Home > The Zombie Survival Guide(11)

The Zombie Survival Guide(11)
Author: Max Brooks

Food is also plentiful, as the ocean provides a nutritious (and, some would argue, superior) diet of fish, kelp, and if possible, seaborne mammals. Unless the rig is extremely close to land, there is no danger of industrial pollution. People can, and do, live entirely, indefinitely from the riches of the sea.

This complete isolation, as attractive as it sounds, also presents its own brand of difficulties.

Anyone living near the beach will tell you what a killer salt air can be. Corrosion will be your number one enemy, eventually winning out against all preventative measures. Essential machines can be repaired. Cruder distilleries of steel pots and copper tubing

work just as well as high-tech desalinizers. Wind– or tidal-powered dynamos could provide more than half the power of the fossil-fuel generators. Sensitive electronic gear, however, such as computers, radios, and medical machinery, will be the first to go and the hardest to replace. Eventually, the entire complex will deteriorate, from a cuttingedge industrial wonder to a crude and rusty albeit still serviceable hulk.

Unlike prisons and military bases, offshore oil rigs will be the first places abandoned. Within the first few days of an outbreak, workers will no doubt demand to get to their families, leaving the rig without a trained staff. If none of your group knows how to operate the machinery, learning might be difficult. Unlike prisons, there may not be a library with how-to books on every shelf. This may require a little creative improvisation, making do with what you can operate instead of, or until you can master, all the technology that can be found on most sophisticated rigs.

Industrial accidents—explosions of stored oil and gas—are bad enough on land. In the middle of the ocean, they have materialized into some of the worst disasters in history. Even with all the firefighting and rescue facilities of a living, functional world, entire crews have been killed when their rigs went up in flames. What would happen if a fire occurred and there was no one to cry to for help? This does not mean that oil rigs are seabased bombs waiting to go off; it does not mean they should be avoided by all but the most foolhardy. What is recommended, however, is to shut down the drill. This may rob you of new petroleum but will work wonders for your life expectancy. Use already-stored fuel for the generator. As stated above, it will not give you the same amperage as the primary generator, but with the drill off and all industrial facilities closed, what will you need it for?

The ocean can be a source of life, but also a merciless killer. Storms, striking with a ferocity rarely seen on land, can smash even the sturdiest platforms. News tapes of North Sea rigs literally turning over, disintegrating to rubble, then sinking beneath the waves are enough to make anyone think twice about leaving shore. This is, unfortunately, a problem that cannot be remedied by humanity. Nothing in this or any other book can save you from nature when she decides to remove this hunk of steel from her ocean.

On The Run

The 1965 “Lawson Film,” as it is now commonly called, is an 8mm home movie of five people attempting to escape the infestation of Lawson, Montana. Its shaky, soundless footage shows the group racing to a school bus, starting the engine, and attempting to drive out of town. After only two blocks, they accidentally rammed several wrecked cars, backed up into a building, and cracked the rear axle. Two members of the group smashed the windshield and tried to make it out on foot. The camera operator filmed one of them

being grabbed and mauled by six zombies. The other ran for her life, disappearing around a corner. Moments later, seven zombies surrounded the bus. Fortunately, they were unable to turn the vehicle over or smash the glass of the side door. As the film ran out after only a few minutes, little is known of what happened to the survivors. The bus was eventually found with its door caved in. Dried blood covered the inside.

During the course of an outbreak, you may find it necessary to flee the area. Your fortress may be overrun. You may run out of supplies. You may become critically injured or ill, in need of professional medical attention. Fire, chemicals, or even radiation may be rapidly approaching. Crossing an infested area is generally the most dangerous thing you can do. You will never be safe, never be secure. Always exposed, in hostile territory, you will know what it means to be prey.




General Rules

1. ONE GOAL: Too often, people who have been holed up in fortified dwellings are seduced by the distractions of their initial freedom. Most of these people never make it to safety. Do not become one of these unnecessary statistics. Your mission is to escapenothing more, nothing less. Do not look for abandoned valuables. Do not hunt the occasional zombie. Do not investigate any strange noises or lights in the distance. Just get out. Every side trip, every pause in the journey, increases the odds of being found and devoured. If by some chance you come across humans that need assistance, by all means stop to help. (Sometimes logic must give way to humanity.) Otherwise, keep going!

2. ESTABLISH A DESTINATION: Where exactly are you headed? Too often, people have abandoned their fortifications to wander aimlessly and hopelessly across an area swarming with ghouls. Without a fixed destination in mind, the chances of surviving the journey are slim. Use your radio to discover the nearest haven. If possible, try to communicate with the outside world to confirm that this destination is indeed safe. Always have a backup destination, in case the first is overrun. Unless other humans are waiting, and unless constant communication is maintained, you may arrive to find a gathering of zombies waiting hungrily at the finish line.

3. GATHER INTELLIGENCE AND PLAN YOUR JOURNEY:How many zombies (approximately) stand between you and your destination? Where are the natural boundaries? Have there been hazardous accidents such as fires or chemical spills? What are the safest routes to take? What are the most dangerous? Which have been blocked since the outbreak began? Will weather be a problem? Are there any assets along the

way? Are you sure they’re still there? Can you think of any information you’d like to have before setting out? Obviously, once you are holed up in your fortress, gathering intelligence will be difficult. It may be impossible to know how many zombies are out there, if a bridge is down, or if all the boats at the marina are gone. So know your terrain. At least that factor will not change with an outbreak. Consider where you will be at the end of each day. Make sure, at least from the map, that it’s relatively defensible, with good concealment and several escape routes. Specific gear will also have to be considered, depending on the chosen path. Will rope be required for climbing? What about extra water if there’s no natural source?

Once all these factors are calculated, consider the unknown variables and formulate backup plans around them. What will you do if a fire or chemical spill blocks your path? Where will you go if the zombie threat turns out to be greater than anticipated? What if a team member is injured? Consider all the possibilities, and do your best to plan for them. If someone says to you, “Hey, let’s just get going and deal with whatever’s out there,” hand him a pistol with one bullet and tell him that it’s an easier way of committing suicide.

4. GET IN SHAPE: If the previous instructions have been followed to the letter, your body should already be conditioned for a long journey. If this is not the case, begin a strict cardiovascular regimen. If there is no time, make sure the path you have chosen is within your physical abilities.

5. AVOID LARGE GROUPS:When on the defense, the advantage lies in numbers. But when traveling through zombie territory, the opposite holds true. Large groups increase the chances of detection. Even with strict discipline, accidents happen. Larger groups also impede mobility, because the slowest members have to struggle to keep pace with the fastest, and vice versa. Of course, traveling solo has its problems as well. Security, reconnaissance, and, naturally, sleep would all be hampered if someone tried to “go it alone.” For ideal performance, keep your team at three members. Four to ten is still manageable. Anything above that is asking for trouble. Three members allow mutual protection in hand-to-hand fighting, dispersion of guard duty at night, and the ability of two members to carry an injured third for short periods of time.

6. TRAIN YOUR GROUP:Take stock of your team’s individual skills, and use them accordingly. Who can carry the most gear? Who’s the fastest runner? Who’s the quietest in hand-to-hand combat? Designate individual jobs in both combat and everyday survival. When your team hits the road, everyone should know what’s expected of him or her. Working together should also be top priority. Practice mock survival techniques as well as combat drills. For example, time how long it will take to pack up all your gear and move out in a sudden zombie attack. Obviously, time may be critical in your departure. In an ideal situation, your group should move as one, act as one, kill as one.

7. REMAIN MOBILE:Once discovered, zombies will converge on you from every direction. Mobility, not firepower, is your best defense. Be prepared to run at a moment’s notice. Never pack more than you can run with. Never unpack all your gear at once. Never remove your shoes unless immediate security is assured! Pace yourself. Undertake high-speed dashes only when necessary, as they squander large amounts of precious energy. Take frequent, short breaks. Do not allow yourself to become too comfortable. Remember to stretch during each break. Never take unnecessary risks. Jumping, climbing, and anything that could cause injury should be avoided if possible. In ghoulinfested territory, the last thing you need is a sprained ankle.

8. REMAIN INVISIBLE:Other than speed, your next closest ally will be stealth. Like a mouse trying to crawl through a nest of snakes, you must do everything possible to avoid detection. Turn off any hand-held radios or electronic equipment. If you wear a digital watch, make sure the alarm is deactivated. Tie down all your gear, making sure nothing clanks when you walk. If possible, keep your canteen full (to avoid a “sloshing” sound). If in a group, refrain from talking. Whisper or use visual signals to communicate. Stick to areas with good cover. Travel through open areas only when necessary. At night, refrain from using fires, flashlights, or any other sources of light. This will restrict your mobility to daylight hours and your diet to cold rations, but these sacrifices must be made. Studies have shown that zombies with intact eyes can spot a glowing cigarette ember from over half a mile away. (It is not known whether this causes them to investigate, but why take the chance?)

Fight only when you have to. Delays brought on by battle will serve only to draw more zombies. People have been known to finish off one zombie only to find themselves surrounded by dozens more. If combat proves inevitable, use firearms only in the most desperate of circumstances. Firing a shot is no different than sending up a flare. Its report may attract zombies for miles around. Unless you have a reliable and very speedy means of escape, or unless your firearm is silenced, use a secondary hand weapon. If not, have an escape route planned and ready to use once your shots are fired.

9. LOOK AND LISTEN:In addition to staying hidden, you must try to spot potential threats. Watch for any movement. Don’t ignore shadows or distant humanoid forms. During breaks and while on the march, pause to listen to your surroundings. Do you hear footsteps or scraping sounds? Are the undead moaning, or is it just the wind? Of course, it is easy to become paranoid, to believe zombies are around every corner. Is that bad? In this instance, no. It’s one thing to believe everyone’s out to get you, quite another when it’s actually true.

10. SLEEP!:You or your group are all alone, trying to be silent, trying to be alert. Zombies could be anywhere, hiding, hunting. Dozens could appear at any moment, and help is miles away. So how in heaven’s name are you supposed to get any sleep!?! It sounds crazy, it sounds impossible, but it is essential if you’re going to make it through this ordeal alive. Without rest, muscles deteriorate, senses dull, and each passing hour reduces your ability to operate. Many a foolhardy human, believing he could load his body with caffeine and “power through” his trek, has realized too late the consequences of such stupidity. One advantage of having to travel by day is that, like it or not, you’re not going anywhere for at least several hours. Instead of cursing the darkness, use it. Traveling in small groups, as opposed to solo, allows for more secure sleep because individual members can take shifts standing watch. Of course, even with someone watching over you, dropping off will not be easy. Resist the temptation of sleeping pills. Their effects could leave you unable to function if zombies attack during the night. Other than meditation or other mental exercises, there is no quick fix for getting to sleep in the middle of an infestation.

11. REFRAIN FROM OVERT SIGNALS: The first sight of a plane might cause you to try to attract the pilot’s attention, firing your weapon, sending up a flare, lighting a signal fire, or by some other dramatic means. This could get the pilot’s attention, who could radio for a helicopter or ground rescue team to head for your position. This act will also attract nearby zombies. Unless the helicopter is only minutes away, the zombies will undoubtedly reach you first. Unless the aircraft you see has the potential to land right then and there, do not attempt to signal it with anything other than a radio or mirror. If these are not available, keep going.

12. AVOID URBAN AREAS:No matter what your chances for survival are during an infestation, they will undoubtedly drop by 50 if not 75 percent when traversing an urban area. The simple fact is that a place inhabited by more living will have more dead. The more buildings present, the more places to be ambushed. These buildings also decrease

your field of vision. Hard cement surfaces, unlike soft ground, do nothing to muffle footsteps. Add to that the chances of simply knocking something over, tripping over debris, or crunching over broken glass, and you have a recipe for a very noisy trip.

Also, as has been and will be stressed again in this chapter, the possibility of being trapped, cornered, or otherwise surrounded in an urban area is infinitely greater than it is in any wilderness setting. Forget for a moment that your problem even comes from the living dead. What about friendly fire, other humans hiding in buildings, or armed bands of hunters that mistake you for a zombie? What about fire, either accidental or intentionally started by hunters? What about chemical spills, poisonous smoke, or other hazardous by-products of urban warfare? What about disease? Remember that bodies of both dead humans and dispatched zombies might be left unattended for weeks. The deadly microorganisms they carry that are spread by the wind will be as potent a health hazard as any other found on city streets. Unless you have some legitimate reason (a rescue attempt or impassable obstacles on either side, not a quick chance to loot), stay away from cities at all costs!

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