As gamers, film goers, watchers of television and readers of books, most of us have likely come into contact with a popular and very specifically gruesome sub-genre known as the Zombie Apocalypse. For some reason or another, whether it is the result of a science experiment gone wrong in Resident Evil or as most often is the case they have simply arisen due to a supernatural or viral outbreak like in that of Dawn of the Dead or Dead Island, civilisation inevitably always seems to find itself knee deep in shit and corpses. The roots of the zombie myth are connected to the Haitian culture of old and their rituals involving the consumption of brain flesh. In most stories told today, the living dead rise up and become cannibalistic monstrosities barely resembling their former selves that would like nothing more than to chew your face off and munch on your brain stem. Nummy!
I have occasionally asked myself exactly how I would fair in the zombie apocalypse scenario. Have my years of media content absorption and gaming scenario experiences adequately prepared me to be able to survive in a world where the dead roam? Let’s find out.
I am sitting at home playing something ironically thematic like State of Decay or Left 4 Dead on my console when my fiancé looks over toward me. Her face is sullen and shocked and when I ask what’s wrong all she can do is hold her hand to her mouth and show me her Facebook news feed which is riddled with updates of cities falling prey to the rising dead all around the world. Birmingham, Manchester and London have fallen, riots have broken out, the emergency services are overwhelmed and the screams of the massacred masses are ringing throughout the streets. The governments of the world are doing all they can to control the chaos that has gripped the earth but it is evidently obvious that no one will be able to escape the impending doom that has fallen upon us all. The bell has tolled for the last time and the dead now walk the earth.
The Dead Enemy
The zombies in this scenario are most like the ones you would find in the Walking Dead and George Romero’s movies. Shambling, shifting, dim witted dullards that are so slow and dawdling that they can usually be avoided if you are careful not to get too close. Some however are capable of incredible speed and agility and these bastards only come out at night (Dying Light), so day time travel will become the norm.
We shut the blinds, turn off the lights and lock the windows. Until I can know for sure whether this is truly the end of the world or just something that will blow over (Shaun of the Dead), for all intents and purposes we are locked in and dead to the outside world. I will keep an eye out for the neighbours if they are desperate for help but I will advise them to do the same. We obviously try to contact our family and friends to see if they are okay but our phones are unable to connect to a network that has since gone down. We will resist the urge to go looking for them until we know more about what is happening. I will also take inventory of our food supplies and begin preparations for a lengthy stay indoors.
This is England, so guns are out of the question. Hell even the average gun owner will likely run out of ammunition fairly quickly so firearms are not the most logical choice and are best saved for emergencies if you have one. Instead I look to the kitchen to find out strongest knives and a large rolling pin. There are some shears in the shed as well as a shovel and fork and there is also a hammer and screwdrivers at our disposal. Oh and I mustn’t forget one of our most effective weapons in the fight against the dead, our frying and saucepans. Thwack indeed!
I would also look to fashion myself a makeshift small shield of some sort to be able to push and repel my attackers with my left hand so that I might be able to dispatch them with the weapon in my right. I would probably start with the largest saucepan lid I own until I could find or craft something more appropriate. Anything is better than nothing right?
My Daily Load-out
Like in any role playing game, an effective and well stocked load-out of useful equipment can mean the difference between life and death. I have a backpack that I would use to carry some of the more useful items and weapons so this is primary item number one, because if you have nothing to carry your goods other than your pockets then what is the point. This backpack will be with me at all times in preparation of any possible scenario. It will contain the following items that I already have at home right now.
- Cello tape
- My Smartphone
- Phone Charger
- Small Knife
- Tin Opener
- Pen & Notebook
Staying warm and concealed is the key to traversal in a zombie apocalypse in England. I have boots so they are an obvious choice for footwear. I would also wear my combat trousers, comfortable and practical, as well as a short sleeve T-shirt underneath one of my hooded tops. The hood will allow me to conceal my head and face if necessary and I will use a scarf to cover my mouth and nose. There is no room for extravagant clothing or pretty jewellery when it comes to survival.
Middle England is a fairly cool and temperate location and so for the most part we do not have to worry about sweating a great deal unless it is summer. If the zombies use smell to locate their next meal, then this would be a useful tactic to keep in mind.
Short Term Plans
To begin with we would live off the supplies we have in our home. In this scenario there will continue to be a long term supply of electricity and the internet will remain functional on a basic level. I will check regularly for updates on the outbreak and its aftermath and use this information to plan and act accordingly. We would keep our phones charged as often as possible so that we might use it to browse applications such as maps and listen to the radio. We would also try to make contact with friends and family but not at the expense of our own safety.
The prospect of being invaded by looters or the dead is not something I would particularly relish so we would set up a makeshift camp area in our cellar behind a barred door. It is a little damp but it would allow us to remain unseen and relatively unheard during the night. Keeping our dog quiet is key so he would have to stay down here most of the time (all squeaky toys are now banned!) and I could not bear the thought of anything happening to my fiancé so I would kindly request that she stay at home whenever possible to take care of him and our home. It isn’t that I wish to be all ‘me man, me hunt, you woman, stay home’ but she can hurt herself by walking into doors/walls and banging her head almost anywhere. She is adorably clumsy. Not great for stealth and manoeuvrability is it? Sorry dear, I’ll look out for some Ferrero Roche for you.
I’ll need better equipment too so I will keep an eye out for some sort of hand axe, machete or large knife to be able to defend myself more appropriately. I will keep an eye out for a sporting goods store for a decent bow so that archery will become a realistic proposition. I will likely have to whittle my own arrows from hardwood though.
Supplies to Scavenge
If my time in Fallout 4 has taught me anything is that there are uses for most objects in our world that we tend to take for granted in this wasteful consumer ridden society. Eventually I will need to leave the nest and go looking for additional supplies so this is what I feel we will need at the very least.
- Communication radios (Walky Talkies)
- Tinned & Sealed Food
- Bottled Water
- Torches (Flashlight)
- Pocket Tools
- Pain Killers
- Toilet Paper (duh!)
- Dog Food
- Black Paint (to conceal all windows)
- Leather Gloves
- Thick Clothing
Long Term Plans
Eventually we would look to move to a more suitable base and try to meet up with other like minded folks who harbour no desire to steal our goods or eat our flesh. Towns and cities are densely populated and will likely remain the source out countless hordes of the undead. This means that we would look to move to the countryside where there is lots of open space to grow crops and build fortifications, local wildlife to hunt and relatively few ‘zombastards’ to get in our way. I would hope that by this time we have become proficient in the art of survival and are part of a group that works well together and prioritises our safety and wellbeing over selfish desires and personal needs.
So this is just a general overview of how I think I would do if the world truly came crashing down around us in a zombie filled chasm of death and horror. I may survive or I may end up as a zombie chew toy within a few hours, the biggest problem with this fictional setting is that you cannot truly prepare for something so wildly unpredictable.
I would be interested to know how you guys would do if this scenario or any other Walking Dead related situation ever came to pass. What would you do? How would you attempt to survive? Would you do anything differently? Would you become a hunter? Scavenger? Hoarder? All or none of the above? For now though, I will return to studying these shows and games and watch how all of the unrealistically interesting scenarios unfold. You know, for research purposes and whatnot……just in case.
So watch out for those zombie gits, take care of yourselves folks and I recommend you watch Zombieland, because it’s brilliant!
Forged From Reverie.