Home > The Zombie Survival Guide(14)

The Zombie Survival Guide(14)
Author: Max Brooks

2. Sail: Wind is a consistent source of energy. Harnessing it will allow you to travel without the worry of rationing fuel. Other than the flapping of loose sails, wind-powered craft have the noise signature of floating kelp—almost zero. Unfortunately, wind is also highly unpredictable. A calm day could leave you stranded; a strong gale could cause you to capsize. Nine times out of ten, the wind will not be blowing in the right direction. Even if it is, slowing or stopping won’t be as easy as turning off the engine. Any novice can pilot a motorboat like a Boston whaler, but sailing requires skill, patience, intelligence, and years of practice. Remember this before you run to the nearest day sailor, hoist the jib, and find the wind blowing directly toward the living dead.

3. Muscle: What could be simpler than rowing? With a little practice, anyone can propel, and maneuver, his own craft. Here the greatest disadvantage is as simple as humanity: We tire. This should be taken into account when planning your seaborne journey. How far do you have to go? How many people are traveling with you? Even with taking turns at the oars, can you reach your destination before everyone is exhausted? Unless you have a backup motor or sail, be careful when planning journeys that are entirely dependent on human muscle. Remember, humans require rest; zombies do not. Why put yourself in a situation that pits our greatest weakness against their greatest strength?

General Rules

The worst thing you can do when stepping into a boat is believe that the danger is over. This false sense of security has caused the death of hundreds of people, victims who could have easily been survivors if they had kept their guard up and their minds working. Escaping by water is no different than by air or land. Warnings must be heeded, rules must be followed, and lessons must be learned inside and out for a safe and successful voyage.

1. KNOW YOUR WATERWAY:Are there any locks? What about dams, bridges, rapids, or waterfalls? As on land, detailed knowledge of the waterways you will encounter is essential before starting your journey.

2. STAY IN DEEP WATER:Preferably deeper than twelve feet. Any shallower, and a zombie may be able to reach up to your boat. Many escapees have been lost over the side to subsurface ghouls, particularly in murky water. Others have lost parts of their propellers or a section of a rudder by hitting submerged zombies.

3. DON’T SKIMP ON SUPPLIES:Many people believe that traveling down a river or canal removes the need for packed rations. After all, why not just fish and drink the water right below you? Sadly, the days of Huckleberry Finn, when rivers were clean and bountiful, are long since gone. After decades of industrial dumping, most rivers are in no shape to support life. Even without artificial pollutants, many rivers and lakes carry enough bacteria from human and animal waste to cause life-threatening ailments. The upshot: Always carry enough food and fresh water for the journey’s duration. A levelthree filter pump should also be used for cooking and bathing.

4. WATCH YOUR ANCHOR LINE!:Too often, people feeling secure in their boat have stopped at night, dropped anchor, and dozed off. Some of these people never awoke. Zombies walking on the bottom can hear a boat approaching as well as the sound of an anchor hitting the mud. Upon finding the chain, they can use it to climb all the way up to your boat. Always leave at least one person on watch for this, and be prepared to cut your line at the first sign of trouble.

On The Attack

In July 1887, the South Island of New Zealand was the scene of a small outbreak at a farmhouse near Omarama. Although the initial stages of the attack are unknown, reports state that by dusk, a group of fourteen armed men dispatched three zombies in the surrounding countryside, then converged on the house for what was to be an easy mopup. One man was sent to reconnoiter the house. He entered; screams, moans, and shots were heard; then nothing. Another man was sent in. At first all was quiet. He was seen leaning out of an upstairs window, shouting that he had found a half-eaten body but nothing else. Suddenly a decomposing arm appeared behind him, grabbed his hair, and pulled him inside. The others raced in to help him. No sooner had they entered the house when five zombies attacked from all directions. Long hand weapons such as axes and scythes were useless in tight quarters. The same was true of long-barreled rifles. Wild pistol shots accidentally killed three men outright and wounded another two. At the height of the melee, one of the survivors panicked, raced from the house, grabbed a lantern, and threw it through a window. A subsequent search found only charred skeletons.

This chapter is designed to help plan a civilian search-and-destroy mission. As has been stated before, various government agencies will have their own equipment and doctrine (hopefully) for dealing with such unconventional warfare. If they show up, great. Sit back, relax, and watch your tax dollars hard at work. But as has also been stated before, what if those we pay and expect to protect us are nowhere to be found? In this case, responsibility for eradicating the undead menace is up to you and those you can convince to join you. Every rule, every tactic, every tool and weapon in this section have been carefully tailored for just such a contingency. All have been taken from actual combat. All have been tested and proven battle-ready for that moment when retreat has ended and the time has come to hunt the hunters.

General Rules:

1. Collective Response:As with any other type of combat, undead warfare should never be a solo mission. As stated before, in Western—particularly American—culture, there is the myth of the individual superbeing. One man or woman, well-armed and highly skilled, with nerves of steel, can conquer the world. In truth, anyone believing this should simply strip na**d, holler for the undead, then lay down on a silver platter. Not only will going it alone get you killed—it may also create one more zombie. Working together, always together, has shown to be the only successful strategy for annihilating an undead army.

2. Keep Discipline:If you take nothing else from this chapter, if correct armament, equipment, communication, and tactics seem a silly waste of time, if only one tool goes with you into battle against the living dead, let it be strict, unwavering, unquestionable discipline. A self-controlled group, regardless of numbers, can inflict infinitely more damage on an undead enemy than any well-armed mob. Since this book is written for civilians, not military personnel, discipline of this caliber is difficult to come by. When selecting your team, make sure that the men and women under your command understand your instructions. Use clear, concise language. Do not resort to military or other coded jargon unless your team are all familiar with its meaning. Make sure there isone leader, acknowledged and respected by the entire group. Make sure there are no personal differences or, at the very least, that they are left far behind. If these demands mean thinning your ranks, so be it. Your team should and must function as one. If not, a plethora of nightmarish possibilities awaits. Large, well-equipped groups have been utterly destroyed when their members have panicked, scattered, or turned on each other. Forget what you’ve seen in movies about loose bands of locals, beer and shotguns in hand, protecting humanity from the zombie menace. In real life, such a gaggle would be little more than a gun-toting buffet.

3. Be Alert:Maybe you’re elated from a successful fight; maybe you’re tired from days without sleep; maybe hours upon hours of fruitless searching have left you mindnumbingly bored. For whatever reason,never let your guard down. The undead could be anywhere, their sounds muffled, their signs ignored. No matter how safe the area seems, be alert, be alert, be alert!

4. USE GUIDES:Not every battle will occur on home turf. Before entering an area unfamiliar to you or your group, recruit someone with local knowledge. He or she can point out all the hiding places, all the obstacles, all the escape routes, and so on. Groups without guides have been known to accidentally trigger disasters by failing to know that a gas main was within their firing line or that toxic chemicals were stored in the building they had set ablaze. Successful armies throughout history have always employed locals from the territory they sought to conquer. Armies that have entered blind have usually met with defeat.

5. Have a Base, Have Support:A team should never go into battle without having established a safe zone. This area should be well outside the target area. It should be manned by a support group with all the necessary facilities to keep you fighting. It should be easily defensible should the tide of battle turn. Fortress, hospital, supply dump, combat information center—all of these should spring to mind when you order your group to “return to base.”

6. Use Daylight:It is no accident that most horror films take place at night. Darkness has always inspired horror for one simple reason: Homo sapiens are not designed for nocturnal activity. Our lack of night vision and poor hearing and sense of smell make us creatures of the day. Although zombies are no more skilled at night fighting than we are, it has been proven that the margin of safety always drops when confronting them after dark. Daylight not only allows greater visibility but also bestows a psychological lift upon your people.

7. Plan Your Escape:How many zombies are you going up against? Unless you have anexact figure, make sure an escape route is always chosen, scouted, and under guard. Too often, overconfident hunters have sauntered into infested areas only to be overwhelmed by numbers they never considered. Make sure your escape path is clear, close by, and above all, clear of any obstacles. If numbers permit, leave several members

of your group to keep this escape passage open. Retreating groups have sometimes been trapped when their escape route was blocked by a mass of walking dead.

8. Let Them Come To You:More than any other, this tactic allows the living to fully exploit their advantage of intelligence. A human army, knowing an attack is coming, will wait patiently, and safely, on the defense. This is why in conventional human warfare, an attacker always needs at least a three-to-one numerical advantage to ensure success. Not so with the undead. Because zombies are driven simply by instinct, they will attack no matter what the situation. This gives you the advantage of simply waiting near an infested area and letting them come to you. Make as much noise as you can, light bonfires, even send one or two fast scouts in to lure them out. When the dead come, you will be in a position of “aggressive defense,” ready to kill the majority before going in to mop up. Because this tactic has been proven the most effective, different examples of its execution will be discussed later in this chapter.




9. KNOCK!:Before entering a room, locked or otherwise, always listen for activity inside. A zombie could be on the other side of the door—docile, quiet, ready to move at the first sign of prey. How is this possible? Maybe bitten humans succumbed behind their locked doors. Maybe they were put there by other, uninformed humans who believed they were protecting their loved ones. For whatever reasons, the chances of this scenario are at least one in seven. If at first you hear nothing, make some noise. This will either galvanize any silent ghouls or confirm that the room is empty. No matter what, be on your guard.

10. Be Thorough:In the early stages of an outbreak, people tend to capture, not kill, zombies they have known in mortal life. When the captors have either fled or been devoured, restrained zombies may remain for years, able to repeat the cycle if released. After an area has been swept for ghouls, sweep it again. Then, sweep it again. Zombies could be anywhere—in sewers, attics, basements, cars, air ducts, crawl spaces, even inside walls or under mounds of debris. Pay particular attention to bodies of water. Zombies wandering at the bottom of lakes, rivers, even reservoirs have been known to surface well after an area has been declared safe. Follow the instructions later in this chapter for proper aquatic search-and-destroy.

11. Maintain Communication:Remaining linked to every member of your group is one of the most vital factors in a successful mission. Without proper communication, hunters can become separated, overrun, or accidentally shot by their own people (as in conventional warfare, this happens more than is generally acknowledged). Small, two

way radios—even the inexpensive brands marketed in electronics stores—are the best way to remain in contact. Walkie-talkies are also preferable to cell phones in that their signals do not depend on satellites, relays, or any other external aids.

12. Kill And Listen:After a skirmish, always be wary of secondary zombie groups. The moment a ghoul is put down, cease all activity and listen to the world around you. Chances are that if any zombies are within earshot, they have overheard the battle and are moving in on your position.

13. Dispose Of All Bodies:Once the area is truly secure, burn both the bodies of the undead and those in your party who have fallen. First, this erases the chance of infected human corpses reanimating as zombies. Second, it prevents the health risk associated with any type of rotting flesh. Freshly slain humans provide an attractive meal for birds, scavenging animals, and, of course, other zombies.

14. Incendiary Control:When using fire, make sure you keep in mind the larger implications. Can you control the blaze? If not, the fire will endanger your group. Is the zombie threat serious enough to warrant destroying great amounts of personal property? The answer may seem obvious, but why burn down half a town to kill three zombies that could be destroyed by rifle fire? As stated previously, fire can be as powerful an enemy as it is an ally. Use it only when necessary. Make sure your team can easily escape a wild blaze. Make sure you know where all explosive and poisonous chemicals are stored and if their destruction could endanger your team. Make sure you practice with your incendiary tools (blowtorch, Molotov, flare, etc.) before entering a combat zone so you know what they are capable of. Be aware of flammable fumes such as a leaking gas main. Even without resorting to fire as a weapon, the danger of these fumes, spilled chemicals, leaking fuel tanks on automobiles, and a host of other hazards are enough to prohibit smoking during any search-and-destroy mission.

15. Never Go Off Alone!:There may be times when it seems wasteful to send an entire team to do one person’s job. Wouldn’t five individuals cover more ground than a group all bunched together? In terms of time and efficiency, yes. For safety, the priority of any zombie sweep, staying together is mandatory. A separated individual could easily be surrounded and consumed. Even worse, hunters have come up against walking dead who only hours before were members of their own party!

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