Archive | July, 2013

Tiredness Kills – A Flash Fiction Story

31 Jul

As I speed along the highway, weaving through the abandoned and burnt out cars, I spot a rusting sign at the side of the road proclaiming ‘Tiredness Kills – Take a Break’ and I can’t help but laugh. I’d always thought such public safety warnings were pointless but now the world’s changed, I can see it’s prophetically useful advice. After all, the last guy I knew who fell asleep when he should have been doing something else woke up to find a zombie chewing his face off. He was meant to be on watch but just couldn’t keep his eyes open and it crept up on him while he slept; so you see the sign’s right, tiredness can kill you, especially in the world in which we all now live.



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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Reading The Skies – An Essential Post-Apocalyptic Survival Skill

29 Jul

How do you find out what the weather’s going to be like later today, or tomorrow, or even the day after that? Most likely you turn your TV over to the Weather Channel, go to your favourite weather site on the web or fire up a weather app on your smart phone. Yet, if (or should that be when?) civilisation collapses and you’re left fighting for you life against the zombies which now rule the land, none of these options will be available to you, and all you’ll have to rely on is your own weather forecasting skills. I know what you’re thinking: ‘If there’s zombies every where, why the hell am I going to need to know what the weather’s doing? I mean, I’m not exactly going to be throwing a barbecue and inviting the neighbours round, am I?

However, you couldn’t be more wrong. Sudden storms can bring down your defences if you’re not prepared for them, while high winds, heavy rain and unexpected frosts can damaged crops and food supplies. Lightening strikes can start bush fires and tornadoes destroy buildings. Snow storms and flash floods can trap you out in the open if they catch you unawares, while hurricanes can level whole cities (or whatever’s left of them!). All of this is on top of having to face the daily struggles to find enough food and avoid being eaten by the rampaging dead. Yet, the weather needn’t be a problem for you if you know what’s coming and can prepare for it ahead of time. It’s only when it catches you with your guard down that it’s dangerous.

So how can you tell what’s coming your way? The secret here is being able to read the skies and unlock the information they holds. Mostly this is about knowing what different cloud formations (or lack there of) mean.

Lenticular clouds, like these ones, can appear dramatic and can indicate that a weather front is coming.

Lenticular clouds, like these ones, can appear dramatic and can indicate that a weather front is coming. Photo copyright: C.M. Drysdale.

For example, dramatic cloud formations on the horizon can mean bad weather’s coming your way. In particular, keep an eye out for clouds, such as lenticular ones, which can indicate turbulence up in the sky and can indicated a front is coming, bringing with it rain, winds and cooler temperatures.

Small fluffy Stratus clouds high in the sky usually mean good settled weather.

Small fluffy Stratus clouds high in the sky usually mean good settled weather. Photo copyright: C.M. Drysdale.

While lenticular clouds indicate a turbulent atmosphere above your head, the high fluffy Stratus clouds indicate stability, and so mean good weather. When you see these clouds you know there is little you need to worry about, well apart from the fact the world has come to an end … the zombies of course!

Cumulus clouds develop as hot air rises and given enough time can develop into cumulonimbus, or thunder, clouds.

Cumulus clouds develop as hot air rises and given enough time can develop into cumulonimbus, or thunder, clouds. Photo copyright: C.M. Drysdale.

Then there’s the convection clouds. These are isolated cloud formations created by warm air rising up into the sky. They start out as little puffy balls, but given time, they can build, first into Cumulus and then Cumulonimbus clouds which can bring sudden, torrential rain, strong winds, thunder and lightning.

Tendrils of cloud reaching down from the base of thunder clouds towards the ground are the first signs that a tornado is one its way.

Tendrils of cloud reaching down from the base of thunderclouds towards the ground are the first signs that a tornado is one its way. Photo copyright: C.M. Drysdale.

If you see Cumulonimbus clouds forming in your vicinity, you’ll want to find shelter fast, but you still need to keep an eye on them. Why? Because given the right conditions, thunder clouds can turn into tornadoes, and given the damage tornadoes can do, you need to be able to tell if one is forming in the skies nearby. The key is to keep an eye out for little tendrils of cloud reaching down from the base of the cloud towards the ground. These are the first signs that a twister might be on its way. The next sign is when they start to develop into funnel clouds. If they do, that’s the time to get out of the way, and fast, because you don’t want to be anywhere near it when it touches down.

Vultures circling in the sky means death on the ground, and in a post-apocalyptic world, that can mean zombies too!

Vultures circling in the sky means death on the ground, and in a post-apocalyptic world, that can mean zombies too! Photo copyright: C.M. Drysdale.

Of course, there can be more information in the skies than just the weather. Vultures or other scavenging birds circling in the sky can indicate something’s wrong up ahead because there must be something dead to draw them together. And where there’s dead things, there’s probably zombies feasting, meaning the area is best avoided. Birds can also tell you other things too. Swallows fly closer to the ground when rain is on its way, while a flock of birds suddenly bursting into the air en masse means something’s startled them, and that may well mean undead are approaching.

Contrails streaking across blue cloudless skies can give hope because it means someone somewhere is doing better than you are, and that help might one day be on its way.

Contrails streaking across blue cloudless skies can give hope because it means someone somewhere is doing better than you are, and that help might one day be on its way. Photo copyright: C.M. Drysdale.

Then there’s the signs of hope that can be up there in the skies above our heads. Think about one of the key moments in 28 Days Later, where Jim spots a plane leaving its characteristic contrail streaking across the sky above the trees. Whenever I see this now, I always think post-apocalyptic thoughts and wonder how I’d cope if the rage virus really did exist.

So hopefully this has shown you that being able to read the skies is an important skill to have in your post-apocalyptic survival tool kit and, with that in mind, here’s a challenge for you. Below is a photo of a real sky where something dramatic has clearly happened. I took in the 1990s on Tilloo Cay in the Bahamas, looking west towards Florida.

I’ll give a free, signed copy of my book For Those In Peril On The Sea and a limited edition For Those In Peril On The Sea promotional coffee mug to one person who correctly identifies what the photo below tells you about what happened here. If I get more than one right answer, I’ll randomly select a winner from all those who get it right. This competition will be open until next Monday (the 5th of August 2013) and I’ll post the winner, and more importantly the answer, as soon as I can after that. To enter, just fill out the form below the picture itself.

What's going on in the sky  here? If you think you know, fill in the form below and you could win a signed copy of 'For Those In Peril On The Sea'.

What’s going on in the sky here? If you think you know, fill in the form below and you could win a signed copy of ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’. Photo copyright: C.M. Drysdale.

All pictures in this post are copyright Colin M. Drysdale. Please do not use them for any purpose without express written permission.


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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

What Would You Do If … Dilemmas In A Zombie Apocalypse: No. 21 – The Altruist’s Dilemma

26 Jul

The five of you have been working your way through the maze of corridors for the last four hours, killing zombies whenever you ran into them. Ahead you finally see the exit and you breathe a sigh of relief because you’re running low on bullets and once you’re outside you can get into you vehicle and drive back to your safe house. You knew almost from the moment you stepped inside the abandoned stadium looking for supplies that it was a bad idea, but it has taken you this long just to get back out safely again. Suddenly three undead shamble round the corner, blocking your path to the exit. You raise your run and fire; the first goes down, but then the gun just clicks: you’re out of ammo and you’ve got no other weapons to hand. You curse your mis-fortune and try desperately to work out what to do next. Then a thought occurs to you: if you attack the zombies bare-handed, it will give the others enough time to escape. Of course, you’ll also die a horrible death as the zombies feast on your still-living flesh. What do you do?


As always, this dilemma is just here to make you think, so there’s no right or wrong answer. Vote in the poll to let others know what you do if you were in this situation, and if you want to give a more detailed answer, leave a comment on this posting.



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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Things You Do When You Really Should Be Writing – Part II

25 Jul

As I wrote in the first part of this post, procrastination can be the writer’s worst enemy. Yet, it’s easy to become side-tracked by the daftest little things. Today, for me, it’s been sleeve-facing. For those of you not familiar with this pastime, it’s when you take the cover of an old vinyl album which has a face (or other body part), and match yourself up with it to make it look like you’re part of the picture. I know it doesn’t sound much, but it’s a great way to waste a day when you just can’t face putting in your 5,000 words (or whatever your limit is).

So how do you do it? Well, either raid your record collection (or your partners, or your parents, or possibly grand-parents depending on how old you are) or head down to the nearest charity shop and pick out some records. You’re not making your selection based on the quality of the music (as will be clear from the examples below), but instead you’re looking for ones with a photo or a picture of a person on the sleeve. Specifically, you want one which only has part of a person on it and not a full length body shot.

Once you’ve made your selection, you need to get someone else involved (in my case my girlfriend, who’s also working from home at the moment, was recruited), and grab a camera, and then the fun begins. One of you takes the camera, while the other holds the album and tries to line themselves up with the person on the cover in such a way that it looks like you are part of them. Sometimes this is easy, others it’s not, but either way the results are usually highly amusing.

So without much ado, here’s the results of yet another fruitful day’s procrastination when I should have been writing (note: all these albums were bought specifically to do this with and do not reflect my taste in music in any way what-so-ever!):

The first one we tried was the sound track to the movie 'Footloose' because it seemed relatively simple. The legs belong to my long-suffering girlfriend.

The first one we tried was the sound track to the movie ‘Footloose’ because it seemed relatively simple. The legs belong to my long-suffering girlfriend.




Next came my turn, and an old Jason Donovan album (just remember this was purchased from a charity shop specifically for this and it's not an album I already had lying around the house - honest!). Jason's head is a little big for my body, but it's not too bad.

Next came my turn, and an old Jason Donovan album (just remember this was purchased from a charity shop specifically for this and it’s not an album I already had lying around the house – honest!). Jason’s head is a little big for my body, but it’s not too bad.




Then came David Essex. This was probably the best one we did. Again the body is mine, and the album isn't!

Then came David Essex. This was probably the best one we did. Again the body is mine, and the album isn’t!




Then things started getting a bit more surreal, but it still works...

Then things started getting a bit more surreal, but it still works…



Well, that’s supper time here in the UK, and yet another day has passed when I’ve missed my writing target because I got caught up in something else that I really shouldn’t have been doing.

Tomorrow, it’s back to working on the sequel to For Those In Peril On The Sea, I promise … unless I stumble across another pointless, but amusing, distraction!

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If you want to see more example of sleeve-facing (and ones that are a lot better than ours), visit sleeveface.com. Just flicking through the examples there will easily waste half a day when you should be doing something more important.


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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Rules For The Post-Apocalyptic World Of ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’

24 Jul

I read a blog post by another author (Kaine Andrews) recently where he specifically posted the rules for the fictional world of his book, and I liked the idea so I thought I’d do the same for the post-apocalyptic world of For Those In Peril On The Sea. So without further ado, these are the basic rules under which it operates:

1. In general, the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea is the real world, only with a mutant virus in it that creates the infected (zombie-like humans infected with the virus). As a result, all usual rule of the real world apply. This means if somethings is physically impossible in the real world, it’s also impossible in the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea, so no leaping tall buildings in a single bound or being able to pop off perfect head shots when you’ve never even held a gun before. Really the main differences are the specific rules for the virus and the infected. These dictate important issues relating to how the virus spreads, the course of the infection, what the infected are and are not capable of, and how they can be killed, and are provided below.

2. The mutated rabies virus which creates the infected is passed from person to person through bodily fluids. This includes things like blood and saliva. It can only be passed if the skin is broken and some bodily fluid from an infected get onto it. It cannot be passed on by swallowing bodily fluids (it would be destroyed by stomach acid – unless a person had something like an ulcer which could let it into the bloodstream before this happened), nor can be passed on through contact with mucosal linings of the body (this means things like breathing it in, or it getting in your eyes), unless this is already damaged (such as might be the case for the nasal passages of regular users of drugs such as cocaine). While the most usual route of infection is from a bite, there are other possibilities. If the infected have bodily fluids on their hands or under their nails, something as simple as a scratch which breaks the skin would be enough. Similarly, if a person has an existing open wound and bodily fluids from an infected get into it, this would be enough to pass the infection on. Finally, like many viruses, the Haitian rabies virus (HRV) is capable of surviving for some time outside of the body. Therefore, it is possible that the infection could be passed on if a person cuts themselves on something that has dried bodily fluids on it, such as a machete that has been used to kill an infected.

3. Unlike the real rabies virus, the HRV version in this world only affects humans. It cannot infect any other animals, and cannot be passed on by them.

4. When someone is infected, there is a period between then and when they will turn. This period can vary in length from a few seconds to up to twenty-four hours. There is no survival, unturned, after infection for more than this time. Most people infected will turn within the first few minutes. This latency rate (the gap between becoming infected and showing symptoms – or in this case turning into an infected) is determined by an interplay between three factors: how much of the virus a person was exposed to; where on the body the person was infected; the strength of the person’s own immune response. A person exposed to a large viral load (i.e. through a lot of body fluid getting into a wound), that is wounded on the head, neck or torso and that has a poor immune response (e.g. a child or an elderly person) will turn almost immediately. A person exposed to a small viral load (e.g. just a few drops of bodily fluids), on a peripheral part of their body (e.g. fingers or toes) and that has a good immune response (e.g. a young, healthy adult) would have the best chance of surviving the full twenty-four hours.

5. Once someone is dead, they remain dead. This means there’s no re-animation of corpses in this world. In this sense, the infected are not true zombies, just zombie-like creatures; this means that if a person is injured badly enough by infected attacking them, they will die through the usual processes of shock and blood loss and most people attacked by infected will die rather than become infected. There are exceptions to this though. If someone is attacked by a single infected, they have a chance of fighting it off. Similarly, if there are infected attacking a large crowd, they may go into an attack frenzy, meaning that they get distracted by all the people running around them. This can mean that attacks on individual people are short and non-fatal as the infected is drawn to other people running away before it finishes any one attack. This attack frenzy is the main way that a lot of people can become infected at once, and can create hordes or swarms of infected in a very short space of time which can over-run all before them.

6. The infected are just humans with a disease. This means that they can only be capable of what the human body is capable of. However, since they are single-minded in their pursuit of the uninfected and don’t feel pain or empathy they can operate at the maximum capacity of the human body. This means that they can run faster and appear stronger than you might think a human might be capable of, much in the way that an athlete on steroids would, but these abilities are not super-human.

7. As stated in rule 6, the infected are just humans with a disease. This means that they will be killed by anything that would kill a human (a shot to the head, being stabbed in the heart, being run over by a car, drowning in water etc). However, since they don’t feel any pain, they might not be slowed by less lethal injuries that would have normal people rolling around screaming (so don’t try kicking a male infected in the groin in a bid to get away, he won’t notice – even if you do it hard enough to do certain things serious damage!).

8. With rabies comes a fear of water, that’s why one of its other names is hydrophobia. In the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea, this is less of a fear and more of a reluctance to enter water unless they know it is shallow enough to easily get through (i.e. nothing deeper than a couple of feet at the very most) and if they can sense that some uninfected human are near that they are compelled to attack.

9. The infected retain no consciousness, they are simply operating on innate instincts. This means they can’t work out how to get round any obstacle which requires any kind of thought. For example, to get through a door, they can push it open (if it swings that way) or break through it, but they can’t work out how to turn a handle to open it, or indeed work out if they need to pull rather than push. They can scramble over things, but they can’t climb. Similarly, while they can run (an innate human instinct), they can’t swim (a learned behaviour).

10. If infected fall into the water, they will usually drown because they cannot swim (see rule 9). This makes the water much safer than land. However, this is not always the case. If an infected falls into the water but finds something that floats that it can grab onto, it can survive for long periods of time. Similarly, if they are in a life raft or on a floating object, they can survive. The same applies if they are wearing a flotation device of some kind, like a buoyancy aid. Such infected as known as drifters and form a major threat to those living on water in the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea.

11. When uninfected humans are not near, infected people enter a form of stasis which uses very little energy. This means that they can survive for very long periods on very little food. Like a cold-blooded animal, one meal might be enough to see them through many months. However, they cannot survive on no food and will eventually starve to death if they don’t eat. Infected primarily like to eat non-infected humans, even if they have been long dead. They will also catch and kill animals like cats, dogs and birds if they are really in need of food. Whether they will attack and eat each other rather than die from starvation is not clear (i.e. I haven’t decided on this yet!), and it might be that some infected become cannibalistic on their own kind to survive times when there is nothing else to eat.

12. Infected sense uninfected humans through their usual senses, however the range of these is somewhat diminished. Eye sight seems limited to detecting movements and distances of up to 500 yards, but no further. Noise it detectable over a similar range. Smell would operate over a few tens of feet and means that they can tell if uninfected people are within structures such as buildings or cars. This means that you can avoid encounters with infected by keeping sufficiently far away from them. Of course, this isn’t always possible.

So these are the basic rules for the post-apocalyptic world of For Those In Peril On The Sea, and how my particular ‘zombies’ operate within it. They are a relatively simple set of rules but, taken together, I think they make an interesting world to set tales of human survival after the collapse of civilisation, and particularly one based around survival on boats because of the reluctance of the infected to enter water, their inability to swim and the existence of drifters.


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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

I’m Dreaming Of A Zombie Apocalypse …

22 Jul

One of the side-effects of being a writer of post-apocalyptic zombie fiction is that you can end up so immersed in the world you’ve created that it starts to spill over into the rest of your life. Once you’re deep into that zombie frame of mind, you start seeing them everywhere: A drunk staggers down the street towards you, head lolling from side to side, and your mind instantly thinks it’s started; the footsteps behind you as you walk home late at night become those of an undead flesh-muncher trying to creep up on you; the sudden noise downstairs in the night become the dead trying to break in.

Wherever you go, you find yourself eyeing up escape routes and assessing the defensive strengths and weaknesses of buildings you pass. You no longer judge vehicles by the sleekness of their body work but instead for their ability to carry you safely through a zombie horde. You even find yourself starting to look at your friends and relatives in a different light: judging them by the skills they have which could help you survive or whether they would simply be a burden if the dead really did suddenly come back to life.

The zombies start invading your dreams too, and you wake up in a cold sweat, not quite sure if the residual fear coursing through your body is real or imagined. When the dreams are particularly vivid, it can take several hours before you finally shake the last of it off meaning you start the day jumping at the slightest sound. Or if it’s the middle of the night, you end up lying there in the darkness too scared to move in case the dream was real, wondering if that sound you can hear is just your partner breathing next to you in bed – or whether there’s something more sinister out there in the darkness.

Buchanan Street

You see people, I see zombies!

The way the imaginary world of your writing can infect reality is brought home to me at the moment when I visit Buchanan Street, the main shopping area in my native Glasgow. This is the setting of the opening scenes for the sequel to For Those In Peril On The Sea, and it’s the part of this second book into which I’ve put the most work on so far.

As a result, when I sit on the steps at the top end and gaze down across the crowds of shoppers, I no longer see them as humans; instead, I see them as the rampaging infected which, in the book, stampede up the street towards where I’m sitting, sweeping all before them. It’s slightly disturbing to know my eyes are seeing the same view as everyone else around me, but my brian is interpreting it in a completely different way simply because of what I’ve been so fervently working away on in my writing.

It’s the same when I drive across the Erskine Bridge where, in my fictional world, the army makes a final, and ill-fated, attempt to contain the outbreak within the city of Glasgow. Because I’ve painted them in my mind, and on the pages of my manuscript, I can see the streams of bullets streaking through the night as the soldiers try to shoot infected clinging to debris from the recently-fallen city as they float down the river 100 feet below. I also see the infected, driven from the smouldering city, surging over the defences to attack the soldiers, who, as the realise they are trapped, start to panic and fire indiscriminately, and ineffectively, into the advancing swarm.

With For Those In Peril On The Sea, I was writing about places I once knew, but with the sequel I’m writing about a city I still live in, and it’s changing how I see it. I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, just that it’s something which has been a bit unexpected. I guess once I’ve finished the book, this cross-over between fiction and reality will subside, but for the moment, even though they are fictional, the infected haunt the city around me like ghosts from another world.


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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

How Will People Respond In A Zombie Apocalypse?

20 Jul

For the last 20 weeks, I’ve been posting a series of dilemmas which people might be faced with in a zombie apocalypse. The idea of these was mostly to have a bit of fun and get people thinking about some ethical dilemmas they might face if a zombie apocalypse were ever to happen. However, there was also another side to this. This was to examine how people thought they’d act under difficult circumstances. With this in mind, I specifically provided answers which would help identify whether people would act altruistically or selfishly. I also inserted a few answers here and there which the wording was specifically geared towards those with psychopathic tendencies just to see how often they would be selected.

With a total of 396 responses across the 20 dilemmas, I now have enough to do some analysis and see what they tell us about how people think they’d act in a zombie apocalypse. I divided up the answers into four categories: altruistic ones (where people would put themselves at risk to save others), neutral ones (where the answer had no impact on the survival, or not, of others), selfish ones (where people would put others at risk to save themselves) and psychopathic ones (where people would take actions which would potentially result in the deaths of others even though there was little cost to themselves).

How people responded to dilemmas in a zombie apocalypse

How people responded to dilemmas in a zombie apocalypse

The first result, which is heart-warming, is that people chose responses which were altruistic significantly (p<0.001) more often than might be expected by chance alone. They also responded significantly less selfish (p=0.04) or psychopathically (p=0.04) than expected by chance. Neutral answers were selected no differently than might be expected by chance alone So, it seems people are basically nice, and will do things to help others, even when the zombies are beating at the door.

Yet, if you dig a little deeper, there’s some more interesting results in there. People responded most selfishly when the dilemma specifically involved their own survival, even at the cost of others. This is perhaps unsurprising. People also responded most altruistically when the dilemmas involved the survival or not of a child or children. Interestingly, it didn’t matter whether the kids were related to the person or not (which is not what I’d have expected).

So far, so good, but then we get to something a little worrying. When I looked at which dilemmas resulted in the highest proportion of psychopathic answers, I found out that they involved either a close relative, a partner or an underling the person had power over, and in these cases over 40% of the people chose what might be considered the psychopathic response.

Now none of this us real science, and it’s all a bit of fun, but I think it tells us four things about humanity (or at least the portion of it that spend time wondering about what they would do during a zombie apocalypse!):

1. Most people are willing to respond altruistically if given the opportunity, even in a zombie apocalypse.

2. People are particularly willing to be altruistically towards children, even unrelated ones.

3. People are most selfish when if comes to making decisions about themselves rather than about others.

4. There’s quite a large portion of people out there who responded in such a way as to suggest they tend to act with psychopathic tendencies. Of course, these might just be one-off answers, in which case there’s little to worry about. If, however, there are people out there who consistently select these answers, it’s all a bit more worrying; but maybe not unexpected. After all, it’s been estimated that 1% of the population are psychopaths. In a zombie apocalypse, these are the people you’d want to avoid at all costs, because they’re the ones who won’t think twice about taking actions which may result in your death – or worse …


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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

What Would You Do If … Dilemmas In A Zombie Apocalypse: No. 20 – The Lone Survivor’s Dilemma

19 Jul

You are rummaging through an abandoned house looking for any canned food which those who’ve come before might have overlooked. Suddenly there’s a noise outside the room you’re in. You run into the dark corridor where you see a shadow shambling towards you – or is it two? You’ve only got one bullet left so you don’t want to waste when you can just run away. With the way to the front door blocked, you run to what you figure must be the back door and dive through. Unfortunately, rather than finding yourself outside, you find yourself in a small cupboard. Before you can go back into the corridor, you hear hammering on the door. You assess the situation: you’re trapped with no way out unless you go back into the corridor, you’ve got a gun, but it only has one bullet in it and you’re really not sure if there’s one zombie on the other side of the door or two. If there’s one zombie, you’ll be able to shoot it and escape, but if there’s two the second one will get you after you’ve used your last bullet to kill the first. The chances of you being rescued is pretty much zero as you haven’t seen another living human in weeks, and the longer you wait the greater the chance of more zombies turning up. What do you do?


As always, this dilemma is just here to make you think, so there’s no right or wrong answer. Vote in the poll to let others know what you do if you were in this situation, and if you want to give a more detailed answer, leave a comment on this posting.

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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Herding Zombies …

15 Jul

Zombie herding is a survival tactic where you aim to intentionally attract zombies to a specific place. While, at first, this may sound suicidal, there’s actually many scenarios where this is a very effective strategy. This is because it allows you to exert a measure of control over the zombies and, for once, make them do what you want them to do.

There’s three basic approaches to zombie herding, the most dangerous of which is live-baiting. Live-baiting involves a living person going outside with the aim of attracting zombies so that they chase them. This means the zombies can then be led away from or to a specific location. This is a tactic which should only be used with slow zombies (since you can out-run them) and never with fast zombies (because you can’t!). There’s several instances where this is used on zombie stories. In particular, this is the basis of the Cardio rule in Zombieland. It’s also used to great effect in Shaun of the Dead, where the eponymous hero leads the zombie horde away from the front door of the Winchester so that the others can get in before they’re attacked and killed.

Live-baiting is exceedingly dangerous, and if anything goes wrong, you’ll most likely end up dead. As a result, it should only ever be attempted when you have a very clear strategy as to where you are going to lead them to, and also where you are certain of exactly how many zombies are present in a specific area as the last thing you want to do is run into another horde as you’re leading away the ones you are herding. If you survive, however, it’ll probably be the biggest adrenaline rush you’ll ever experience in your life, and it’s likely you’ll become a bit of a hero with you survival group: children will revere you, minstrels will write songs about you, maidens will swoon – okay, I’m going to far here, but you get the idea.

The second basic approach to zombie herding is bait-and-switch. In this approach, the aim is to herd the zombies to one location while you do something at another. This might be rescuing someone who’s trapped, recovering some stores or food, or escaping from a location where you’ve become trapped. The difference with live-baiting is that you remain within the safety of your compound while doing a bait-and-switch manoeuvre. In general, noise is used to draw the zombies to a specific location while those who are making the noise remain safely beyond their reach.

A good example of this is in the British TV series Dead Set, where some of the people trapped in the Big Brother house during a zombie apocalypse bang pots and pans together to attract zombies away from a door while others sneak out to get medical supplies from a local supermarket. The bait-and-switch approach to zombie herding is a lot less dangerous than live-baiting, but you still need to be careful. Attracting a large number of zombies to a specific point in your defences will increase the pressures on them, and it may be that if you attract enough of them they will be able to break through due to sheer weight of numbers alone.

Similarly, bait-and-switching can lead to pile-ups. This is when the zombies at the back keep pushing forward over those in front because they are so eager to get to those making the noise. If the ones at the front go down, those behind will scramble on top of them. If this happens for long enough, you’ll find a ramp of zombies forming and in the worst possible scenario this could become high enough for those zombies which clamber up to breach your defences. This possibility is demonstrated in a one of the scenes from Jerusalem in the recent World War Z movie, although in this case those who attracted the zombies did it by accident and not on purpose. Both of these dangers mean that if you’re trying to heard zombies using the bait-and-switch approach, you need to keep them moving around to ensure that your defences aren’t weakened.

The final approach to zombie herding is the-hunter-becomes-the-hunted. While the other two approaches are defensive, this is strictly an offensive manoeuvre. Here the aim is to bring as many zombies to a specific point where they can then be killed. Again, this is usually done using noise and it can be done on a range of scales. In a recent episode of The Walking Dead I watched (I’ve only just started series three), they used this zombie herding approach to bring a small number of zombies close to a fence where they could then kill them by stabbing them in the head.

In contrast, there’s a great scene in the World War Z book where they talk about using defensive squares to clear an area of zombies. The idea here is that you drop troops into a zombie-infected zone and they form a square with guns pointing outwards. Within the square there’s enough room to rest, as well as to stockpile ammunition with more capable of being delivered by air. Once everything is set up, they turn on a device to start attracting nearby zombies. When they get near enough they’re shot, but not before their moans have attracted more zombies and so on. Soon every zombie over hundreds of miles is heading for the troops (attracted by the moans of other zombies heading towards the square in the hope of finding fresh flesh). As long as the troops keep firing at a rate faster than the zombies approach, and don’t run out of ammo, eventually they’ll be left surrounded by a massive pile of dead zombies in the middle of a zombie-free zone. Of course, this technique requires a lot of courage and even just one soldier breaks ranks it can spell disaster.

In case you’re wondering, this is actually based on a real military strategy that has been used to great effect over the years from the Romans onwards as it is a very effective formation which allows a small number of troops to defend themselves against a much larger force. Probably the most famous example of the successful deployment of this strategy was at Rorke’s Drift, where a small garrison of 150 British and colonial troops defeated an army of several thousand Zulu warriors.

This type of offensive zombie herding could also be used to drive a horde of zombies over a cliff or into a canyon where they could be killed by people massed around the edges. In such cases, this would be very similar to the approaches used by pre-historic humans to hunt large and dangerous game, such as woolly mammoths. However, I’ve not come across zombie-herding being used in this way in any zombie stories (although I’m sure people will correct me if I’m wrong).

So, hopefully this post has shown you that while most of the time you want to make sure you stay off the zombies radar, there may be times when you’ll want to just the opposite. Sometimes this will be for defence and sometimes it will be for offensive, but either way, zombie herding is a high-risk, high-octane strategy which will get your heart racing as you do everything that your basic survival instincts are telling you is just plain wrong and the zombies start streaming towards you. It might be easier than herding cats, but it’s also a lot more dangerous!


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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Apocalypse Apartments Incorporated – A Short Zombie Story

10 Jul

You can download a PDF of this story from here.

Who’d have thought my biggest problem in coping with the zombie apocalypse would be boredom? I know it’s different for others, I can see them struggling and fighting and dying through the telescope mounted in the observatory in the top tower, but there’s nothing I can do for them. I’m stuck here in the castle, set high above the nearby town, all safely locked away. Yes, there’s zombies all around me, well I suppose they’re not really zombies since they’re not dead, but because of the disease they act just like the zombies you see in movies, so that’s what I call them. Either way, when they first appeared all I had to do to keep them out was pull up the drawbridge and I was safe. The 30 foot wide moat is more than enough to stop them getting close enough to know I’m here, and even if they could cross it, they’d never get through walls which are six feet thick and made of solid stone.

Unlike those in the settlement below, I don’t need to go outside to look for food, or, indeed, any other supplies. There’s a well in the main courtyard and I’ve got enough stores stashed in what were once the dungeons to last a lifetime. I’ve got solar panels and a couple of wind turbines, and for those days which are dark and still, I’ve got a diesel generator and enough fuel to run it day and night for fifty years. When I was bringing all this stuff together, I wasn’t worried about zombies or infected or whatever you want to call them, I simply did it to make enough money to stop the buildings around me crumbling to dust. You see, this had been my family’s home for six hundred years, and as an only child it fell to me to look after it when first my father, then my mother died in quick succession.

At first I’d hated the fact that the dilapidated and ancient edifice was now my responsibility. At thirty-two I wanted to be out exploring the world and having fun, not worrying about leaking roofs, rotting timbers and rising damp. Then, one day, as I drove away after yet another disaster which would cost more money than I had to fix, an idea suddenly came to me and I realised how I could fund not just the repairs but the complete renovation it had need for at least a century. It would mean some rather drastic changes, but it would also mean I’d never have to worry about being able to afford it’s upkeep again. My business plan was simple: I had a building which had some pretty serious fortifications and there were lots of very rich but very paranoid people out there who feared civilisation was about to be brought to its knees by some disaster or other that was looming just over the horizon. If you look at it one way, you could say I was selling them insurance against their worst fears, in another you could say I was ripping them off because I never believed any of it would actually happen. All I did was build up the supplies and guarantee each of my subscribers a safe, secure and, most importantly, luxurious environment where they could ride out whatever catastrophe they feared was about to turn the world upside down. I converted otherwise unoccupied and unused rooms into up-market apartments, complete with self-contained plumbing and water filters and even air-scrubbers. That was just the standard stuff, depending on each subscribers own personal paranoia, I also offered customisations. Stuff like heavy-duty fire power, six-inch thick steel doors and built-in radiation shields. The only limitation I placed on the subscribers was that, in the event of any crisis, they had to find their own way to the castle; it would be once they arrived that my duties would begin.

Almost from the moment word started leaking out about what I was offering, I was inundated with requests from the rich and famous, and within the first week I’d filled every available apartment; that was before I’d even started any of the renovations. By the time I had all the conversion work finished, the apartments were changing hands for almost ten times what I’d originally charged. You’d have thought this would have annoyed me, but it didn’t. You see they weren’t buying the apartments, only leasing them, and every time a lease was sold, I got ten percent of the price. I also had the right to veto any sale if I thought anyone would be too high maintenance. After all, you’ve got to be selective if there’s a chance you’ll end up cooped up with people for months on end during some disaster or other. Each time an apartment changed hands, the new owner would want to change the decor, and the security options, and that had to come through me too – and as you might imagine, my prices weren’t cheap.

It was funny, within a matter of six months, owning one of my apocalypse apartments, as they were being called by then, had become a status symbol for those who could afford them; that drove demand, and prices, up even further. I started to branch out, buying up other castles and lighthouses and old military bunkers wherever I could find them, and setting up apartments there too. I even adopted the name everyone was using for them for the company I created to run my little venture and officially I became Apocalypse Apartments Incorporated. That was ten years before everything fell apart, and in that time, while everyone else with ancient family piles was fighting just to keep them from falling down, I was making enough money to keep eight castles afloat as well as all the other buildings I’d picked up over the years. I’d become an expert in the ultimate home defence and I was the person everyone turned to when they wanted to do something crazy just in case their wildest nightmares ever came true.

Then came the zombies, or rather the infected. That was one eventuality I’d never counted on, but luckily it seems my defences are perfect for keeping them out. The moment the first hints something odd was going on started appearing on the news, I expected the subscribers to start turning up, but weirdly they didn’t. No one ever even came near the place. That’s one of those little mysteries of the apocalypse I’ll probably never find an answer to. I mean, I’d specifically installed a helipad to allow people to get here even when the roads were over-run but, despite the millions they’d paid to have a safe place to hole up in the event of something quite so world-changing actually happening, not one of them ever made it.

This meant I was all alone; totally secure, but all alone. And oh so bored. In the two years since everything kicked off, I’ve read every book in the place and I know all the films I have on DVD backwards and forwards. I can repeat the entire script, word for word without making a mistake, for each and every one of them. I’d tried alcoholism but I wasn’t really built for it; I found being drunk on my own very dull, and hangovers without anyone to commiserate even duller.

When the world first fell apart, I spent a lot of time in the observatory, keeping an eye out for the subscribers I was sure would be on their way, but once it was clear they weren’t going to appear I stopped hanging out there. It was just too depressing watching all that death and destruction and people struggling for survival. But after a while, I started going back. I can’t remember why but one day I found myself walking passed the door and I thought I’d take a look to see what was out there. I was surprised to find there were still people living amongst the zombies. Well, maybe living is stretching it a little. More like eaking out a meagre existence, struggling every day to find food while avoiding being torn apart by the hordes of zombies which haunted the streets around them.

By then, I’d been without human company for so long I found myself drawn into their struggles. I made up names for the survivors, and even some of the more memorable zombies, and I started making up back stories. It was like my own little soap opera and I couldn’t resist it. It was the first time in months I’d felt alive: I knew I was living vicariously through their struggles and part of me felt uncomfortable with this, but the rest of me revelled in it. The telescope was so powerful, and the town so far away, I felt detached from them and it was like I was watching some fictional drama unfolding on a television rather than real people living and dying.

You might think of me as callous, but it’s not like I didn’t try to help. Once I knew they were there, grimly hanging on under the worst imaginable circumstances, I spent weeks and months trying to work out how I could help them but there was nothing I can do. There’s no way I can let them know I’m here, and there’s no way I can do anything to help them without risking being over-run, which would pretty much defeat the purpose of the exercise. So, here I am, living in total security with enough food to keep all the little groups of survivors I watch each day fed for as long as we all live, yet there’s no way to get the people and the food in the same place. All I can do is sit here as the zombie apocalypse engulfs the world but passes me by, leaving me with nothing to do but stare through my telescope, bored and lonely, unable to do anything to ease their suffering, and my own.

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This short story was inspired by the idea that boredom could be a major obstacle to survival in a zombie apocalypse. You can find out more about this here.



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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 print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.