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Thursday, August 28, 2014


Steve Cole's further thoughts on the zombie apocalypse. Given the recent outbreak of super-Ebola, it's clear that the viral revenge of Gaia is only a matter of time.

1. How you survive the first phase depends on how fast the apocalypse happens and how many people survive. If it's fairly slow (say, a month) then when it reaches the worst stage you're screwed. The grocery stores are all empty and the food production and shipment system shut down long before now. If it's very fast, then the stores (gun stores, food stores, any stores) are full of stuff. If the number of living people is small, you can just go to a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club, lock the doors, kill the zombies inside, and hang out with months of food until something happens. If a significant number of people are still alive (and it will be the gun-carrying ones who are still alive on the third day) then you may have to fight for supplies, which could be really bad, so spend those days barricading your Wal-Mart fortress.

2. Say you find a building. You have several choices as to what to do. Ignoring it is easy; just move on. Looting it is worth time if it looks like it was occupied at some point. For a very quick look, check the kitchen (food), bathrooms (medicine), and the master bedroom (guns). Doing this is done on the fly, and any attempt to barricade or defend the building is minimal. Post a lookout if you can spare someone. A more deliberate search, taking two or more hours, includes every cabinet, drawer, closet, maybe extending to the basement or attic. This requires an effort to barricade and defend the place as you'll be here long enough to attract zombies. The next choice is to use it as an overnight camp. This involves an hour or more of defense work, thinking in layers, such as a second line of defense if the zombies break into one entry. Don't forget an escape route. Staying the night is not just a good night's sleep and some quiet campfire conversation; search the place thoroughly, including vents and any hiding places. The final option is to use the building as a temporary base camp, staying several days while you loot nearby buildings. The secure base camp gives you a place to stockpile what you find, sort through it, and eat what you cannot carry. You might even stash the rest of it for a possible return visit, but you're probably not going to come back. In that case, you might still want to leave the building as a secure haven, clearly placing the food or whatever else there is in open view, leaving a few notes about what nearby houses you already looted, and securing the entries in ways humans can easily enter but zombies cannot. You might even spray paint something like "safe house" on the outside.

3. It seems to me that one issue in the Zombie Apocalypse is going to be keeping track of the date. This can be important since you want to know when winter is coming. More to the point, if you leave notes for others you could say "We were here on October 3rd 2016 and went to South Podunk" so that others know if they can follow and join you. With no electronics, you're down to marking dates in a diary and even writing down enough notes that you can tell one day from another and be sure you didn't skip or double mark a day. The question is whether anyone reading your messages was accurate in keeping track of the days. Knowing you went west two days ago is one thing, but reading that someone left on a date that is inaccurate is less useful.

4. Much is written about the best weapons for the zombie war. Besides the obvious (one each: assault rifle, pistol, machete, big knife) you may find yourself without weapons due to some situation. The easiest thing to find is some sort of club, which might work if you don't have to face more than one zombie at a time. The easiest real weapon to find is a knife. While a good combat knife is preferable, any big kitchen knife is better than nothing. Absent a firearm, several strong knives with blades of a few inches or more will at least give you a fighting chance. When you get time, make a spear. You need a piece of wood maybe four or five feet long and at least an inch in diameter. Hardwood is preferable, and shovel handles can be swell. Shape it to a point with your knife. (You can "fire harden" the spear point by holding it over a flame then scraping away anything charred or burned.) That gives you something that can penetrate a skull, keep a zombie a bit farther out of reach, and use two hands to extract if it gets stuck. If you only have one knife, make some extras by sharpening stakes (a foot long) and using them first. Driven by both hands, they will penetrate a zombie skull, or you can aim for the eye sockets.
5. Consider making a pistol lanyard from parachute cord or good string. I know it makes you look like a sissy but this is the apocalypse and being able to drop an empty pistol (that stays attached to your body when you run away) in order to grab your knife has a certain advantage.