Home > The Zombie Survival Guide(17)

The Zombie Survival Guide(17)
Author: Max Brooks

But wouldn’t the vast oceans that make up the majority of our planet save us? Wouldn’t those in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia be safe from a festering outbreak in North America? Perhaps. This is assuming all borders are sealed, all air traffic has ceased, and every world government is aware of and working to stop the outbreak. Even so, with the undead ranks already in the tens of millions, is it possible to stop every aircraft with an infected passenger, every ship with an infected crewman? Is it possible to patrol every inch of coastline to watch for a waterborne ghoul? At this point, sadly, the answer is no. Time is on the side of the undead. With each day, their ranks will swell, making containment and extermination more and more difficult. Unlike its human counterparts, an army of zombies is completely independent of support. It will not require food, ammunition, or medical attention. It will not suffer from low morale, battle fatigue, or poor leadership. It will not succumb to panic, desertion, or out-and-out mutiny. Like the virus that gave it life, this undead force will continue to grow, spreading across the body of this planet until there is nothing left to devour. Where would you go? What would you do?

The Undead World

When the living dead triumph, the world degenerates into utter chaos. All social order evaporates. Those in power, along with their families and associates, hole up in bunkers and secure areas around the country. Secure in these shelters, originally built for the Cold War, they survive. Perhaps they continue the façade of a government command structure. Perhaps the technology is available to communicate with other agencies or even other protected world leaders. For all practical purposes, however, they are nothing more than a government-in-exile. With the total collapse of law and order, small bands of individuals emerge to assert their authority. Looters, bandits, and common thugs prey on the survivors, taking what they want and indulging in whatever pleasure they can find. It is common at the end of any civilization to have one last massive party. As perverse as it sounds, orgies of people believing that this day is their last spring up all around the nation.

What police and military forces are left serve as protection for the government in hiding, desert in an attempt to save their families, or degenerate into bandits themselves. A total collapse in communication and transportation sweeps the globe. Isolated cities become open battlegrounds, with scattered groups of citizens fighting to defend barricaded areas from both ghouls and human renegades. Neglected machines eventually break down or, in some cases, blow up. Reactor meltdowns and other industrial accidents are common, polluting the landscape with toxic chemical by-products. The countryside flourishes with zombies. With cities picked clean of humans, the undead fan out in search of prey. Country homes and suburban neighborhoods are torn to shreds as citizens flee, attempt to stand and fight, or wait helplessly for the slouching multitudes to engulf them. The carnage is not limited to humans: The air is thick with the shrieks of farm animals trapped in pens, or even family pets trying bravely to protect their masters.

As time passes, the fires die, the explosions cease, the screams fade. Fortified areas begin to run low on supplies, forcing the occupants to face their undead attackers during foraging missions, evacuations, or battles driven by desperate insanity. Casualties will continue to mount as many well-protected and well-supplied but weak-willed humans take their own lives out of sheer despair.

The looters previously mentioned fare no better than any other human. These modern-day barbarians became such because of their disrespect for law, their hatred of organization, their choice of destruction over creation. Their nihilistic, parasitic existence feeds off the riches of others instead of producing their own. This mentality prevents them from settling down and building a new life. They are always on the run, fighting off the undead no matter where they stop. Even if they succeed in fending off this external threat, their need for anarchy eventually leads them to turn on each other. Many of these societies will be held together by the strong personality of a chieftain. Once he or she is gone, there will be nothing to hold the group together. A disbanded gang of thugs, wandering aimlessly through hostile ground, cannot survive forever. After several years, little will be left of these ruthless human predators.

It is difficult to say what will happen to the remnants of government. This will depend greatly on which country we are talking about, what resources it had before the crisis, and

what type of government it was. A society living for ideals such as democracy or religious fundamentalism stands a greater chance of survival. These survivors will not need to depend on the personal magnetism (or intimidation) of a single individual. Some Third World dictator might hold his minions together only as long as he survives. As with the barbarian gangs, his demise, or even a simple display of weakness, could spell the end for the entire “government.”

But no matter what happens to the surviving humans, there will always be the walking dead. With glazed eyes and gawking mouths, their putrid forms will cover the earth, hunting all living things within their grasp. Some species of animals will undoubtedly face extinction. Others who are able to escape this fate may find ways to adapt and even thrive in a radically changed ecosystem.

This post-apocalyptic world will appear as a devastated landscape: burned-out cities, silent roads, crumbling homes, abandoned ships rusting offshore, gnawed and bleached bones scattered over a world now ruled by machines of walking dead flesh. Fortunately, you will not see this, because before it happens, you will be nowhere near!

Starting Over

In “On the Defense,” you learned how to prepare a space for what could be a long siege until rescue. In “On the Run,” you learned how to travel for what could be great distances until reaching safety. Now it is time to imagine and prepare for a worst-case scenario. In this scenario, you and your closest friends and family must be able to escape all civilization, find a remote, uninhabited corner of our planet (there are more than you think), and rebuild your life from scratch. Imagine a group of shipwrecked survivors on an island, or a human colony on a new planet. This must be your mind-set to survive. No one is coming for you, no rescue planned. There are no friendly forces to run to, no battle lines to hide behind. The old life is gone forever! The new one, in terms of both quality and duration, will be entirely up to you. As horrifying as this prospect sounds, remember that humans have been adapting and rebuilding since the beginning of our history. Even today, when society appears to have softened us beyond redemption, the will to survive is deep within our genes. Ironically, in a worst-case scenario, your greatest challenge will be dealing with day-to-day life and not the living dead. In fact, if your survival strategy works perfectly, you may never even see a zombie. Your goal is to create a safe little microcosm of the world, equipped with everything you will need to not only survive but maintain a modicum of civilization.

And when is the best time to start? Immediately! An all-out war might never happen. It might be years away. But what if it’s soon? What if a Class 1 outbreak has already begun and is going unchecked? What if a Class 2 or even Class 3 outbreak has begun in a totalitarian country where the press is highly censored? If so, an all-out war could be

months away. In all probability, this is not the case. But is it any reason not to be prepared? Unlike stocking up for a siege, preparing to re-create a tiny corner of civilization takes a tremendous amount of time. The more you have, the better off you will be. Does this mean you should give up your entire life and do nothing but prepare for the end of the world? Of course not. This text was prepared to coincide with the average citizen’s conventional lifestyle. Minimum preparation, however, should take no less than 1,500 hours. Even if spread over the course of several years, this is a formidable amount of time. If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining.

General Rules:

1. Assemble a Group:As detailed in previous chapters, collective response is always preferable to an individual attempt. A group will extend your financial resources, allowing for the purchase of a greater amount of land and equipment. As with a siege, a greater variety of skills will also be available. Unlike a siege, in which you will be lucky with whatever talents you find, preparing for a worst-case scenario allows the time to train members of your party in whatever skills are required. For example, how many blacksmiths do you know? How many doctors can find medicines in the wild? How many real urban dwellers know anything about farming? Specialization also allows for quicker preparation (a team scouts potential land while another acquires equipment, etc.). During the crisis, one or several members of your group could be sent ahead to the designated safe zone to prepare it if the situation gets worse. Of course, there are potential dangers. Unlike the relatively short sieges of protected areas, this long-term survival may lead to social problems unknown in modern society. People who believe help is eventually coming are much more likely to remain loyal than those who know the future is what they make it. Discontent, mutiny, even bloodshed are always a possibility. As is the mantra of this manual, be prepared! Take several classes on leadership and group dynamics. Books and lectures on basic human psychology are always a must. This knowledge will be instrumental in choosing your members and governing them later. To reiterate earlier statements, making a group of individuals cooperate over a long period of time is the hardest task on earth. However, when successful, this group will be capable of anything.

2. Study, Study, Study!:To say you will be starting from square one is inaccurate. Our ancestors were in this position because knowledge took so long to discover, accumulate, and exchange. Your great advantage over the first sentient apes will be thousands of years of experience right at your fingertips. Even if you were to find yourself in some desolate, hostile environment with no tools whatsoever, the knowledge stored in your

brain would still put you light-years ahead of the most well-equipped Neanderthal. In addition to general survival manuals, you should also add works on other worst-case scenarios. Many books have been published concerning wilderness survival in a nuclear war. Make sure these are as up-to-date as possible. Stories of true-life survival will also be a great help. Accounts of shipwrecks, plane crashes, even early European colonists will contain a treasure trove of dos and don’ts. Learn about our ancestors and how they adapted to their environment. Fictional accounts, as long as they are based in fact, may also be helpful, such asThe Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. Absorbing all these stories, both true and fictional, will help you realize you are not the first to attempt such an endeavor. Knowing that “it’s been done” should be a calming influence as you embark upon your new life.

3. Wean Yourself off Luxury Items:Most of us dream of a simpler yet more nutritious diet. “I’m cutting down on coffee,” “I need to have less sugar,” “I’m trying to eat more leafy greens” are phrases we either speak or hear frequently in everyday life. Living through a Class 4 outbreak would leave you with little choice. Even in ideal conditions, it would be impossible to grow or produce every food and chemical you now enjoy. To go from so much to zero overnight would be a significant shock to your system. Instead, begin to cut down on the foods and luxury items you will not have in your new home. Obviously, you will need to know what this new environment is and what you will be able to produce there. Even without going down a long list now, common sense will dictate exactly what you can and cannot live without. For example, as much as you love them, tobacco and alcohol are not part of human physiology. Cravings for vitamins, minerals, and sugar can be satisfied with natural foods. Even certain medications such as light pain relievers can be supplemented with skills like acupressure, various massage techniques, or even simple meditation. All of these suggestions might sound a little too foreign or “crunchy granola” for our practical, Western society. Remember though that many of these diet and healing techniques originated not with Northern California burnouts but with Third World societies where resources were and are scarce. Always keep in mind how spoiled Americans are in comparison to the rest of the planet. Studying the so-called “less fortunate” might give you some insight into how to handle problems with simpler, if not as comfortable, means.

4. Remain Vigilant:Implementing plans for a Class 4 outbreak should begin during the early stages of a Class 1. At the first sign of an outbreak (bizarre homicides, missing persons, unusual diseases, contradictory press, government involvement), contact all members of your group. Begin discussing your plans for evacuation. Make sure none of the laws have changed concerning travel, permits, equipment licenses, etc. If the outbreak expands to Class 2, prepare to move. Catalog and pack all your gear. Send a scouting party ahead to prepare the safe zone. Begin the first stage of your alibi. (If it’s a funeral of a loved one, let it drop now that the loved one is ill.) Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Once the outbreak expands to Class 3, get out!

5. To The Ends of The Earth!:You may be tempted to remain in your home or your newly constructed defensive zombie fortress permanently instead of heading for the wilderness. This is not recommended. Even if you lived in some sort of compound that is wellstocked and well-protected, with the means of producing food and water for decades to come, the chances of survival would be marginal. Urban zones will, in the immediate future, become the center of vicious combat between the living and the dead. Even if your fortress survived these street battles, it would eventually fall victim to extreme military measures, such as saturation bombing. As discussed previously in “On the Defense,” urban centers are the most likely areas for industrial accidents, large fires, and so on. Simply put: Stay in the city, and you stand little or no chance for survival. Suburban and even settled country areas will fare no better. As the numbers of living dead increase, they will almost certainly find your dwelling. A siege that begins with dozens of zombies will turn into hundreds, thousands, then hundreds of thousands in a short time. Once they find you, they will never leave. If anything, their moans, the collective shriek of several thousand zombies, will alert others hundreds of miles away. Theoretically, you could find yourself besieged by more than a million zombies.

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