All the men (and most women) I know have one thing in common: They have a zombie contingency plan. If the zombies arise tomorrow, everybody has at least a hazy outline of what, exactly, they would do to survive the coming onslaught. It's the single best part about the zombie mythos: planning your strategy. So I asked everybody I could think of to submit their own zombie contingency plans, and this is but a small sample of what I received:
Since I'm planning on criticizing the plans submitted, it's only fair that I go first. My zombie contingency plan:
I live in the inner city, so I'm pretty well fucked. But I also live in Oregon, which is somewhat sparsely populated outside of the cities. The only way to survive is to get out as fast as possible. To that end, I've looked around and I know that I live within a few blocks of three important things. First is the Gun Room, the scariest fucking gun shop in America. If you want to kill something, the Gun Room not only has the supplies to do it, but they'd probably do it for you at a reasonable fee (caution: "reasonable fees" as dictated by the insane may vary greatly in their definition of "reasonable"). One block away from the Gun Room is the fur supplier/taxidermist. Apart from having warm, tough, weatherproof hides aplenty, they also have complete hunting/survival materials and several items that could make great melee weapons, from old decorative lumberjacking gear to a giant stuffed moose head (come on, what it lacks in practicality it more than makes up for in style). Two blocks away from the Gun Room is the Post Office, and the Post Office has a lot of fully-fueled, well-maintained, simple, rugged vehicles in their high-fenced back lot. They have the keys on premises, and all vehicles have very few windows, but a lot of storage space for supplies. Some of the newer ones do not have driver's side doors, but the older ones have pure steel driver's side doors with old school bolt-locks. They get fair gas mileage, are unlikely to break down and can handle rugged conditions.
I know the backroads to get through to these areas, and I would not leave my transport until I reached them. I would load up on guns, ammo and hunting/outdoor supplies, then grab a Post Office truck and take those same backroads out east where civilization thins out a bit. Once there, I would raid one of the many towns along the off-routes that have populations among the dozens, if that. A small pharmacy, a feed market and a grocery store are all you need now that you're supplied with gear and out of the city. There are plenty of those around, so I wouldn't waste time grabbing anything in a danger zone as hot as the city. Even a roadside gas station has first aid kits, batteries, flashlights and packaged food. I would pick my way back to Central Oregon around the Indian reservations where there is fertile ground and high, flat plateaus in the middle of otherwise even plains. High ground to defend, structures already built, out of the way and you can see anybody coming from literally miles away. In the winter it gets cold enough to freeze, but no blizzards or white out conditions exist. I would wait for the winter and see where to go from there--move north and hope for more permanent settlement or just wait out the worst of it until control is restored.
Pros: It is awesome.
Cons: I once ran face-first into a sliding glass door. I am not competent enough to do any of this. I would probably trip over my own feet and stumble slapstick-style into an undead group hug.
When the zombies appear and start messing with everything, I'm going to rely on you to have planned everything related to our survival. I'll steal a pair of Wheelies to wear so I can glide away when I need to make a speedy exit, but I'll still have good traction when running. I'm also going to pack up our nice sheets because I'm sure you never thought about what linens we would be sleeping on while we're on the run. Before the Internet goes down, I'll get right on making our Zombie Mix CD. Can we have Fiber One yogurt in the zombie apocalypse? Being constipated wouldn't help our cause out any...
Pros: It is adorable.
Cons: You will be dead within minutes.
Well, I workout everyday so that I can be faster than a slowly moving shuffle. I also try to hang out with at least one person who is slower than me (obese or elderly) so that when the zombies attack I can leave them to be eaten. I'll miss my grandma, but a zombie apocalypse is no laughing matter.
Pros: Check the byline, again.That's her real name. Jennifer. Fucking. BONESTEEL. I have no doubt she will not only survive the apocalypse intact, but quite possibly will do so in a silver rhinestone tanktop, and eventually end up running a methane fueled trading post with a mentally handicapped giant and a little person.
Cons: Lacks detail. Sure you're going to feed them old people, but where are you going to feed them those old people, and which old people go first? Details are important. Not like old people.
Destroy the steps to my front porch, and barricade the first floor windows of my house. Wait for the shit to hit the fan, get as many friends and loved ones over to safety.
Few days later.
After the mass panic has resided a bit, mainly due to more people being infected and dying, scavenge as many supplies as possible. I live in a large fraternity house, so staying put may not be such a bad idea. Load up on food, guns, ammo and supplies. If the outlook for the house is bleak, attempt to clear out and move in to one of the large freshman dorms that were fallout shelters during the cold war.
Start a small farming operation on the roof of the building, or the court yard of the house, depending on the location.
If still alive, attempt to lower the zombie population--i.e. kill the fuck out of them--and look for survivors.
Start over? kill as many zombies as possible.
Pros: Low expectations. There is no grand scheming here to distract from the day to day survival, and the simpler a plan of action is, the less there is to go wrong.
Cons: You are stuck with frat guys forever. "James Bro-lin, that sounds like a sausage party! Who brought the chicks?" "It's the zombie apocalypse, Broseph Stalin, no reason we can't have a kegger!" And so on. You will last two days before the madness takes you.
Basically using my access to multiple arms and my connections with the chief of police, I would hunker down in the armory with my guns and crack. All I really need anyways.
Luckily there is a retirement home/community only a few blocks from my house. Plenty of applesauce and boardgames for me; plenty of slow and senile people for the zombies.
Pros: Another plan that relies heavily on feeding old people to the undead. It is nice to see that practicality is taking front seat here, with such concerns as "love" or "morality" in the back. Way Back. Like in a trailer. At the gas station. Twenty-two miles ago. Which is now covered in zombies.
Cons: Again, lacking in details. It seems like everybody planning on using the elderly as zombie chaff have little else to go off of. What happens when the elderly run out? Much like feeding wild animals, you have taught the zombies to rely on your location to provide free food. The difference here being that when you show up without food for the pigeons, their revolt does little but soil your suit, whereas if you show up empty handed to a zombie feeding, you end up being that which they soil their suits with.
Alright my plan is actually overall very simple, but is broken down into several steps so that they can be altered based on a few factors: the type of outbreak, heavily infested areas which would be to dangerous to attempt at passing, survivor error or random events out of our control.
Step 1: Determine the type of outbreak.
Is this an airborne strain? Is it necromancy? Is it passed mainly through bites or can in be transferred by clawing or open wounds? Is this the fault of a biological weapons facility under the guise of a pharmaceutical company? This also applies to what type of zombies are we dealing with? Are they fast? Are they smart? Can they climb? Have there been odd mutations in the strain causing almost superhuman alterations in some of the victims? Once all these factors are determined, THEN and only then may you proceed, because if you just run out of your house waving a machete in hopes that you'll make it, you'll be deader than Liam Neeson's wife. (Too soon?)
(Editor's Note: Yes, yes it is. But fear not, there will be little room for political correctness in the zombie apocalypse. Zombies are a notoriously "blue crowd." Get it? There's always time for a zinger!)Step 2: Gather your team.
We've all thought about it. If you're reading these plans right now, you've thought about it. If there is an outbreak, who will you take, and who will you leave behind? Sadly enough this usually means leaving your parents and siblings behind unless they have some sort of useful skill. That is all what it boils down to. Do they have a useful skill? It's a good idea to bring a wide range of skilled persons with you. Bring the strong, the intelligent and even bring yourself a couple of slow moving people to put a bit of meat between you and the horde of ravenous bastards. It's important, though, to not bog your team down with too many useless members. You may still have some shred of humanity left in you that makes you want to save that child, but he's just going to slow you down. Try to keep your team tight and essential.
Step 3: Get some supplies.
Unless you plan on eating canned cranberry sauce for years and beating the infected away with rocks, chances are you're going to need some supplies. The smart zombie survivor already has at least a bladed weapon and a bit of food at the ready, but it won't last you very long. After your team is together you should head towards a large department store such as Super Target, Wal-Mart or Costco but be sure to scope it out first. Big store means a lot of customers which means a lot of infected. Remember your goal is to survive not be reckless. Now places like Wal-Mart all have an outdoor survival section and this should be your first stop. Grab axes, machetes, saws and everything that might be an essential. Next grab tools and medical supplies and then finally grab food. You're looking for food that will last a long time, canned food, cereal etc.
Step 4: Move to safety.
Now the common tactic for zombie safety is to find a military base or a heavily fortified area nearby. That's not enough. With the amount of people who will turn infected you'll quickly find yourself overrun by the horde. The safest option is to steal a puddlejumper aircraft (or befriend some one who can fly a plane) and get to either Hawaii or Alaska. I'm going with Hawaii on this one. One of the small islands is best. Being disconnected from the mainland, there is a good chance that the infection hasn't spread that far, and if it HAS then with a smaller population to deal with it will be easier to hold back the horde. Yes it is very important when on the island to locate a heavily fortified structure and build up your defenses but it is equally important to locate a supply of food, and tools.
Step 5: Stay smart and stay safe.
Now it is a matter of waiting it out. No doubt you will lose some allies. This comes with the territory. The important part is that you stay alive. Keep your base of operations organized and send out for supplies only when needed. Clear the corpses from the base and always keep someone awake to look out. And always keep your weapons on the up and up. Like Three Dog says "Never forget the importance of periodic weapon maintenance; rifle, pistol, police baton, I don't care which. If your weapon is falling apart, the only wasteland asshole it's going to kill is you. So be smart. Salvage those parts and make repairs whenever you can."
Pros: Comprehensive, complete and largely lacking in any of that pesky mercy or distracting human sentiment.
Cons: Largely lacking in human sentiment means you are unlikely to "befriend" anybody, much less a puddlejumper pilot, who will, regardless, have nowhere near enough fuel to get to Hawaii. You will die together 1/4 of the way there, silently despising one another as you sink into the ocean.
So I go to school in Maine, and I'm right on the coast. I have a couple of family members who live further up the coast of Maine on an island that's pretty much 95 percent redneck hicks, and five percent deer. The plan is essentially this: When the zombie outbreak finally does occur, my cousins are going to hijack the ferry used to shuttle cars from the mainland to the island. They're going to float her down the coast until they get to my school. Myself, and any other unsullied survivors will swim out to the ferry, where we will begin the trip back to the island where we will make our stand. The amount of guns, alcohol and pissed-off lobster men will ensure a small amount of relative safety until winter, when the zombies freeze. Resupply missions will then be sent out to look for survivors and other food. Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, I have discussed this plan in great length with my cousins.
Pros: The ferry transport is a great idea for an organized evacuation.
Cons: Unless you know some ferry captains, you're probably not getting out of the docks. Survivors swimming to boat could be infected. Lobster men are notoriously unreliable folk, unless you're referring to the new roster of the Crash Test Dummies. Those guys are fucking solid.
Technically I have two zombie plans: fast zombie (a la 28 Days Later) or slow zombies (like Shaun of the Dead). The fast zombie is pretty simple: First, get food and supplies such as Spaghetti-o's, canned foods, Twinkies, etc. Then procure a nice bank vault and a shotgun.
The slow zombie is a bit more in-depth: Walk (briskly) to a mountainous area that's hard to climb. I seriously doubt I'll need to run. Also, it might be preferable to go to a mountain in Alaska as the cold temperatures added to their already low body temps could turn them to corpse-sicles
Pros: Multiple plans for multiple scenarios. Too often we fall victim to the arrogant assumption that we know what the zombie apocalypse will be like.
Cons: Bank vault = low on oxygen, low on supplies and hard to gain access to. Alaskan mountain = also hard to gain access to... unless you live on an Alaskan mountain. In which case, you're most likely there precisely because of the fear of something like a zombie apocalypse, and so probably also have your stores, weapons and hermit-like persona at the ready. You have made your plan and are living it, so congratulations! (P.S. Sweet beard and flannel shirt, Alaskan native! You totally don't look psycho or nothin'!)
Step 2: Gather weapons. We were going to do this by getting my friend's husband to donate all his crazy-ass hunting equipment, so we would have the guns themselves, in addition to the ammo and the ability to make more ammo ('cause most drunken hunters make their own ammo.)
(Editor's Note: This is a terrifying factoid.)Step 3: Invade a grocery store, preferably one that is bigger then a local grocery store, but not as big as a Wal-Mart. The reason being that Wal-Marts usually have an insane number of entrances/exits, while the smaller ones don't have enough food to sustain said "homies." Also, attempt to find a grocery store that has a liquor license, because let's be honest, what's more fun then blowing the heads of the undead while drunk off your ass?
Then it's pretty much just barricading the doors with a heavy object (we figured the ice machine would be heavy enough to block the doors, and big enough to cover the whole door. If your ice machine isn't big enough, then proceed to blow the fuck out of any zombies that try to get in, then use their rotting bodies as a natural barricade; the smell will be annoying at first, but not as annoying as being eaten alive by your dead grandmother). Finally, use the phone to contact others that perhaps have more guns.
NOTE: If no one is reachable by phone, then hook a music playing device to the overhead speakers and blast some heavy ass death metal, because not only is it fun to kill things while listening to death metal, its also a great way for passersby of an un-zombified nature to know that there are other non-zombies occupying the structure.
Pros: It's always good to know a drunken, mentally unstable ammunition maker. Your plan, from the corpse-barricade to the simple aside that it is "always fun to kill things while listening to death metal," terrifies me.
Cons: Grocery stores use display windows as basic marketing tools. The front of nearly every grocery store, regardless of size, is made up of large glass planes to show off the merchandise. It's the same logic that put those windows there in the first place that is going to screw you: It's there to put food on display.
I am writing this from a fully and completely realistic point of view, I add none of the frivolous magical properties of a ghoul or zombie, and disregard the illogical completely. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, takes the first part of the book explaining the virus "Solanum," and I am going to work off of that idea, using the same name. It is that concept alone that I am working with; that it is a virus. All other concepts are completely scientifically based and we will explore the possibility that a virus such as Solanum exists in nature and that it has the ability to infect a hosts brain cells (neurons), first by entering the circulatory system via bodily fluid interaction of an infected individual and an uninfected individual, and finally making its way to the neuronal cells and manipulating said cells. I will disregard the communicability of 100 percent used in the book in favor of a more realistic number, 99.4 percent as used in The Stand by Stephen King for a man-made virus (given that that is the most likely scenario for the creation of this virus). Critics may say that this is not a "zombie" contingency plan, and to them I say nay, it depends on your definition of "zombie." Plus, I find the idea of realism much more horrifying than fiction. Fiction you can brush off as being something implausible... The following may be fiction, but it is very plausible.
Skip this if you don't give a fuck about biology:
In order to realistically write a zombie contingency plan, one must have knowledge of how a zombie functions in order to exploit their weaknesses and predict their attacks. I am telling everybody right fucking now, the anatomy of the zombies outlined in The Zombie Survival Guide is impossible. The zombies would disintegrate, with cells lysing on a scale so grand that there is no way they could eat you/pass on the virus before turning into a pile of mush, let alone have the capacity of movement. Therefore, I am about to discredit any possibility in the known world for a human body to function without the proper systems in place. A virus is considered "pseudoliving" which means that it is not technically alive by the standards of science. Without the host cells machinery, a virus cannot grow or replicate. Thus, a virus must take control of the host cells machinery and use that machinery to create its own DNA and subsequent proteins. This hinges on one very important point, the cell must function as it has always functioned. It needs glucose, fat or protein to begin the aerobic respiration that uses oxygen as a final electron acceptor in the path to making ATP (energy) to run the metabolic processes of the cell.
The implications of this are great, the zombie has to have working lungs to bring oxygen into the system, working circulatory system to transfer said oxygen along with nutrients and wastes, and systems which can eliminate said wastes. This brings into light the very real weaknesses of the zombie. It must be "living" for all intents and purposes, but that does not mean it will be easy to kill. Here's the kicker: The virus can manipulate the cells. The neuronal cells that stop replicating in adult humans are once again capable of regeneration, a virus can lie dormant in a cell for very long periods of time (as evidenced by HIV, which progresses into AIDs once the virus decides to lyse the cells releasing the virus into the system) and make the cell replicate with viral DNA in the nucleus creating hundreds of cells with viral DNA in them. This means the virus will make the neuronal cells replicate, creating millions of new neurons each with viral DNA in them, each with the ability to control more of the processes of the human brain. One may also imply that the zombie is much smarter than your average human being, with a larger number of neuronal cells capable of propagating larger numbers of signals at a faster speed. I contest the idea that zombies are stumbling creatures with an off-kilter gate and little hand-eye coordination.
I believe that this hypothetical virus would create extremely intelligent humans which it would have full control over, by producing the proteins and enzymes of its own DNA rather than that of the original cell, it would be fully plausible that the human infected with this virus would be controlled by the desires of the virus, which would be to infect new hosts. Also, the infected individual would not be the same person they were in their lives with everything from memories to basic wants and desires being manipulated and changed by the virus. The zombie would also have a heightened set of sensory systems, and it's plausible that the neural signals from their external body are blocked by the virus in the CNS, reducing and possibly eliminating the effects of pain or touch sensation. Furthermore, they may act with a hive mentality, working towards a common goal (and remember, they're smart), and their circulatory system may be routed in order to increase the amount of blood to the muscles, increasing their strength and agility. The most horrific realization: They may look completely normal. The virus does not necessarily impact their vocal chords, and they would look like a regular human being. Their behavior would be notably different, but they could pass the virus on before the realization of what has happened is fully recognized.
With this knowledge in place, we can begin to determine what will and what will not work. Quarantines will be key in containing the virus to large areas (in the range of regions to complete countries). Given our inability to distinguish the zombies from the humans, large quarantine areas will be key. All air and sea ports should be shut down, and control of the army and air bases is essential. A 99.4 percent communicable virus can most likely become airborne, especially since viral particles are pseudoliving and can enter a dormant stage if not active in a cell (such is the case when they are housed within a water molecule, such as on a humid day). Dry climates are best due to such conditions, especially since a zombie lacks any other desire than to pass on its virus and thus does not drink, dehydration would be a good way to defeat them. Other ways to kill the zombies via natural causes would be to expose them to harsh environmental conditions, such as the extreme hot or cold, high saline, low/high pH and anoxic environments all fit the bill. Thus, the best areas to flee to would be the deserts, the higher and lower altitudes and the poles. The worst places would be the mountains, valleys, jungles and tropics.
Also, since they are human we can kill them if it comes down to that. We would want to see them coming given that a more intelligent being would outsmart us in a terrain war using the mountains or valleys. The plains and deserts are ideal for such a situation. Saskatchewan, where you can watch your dog run away for three days, is a good place to be for a zombie apocalypse. This is where the plan gets sleazy and corrupt. We need to get rid of these zombies before they kill us all, and we have to do it in a way that causes the least amount of damage, least bloodshed (especially into the water systems; I'll say it again, viruses are pseudoliving, they can live in the soil and water forever until it attaches to a host cell whose machinery it can manipulate) and the most successful. Thus we will need two plans, one for "the bait" and one for "the survivors." You're reading the survivors guide. The bait will be those that believe a virus can evoke a stage of being "undead" in which these things cannot be killed and the mountains and valleys should be used to hide from and trick them.
The survivors guide is for those that know these fuckers are smarter than us, and would kick our ass in a terrain based war of wit. Trust me, this is necessary. Think of the people we could get to follow the bait guide? Bush, Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, etc. Man, I'm beginning to WELCOME the zombie apocalypse. Anyways, we can lure the zombies into the valleys and mountains, from there dams can be taken out and landslides created provided we still have control of the army bases (I thank you Wright brothers). Meanwhile, safe zones can be created and established in areas where the weather would kill any remaining zombies in a disposable manner (such as through freezing, and might I add that if you freeze a zombie it would be much like freezing a human, where the plasma and extra/intracellular fluid freezes into crystals which would tear the cells apart resulting in death). Due to the high communicability, the zombie bodies will have to be destroyed, I'm thinking a controlled nuclear blast in the areas the zombies were lured to. Fire is a good way to kill a virus, since even the pseudoliving cannot deny the destructive powers of heat to proteins which make up their outer coat. Thus, to the areas where any remaining zombies fled to and eventually died due to extreme environmental conditions, let the forest fires reign.
Note: this plan is kind of geared toward North and South America following the quarantine, it can be applied to Europe as well. Japan, if they got hit with this virus, they're kind of screwed. Britain, you're screwed. Australia... well you guys have all that poisonous stuff, so I'm pretty sure the zombies are afraid of you. China, fucking nuke them if this happens, because with that high of a population they are fucked. Canada, Russia and the Scandinavian countries will pull through nicely, and the US, if you guys don't go all batshit on me, you'll be alright (I'm talking to you Utah, you and your Mormons, lol.)
Pros: Holy shit. Easily the most well thought out, well reasoned response received. Logical, intelligent and practical.
Cons: You're no fun. You ruined zombies! You ruined everything and I don't like this game anymore and I'm going home.
Find more from Robert on Twitter, Facebook or his own site, I Fight Robots. Bring ammo and first aid supplies; food will be provided (you.)