Tag Archives: Surviving the zombie apocalypse

How To Kill A Zombie

3 Jan

I’ll say from the start that this isn’t a self-help guide so if you’ve got a zombie horde battering at your door and you’re looking for some practical advice, you might need to look else where (and fast!). Instead, it’s a consideration of the difficulties of coming up with new and interesting ways for taking out the undead.

Here’s the problem: You sit down to write a zombie story. You’ve probably got a number of set pieces in mind where people will take on zombies, and in each one you’re probably going to have your characters kill anything between a few and a few hundred walking dead. Yet, if all are dispatched in the same way, your story’s going to get dull and repetitive very quickly. After all, there’s only so many times you can read about a zombie getting smacked across the back of the skull with a baseball bat or being killed by yet another head shot before you start rooting for the undead rather than the protagonist just because it would be something a bit different.

And the problem isn’t just what happens in your own story, there’s also the methods that those who have come before you have already used. Fed up of baseball bats? You might consider using a cricket one only to realise that it makes it seem like you’re ripping off Shaun Of The Dead. So what’s the solution?

I think it’s quite easy, and all it takes is a little (possibly rather sick!) imagination. The key thing here is to remember that you are trying to destroy the brain in some manner and, if used correctly, almost anything can do that. If you’re smacking a zombie in the face, don’t reach for the baseball bat, instead reach for a golf club (I’d recommend a three wood over a putter) or a football helmet. Away from the sporting world, there’s steel bars, juggling clubs, fender guitars or – if you want to be particularly gruesome – a severed human arm would probably do at a pinch.

Then there’s the guns. Don’t just always reach for the trusty double-barrelled shot-gun like everyone else. How about using a sniper rifle, snub-nosed revolver or 18th century flint-lock? What about something bigger? Rocket launcher anyone? Howitzer? Or quieter: Crossbow? A bit too common that one. How about an English long bow or a Roman ballista bolt through the eye?

Then there’s the bladed weapons but don’t just stick to calling them swords or machetes it’s too generic, too over-used. Instead, be more specific. Try grabbing a katana or a claymore or that cavalry sabre your great, great grandpa used in the American Civil War. Each has its own style and is wielded in a slightly different way providing variety to your kills.

If you’ve got to tackle more than one and you’re fed of up resorting to a machine gun, reach instead for a flame-thrower or the home-made napalm from your mental arsenal. A bit too old school for you? How about running them down? Too over-used? What if it’s with a combine harvester rather than a car? That would cut them down pretty damn quick and I don’t think I’ve come across that one before (although I’m sure someone must have used it some where – if not I’ll call dibs!).

Then there’s the type of things you’d never usually think of as a weapon but the juxtaposition of familiar objects used in unfamiliar ways when people are forced to fight for their lives can really bring home the feeling of a world gone badly wrong. To go back to Shaun Of The Dead, there’s a great scene early on where they’re throwing 12 inch records like Frisbees to try to kill a zombie. I’m not too sure how effective it would be but it’s certainly different. So when the undead come knocking, how about using that stuffed owl from the cabinet in the corner of the living room? Or using the granny’s funeral urn to obliterate the head of an attacking zombie because it’s the first thing that comes to hand? There’s a certain symmetry there of using the dead to send the undead to hell.

The bottom line here is that when you’re writing about killing zombies, it’s too easy to get caught is the same old and over-familiar clichés. Instead, put some imagination in there and see if you can come up with something a bit different. Of course, it’s possible to go too far the other way. Not every walking dead needs to be incapacitated in some new and interesting way but it’s always good to have a few distinctive deaths sprinkled in amongst the usual smashed in skulls. It keep the reader interested and rooting for the heroes rather than the zombies.

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. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

Where To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse…

11 Dec

A lot of thought has been given to how to survive when the dead start to rise. Discussions usually focus on things like the types of buildings it’s best to hole up in, what weapons to use to dispatch the undead and how to avoid becoming infected. However, where you hole up will be just as important as how you do it. Get this right, and you might survive, get it wrong and you’ll be doomed no matter how clever you are. Geography might just have been that class where you caught up on your sleep at school, but come the zombie apocalypse, you’ll regret all those naps. This is because your choice of locale can be your greatest ally. So, what should you be looking for? There’s a few key factors you’ll want to consider:

1. Low Population Density: The fewer zombies that are around, the lower the likelihood that you’ll run into them, and that can only be good. However, this isn’t just a matter of thinking about where people rarely go in your local neighbourhood, you want to be thinking regionally, or even nationally. Zombies will move around, looking for the living to feast on. You might not realise it, but even when shambling, zombies can cover surprisingly large distances, given enough time (and being dead, the one thing they have is plenty of time!). A zombie moving at 1 mile an hour (about a quarter the usual human walking speed), will be able to cover 168 miles in a week, 720 miles in a month and 8,760 miles in a year. This means that within a year of the start of a zombie plague they could turn up anywhere, but the lower the pre-apocalyptic population density of an area, the less likely it that zombies will make it to you in numbers that you can’t comfortably deal with.

2. Think Geographic Barriers: The fact that zombies can move surprisingly long distances, given enough time, is also the key to the next thing you need to think about.  This is geographic barriers. These are things that will stop wandering zombies dead (apologies for the pun!) in their tracks. Think fast flowing rivers, canyons, isolated mesas, cliffs, mountain chains. Such features have been used for defence by humans for centuries, and zombies will never manage to cross them. You can also consider whether slower moving rivers, lakes and seas will make good barriers but just remember that there’s some debate as to whether zombies can survive a good dunking in water, or even move around in it.

3. Connectivity: Connectivity is a measure of how well one area is linked to other neighbouring ones. In the pre-apocalyptic world, high connectivity is king. You want to be as connected to the rest of the world as possible. Yet, come the apocalypse, the greater the connectivity, the greater the risk that wandering zombies will find you. What you want is to find somewhere with the lowest level of connectivity possible. This means you’ll want to avoid the middle of continents and large geographic areas.  Instead, cling to the edges of them, or even avoid them all together. Islands are great, and the more isolated the islands the better. Think Ascension Island, think Diego Garcia, think Pitcairn. Can’t place them on a map? Never even heard of them ? That just tells you how unconnected they are! Of course, getting to them might be a little difficult, but you could always move there now, just in case. Yes, it’s drastic, but we’re talking about your survival here.

4. Climate: With climate things are complicated. There’s two issues to think about here, and they kind of conflict with each other. The first is your survival. For this, you’d want a nice mild climate, not too hot in summer or too cold in winter. You’d want enough rainfall to allow you to get plenty of drinking water, but not so much you’ll get floods. The trouble with mild climates though, is that zombies will last longer in them too. Zombies are the dead risen, and let’s face it they’ll start falling apart from the moment they reanimate. The harsher the environment, the quicker this will happen. Think baking deserts, think the frozen north (or south!), think the humidity of tropical forests. Zombies won’t last long in any of these. So what do you do? You’ll probably want to aim for the harshest environment where you think you could survive, just make sure you get it right.

5. Weather: I know, you’re thinking weather’s the same thing as climate, right?  Wrong. And when it comes to surviving the zombie apocalypse, it’s important you know the difference. Climate is the long-term average of things like rainfall, cloud cover and temperature. Weather is the variation you get from day-to-day. The critical thing for weather is you want to avoid anywhere that is regularly hit by destructive weather systems.  That’s things like hurricanes, cyclones and tornadoes. There’s no point in escaping from the undead if the local weather’s going to drop a house on you and squash you flat!

6. Geological Stability: Geological stability is similar to weather. Survival is going to be hard enough with all the zombies around (well there shouldn’t be too many if you’ve chosen your location properly, the it’s the principle that’s important here!) you don’t want to also have to have to deal with things like earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. This means avoiding anywhere near the edges of tectonic plates (that’s most of the coastal areas around the Pacific, many oceanic islands, much of the Mediterranean and large parts of Asia).

7. Natural Resources: The zombie apocalypse is probably going to last a very long time so you need to think about surviving in the long-term. This means that you need to think about natural resources. These are going to be things like good soil for growing food, animals to hunt and fish to catch. They’re also going to be things like wood for fires, water for drinking, and if you get really ambitious things you can use to generate electricity  (wind, solar power, tidal energy, waves and so on). You might not be able to find somewhere with all of these, but the more of them you have in a given location the better. You certainly don’t want to end up somewhere where you can’t find food of one description or another.  After all, unless you’ve got an unfeasibly well-stocked larder, you’re going to run out of canned food before the last of the zombies finally turns to dust.

So these are the types of things you need to think of when deciding on where in the world you’d be best placed to survive a zombie apocalypse, but where can you find all these things in one place? We could argue about that one all night. I have my own ideas, but I’m afraid I’m going to keep them for myself for the time being. After all, when the dead start walking, I don’t want to make it to my carefully selected location only to find it’s already packed with other survivors!

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. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.