Zombie Survival: Know thy Zombie
So here we our, sitting awaiting our brief zombie education. Ready to absorb a few life-saving nuggets of zombie knowledge. However before we can get into the juicy areas of picking weapons, barricading windows and disappearing down into our private bunkers that I’m sure we’ve all got under construction; we first need to discuss our enemy.
Our enemy is of course the common zombie, we all know that, but what type. Over the decades our beautiful world has witness the creation of several arch-zombie types.
We’ve had slow zombies, sympathetic ones, clever zombies, glowing zombies, fast ones that with glowing eyes, vegetarian ones and even ‘sexy’ ones (although perhaps the authors of those ones shouldn’t survive the coming apocalypse for the sake of humanity).
Now its just me writing these undead articles, locked 100 feet below mother Earth’s sunny surface, surviving on tins of peaches and tuna. So unfortunately I can’t go into each different zombie type, I’ll just be covering your stereotypical run-of-the-meal slow unthinking zombie. The kind that Romero first started out with.
Now to know your enemy, whether they’re the decaying undead type or the bleeding shooting foreign bad guy type, you must establish several things:
- What and how are they infected (Only applies to zombies, obviously)
- What is their motives and goals
- What are their strengths
- What are their limits and weaknesses
- What resources do they have
- How to recognise your enemy
The virus explained
We don’t know where the virus originated; many speculated it was a military chemical weapon, some say a freak biological mutation, others say its the wrath of a god. Some just say its simply ‘our time’. For what its worth the opinion of the author is that the virus was created by man, probably for military or experimental purposes, with the outbreak occurring due to the facility or protocols woeful inadequacy to maintain the level of quarantine required to keep such a virus in place. Recent experiments with infected tissue show its spread incredibly quickly, reanimating flesh and producing muscular and cellular ‘fuel’ to keep the zombie functioning even when oxygen or normal cellular support systems have been depleted. The virus is also highly contagious, spreading via body fluids such as blood or saliva. Bites or contamination through open wounds (Inc. eyes and mouth) have proven to be lethal in 100% of cases, with death followed by reanimation ranging from minutes to 72 hours. People coming into contact with infectious fluids should recognise and treat them as lethal chemicals, full bio’ suits should be worn if possible. Fire is the main way to consume the virus and sterilise the environment. No known commercial viricide (anti-virus compound) is known to work.
Motives of a Zombie
Zombie’s don’t want liberation or their own rights. They don’t want to spread their worldly distorted views onto the masses of other countries. They don’t want to strive for a better way of life. All zombies really want is the red gooey matter that lurks beneath your skin. They will literally walk through fire to get their decaying hands on this gory delight. Why they are drawn to consuming flesh is beyond current understanding, all we know is that it is their target 100% of the time. They will not turn on each other, somehow detecting that the flesh of other zombies is already infected. Their drive is a primitive desire at the most basic cognitive level, post-post-mortems show that the digestion system has been completely shut down and the consumption of flesh has no nutritional value for any zombie.
Strengths of an UNdead Horde
Just because these animated clumps of meat have slow barbaric intentions, only an uneducated fool would think they have no strengths. They have many strengths, many of them directly oppose human strengths, but knowing their capabilities will increase your survival rate significantly.
The main strength for any zombie ‘army’ is their sheer number of ‘troops’ they can amass in a short period of time. It only takes one infected to turn an entire apartment block of hundreds into a decaying platoon. No long or expensive training or re-education phases to go through, once you’re ‘marked’ for their infantry you’re ready to march. Their numbers will grow exponentially to begin with, until the chaos and panic of society and government begin to understand and attempt to control the situation.
Closely followed behind their numbers, the fact that zombies are relentless is another key aspect to get your head around. While your defensive force sleeps, regroup or eat, the army of death will march uninterrupted until they literally fall apart. If you lock yourself in a bunker and the zombies engulf it, you may be safe for the mean time but your food and supplies will run out long before their desire to get to your flesh. If this is truly understand you should see a big change in how you plan for the infected. One zombie pounding on your front door may not be a physical threat, but once he’s been doing it for a week you’ll be very close to the end of your tether. Now multiply this by 10… 100…. how about a 1000 zombies?
Unless you’ve literally been on the moon, you should be aware that the only way to kill a zombie is by destruction of the infected brain. You cannot attempt to riddle the body with bullets, or wait for them to bleed or even starve to death (this is covered much later in the series). Unless you puncture or crush the skulls content, you haven’t killed your target. As the virus infects only the very core of the brain, a glancing shot or surface puncture to the brain may not drop the zombie, don’t panic this isn’t a sign of them evolving to be resistant to brain destruction, strike again and again until they fall.
Due to the complexity of the virus, and the fact zombies don’t feel pain, they will walk underwater and through fire to get to you. Be aware of this when building defences.
Weaknesses of a Zombie
A weakness in our common enemy is anything we can exploit to our advantage. Some obvious. Some not so. Make sure you know these, so you don’t risk your lives performing an action you don’t need to.
One weakness that can be easily exploited for our benefit is that our enemy doesn’t distribute its forces strategically. A million zombies may surround a large complex if they can sense humans inside, even though the walking food inside won’t divide amongst 100 of the undead, let along a million of them. Use their desire-over-intelligence to devise traps and strategies to exploit this fact. E.g. Use healthy mobile groups to keep the bulk of zombies away from the group majority, old or frail.
A blessing we’ve been granted, is the speed of which our enemy advances. They may be horrifically relentless, but their progress along our once thriving landscape is gloriously slow. Reanimated brains don’t posses the higher motor neuron functionality to maintain coordination and balance while moving, so zombies shuffle with their well know leg dragging gait.
Reanimation of the brain has also removed any logical or deductive skills the brain once had. Thankfully the hordes cannot construct scenarios or anticipate events before they occur. They will not recognise that turning the handle on a door will open it 95% of the time (although they may accidentally lean or press against the handle). Equally they will not recognise a petrol covered car park and a lone flare-clutching-survivor as an obvious trap. Alter your mindset to build quick, deadly yet obvious traps. Don’t worry about trying to out think the zombies; you will every time. Even under high levels of stress you can think rationally, clearly and logically; zombies cannot. Knowing this will keep survivor accidents down yet maintain a high Z’ kill ratio.
Expanding on the above point, you can have forward operating bases, or even evacuate bases without worrying that the enemy will steal resources such as weapons, ammo or vehicles. You don’t need to be a hero to save the survivors only 4×4, or cache of AK47s, they’ll still be there once the enemy has moved on/eradicated. Defending resources against renegade or fanatic survivors must always be considered though.
Resources of the UNdead
Thankfully due to their drastic and immediate drop in cognitive functionality upon dying and coming back, zombies are unable to control even the most basic tools, tactics or plans. They cannot use vehicles, weapons or weather to their advantage. This is a mixed blessing, but severely tipped towards our favour. If zombies could utilise tanks, aircraft or vehicles we would be able to attack their fuel lines, cut them off and deal them a major blow. Thankfully however these vehicles just act as long term storage for any deceased crewmen that may have been infected.
Similarly the zombies have no known allies to come to their aid, to bail them out or to redirect our forces elsewhere. Our only other enemy beside the swelling hordes of undead will no doubt be ourselves, from the greedy fanatics to the desperate and paranoid neighbouring countries. Negotiation and diplomacy skills will still very much be needed, to stop wars between the living breaking out, thankfully we don’t even need to bother wasting time talking to our primary enemy.
The only two resources the zombies do have is their sheer numbers and the aura of fear that they spread. We’re pro-actively attempting to deal with the latter issue by producing such informative articles such as these, to reduce panic levels when the outbreak does occur. Their numbers though is, as listed above, one of their key strengths. A simple defensive outpost must be briefed and trained to deal with large numbers; ammo always needs to be rationed and ‘walls of the corpses’ need to be levelled to maintain firing lines. Failing to anticipate large numbers will be the downfall of most pockets of residence.
Recognising one of the UNdead
I’ve already written an article about recognising the undead amongst the bustling crowds of society, albeit a rather tongue in cheek post. However much of the content stands firm on good understanding and techniques to recognise one of the undead.
They generally let out a wailing moan when they recognise food in the area.First and foremost, their bodies are essentially dead. The majority of the cells, muscles and flesh will be rotting. They will smell and look horrendous. If you see someone who looks like they’ve just crawled out of the morgue or a car crash… they probably have.
Hordes of the dead can be heard from miles away, just as they can smell you from miles away (weather allowing).
One thing that was raised by Max Brooks, is that zombies don’t blink. They will lock their eyes upon you and not break their steer. This hasn’t been officially recognised yet, but seems to be a very valid technique during close range engagements.
So there we have it. Your first week of zombie survival training. Please post questions, links to other related resources (even your own) or comments below.
I obviously don’t have the resources to include everything we know about zombies, but this brief (brief you shout!) summary should definitely raise peoples life expectancy when the dead begin to walk the earth.
If you want to improve your zombie knowledge, and therefore your chances of surviving, you should get your hands on the book shown to the right. Knowledge will save you a lot more than bullets will.
Next week we’ll be looking at how you can prepare your body and environment for the upcoming hordes.
Till then, Godspeed.