Outsmarting a zombie • 12 December 2010 • The SnowBlog
Outsmarting a zombie
Now I'm aware I'm treading on thin ice here. But I've just finished watching the first season of The Walking Dead and there's a question that's nagging at me. I loved the show, but really, what's so difficult about outwitting a zombie?
It seems to me, that the people the stories tend to follow in a zombie attack are the hot-heads who left school too early. They don't really know about cars or locks or gun-maintenance or construction. They're not planners or strong thinkers. They alternate between fear and crazy ideas. They like to settle things with their fists even when their opponents are undead. But what happens to the organised people who work well in teams and can project-manage? The people we get to watch in most Zombie movies are like broke gamblers chancing it all one big win. What they're not like - to keep the metaphor going - is people who watch the pennies, put a little by each day and learn the ins and outs of personal finance.
Zombies have limited climbing ability, they could never work a combination lock, read instructions and they can't use tools. Any building that could withstand thirty people pushing or a handful of people halfheartedly banging things with rocks can keep out a zombie army. Designing doors that any normal human can open and no zombie can work is easy. You can even put in big letters "the combination to this door is 1234. duck as you open it, there's a shotgun aimed at head-height".
I'd use monkey-bars and rope ladders a lot. Brick up all ground floor windows and doors and use rope ladders to get in and out, and with a half a day's effort, almost every home becomes secure.
And think about what you'd do if you woke up in a world where 99% of humanity is dead or undead. I wouldn't be wandering around in shirt sleeves driving whatever ridiculous, unreliable car I could find (hoping that half a tank of fuel would last forever). There's a world full of HGV lorries with nice high cabs. Every shopping centre gets visited by armored-cars for cash pick-ups. There are petrol stations and army depots, police stations and hospitals - and enough canned, dried and plastic-wrapped food in warehouses and supermarkets to last a dwindling population forever more. Even if it's already been stolen it can't all have been eaten, so track it down.
And for goodness sakes, wear protective clothing. Anything will do: a wet-suit, skateboard armour, motorcycle leathers. Gloves and helmets, people. I reckon the average safety-conscious biker would be pretty much impervious to zombie attack provided they found a way to keep their gear on.
The world is also full of burglar alarms, CCTV, car alarms and computers. Once you've kept the zombies out, design a decent security system just in case you're wrong. You've got access to a virtually infinite number of car batteries, so power isn't a problem for the next decade or so. Now you don't have to hunch in a corner, rifle across your knees, whimpering and afraid to sleep, listening to the scratching at the thin door you've propped a chair against. You can fortify the local Hilton - though a hospital is more likely to have its own generators - and you can sleep in style.
Of course, dramatically speaking, none of that would be any fun. Naturally there needs to be a desperate dash across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Of course you turn your back, forget to post a guard, doze off at the wrong moment or leave your last shotgun shell back in the truck.
But I like to think that for every desperate, rag-tag band of survivors barely hanging on, there are a thousand level-headed engineers having a pretty pleasant time of it travelling from fuel depot to container dock on a cruise ship gathering their supplies until they're ready to settle on one of the Polynesian islands that they've systematically purged of the undead.