Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, Part II

Last month's guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse was so easy to write popular that I felt I must expand upon it. Please enjoy these bonus tips for use during an uprising of the undead:

Choosing a Melee Weapon

Team fortress Engineer

You may have seen crowbars recommended in that other zombie survival guide. Well, I guess that’s the kind of cut-rate advice you expect from an author who never had to fight their way through a mall full of ghouls on the way to looting a Spencer’s Gifts.

The problem with a crowbar is that, while a strike with the hook end is powerful, it’s also liable to get stuck in the zombie. A crowbar also lacks a proper grip, and will certainly slip out of your hands if you’re sweating. (And you will be sweating, because the mall lost air conditioning when the power went out.) Either way, your weapon’s gone and now the zombies are swarming you. Within seconds, you're being eaten alive and some gristled old survivalist has taken the last “Who Needs Big Tits with an Ass Like Mine?” t-shirt.

It's a disaster.

Instead, you want a weapon that’s light and easy to carry, because you’ll be running for your life A LOT. It has to be balanced close to the grip, so it’ll be nimble and won't tire you out after a couple swings. It has to have decent reach, the better to keep zombies at bay. And it has to deliver enough punch to stun a zombie.

And that's it. Because this is an emergency weapon, an escape weapon, to be used only when stealth, guns, and your running shoes have already failed you. Its purpose is not to kill zombies. Its purpose is to keep zombies back long enough for you to get away, and maybe grab a keychain that makes fart noises on your way out.

So look for weapons that were designed for swinging, like swords, golf clubs, and yes, even baseball bats. A certain supposed zombie survivor thinks that a baseball bat is not sturdy enough. Well, you know what, putative expert who I bet actually spent the last zombie apocalypse cowering in some underground government lab and not fighting zombies at all? If your baseball bat is breaking on zombie skulls, then you're putting too much power into your swing. You've made the classic newbie mistake of going for the solid kill, a strategy that's going to leave you exhausted and eaten. And then I'm going come along and grab all your loot, and everyone will know how great my caboose is, even when they only see me from the front.

And if your baseball bat does crack after repeated usage, it's no biggie. Just replace it. Why would you want to keep a weapon that has zombie ichor all over it, anyway? That shit’s infectious, not to mention disgusting. I recommend looking for fresh bats at the athletic grounds of a middle school. That way, any zombies you run into while weaponless will be pipsqueaks anyway.

Here’s another pro tip: Keep a smaller melee weapon—like a blackjack or just a short stick—strapped to your wrist. At some point during the zombie apocalypse, I guarantee you'll end up crawling through a small space, like a ventilation shaft or a sewer pipe. In such tight quarters, you'll have a hard time getting to your primary melee weapon.

In fact, it might be a good idea to start keeping a small, blunt weapon strapped to your wrist right now. Just ask yourself: How many times this week have I been chatting with someone and wished I could pull a blackjack out of my sleeve and just clonk them on the head with it?

If you're anything like me, it's a lot.

Choosing a Shelter

Fallout: The Vault of the Future

Rule #1: Don’t shelter in a mall. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t shelter in a fucking mall.

I mean, sure, it’s fun and all. There’s all kinds of great stuff to loot. But that’s why you loot it and get the hell out. If you’re just hanging around in the mall, you’ve misunderstood one of the two critical steps in looting, which are: 1) Steal shit. 2) Run away.

You don’t bunk down where the loot is. I mean, think about it. There's all kinds of yummy food at the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you crawl into the dairy case and try to live there, does it? So why, oh why, would you shelter in a fucking mall?

Instead, consider the following prerequisites for a zombie survival shelter:

•    Hard to get into
•    Easy to get out of
•    Away from population centers
•    Plenty of storage space for provisions
•    Off-street parking
•    Stainproof carpets

That last one is often overlooked, but trust me, you'll be glad in the end.

Once you've selected your shelter and evicted any zombies who are unliving there, you probably think your job is done. Time to kick back, relax, and work through lingering interpersonal conflicts with your band of survivors, right? Well, with that attitude, you might as well hang out a sign that says, "Free Lunch."

Instead of hunkering down, get to work! Wall up outer doors and first-floor windows—with brick and mortar if possible, and by piling up stones and sandbags if not. This not only stops zombies from pushing their way through the structural weak points in your walls, but will also keep solicitors away. (Which is much the same thing.)

Don't bother boarding up doors and windows, unless you've at least built a deck once in your life and know what the hell you're doing. Unsupported boards just won't hold up to a significant press of zombies, especially if you're nailing them into decorative windowsills from the inside, in haphazard criss-cross patterns with no structural support. I mean, seriously man, if that's your barricade, you might as well pile up clown shoes to keep the zombies away.

Once you have all the entrances and exits sealed off, how are you going to get in and out of your shelter? A rope ladder dropped from the roof is a good start. Even an ordinary ladder will prove difficult for zombies to negotiate, because zombies don't have much experience with home improvement. But the wobblier and more unsteady the ladder, the better it is for your purposes.

But however difficult your shelter is to get into, make sure it's real easy to get out of. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a bunch of smarty-pants survivors make an impressive shelter, only to be trapped inside when some enterprising zombies find their way in. Be prepared for zombie infiltration, especially if you've recently refused to let a band of derpy misfits inside your impregnable bunker. Because, in that case, the odds of a zombie outbreak within your walls increases to almost 100%. Zombies may be inhuman monsters, but they have a surprising appreciation for poetic justice.

So make your nigh-impregnable shelter really easy to escape from. Scatter old mattresses, soft furniture, or even bags of leaves outside the walls, so you can jump to a soft landing when you inevitably discover that some twit’s been hiding his zombie-bitten daughter in your basement.

A Few Final Words of Advice
Zombie Peanuts

When faced with unusually intelligent, brain-hungry zombies who don't go down even when shot in the head and seem to retain their human personalities (except for the brain eating thing)? It's best to just give in and let yourself be infected.

I'm serious. They're smart, determined, unkillable monsters, and they're inevitably going to get you in the end. But if you let them kill you on their terms, they're going to eat your brains. By intentionally suffering a small bite (or just inhaling some crematorium ashes,) you can die with dignity and avoid having your precious frontal cortex gnawed on. It's better to rise from the dead intact than as an ambulatory, headless corpse. Just think of it as joining the winning team.

Here are some more quick tips that may come in handy:

Not in the mood to put together a zombie preparedness kit? You can order a pre-assembled kit at Just add guns and stir.

Never attempt to rehabilitate a zombie. Bub is not your clumsy, lovable friend, even if he does look adorable holding that telephone.

Don’t underestimate the value of having a dog. Dogs are loyal and nutritious.

Two words: Sports Bra

Priests have no special power over zombies, unless they know kung-fu or own a truck with a harpoon gun on it.

If you ever receive good news, and it seems like your long ordeal is finally over, look behind you immediately.

Corollary: Never say, “Thank goodness that’s finally over.” Ever. About anything. Just don't.

Second Corollary: If anyone in your group is stupid enough to say, "Thank goodness that's finally over," just start running. Don't stop to grab your things. Don't even look back. Just run.

To maximize your chances of surviving the zombie apocalypse, you can never have enough guns, enough canned goods, or enough haunting memories of your troubled past.

If you lack the nerve to kill your former friends when they rise from the dead, at least have the good sense to tie infected companions securely to the bed.

Dawn of the Dead Rodger
"I'm going to level with you, Rodge. The face cream isn't working."
A moat will not stop zombies, even if it’s filled with sharks. Zombies are surprisingly good at fighting sharks, and you could end up with zombie sharks. You do not want zombie sharks. Trust me.

If you walk with a pronounced limp or have a skin condition, wear a hat that says, “Not a Zombie”.

When facing hordes of shambling, slow-moving zombies, it’s best to walk away at a brisk pace. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out. As a survival strategy, walking away at a brisk pace is far superior to standing still and shrieking.

The zombie apocalypse is no time to be hosting a dinner party.

Finally, and most important of all: Do not taunt happy fun zombie.


If you liked this article, check out part one!

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