Fact: zombie invasions suck. Just ask anyone who’s been through one, and he’ll tell you: “bluurble gurrble braiiins.” Does that sound like the guttural moaning of someone who had a good time? No, it sure as shit does not.
Above: Not a good time
There are books and websites out there that claim to contain the best techniques for keeping your flesh intact during an outbreak, but I have something they don’t: experience… playing a lot of zombie games. With the recent influx of zombie themed games (Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil 5, and CoD: World at War’s zombie Nazi mode, to name a few) I’ve been able to rack up hundreds of hours of zombie invasion training.
Want to save your organs from being spread out across cold pavement like hors d'oeuvres? Soak up my tips with your eyeballs and remember them forever. In fact, I suggest you write everything here down on a series of note cards to keep with you at all times (always be prepared!). Remember: you and at least three other survivors can make it out of the infected area if you stay together, follow my advice, and don’t mind the occasional gut spray to your face.
Is it a zombie invasion?
Before you do anything, you need to determine whether or not a zombie invasion has occurred, and estimate the scope of the invasion. Is the entire civilized world in ruins, or just the mysterious little town you wandered into? Are there any safe routes away from the epicenter, or at least to the mall?
Above: Sometimes zombies look like this, but other times they don’t
If the power is on, turn on a TV. If the situation has been contained and quarantined by the military, it will probably be reported by out-of-town news as a “chemical spill,” “biological hazard,” or “cannibal terrorist attack.” You’ve probably seen reports like this before about towns near you. Now you know.
If you can’t receive any channels on cable, satellite, or broadcast TV, you may be dealing with a much larger outbreak. There’s a good chance that the employees of your local broadcast affiliates and cable offices are now zombies, reporting on zombie news and acting in their own zombie sitcoms, possibly with cute names like “Everybody Loves Raymond’s Brains” or “Marinated with Children.” Fact: zombies are very creative when left to their own devices, and enjoy dry humor.
Above: Why would I make this up?
Lacking any access to one or two-way communication (TV, phone, internet, smoke signals), there are other ways to determine if a zombie outbreak has occurred. Go outside and check for the following signs.
The 10 most common signs of a zombie outbreak
10. You live in the vicinity of a highly secretive biotech corporation, the offices of which are generating a suspicious moaning sound. 9. You responded to a static-ey distress call from a dark mining ship in deep space by landing on it. 8. You’re surrounded by a highly unusual amount of fog which seems to follow you (sometimes even indoors). 7. You woke up alone in a hospital. 6. You were just talking about zombie invasions the last night! Weird how things happen like that, isn’t it? 5. You’ve been encountering an improbable number of locked doors. 4. You’ve been in some way involved with a book called “The Necronomicon.” 3. You performed strange rituals in a graveyard the night before. (Why would you do this?) 2. There are a bunch of zombies walking around. 1. You are a zombie.
Know how people always say “The best defense is a good offense?” Those people are stupid assholes. Sure, you won’t have a problem defending yourself if you kill all of the zombies, but you’re never going to do that, unless maybe you have a nuclear bomb, in which case you’ll die too. So what then, people who repeat trite phrases?
Well, there is no perfect zombie defense structure, but any well fortified building will do for a while. Of course, you can’t stay any longer than your water and food rations will last, so you’d better hope your rescue is swift (unless you have a replicator from Star Trek or something, but in that case, just teleport out of there and go on more crazy space adventures!). More commonly, outbreak survivors choose to risk life and brain and dash out of the infected area, generally with guns blazing, and possibly with no holds barred. But if you do decide to stick out the invasion and wait for rescue, you’ll want to be in a building with thick fire doors, caged windows, and some kind of soundproofing (so they can’t hear you, and you don’t have to hear them). Either that, or a mall, the old standby (not particularly recommended).
If, however, you’re more into the whole making a last stand with nothing but a pistol and mean look in your eye type of thing, there are a few points to consider before you face the horde.
Armor Without external protection, a routine zombie encounter can easily be your last - one bite and it’s all moaning and outstretched arms for you. So a thick, bite-proof coating will serve you well. Put on as much leather as possible. A motorcycle helmet can’t hurt either, and it’ll make you look really cool. If you’re a woman, however, some kind of slinky red dress or short skirt will provide adequate protection. Fact: male zombies are highly intimidated by displays of sexuality, and female zombies can easily become self conscious when confronted by whole, non-decomposed figures.
Aid Any injury that might delay your escape could be fatal, so be sure to carry a basic first aid kit in case you break a leg, shoot yourself in the foot, or just decide to end it all the painless way. Do be sure to pack several bottles of pain killers (raid your local pharmacy!), as they’ll be necessary if physical pain starts slowing you down, or you just feel like getting silly for a bit.
Transportation In the case that you’re traveling on foot, remember to wear comfortable shoes, such as combat boots with lots of cool latches and zippers or high heels. If traveling by car, it’s recommended that you barrel through obstacles with no regard for the structural integrity of the vehicle. Running over large groups of zombies will probably cause very little damage to the vehicle, assuming that it’s not American made - I hear American auto manufacturers have been making a few cutbacks lately.
No matter how skilled you are at slinking around in the night, you’ll eventually have to fight, and when push comes to flesh eating, you can’t take chances. Listen, you’ve got zombies, zombies coming at you. Just start shooting, seriously. You can find more ammo. If by some bizarre circumstance you run out of ammo, pick up something and start bashing. Go for the heads, but if that’s too hard, just go crazy until they’re pretty much just clouds of undead vapor (try not to inhale any of it). Here are a few vital tips to keep in mind:
Stick together – You ever seen a movie or game in which someone doesn’t die immediately after the team is split up?
Avoid irony – Make a remark which has the potential for irony, and you’re almost certainly going to be the horde’s next victim. Especially avoid sarcasm. Some examples are:
• “Yeah, right, the undead? I don’t believe in any of that Voodoo nonsen-aaaaaaghhhh!” • “Everyone okay? Good… I think we got them all, and we’re all still aliiiiiiiiigghhhhhhhhhhh!” • “What is this, some kind of joke? I suppose you’re all making that face so that I think there’s a zombie behind me right now, huh? Yeah, and he’s gonna take a big bite out of my heeeaaaaaaaarrrrghhhh!”
Look for crates – Crates almost always contain something good. If you don’t see any crates around, look in cabinets – you’d be surprised how many homeowners keep hunting rifles and combat shotguns in their armoires.
Close doors – If you’ve played Left 4 Dead recently, you should know that zombies can’t open doors. It’s not so much that they lack the cognitive power to understand latch and hinge mechanisms - even dogs can figure that out - it’s just that they tend to favor more dramatic entries. In fact, as a general rule, if it would be scarier, or look cooler, that’s what a zombie will do. Busting through a door with brute force is much more impressive than opening it and casually strolling in, but since zombies aren’t particularly strong, it can take them several hours to knock down a single door.
Distract them with light – Zombies are attracted to any source of light, which is why you should turn off your flashlight when you think they’re near (night vision goggles help) and carry several flares on you to use as decoys. Tip: Tape an LED keychain light to your buddy’s back for a great practical joke!
Don’t let them get too close – Most zombies can’t run, which is mostly because they’re dead. Given this, you should be able to keep the horde from getting too close. If you have any aiming ability (and I assume you’ve played enough videogames that you do, because we all know they train kids to shoot like pros), keep the undead at a safe distance and pick them off with a rifle. If not, you may have to get closer and use a shotgun. Either way, don’t let yourself get surrounded. If you are surrounded, there’s a 74% chance that someone will drop a rope from a helicopter and pull you to safety as the horde’s outstretched arms futilely grope at your legs – but those odds aren’t good enough to risk it.
Above: MOST zombies can’t run
Guns and Explosives
Once you’ve identified a zombie outbreak, determined its extent, and planned your defense strategy, your first stop should be the nearest gun dealer or sporting goods store. You don’t have a chance without at least one good weapon, so get looting!
Shotguns The classic zombie killing weapon comes in three main types: automatic, pump action, and breach loading. Ideally you’ll have access to an automatic shotgun, but they’re a bit harder to come by, so you’ll probably find yourself with a pump action or breach loading gun. A pump action shotgun is the kind you generally see in zombie movies - the empty shells are released via pumping a mechanism beneath the barrel. Breach loading shotguns are more prevalent in westerns – they are loaded by separating the barrel from the handle, and are a bit easier to maintain.
When confronted with a large horde, hold the shotgun at your hip and spray upward into the mob while swaying side to side. It might not be super effective, but you’ll look pretty cool doing it. When taking out individual zombies, hold the gun at shoulder level and aim directly for the head (beware of spraying guts and stuff).
Handguns It’s important to keep a handgun on your hip as a backup weapon and for clearing tight spaces. For the inexperienced, it may be good to keep a revolver on standby as they are easier to maintain. A semi-automatic pistol, however, is more effective against zombies because of the faster reload time. Revolver or semi-automatic, the ideal handgun is capable of exploding heads with a single shot. Here are a few suggestions:
• Remington .44 Magnum revolver - If only because you can pretend you’re Dirty Harry, and possibly have the opportunity to say something like, “Yo undead, make my day.” • Desert Eagle - If you’re feeling brave, go with a .50 Action Express cartridge and you should have no problem blowing heads off. Be aware, however, that the Desert Eagle only holds seven rounds, and when you’re fighting zombies, you’re usually fighting a lot of zombies. • Glock 17 and other variants –A popular and reliable gun, the Glock 17 is favored by gangsta rappers because of the number of words it rhymes with (“I cocked my Glock and hit the block, snappin’ you like a celery stalk, gonna draw your outline wit’ a piece of chalk, etc.”), and works best when you hold it sideways and yell. The Glock is also the handgun of choice for the FBI, and if anyone knows anything about zombie outbreaks, it’s Mulder and Scully.
Rifles Hunting and WWII era rifles aren’t too effective at close range, but if you’re a good shot you can pick off stray zombies from a distance, and clear out roads or other open spaces before traversing them. The loud gunshots may betray your location, so when attempting long-range combat make sure you’re in a secure position and have someone watching your back. A sturdy bolt-action rifle is a very reliable weapon to have in your arsenal.
If you can get your hands on a modern assault rifle, by all means, run around with it shooting things (you might want to take out a few squirrels while you’re at it, for dinner). A standard M16 should work fine.
Fragmentation Grenades If for some reason you actually find some frag grenades, they’ll be pretty useless to you. Low range, a small effective radius, and only a slight chance of decapitation or dismemberment make them an undesirable zombie killing weapon.
Rocket Propelled Grenades and other Rocket Launchers If you have one, and you see a bunch of zombies, what the hell are you waiting for?
Baseball bats A well-swung bat can crush a zombie skull, though it will most likely take a few direct hits. Still, a bat is a good, basic, easy-to-acquire weapon, and is even better if you stick some nails in it, as most things are.
Axes The axe can be a powerful decapitator, but it has a few unfortunate limitations. For one thing, you only get one try – stick an axe into the neck of a zombie and just see if you can get it out before being gnawed to death. Secondly, the long handle makes it tough to use if a zombie gets too close, so you may want to try a hatchet instead. Despite their shortcomings, however, axes are good utility tools to have on hand - for breaking down doors ‘n’ stuff.
Crowbars A good multi-use tool, and great for killing certain crab-like parasites. If you have a choice, always get a red one, especially if you’re the quiet type.
Above: Slightly rarer than regular crowbars
Chainsaws The weapon of choice for Ash of The Evil Dead series, the chainsaw may not be the best weapon (it requires gas, it is prone to breakage, and sawing off zombie heads takes far too long), but it’s certainly one of the coolest, and looking cool is a big part of zombie hunting.
Above: Just try to be as much like Ash Williams as possible
High Definition TVs Rumored to be a weapon popular amongst photojournalists, HDTV’s are rather bulky and don’t do much more than weigh you down. In a pinch, however, you might as well hit the undead mob with whatever you have.
Swords There’s nothing like a high-quality katana for slicing up zombie necks, though be aware that most katanas you find are display replicas, and will fall apart faster than a scone made of politicians’ alibis. Broad swords and the like are a bit less effective, for their weight.
If for some reason you’re wandering through the woods and you find a sword in a pedestal, and when you pick it up you hear a strangely familiar little tune, keep it. The same goes if you pull a sword out of a stone (note: you may be king).
Above: This could be you
Shovels A well-made shovel can chop and hack, but with significantly less effectiveness than a proper bladed weapon. Nevertheless, their abundance in graveyards has made them popular zombie hunting weapons. Also good for burying downed friends, though you may want to chop off their heads before putting them six feet under, y’know, just in case.