Surviving (the inevitable) Z-Apocalypse

The other night during the night of festivities that were the Erskine Christmas party, I became obsessed with various people’s obsession with my obsession of the undead. The ringleader, known commonly as Simon Campbell, kept pestering me with what I’d do in certain situations, how’d I’d survive, and who I’d save etc. To be honest, I just wanted to enjoy my curry and drink my pint(s). To this end, I don't think I really lived up to my reputation, so I thought I’d do a little post for all you zombie-laymans, containing a few tips and opinions that you may use should you find yourself in an apocalyptic (undead-specific) situation.

Artist's impression of a 3-day old zombie

Note Before

Do remember, that despite many recent films and TV shows, zombies (pictured) cannot run/jump/dance. They’re dead - shuffling ands lunging are more appropriate; don't get caught out.

1. Discovery

Right first things first - the situation you’ll find yourself in when you realise what’s happening is not going to be pretty. It’s not gonna be like that computer game you got last Christmas, and you won’t find yourself laughing at your best mate as he nearly gets eaten, even if your best is Simon Pegg.

The first thing you want to do when you realise that people are dying, then standing back up, then trying to eat you, is get to a safe place (duh!). By safe I don’t mean the nearest Sainsbury’s just because they have CCTV, I mean safe in the way no one else will be there. If this means getting out of town to a remote building you know - do it. Basically you just need a place to sit out the first wave in safety.

Once you know this place your going to, travel on foot or by bike - something that’s versatile in your environment. A car will most likely land you in a pickle and public transport will all be infected.

Your undead loved one may look like this

Don’t try to reach loved ones, (pictured), it will always end badly (also pictured). Just make sure they know where your initial safe house is - go and brief them now!

2. Short-term Survival

Right, after the initial wave of infection has spread significantly (could take any time from a day to a couple of weeks, depending on where you live), you’ll need to find yourself a decent place to hold up for the next few months or so. The odds are, unless you’re weird, your initial safe house won’t be all that safe, and won't be well stocked in terms of supplies, so you’ll need to consider the following criteria when selecting your stronghold.

2.1 Safety

From both zombies and bunches of other humans, who want your flesh or your stronghold respectively. I think that something above the ground floor is ideal; you’ll always have the height advantage and stairs can be easily barricaded. Combine this with two entrances/exits (a sturdy set of doors at each) and enough space to adequately sleep your companions without any danger of cabin fever, and you should be pretty safe.

2.2 Supplies

The location of your stronghold is an important factor - too urban and you’ll have hordes of zombies to deal with on your supply-getting-runs, too rural and supplies could be elusive. For the first few months after the initial wave, there’s not going to be a shortage of supplies: 90%+ of the population will only eat human flesh, so there’s no need to ration, it’s all about finding the right source.

3. Weapons

If you haven’t done already by this point, you’re going to need to find yourself a favoured, well-balanced weapon for general use.

Although it’s tempting to want to use something really fucking cool (fig.1), practicality is the name of the game (figs. 2-5). It needs to be light enough to carry with you at all times and sharp enough to destroy brains without too much effort (baseball bats are going to be rubbish when you’ve got more than four zombies to deal with in a confined space). There’s no perfect weapon, and there will always be a strength/speed compromise you’ll have to make.

  • Figure 1: Fender Telecaster, (mexican, '77) mustard yellow A Tele is not the best weapon for zombies
  • Figure 2: Chainring, campag, from a  nice bicycle A decent chainring, whilst won't remove the head, will definitely destory the brain
  • Figure 3: Clawhammer, from your Dad’s toolshed The Clawhammer: a brain-removing classic
  • Figure 4: Hatchett, stolen from local serial killer’s house A good option for both brain-destroying and head-removal
  • Figure 5: Samurai sword, from your local junk shop If untrained, you're more likely to destroy your own brain with one of these

4. Long-term settlement

Don’t spend the first two months thinking the government or military are going to save you; they aren’t. Instead use the time to think of a perfect place to start a new life. You’ll basically have to establish a new settlement and before you go about doing this, you’ll have to decide how it’s going to be run. There’s not going to be time for talking about this stuff when you’re purging land for your new village and burning bodies etc. Decide in your little (or large group) how the community will be led, what the criteria is for taking in new people, make sure everyone’s got a responsibility they’re happy with etc. Although many of us don’t really see any immediate effects of large-scale politics these days, these small-scale decisions you make are pivotal.

Regarding location, I think being near the coast is generally a good idea, in a climate temperate enough to grow enough food. Bearing in mind the state the cities will be in, it’s a good idea to go rural.