“This is the way the world ends; not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.” - Amanda Hocking, Hollowland
Zombies, and What to Do About Them
Statistics show that the average human will experience three disasters over the course of a typical lifetime, with ‘disaster’ defined as any event which disrupts the entire community simultaneously. When dealing with disaster, it’s important to consider the impact of zombies upon the situation. There are two kinds of zombies, and it’s essential to be able to distinguish between the two types in order to know how to deal with them effectively.
There are the temporary zombies, who have been zombified by circumstances not of their own choosing, and who will stop being zombies and start being human again as soon as circumstances change; and there are permanent zombies, who chose to be zombies of their own free will and who have made it their life path. Temporary zombies are merely a burden, but permanent zombies can be a threat.
Temporary zombies have had zombiehood foisted upon them against their will; they had no intentions of becoming a zombie and would very much like to stop being one and go back to being a normal human being. This is the person with a blank stare, numb fingers, and a tendency to mumble, stumble, and moan. Bloody, battered, and bruised, they may be screaming and hysterical, or helpless and semi-comatose. They are shell shocked and shivering. They suffer from insomnia and sleep deprivation, and when they do sleep, they have nightmares. These zombies are not a danger to themselves as true zombies are, but they are a burden for whoever cares for them, since they are unable to care for themselves. Left on their own, they often die. When cared for, they quickly revert to their normal state of humanity.
This is the person who, after Katrina, raced to the roof of their house barely ahead of the rising waters, watched as their home flooded, their possessions floated away; spent days without phone, food, water, or medications while waiting for rescue; they have no idea what has become of their family or their neighbors or their pets; they are frenzied with worry and overwhelmed by exhaustion. During any sort of disaster, they may be mentally ill and without their medication, or an alcoholic suffering from sudden involuntary withdrawal, or a diabetic in a coma. Want to create an instant zombie? Take a perfectly normal pack-a-day smoker, subject them to a few days of intense stress followed by a few days without cigarettes, and you’ll have an irritable, unpredictable, temporary zombie on your hands in no time flat.
Permanent zombies are far more threatening than temporary zombies because they voluntarily chose zombiehood as a way of life far in advance of any disaster. The most common true-to-life zombie (or, I suppose, true-to-death zombie) is the all-American meth addict. There’s nothing like an addiction to methamphetimines to addle the brain and ruin the body. Consider the similarities between meth addicts and zombies: their skin is deteriorating and their teeth are falling out; their thought patterns are disrupted; they exhibit decidedly anti-social behavior; and they inflict injury on themselves and those around them without compunction. And this is how they are when everything is fine and normal and the situation is all hunky-dory. Now throw a meth addict into the middle of a disaster without a fix. When disaster strikes and difficulties arise, the situation is bound to rouse this kind of zombie from their hiding places, flushing them like rats from their dark holes into the blinding glare of reality, which they are ill suited to survive. They are at a decided disadvantage, because normal non-zombie people only have to deal with the disaster; but an addict must deal with the disaster on top of handling the sudden cold-turkey withdrawal of their fix. This makes them less able to cope, less likely to recover, and more likely to do additional damage to themselves and to others. It also makes them more difficult to handle. They can do a lot of harm on their way out. Zombies are dangerous that way. They do not easily revert to humanity even under the best of circumstances, and certainly not well at all when times are tough.
There are only four possible responses to zombies: Hide, Flee, Fight, or Help. The response you choose will depend upon several factors: First, how you feel about zombies to begin with; second, how the situation has affected you; third, what sort of supplies you have on hand.
The first option of handling zombies, and perhaps the simplest, is to hide from them. Just hunker down and wait for them to leave. Stay in your home, board up your windows, lock the doors, and wait for The Officials to come deal with the zombie problem: the Red Cross, the National Guard, or FEMA. This option only works if you have what you need to shelter-in-place, and if you’re able to fortify your home against intruders. Additionally, a lot depends on if you still have essential services such as electricity and water supply; if not, can you survive without them? Also to consider is how the event has affected you and whether or not it’s safe to remain at home if there’s flooding, fire, or fallout coming your way.
The second option for dealing with zombies is simply to leave, and travel to some safe location where there aren’t any zombies. Things to consider in this scenario include whether or not the roads are open; if you have a suitable bug-out vehicle properly packed; if you have enough fuel in case gas stations are closed or mobbed; and whether you have a safe location to travel to arranged in advance.
The third option is to get out your guns and stand guard on your porch threatening to shoot any zombie who approaches. After the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the surrounding countryside was flooded with burned and radiated zombies. Many of the countryfolk flatly refused to offer assistance because nobody understood what had happened or knew if the contaminated zombies were contagious. (They weren’t.) There was widespread employment of Option 3 in the days that followed: "Get off my lawn."
The fourth option is to help the zombies, particularly if they are circumstantial zombies who will readily revert to humanity if offered a cup of human kindness. If this is the option you prefer, then the most important things to have on hand are water, warmth, safety, soup, and medicine. If you’re dealing with nicotine-fit zombies or delirium tremens zombies, then alcohol and tobacco may be the most effective anti-zombie remedies. A good meal, a hot bath, a warm blanket, a safe place to sleep, and a few handy items such as those found in a Zombie care kit will go a long, long way to restoring the zombies in your care to their sense of sanity and self.
How you react to a flood of refugee zombies will depend a lot on what you’ve done in advance and how well prepared you are to handle the influx. Consider your options; think through the events that could produce zombies; set aside some things in advance; and always remember that you may one day become a zombie, too.