I am good at making plans but terrible at adapting my plans to changing conditions… so I’m actually really bad at making plans. Because if there’s anything I know, it’s that only practical, adaptable plans (and makers of plans) are successful. This is of utmost importance in a bloody, tumultuous world like that of the ZA. You have to be able to think on your feet, to change things to suit the needs of the moment. While I would be able to craft a well-thought-out, solid plan, it would crash and burn at the first moment of crisis, because I wouldn’t be able to think fast enough to amend the initial idea.
5. I can shoot well, but I’m not knowledgeable about a wide range of weaponry. And while “pull the trigger, you stupid ass” is the natural response to that, there’s more to shooting a gun than pulling the trigger. There’s aiming, for one. And something that seriously affects aim is weapon kick back. Every type of gun kicks back differently. Being familiar with that allows you to compensate when aiming, to hold the gun properly, and to recover fast enough to shoot again. If you aren’t familiar with the type of gun, you’ll shoot once, probably miss, and then have zombies swarm your body as you struggle to get your bearings again.
I also am totally in the dark on how to care for most weapons. Regular gun maintenance is vital. And it’s not like I could just Google that shit during the ZA, so… I’m boned.
6. Every time there’s a tornado warning (so… the entire 5 times that’s happened in my lifetime, including the 2 in Michigan), I always think that I’m going to die because I never bothered to make that box of non-perishables and batteries and flashlights and candles and what-have-you that everyone recommends for such disasters. And I’m just as unprepared for the ZA. If zombies attacked right now, I’d never be able to gather everything I needed in a timely fashion.
Not only that, but I don’t even own all of the shit that would be useful in the ZA. Here’s the recommended list of supplies (for a fortified home or shelter) from The Zombie Survival Guide, not including weapons and clothes:
Water, 3 quarts per day, for cooking and washing
Hand-pumped water filter
4 replacement filters
Cistern for collecting rainwater
Iodine and/or purification tablets
Canned food, 3 cans per day
2 portable electric stoves
Advanced medical kit (must include field-surgery implements and antibiotics)
Bicycle-powered electric generator
Gasoline generator for emergencies
20 gallons of gasoline
Rechargeable, battery-powered shortwave radio
2 battery-powered flashlights
2 rechargeable, battery-powered electric lamps
2 rechargeable, battery-powered and/or solar-powered radios
Appropriate reinforcement materials, including lumber, bricks, mortar, etc.
Extensive tool kit, including sledgehammer, ax, handsaw, etc.
Lime and/or bleaching powder in sufficient supply to maintain latrine
High-powered telescope (80X-100X), with spare lenses and cleaning equipment
15 emergency flares
35 chemical light sticks
5 fire extinguishers
2 sets of earplugs
Spare parts for all aforementioned machinery and user’s manuals
Extensive library of manuals, including a general disaster manual
Wait… seriously? WHO THE FUCK KEEPS SHIT LIKE THIS AT HAND?! Yeah… I’m gonna die.
7. Silly as this sounds, I cannot remember the last time I went more than 24 hours without listening to music. And it’s not just the “oh, music’s on in the background of a store or movie” situation, it’s “I am listening to this music in my headphones and singing along and thoroughly immersed in it, thank you very much, for the love of Feynman don’t talk to me you douchebag” kind of situation. I’m a fucking addict. I don’t think I could go for more than a week or two without listening to music without going bat-crap crazy and getting myself killed in a fit of frothing insanity.
Because here’s the rub: I could never listen to music during the ZA. Naturally, you couldn’t have it playing out loud, because that would attract zombies. But you also couldn’t listen to headphones, because then you are unable to hear what’s going on around you, and that will get you dead.
8. I am physically incapable of being quiet for long periods of time. No, seriously. For a few hours? Sure, I can manage that. For days at a time? Oh fuck no. I’ve been alone for days at a time, with no human contact. You know what happens? I talk to myself. And that’s just the talking. Think of all the ways you can make noise during a regular day. Now think of trying to keep all those ordinary sounds muffled or silenced. Now imagine that, in your effort to keep quiet, you trip into a pile of guitars on top of a huge button that activates a piercing alarm. Because that’s what’s going to happen. And then the undead are going to be beating down your door to get at that noisy, lovely meal.
9. The ZA is going to be fucking exhausting. Living in a constant state of alertness and fear will wreak ever-loving havoc on sleep patterns. Namely, there isn’t going to be enough sleeping going on. You’re going to be tired all the fucking time. When I’m tired, I get stupid as shit. I’m sluggish. I don’t think properly. All my senses are dull. Exhaustion will be dangerous as hell.
But even worse than that is the fact that, when I get really tired, I get debilitating migraines. It’s torture for me to sit through a fucking lecture when I have a migraine, when all I have to do is stay still and let someone talk at me for an hour or two. Imagine trying to shoot or bludgeon or keep a lookout while you have a migraine. I’d be so dead.
10. Let’s say I manage to hold out for a while. Let’s say I manage to find other survivors. This is usually the end of many zombie tales- the hero finds another band of survivors, and they build a little colony that is safe from the zombie menace. People always band together in times of crisis. It helps to have extra sets of eyes (and really cuts down on the problems caused by number 9 on this here list) and hands… full of guns. Plus, companionship is important to prevent madness and/or hopelessness from taking hold.
But I’m gonna be the Francis (Left4Dead reference, in case you’re confused) of that group. Everybody is going to hate me. I will manage to piss off enough people that one of them will finally snap and shoot me. Because they can (who the fuck is going to stop them?).
I do have a few things going for me when the zombies descend. Which is not the boon you’d think it is. Because what it amounts to is that I have just enough in my camp currently that I won’t die immediately, before everyone really knows what’s going on, but will instead survive long enough to die in a land of blood and fear.
1. I can shoot. Not all types of guns, but I have experience with a few handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Enough experience that I’ll be in a much better place than the vast majority of folks, because I’m familiar with handling weapons and will be better prepared for that kick back and aiming shit we talked about earlier. Plus, I’m actually a damn decent shot, so… I’ll be able to pick zombies off, so long as I have a gun and sufficient ammo.
2. I’m in a rural area. Rural areas are the best places to be during the ZA, because the greatest outbreaks will be in cities, where the population is denser.
3. I’m not burdened by a crapload of morality issues. I’m not going to freeze up when I have to kill a zombie. I’m not going to be bothered by the philosophical implications of shooting another human being, even if they are infected by a zombie virus. They aren’t humans anymore- they are zombies. If my brother or mother or best friend or the boy that I love toddle up to me, all zombified, I’m going to put their ass down. And I’m not going to bat an eye while doing it. Later, I’ll mourn their passing a bit, but I won’t be crushed by the crazy idea that I was the one who killed them. That was the infection.
And I’m certainly not going to hide my zombified loved one away in the hopes that a cure will be found. Because that never ends well.
So, that’s the truth of it. Despite the amount of zombie-themed gaming I do (a substantial amount within the last three years) and all the amusing zombie survival plans I create (my favorite still being riding around in a combine, mowing down zombies like an undead crop that needs to be harvested), I’m probably not going to survive the ZA.