Over the past couple of decades, zombies have taken over the various forms of media. They ravage the big screen in gory movies and chase after us in video games. We can read about their infestations in books or listen to songs about the living meeting their untimely demise by zombies.
The idea of a reanimated corpse is not new. For many decades, we have been in fear of opening tombs inEgypt orPeru and encountering mummies. The Haitian origin of a zombie is that of a corpse that has been reanimated by supernatural works such as voodoo. Yet in the 1960’s, a new type of zombie was created, the flesh eater. These zombies unfortunately had only one horrifying purpose: to feed on the flesh of the living. After being munched on by a zombie, the human main course then joined the ranks of the living dead, wandering with the aim of feeding. And it is this zombie genre that has invaded the recent media with much success. In more recent films and games, we face hordes of people fallen to the zombie population, which somehow quickly over run cities and result in what we now call a Zombie Apocalypse.
This page pays homage to those who created such a terrifying end to human civilization.
Know the Different Types of Outbreaks.
As you may have noticed, the book is not titled How to Survive The Zombie Apocalypse. Why? According to movies and video games, there are various types of zombie outbreaks, which can result in various apocalyptic catastrophes.
Yet, in most movies, the apocalypse results from the living transforming in to zombies due to a virus or infection caused by blood born pathogens or fluids from bite marks. The infection or virus has many origins, which can affect humanity and its survival. So let’s get to know the causes of zombie outbreaks.
In 1968, director and master of horror, George A. Romero presented a Midwestern town over run by the “living dead.” (Night of the Living Dead) A possible reason for the freak incident is broadcasted over the radio: a radiation leak (from a fallen satellite?) caused the recent dead to rise and eat the flesh of the living. Those wounded and bitten by the walking dead are infected and transform in to a zombie.
The movie Fido (Andrew Currie, director 2006) also depicted zombies as the result of radiation upon humans. Those that die from the contamination are re-animated and have appetites for the living. Again, the attacks upon humans cause them to turn in to zombies.
Thanks to both directors for feeding upon our fear of radiation and nuclear bomb testing.
Now the radioactive zombie infestation has characteristics we must learn.
These zombies, though sporting a destructive appetite for our flesh and organs, are slow moving, walk stiffly, and drag their rigor mortis bodies along. Thus, humanity may have a greater chance at surviving such an outbreak, especially if you follow Columbus’ advice (Zombieland, 2009) and stay in shape to outrun them. The radioactive zombies appear to have character. Recall in the original Romero movies that the living were chased by a young football player, nurses, white collar zombies and even a Hare Krishna zombie. I especially liked the Hare Krishna one. The early radioactive zombie movies showed us that the living dead are equal opportunity employers, not discriminating against race, gender, religious beliefs, or socio-economic status.
The Experiment Gone Wrong.
Throughout fictional and non-fictional history, scientists, doctors, and government officials have performed experiments or testing in hopes of making our lives better. And in the zombie genre, these experiments cause quickly moving, sometimes mutated, flesh eating monsters.
For instance, some have conducted experiments to create super soldiers. In Resident Evil vide games (Capcom) scientists attempted to harness the power of a virus to create human biological weapons (Bio-Organic Weapons or BOW’s) which mutated a host into a powerful creature that follows orders. These mutated soldiers were supposed invade enemy territory and infect those dwelling within in. The same idea was produced in the movie Zombie Strippers, (2008) in which experiments were conducted to regenerate dead tissue, therefore soldiers mortally wounded could continue to fight. Sounds great and effective in a time of war? Maybe. But truthfully, these experiments are really stupid ideas and had catastrophic results.
Often what happens is a test subject attacks a scientist or other unfortunate employee of a top secret facility. Or someone accidentally or purposefully breaks a vial containing the mutagen. A few become infected and mutate into zombies. One panics and bolts out the exits before his transformation is complete, taking the zombie contamination with him. This results in a zombie virus that plagues humanity.
Divine Beliefs or Judgement.
One of the most chilling statements I ever heard came from Dawn of the Dead. (Romero, 1978) A man of faith offered his explanation of the zombie outbreak, claiming, “when there is no room left in Hell, the dead shall walk the earth.” In the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, (Smith, Lee, Richards, and of course Austen, 2010) Mrs. Bennett stated that “the good Lord saw fit to close the gates of Hell and doom the dead to walk amongst us.” This hypothesis is possibly proposed when there is a lack of scientific or medical explanations. Divine intervention has sealed off the path to the realm beyond physical life, resulting in an Old Testament like plague upon humanity. The religious explanation of the zombie apocalypse causes us to reflect spiritually and ethically upon our lives and fates. It also makes us think that not only did we bring this nightmare upon ourselves, but that we deserve it. And unfortunately, with a lack of scientific or medical reasons behind the plague, there may be no cure. The only thing humans will know for sure is that if they are bitten by a zombie, they will also march in the ranks of the living dead.
The characteristics of these zombies vary. In the original Dawn of the Dead, we faced the slower moving, greenish corpses. Yet in the remake of Dawn, (2004) they proved to be fast moving and quick to form overpowering hordes.
The Zombie Virus.
Move over small pox, flu, and N1H1. A mutated, regenerated soldier’s corpse or animal test subject is running amuck in society and attacking humans. Bite marks on the victims cause the virus to infect the living, which subsequently die and regenerate themselves in to slobbering, rotting, rampaging zombies. Or a hamburger contaminated with the mad cow disease or some other horrid animal disease is consumed by a human. Before he can seek a doctor for feeling ill, he succumbs to the zombie virus and begins eating his neighbors.
Whatever the cause of the virus, communities close to ground zero turn on the news and listen in terror to reports of walking corpses attacking and feeding on the living, transforming them in to the walking dead. And thus we have the viral zombie apocalypse.
As movies and video games have shown us, the zombie virus spreads quickly, especially once it reaches heavily populated cities. Once infected, the host dies feels sick and fevered, dies, and is re-animated with only the purpose to attack others or feed. Symptoms include exterior rotting and an appetite for human flesh. The strength and speed of the zombies depends on the virus. If created to produce a super soldier, your community is especially screwed. These zombies can and will run after you, jump on your car, and dash up the stairs. They keep coming after you even when losing a limb or taking a shot in the gut. Even zombies sliced in half will crawl towards you, leaving their lower appendages behind.
The transformation time also varies, apparently with the type of zombie or severity of the wound. In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Charlotte’s transformation was slow, as she received one bite mark on her leg easily covered by the leggings, pantaloons, and thick skirts worn in that time period. She was still able to marry and carry on with her life for months before succumbing to zombiedom, and only her friend, Elizabeth Bennett, realized she was plagued. This reflects either a slow acting disease, or the immense ignorance of the living.
Other Things to Consider….
The zombie epidemic also poses another variation, whether or not animals can be infected. As pointed out earlier, some origins of zombie viruses are tests performed on animals. Therefore in some outbreaks, your beloved dog can fall victim to the infection. If you find yourself in an epidemic where animals can be infected, you face the possible threat of every living thing carrying the zombie virus in its bite. Rabies, malaria, andWest Nilewill be the least of your worries. In the event that animals carry the infection, one must find the strength to take them out. Yet other instances of zombie outbreaks have portrayed animals either immune to the virus or that simply the zombies have no appetite for fur, feathers, or scales. Only human flesh.
Another important fact to realize about zombies is that they do not discriminate. They are not picky eaters when it comes to humans. Reanimated corpses will attack their friends, roommates, significant others, or family members. They will attack children. And thus, children will turn on their fathers will garden spades and then indulge on his arm like it’s a big turkey drumstick. Do not for a second think you can reason with your loved one once they have been infected.
Now you know some of the possible causes of outbreaks. So, radiation has reanimated the recent dead. A highly contagious test subject escapes from a facility. That guy admitted to the emergency room with a bite mark starts attacking people. Or God plagues us with the hungry, walking dead. Now what?
Well, let’s back up a bit. In one particular situation, we can prevent a zombie apocalypse.
Preventing a Zombie Apocalypse.
The sure way to survive disaster is to not cause one. Therefore, the most important way to survive a zombie outbreak is to prevent one. Here’s how.
- Do not attempt to bring the dead back to life. Please keep in mind the lessons Dr. Frankenstein, pet cemeteries, a monkey’s paw, and video games and movies have taught us about trying to bring back the dead. It has catastrophic results. Let the dead rest.
- Do not attempt to create “super soldiers.” Genetic mutations are just gross. Stick with old fashioned 50 caliber guns and bombs to wage war. Better yet, don’t wage war. Just play well with others.
- Stop funding freaky, inhuman experiments. If a super soldier who can keep fighting after his arm is blown off, sounds too good to be true, IT IS!
But, humans are innately stupid. So, if a top secret government or corporation decides to attempt to regenerate dead tissue through genetic experimentation or virus creation, what next?
There is still hope to prevent a widespread zombie epidemic!
- Corporations, top secret military and government facilities, treat your employees well. Dental and medical coverage (make sure it covers accidental zombie infection) and a clean and comfortable facility with many appealing amenities such as a gym or cable. I doubt the employees at such facilities get out much. Treating you scientists and other employees (including test subjects) well can eliminate a disgruntled employee from purposefully breaking a vial filled with chemical chaos.
- Workers, do not piss each other off. This also could prevent one of your cohorts from purposefully infecting you with a zombification virus.
- Do keep the test subjects, whether human or animal, well secured. Mutated zombie dogs are no longer pets and can very well infect others within the facility.
- Don’t let just any employee near the test subjects or vials containing the contaminated mutagen. Let only those completely aware of the consequences and who are fully trained in handling deadly toxins near the experimental area.
I would also like to appeal to the general public regarding experimentation. There are tips those of us not employed by a secret pharmaceutical or government agency need to follow to prevent a zombie outbreak. Okay, so we find out about some horrid experiment on animals or humans, which is genetically mutating them. You know, like the scientists that grew an ear on a mouse. Freaky and disgusting, but please handle the news safely.
- DO NOT BREAK INTO THE LAB. You do not know exactly what highly contagious situation you are walking into.
- If you decide to break in to a lab, DO NOT touch any of the test animals. Do not release them from their cages.
- In fact, don’t touch anything. Just take your videos or pictures and leave. If you do not heed this advice and decide to be some tree hugging hero, you will be the first to be infected.
But again, humans are stupid and mistakes are bound to happen, even (or especially) in a top secret experimental facility. So someone purposefully or accidentally drops a vial containing zombie mutation infection. Or one of the mutated dogs, super soldiers, or re-animated corpses viciously attacks a scientist or poor janitor. Crap! Your corporation is screwed! But wait! There is still hope of preventing a widespread zombie outbreak!
- Kill the infected attacker and the victim. I guess this means keeping armed guards handy around to handle this part.
- Be sure to utterly destroy the brain of the infected via gunshot wound or extreme blunt force trauma. This will ensure that the undead stay dead this time.
- Be sure not to get infected blood or any other bodily fluid on you. It would be a good idea to wear radiation suits or something of the like, so that if you do get blood or fluids on the suit, you can just strip it off.
- Cease all experimentation, burn all mutagens, and destroy all records of such experiment. It may be your life’s work, but continuing such research is not worth jeopardizing the entire human race for your mad scientist shenanigans.
- Test everyone for traces of the contamination. If anyone else begin mutating or turning in to a zombie, kill them.
- Once it is known that all are clear and not carrying a zombie infection, evacuate the facility.
- Burn or bomb the facility, including those infected with your experimental mutation or virus.
- For the sake of humanity, if you are infected, do not leave the facility! Accept your fate and do not spread your virus to mankind. Thank you.
So these were some steps to follow if only a few were infected when an idiot experiment goes wrong. What if the entire facility is infected before any of these measures can be taken?
- Install a security program which automatically seals each door and exit in the event of a leakage. That way no one gets out in to society.
- Perhaps program an automatic destruction system in the facility that will burn it or blow it up.
- Dear government officials and/or military, DO NOT SEND IN A TEAM OF BAD ASS SPECIAL OPS SOLDIERS TO INVESTIGATE THE DAMAGE! This was the mistake made in the movie Resident Evil, which led to the spreading of the zombie infection. Just destroy the damn facility.
But, alas. A panicked individual with a nasty bite mark succeeds in escaping the first attempt to contain the zombie infestation. The first attempt to prevent an outbreak has failed.
It is now up to the general public to prevent the apocalypse.
The Initial Phase of an Outbreak:
Your neighbor strides onto the street wearing blood spatters on his shirt and bite marks on his skin. He stumbles around, moaning, or charges quickly after his wife and kids. Or that delinquent teenager returns home after being out all night and is missing a few digits or a limb and has a bad limp. His blood coated mouth craves more flesh. Your neighborhood is about to enter the initial phase of a zombie outbreak. During the first stages of such an outbreak, there may be only a few infected roaming around. With a little knowledge, this outbreak can be contained and an apocalyptic epidemic can still be avoided.
Containment: Defend, Destroy, Dispose:
To quickly contain the outbreak, use the three D’s: defend, destroy, and dispose. Each of these go hand in hand and require a team effort.
Defending Your Turf:
Defending is not just about physically fighting zombies yourself. It includes minimizing the amount of people infected to avoid a huge infestation.
If in your home, remain there. Lock all doors, close all curtains, and remain out of the zombies’ view. Don’t roam the neighborhood, hoping to catch a glimpse of the action to post on your Facebook or YouTube. You may catch a bite of the action. Keep in touch with neighbors and nearby friends via phone or computer to monitor how many zombies are roaming about.
Now that you’re safe temporarily, your community has to get rid of the zombies, and there are limited ways to do that.
Destroying the Walking Dead….
Zombies can be killed by a blow that completely destroys the brain. You can beat them in the head with a strong and blunt object. Or stab them through the brain, but this may put you too close to their contageous jaws. Unless the stabbing blow is delivered by an arrow from a cross bow, like in AMC’s The Walking Dead.
The most popular way to destroy zombies is by shooting them in the head. Yet this requires an excellent aim. I would not suggest letting just any Joe or Jane loose with a gun. If you cannot hit zombies in the head, don’t go trigger happy, waste precious ammo, or risk hitting the living. Let experienced shooters handle this situation. Designate hunters, any police officer or soldier living in the neighborhood as the ones who will destroy.
The Destroy part brings up a question: Does beheading kill the living dead? In Day of the Dead, The Walking Dead, and Max Brooks’ novel The Zombie Survival Guide, removing the head makes a zombie immobile. Yet the disembodied head remains moving, chomping, and still infectious.
Once the zombie(s) are down for the final count, you need to Dispose of them. Burning appears to be the best way, as seen in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Make sure the corpses are well out in the open, douse it with something flammable, and set them aflame. Then be sure to completely put out the fire so not to have another disaster on your hands.
So now you are familiar with the Three D’s of surviving the first few zombies to trickle into your neighborhood. Let’s address the next phase, The Outbreak.
If the outbreak calls for a large number of emergency response personnel, there may be an emergency broadcast. Do not change the station to that immature pop deejay. Keep it on the emergency broadcast and listen to it. If during the initial phase of an outbreak, officials instruct you to stay indoors, do so. Heed your grandma’s advice and come inside, or you will catch your death. The lesser number of people roaming the streets in curiosity or confusion means the lesser chance of more people being infected, especially in suburban areas or crowded urban neighborhoods. This will allow emergency response or military to hopefully contain the situation. Staying indoors will minimize panicky people getting behind the wheel of a car and causing accidents. You will also avoid being mistakenly shot by those securing the area.
When instructed to remain in your home, follow these tips:
- Lock all doors, close the curtains tight and close the shades to avoid being seen by the walking dead.
- You may choose to further secure your dwelling by boarding up the doors and windows. Yet the noise from power tools and banging hammers may attract the zombies, especially if there are many lurking in your area. An alternative may be to move heavy furniture in front of your doors and windows, particularly on the first floor.
- Keep a television or radio on to follow possible progress or worsening of the outbreak. Yet, watching your nice big flat screen television may not be a good idea, as the flashes may attract zombies.
- Keep the volume down! Do not blast your television set or radio, as this may attract zombies. Keep it at a volume that can be heard in the same room. Silence your phones. Quickly calm crying children and babies. If you hear a zombie approaching, shut everything off and remain absolutely silent until hearing it leave. When night falls, use minimal lighting, if any at all. Listen to the radio on a low volume to remain updated on the epidemic. Do not watch the giant screen television, as its enormous flashes will attract zombies.
- Rotate sleeping shifts. It will be difficult to sleep during such a time, but sleep is a necessity to humans.
- Carefully try to peak outside to know the number of zombies in your area. If the number is few, perhaps you can come to the aid of screaming neighbors and help destroy the zombie.
- If you have two way radios, keep them close and on low volume. This way, you can contact someone for help and keep updated on how many are still alive in your neighborhood. Contact about zombie sightings can also warn others and help calculate the number of undead in your area, which will help in the event you must leave your home.
- If your home is low on food rations, or you live alone, quickly find a neighbor to stay with. This would be a good time to befriend that weird guy who built the bomb shelter.
Unfortunately, a zombie outbreak can occur in the middle of the day while you are still at work. You may get stuck in your monkey suit with your briefcase or that blue collared uniform. If your place of employment falls within the area instructed to remain indoors, do so until otherwise instructed. If the office area is still clear of the walking dead, yet your home neighborhood or commute is within the infected area, remain at work or arrange to stay with someone who is not in the danger zone.
If your neighborhood becomes over run or officials order an evacuation, leave the area.
- Pack quickly and lightly; some clothes, non-perishable food, plenty to drink, cell phones, two way radios, and weapons such as guns, swords, and blunt objects like baseball bats.
- Go to where you are instructed, especially if it is a military base. Military bases consist of armed soldiers trained to guard and defend. They will also have secure buildings and bunkers.
- AsColumbusinstructed in Zombieland, buckle your seatbelt if leaving in a car. Besides, it’s state law in many places.
- Do not be afraid to run over the walking dead if one or two charges your car. Even if it’s someone you’ve known for years. A zombified best friend is still a zombie and is only out to eat you alive.
- Do remain in control of your car or else wind up a meal on overturned wheels.
- Yet, feel free to run a red light or stop sign if zombies are coming towards your car and there is no cross traffic.
- Know your route. Don’t forget that GPS. If you don’t have a GPS, follow someone who does.
But there are a few major things to consider when evacuating. If you live in a smaller town and have wide open roads to drive on, an evacuation to a safer place may be easy. If you live in a city or close to a major city, evacuation may be complicated and even pose deadly.
Largely populated cities mean a large number of people trying to get away from the infected. This in turn means that thousands upon thousands of people will be packing up cars and heading onto highways. Non panicked humans commuting to work each morning clog up the highways, turning interstates or major routes into parking lots. The same will happen during an evacuation. But hungry zombies will be lurking behind the evacuees strapped in their cars. Perhaps people will notice the dead coming and get out of their cars and run. Or perhaps the walking dead will begin bursting into cars and feasting on the riders. A crowded highway to a horde of hungry zombies equals an all you can eat buffet.