Tag Archives: Zombie Apocalypse

Waiting Up For Santa Claus: A Cautionary Tale

22 Dec

This is a very short story I put together for my blog readers to mark the holiday season (after all, nothing says Christmas like zombies – or is that just me?). Be warned, it’s not your usual happy festive tale. Then again, since it features the undead, this is probably not surprising! As you might have guessed, and despite its title, this is not a story for a younger audience. It’s just a quick piece I wrote to explore an idea that popped into my head a few days ago, but hopefully you’ll still enjoy it. If you’d rather read this story offline, you can download a PDF from here. Merry Christmas!

Waiting Up For Santa Claus: A Cautionary Tale

‘Look!’ The girl pointed excitedly, ‘It’s him, it has to be.’

The boy glanced at the clock on the wall, slightly confused, ‘But it’s not midnight yet.’

‘So?’

‘So it’s not Christmas Day, is it?’

‘But it looks just like him. And besides,’ the girl said knowingly, ‘It’s already Christmas somewhere. Maybe he’s just early.’

The two children were peeking through their curtains, trying not to be seen. Despite their mother’s frequent warnings that he wouldn’t come unless they were asleep, they’d been determined to catch a glimpse Santa Claus. They tried every year but they never quite managed it. This year it seemed they might have finally succeeded. At five minutes to twelve, they’d heard a noise and had scampered from their beds to investigate.

Outside, their front yard was covered with snow, the snowman they’d built earlier in the day still staring off into the distance. Beside him was a new figure, his red coat stretched across his portly belly. They couldn’t see his face, but curly white hair hung down below a hat edged with fur. Beside the man lay a large sack from which spilled brightly wrapped packages. He stood slouching, one arm around the neck of the snowman. The man wasn’t really moving, just swaying slightly from side to side.

The boy looked up at his sister. ‘What should we do?’

The older child scratched her head as she surveyed the room they’d shared for as long as either of them could remember. A Christmas tree stood decorated in one corner while home-made streamers were strung across the ceiling. Finally, her eyes landed on the stockings that hung expectantly from the ends of their beds and an idea popped into her head. She grinned at her brother, ‘Let’s go out and see if he’ll give us our presents now, before we go to sleep.’

‘Yeah, that would be really cool.’

‘We’ll need to be quiet though. We don’t want Mom waking up.’

The younger kid rubbed his backside, remembering how it had felt when he’d been spanked for getting into a fight at school. If she’d been mad because of that, she’d be madder if she caught them out of bed on Christmas Eve. She’d already shouted at them earlier in the evening when they were still bouncing round their room long after they should have been tucked up in bed. Twice. But this was an opportunity not to be missed. After all, how many other kids would be able to say they’d got their presents from Santa Claus himself rather than just waking up on Christmas morning and finding he’d visited them in the night?

They grabbed their stockings and crept to the door. The elder child inched it open, making sure it didn’t squeak. Once there was enough room, they slipped through and snuck down the stairs, remembering to jump over the loose one at the bottom, the one that always creaked loudly when anyone stood on it. At the front door, the girl turned to her younger brother, ‘You sure about this?’

He nodded enthusiastically.

She reached up and took the key from its hook before sliding it into the keyhole. It first turned smoothly and silently, then there was resistance followed by a quiet click that told her the door was now unlocked. The girl pressed down the handle and pulled it open, letting in a blast of frigid air. The two children shivered in their thin night-clothes. Outside the street was silent, the snow muffling the usual noises of the night. The man had moved away from the snowman and now stood on the far side of their front yard with his back to them. The snow round his feet was messed up as if he’d been shuffling through it rather than walking across it. His sack still lay open on the ground by the snowman, seemingly forgotten.

Leaving the door open, the girl stepped forward, feeling the snow crunch under her weight, the cold shooting up through the soles of her feet. For a moment she thought about going back for her shoes but that would take time and he might be gone before she got back. She’d just need to be quick. Running forward, she called out quietly, ‘Santa, don’t go, we’re here. Can we have our presents now?’

Just as the girl reached the snowman, the figure in the red suit turned and she saw his face for the first time. She skidded to a halt, causing her brother to crash into her from behind, and stared at the face beneath the fur-trimmed hat. The man’s pale, sallow skin was splattered with red and his white beard was stained by a thick dark fluid that dripped slowly onto the snow. His deeply sunken eyes were a dull black with no spark of life in them.

‘That’s not Santa Claus. Is it?’ There was a frightened tone in the young boy’s voice. He clung to his sister’s arm. He didn’t know why but the man scared him. Maybe it was something to do with the eyes and the way they seemed to stare right through him.

‘No.’ The girl was frightened too. She tried to think of what to do next, but it seemed her brain had stopped working. She wanted to run, but couldn’t; she was rooted to the spot.

Then the man started towards them, slowly at first but becoming faster with each faltering step. Suddenly, the girl was no longer frozen with fear. She turned and fled, pulling her younger brother with her, but it was difficult to run across the snow in bare feet. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that the man in the Santa outfit was gaining on them. As he moved, he let out a moan that sank deep into her soul.

The kids were almost back at the house when the girl’s foot slipped on a patch of ice. She tumbled to the ground, pulling her little brother with her and landing heavily on her back. She pushed the boy onwards, towards the safety of the front door. As he disappeared inside, the girl rolled onto her front. The snow crumbled beneath her as she desperately struggled to get back onto her feet.

The girl yelled when she felt the man’s hand close around her leg and start dragging her backwards through the snow. But it didn’t feel like a real hand. While it gripped her so tightly it hurt, there was no warmth in it. Instead, it felt as cold as ice. She turned and saw the man’s face again, this time much closer. His red hat had fallen from his head, but he didn’t seem to have noticed or even to care. While his eyes looked lifeless, maybe even soulless, his jaw moved back and forth, causing his teeth to gnash against each other.

The girl kicked out, trying to break his grip, but even though she hit him as hard as she could he didn’t seem to notice. She heard someone screaming. It seemed distant at first, but quickly grew closer and closer. For a moment, the girl wondered who it was, then it dawned on her that it was coming from her own mouth. She struggled frantically but it was no use, she couldn’t get away. As the figure in the red suit loomed over her, blocking out the stars, the girl felt his fetid breath on the side of her face and realised she was going to die.

The man sank his teeth deep into her neck, ripping at her flesh. Although the girl could see her own blood spraying across the snow-covered yard, turning it a deep crimson red, she felt no pain. As the life drained from her body, the girl wished she’d listened to her mother. She wished she’d gone to sleep instead of trying to stay awake until Santa arrived.

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For those who have read this far, here’s a quick reminder that between the 26th and 31st of December, I’ll be posting extracts from the first three chapters of my new book, For Those In Peril On The Sea (available in the UK from the 3rd of January 2013 – I’m afraid it won’t be available outside the UK until March) on this blog. It’s a tale about post-apocalyptic survival in a world where the land is no longer safe, so if you liked the above story, you might like it as well.

Now Available: The Little Book of Zombie Mathematics: 25 Zombie-based Maths Problems

4 Dec

9781909832213-frontcoverSeveral years after I first came up with the idea, I’ve finally completed a curious little project called The Little Book of Zombie Mathematics. This is essentially a print version of my Maths With Zombies blog, although it includes an additional scoring system so that you can work out how well your maths skills will help you survive in the event of a zombie apocalypse that is only available in the book.

For those of you who are no familiar with the Maths With Zombies blog, it provides zombie-based scenarios which can be solved with a little mathematical knowledge (or, since multiple choice answers are provides, you can just guess!), and it aims to unite my twin interests of zombies and recreational mathematics.

If you’re stuck trying to work out what to get the zombie-lover in your life, then this might just be the kind of quirky little present that will score you top brownie points!


From the back of the book:

Your machine gun can fire 57 bullets a minute. There are 200 zombies staggering towards you and they’ll reach you in three and a half minutes. Do you have the fire power to kill them all before they get to you?

Mathematics can be oh so dry and boring. All those numbers floating around; and then there are the letters: what on earth are they doing in there? Shouldn’t they be in the English classroom helping people read?

But wait, did you know you can do maths with zombies? That sounds more exciting, doesn’t it? When maths becomes the key for surviving in a world where the dead hunt the living, it’s so much more fun. This is the premise behind The Little Book of Zombie Mathematics : make maths fun by adding the undead. After all, everything’s better with zombies.

And you never know, if a zombie apocalypse were ever to happen, knowing how to do maths with zombies might just save your life!

Oh and if you’re wondering what the answer is to the problem above, it’s no you don’t. To find out why, just read this book.

You can purchase The Little Book of Zombie Mathematics: 25 Zombie-based Maths Problems from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, your local Amazon site, or almost any other bookshop.



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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.

Zombietown USA

7 Apr

I’ve written several posts about zombies and science, and I probably shouldn’t be writing another one now, but I came across something which I couldn’t resist writing about, and this is Zombietown USA. Zombietown USA is a simulation of a zombie outbreak in the contiguous states of the USA which uses a standard epidemiological model to examine how it would spread.

There have been plenty of these types of models before, even on the spread of zombie diseases, but this one is different. Why? Because it lets you change the parameters and explore exactly what effect this has on how the disease spreads. This means you can not only create your own personal zombie apocalypse, but you can also work out exactly where the best place to hide would be, in the event of one ever happening in a town near you.

So what are the parameters you can play around with? Well, they’re quite simple. They are the starting location, the kill-to-bite ratio and the time it takes a zombie to walk one mile. The start location and the speed that zombies can move are both self-explanatory (although it’s nice to see that they have modelled both traditional slow zombies, and the more recent fast zombies), but the kill-to-bite (KTB) ratio needs some explanation. The KTB ratio is the relative effectiveness of zombie biting humans to humans killing zombies. According to this article from Computing World, they initially used a KTB ratio of 0.8 (meaning that for every zombie killed, 1.25 humans were bitten and infected), which they derived from watching zombie films such as Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead.

Once, you’ve set these parameters to whatever values you want to use, and chosen your starting location, you can then set the modelling running and see what happens. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when they did this for themselves using various different scenarios, the physicists behind the model found that it would take about four weeks (or 28 days – a familiar number to zombie fans!) for most of the continental US to become overrun. Interestingly, however, it would then take a lot longer for the remaining few pockets of humanity to fall, and these would be in sparsely populated areas like Montana and Nevada. They also found that if you live in a densely populated area, like northern Pennsylvania, they you are pretty much screwed!

These, however, are just general patterns. If you live in the continental US, and you want to find out what would happen if there was a zombie outbreak in your town, and where you could best go to survive it, then you can go to the Zombietown USA website, set the parameters to your own chosen values and start the model running (although, you should note that your browser will need to be able to run JavaScript for it to work, and I needed to use Google Chrome rather than Internet Explorer for this reason, in order to get it to work). I promise you that watching as the outbreak you’ve just started creeps slowly across the map will be hypnotically addictive (although make sure you set the step rate high enough so that you can see what’s happening), and you could easily waste a whole day playing with different scenarios, but then again, is there anything wrong with that? So, if you’re a zombie fan, then I would urge you, forget work for a while and go check it out*.

*Note: Follow this advice at your own risk, and the author bears no responsibility for loss of income, angry bosses, unfinished reports, missed presentations, getting fired, or any other unpleasant side-effects of doing so!



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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 Outbreak’ – The First Official Review Is Out And It’s Five Stars Out Of Five!

29 Jul

The Outbreak Cover DesignJust over a week after The Outbreak was published, the first major review is out … And it’s five stars out of five!

It’s a Foreword Clarion Review and you can read it on their website by clicking here, or you can download it as a PDF by clicking here.

To give you a taster of what the reviewer said, here’s some excerpts:

Now, here’s a zombie apocalypse that really knocks ‘em dead.

With zombie apocalypses occurring across all media at an alarming rate these days, it is difficult to find a new spin on the catastrophe. But Scottish marine biologist Colin M. Drysdale’s second book about the walking dead, The Outbreak…, adds a refreshing new twist to the genre: a small group of Glaswegian survivors finds safety at sea. Tackling themes such as uncertainty, not judging people by appearances, and the importance of living for the moment, Drysdale’s seafaring tale makes a splash in the postapocalyptic genre. …

…The thriller moves at a fast pace, with each chapter ending in a cliff-hanger designed to ratchet up suspense while keeping the audience turning the pages. Another brilliant coup occurs as it becomes impossible to predict who will die and how death will occur. As with the Game of Thrones series, The Outbreak also possesses no qualms about killing off characters one has become invested in. The alacrity with which some die only reinforces the horror of it all. …

Needless to say, I’m chuffed not only to have got a much coveted five star rating for the second time from Foreword Review, but also to get such a great review.



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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. 30 – The Astronaut’s Dilemma

29 Nov

It’s the middle of a crew change-over and you’re the only astronaut on the international space station, circling some 220 miles above the Earth. You’ve just received a consignment of food and other supplies which will last for the next six months, and you’re waiting for word of when the next new will arrive. Suddenly, your radio crackles into life. It’s ground control and at first what they’re saying isn’t making any sense. There’s a lot of noise in the background, which sounds like people running around in a panic, but you definitely heard the word disease. You also thought you heard another word, but you can’t have. Did ground control really just say something about zombies? You ask for clarification, and they repeat that they said: there’s a new disease which is turning everyone into zombies, and that it’s spreading fast. Before you can get much more information, ground control stops transmitting. You try every other channel, but there’s nothing on any of them. It might just be a technical glitch, but it seems there’s no one left broadcasting anywhere on Earth. You look out the window, and you can see what looks like New York burning in a massive fire. A few minutes later over China, you see what looks like a nuclear explosion in Shanghai. There’s clearly something very wrong going on down there, but without any communications, you don’t know exactly what. You assess the situation: you have plenty of food, water and air, at least for the time being, but you also have an escape capsule which could take you safely back to Earth. 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.

This dilemma was posed to me by my girlfriend after we’d been to see the film Gravity. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I’d strongly recommend you go and see it on as big a screen as possible, and in 3D. There’s no zombies in it, but still a great disaster movie…

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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. 29 – The Rendezvous Point Dilemma

11 Oct

You are the leader of a small group of survivors clinging on as zombies take over the world. Last night, your compound was over-run and in the scramble to escape, most of your group got separated from each others. Luckily, being a sensible leader, you’d had a plan in place in case of such an eventuality, and you’d previously told everyone that if this ever happened, they should aim to meet up at a crossroads five miles east of your base. You also told them that they would need to be there by sunset of the following day at the latest as being over-run would mean the local area was no longer safe and you would need to move on in search of somewhere safer as quickly as possible.

The sun is now going down all but two of your group have made it to the rendezvous point. The two missing people are your teenage daughter and your second in command. The best thing for the group as a whole is to get going as quickly as possible because the local area is now crawling with zombies, and there’s a good chance that if they haven’t made it by now, they’re dead – or worse. Yet, there’s a slim chance they’re still alive and that, for some reason, it’s just taking them longer than expected to get to the meeting place. In fact, they could arrive at the any moment, and you know your daughter would be devastated if she got there and found you’d left her behind. You could send the rest on ahead while you waited, but without your second in command, there’s be no one to take charge, so either you all go or you all stay, and that includes you wife and your other children. The longer you stay, the greater the chances that the zombies which over-ran your compound will catch up with you. 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.

If you want to read more about the importance of having rendezvous points in a zombie apocalypse, you can read the article posted 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.

What Would You Do If … Dilemmas In A Zombie Apocalypse: No. 28 – The Rope Bridge Dilemma

20 Sep

You’re running through the trees, trying your best to stay on your feet while dodging the low-hanging branches. Around you are a crowd of people who are all running too and for the same reason: there’s a horde of zombies chasing you. Ahead, you see the trees thin out and you know you’re almost at the ravine at the edge of town. You speed up, making it to the bridge before anyone else; its old, and is little more that a series of wooden slats held up by ropes strung to posts hammered into the ground at either end. You feel the bridge shudder beneath your feet as you race across it. Once you reach the other side, you turn, machete in hand and consider your options. If you cut through the ropes, there will be no way for the zombies to get across and you’ll finally be safe, yet there are still others streaming across the bridge. You glance at the ropes, not knowing how much time it will take to cut through them. If you start trying to cut them too soon, you’ll be sending many other survivors plunging needlessly to their deaths in the river far below. If you start cutting the ropes too late, the zombies will have time to make it across before you can finish severing them and then you’ll be doomed. 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.