You know how it is, you come across a great word, one that just rolls off the tongue, and you immediately want to find an excuse to use it. Since I’ve been writing a lot of zombie/infected short stories and flash fiction in the last couple of months, I’ve been building up a small collection of such words that are related to grizzly ways for a life to come to an end. Despite their gruesome connotations, there’s just something about the sound of them that really appeals. They aren’t necessarily the easiest words to weave seamlessly into a story so I thought I’d post them here just for an excuse to use them in a zombie-related context.
Decapitation: As the newscaster says in Shaun Of The Dead, ‘… the assailants can be stopped by removing the head or destroying the brain. I will repeat that: by removing the head or destroying the brain.’ And removing the head is just another way of saying, you guessed it, decapitation. In a zombie apocalypse, whether it’s with a machete, a katana or a chainsaw, decapitation is widely recognised as one of the best ways to kill the walking dead.
Evisceration: This involves the removal of the internal organs, usually with a large blade of some kind or other and to the extreme (and often fatal) detriment of the person involved. It’s pretty much synonymous with disembowelment (a good word in it’s own right). Come the zombie apocalypse, this is the most likely way you’ll go if the undead get hold of you as they tear into the tender flesh of your belly. Of course, you can also eviscerate a zombie too. It probably won’t stop it but it might slow it down a bit as it drags it’s guts behind it through the dirt.
Exsanguination: Exsanguination is just fancy way of saying blood loss but it sounds so much better (the word – not the blood loss!). The average human has about eight pints of blood sloshing around in their veins and if you lose any more about three of them, there’s a good chance you’ll die. It doesn’t matter whether you lose it fast and all at once (if you severe the artery at the top of your leg the blood will spurt a good six feet in the air as it gushes from your body and you’ll last only a matter of minutes if you don’t stop it) or slowly but steadily over a longer period of time (such as when you have a cut that won’t stop bleeding), either way you’ll end up dead. If you’re looking to kill zombies, don’t think about exsanguination – being dead, the blood doesn’t flow through a zombies veins so they won’t bleed out no matter how deep you cut them. You, however, can so don’t let those flesh-munchers get too close.
Immolation: Coming from the Latin immolare, meaning ‘to sacrifice’, immolation is now most commonly used to refer to setting someone on fire. It’s something which first came into western consciousness when a Buddhist monk killed himself by setting himself on fire (known as self-immolation) in 1963 as a protest against the Vietnam war. Regardless of it’s gruesome meaning, immolation has a great ring to it. In the zombie apocalypse, immolation is probably the only way to kill a zombie that doesn’t involve inflicting brain damage or (to go back to the first word on this list) decapitation.
Defenestration: This is one of my favourite words, mostly because you wouldn’t think there’d be a specific word in the English language for being forcibly ejected from a window but there it and it’s defenestration. The word is most frequently associated with the ‘Defenestration of Prague’ in 1618 but it can refer to anything being thrown from a window (I defenestrated an old computer printer once because it kept jamming every time I tried to print something – in my defence it had been a long day and the machine had been asking for it for weeks). Technically defenestration doesn’t necessarily have to result in death but it frequently does due to lacerations from the glass (if the window hasn’t been opened first) or the fall from a great height. In the zombie apocalypse, defenestration is one of the fastest ways to get a pesky zombie out of your safe house but let’s face it you shouldn’t have let it get in in the first place, should you?. Oh and if you’ve boarded up the windows properly, defenestrating a zombie ain’t going to be easy!
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK, and available as an ebook and in print in the US from the 21st March 2013. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.