April 1, 2015
Not everyone is a hero, and in most zombie apocalypse scenarios you’re almost certainly a casualty, not a survivor. The only way society is threatened by a zombie outbreak is if a majority of the population is infected and knocking on your door for brains. And let’s face it, more likely than not, you would be one of the infected. If you’re reading this you’re most likely a student in a housing complex, leaving you at a high risk of being trapped in a corridor with few exits and many zombies surrounding you.
Even if you’re not part of the first wave of infected, most people don’t have the survival skills to last without the creature comforts of society. Unless you’re proficient in combat, have survival skills, or are valuable enough that other people would risk their ass for you, you’re a deadman. Even all of these qualities don’t protect you if you forget to wash your hands (or fall victim to whatever vector of infection it ends up being) early on in the apocalypse. If you can sleep through the sound of people moaning and banging on your door (normally a very valuable attribute in a dorm) you’re probably already a goner.
Everyone talks how they have a shotgun, chainsaw, katana, etc. with a some energy bars and a first aid kit in their closet, but the reality is that all this will most likely be looted by a hero/heroine who knows how to do parkour, shoots like an American sniper, and can start a fire by rubbing sticks together. Unless you fall in this distressingly small category (thank the education system for that), your feeble attempt at survival are only good for helping you sleep at night until you inevitably develop a taste for sweet fatty brains in your un-death.
If you truly want to plan for survival, plan for what you have a chance of surviving, and as far as your chances go, you are more likely to survive an alien invasion.
Let talk numbers. The Drake equation provides an estimate for the number of alien civilizations capable of emitting detectable signals into space, and while its exact value varies depending on whom you talk to, it’s easy to argue that it’s non-zero (we have ourselves, after all, to prove that life is possible in the universe).
To date, 1,821 exo-planets have been discovered. Data from the Kepler space telescope has dramatically increased the number of observed planets, and allowed us to confirm that some of them may even be habitable. Astronomers are still analyzing the data it sends back, but suffice it to say that every single one they find increases the probability that we are not alone in the universe. Categorizing exo-planets as habitable also presumes that aliens share a similar biology to us, and require the same things we do (air, water, moderate temperatures). This is not necessarily true, and thus creates a potentially lower estimate of the amount of life in our universe than if we were to consider what other types of alien life might exist.
Stephen Hawking, the leading astrophysicist of our time, has even speculated that given our own destructive behavior toward our planet, hostile alien life would want to strip our planet of resources. Therefore, if aliens are invading, we can deduce that they are not friendly, and are threatening our existence (or at the very least after one of the many shiny, glowy, or flammable things we dig out of the dirt).
Your best course of action to defend yourself (and your planet) from invasion is to be prepared to fight off the aliens by tooth and nail. It is my opinion that the best teeth and nails often take the form of high explosives. The rocket launcher (also known as the “noob tube” for its ease of use) represents an excellent balance of high explosives and compactness. Therefore I propose that your survival-bag should not be energy bars and whatever weapons you can obtain a license for, but simply a rocket launcher and some courage.
With the exponentially spreading horror of a zombie infection being out of the picture, the collapse of society will be more controlled, and your ability to survive is proportional to your ability to flee whatever major urban center is being attacked. As long as there is an organized force fighting off the aliens, you can still expect to have the benefits of a semi-functioning society. Not only that, but most of your college degree skills are still useful, you still need engineers, biologists, and physicists to develop technology to defend against the alien invasion.
Not everyone is a hero, but some courage and a rocket launcher at least make you useful in defending your planet.
Brian started his career in computer magic at a young age by reading ancient tomes of ‘C’ found in his basement. He currently spends most of his time pressing mechanical switches to make the dots on the box he looks at all day change color in the right order. He impatiently awaits the singularity.
I think we’ve all shouted at our TV during a good horror movie. There’s always that one character who is just too stupid to live. The person that’s happy to walk right up to the dark and creepy house, content to assume that the last zombie is really dead this time. As the dark figures begin to shuffle up behind them, we shout and groan for them to just turn around. “The exit is right there! Don’t stop now to examine that dusty old photo! You’re gonna die!” Then the camera pans away and a splash of blood hits the wall, accompanied by a blast of scary stinger music as the audience squeals and boos at their stupidity.
It’s at that point that we all lean over to that one friend in particular and say, “If _I _was in that situation you know I would get out of there. Or at the very least fight my way out, not do something that stupid.” And why wouldn’t we? Zombies have become so popular that it’s hard to find anyone who wouldn’t know how to kill one.
Today it seems a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t get very far. I believe that humans could win in a matter of weeks. When considering slow-moving corpses versus the dominant species on planet, it’s a wonder how zombies are even considered a threat.
In the land of fiction, zombies wipe out 95% of the world within a few months and only the toughest, most bearded bad-asses survive and slowly rebuild mankind. But have you ever noticed that in those stories zombies are practically unheard of? These shows and movies seem to take place in a magical realm where no has ever even seen a zombie movie. The human characters always have to figure out on their own how zombies work. Someone always has to get bitten so we can see the gruesome transformation in every stage, and someone always needs to get that one lucky headshot so we all know how to kill the walking dead.
Back over in reality, zombies and zombie-related media saturate the market. They are on T-shirts, are the enemies in our video games and the subject of countless comic books. You would be hard pressed to find anyone unfamiliar with how zombies work. And that is exactly why the zombie hordes will never get far when they inevitably rise from their graves.
Every nerd and his mother have a plan for the zombie uprising, from a simple crowbar in the garage to an actual apocalypse bunker in the basement. When the zombies come, a civilian militia is literally seconds away from mobilization. The hordes of zombie fan-boys who dream of thrilling adventures and heroics in post-apocalyptic America, will probably be at the front lines, going to town with their chainsaws.
Anyone bitten would know their fate is sealed and would act accordingly, asking their friends to “make-it-quick”, or go out in a blaze of glory. No one in today’s zombie crazed society would look at their infected bite and say, “Yeah… let’s just hide this and I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
Humans are a bit smarter than the writers of horror movies give us credit for. We know not to put ourselves in danger. We know how to defend ourselves. As selfish as we can be, no one would endanger the people they care about. These human qualities are the exact opposite of what you need for to write a good zombie centered narrative. The romanticized vision of sexy, grizzled survivors, arguing and bickering while running from hordes of the undead is much more marketable than a few determined nerds with common sense.
When the dead rise and roam the streets, it’s a safe bet to say it won’t last long enough to even classify it as an apocalypse. A really bad weekend maybe, but never an apocalypse. The brains will be destroyed and the few that get bitten will be handled on their own terms.
Despite all the rations, radiation suits, shotguns and fire axes we gather, the best defense the human race has is the fact that we aren’t fictional characters. So while the over-saturated market of zombie love may seem like a fad, it shows that we aren’t actually stupid enough to take that ill-fated shortcut through the graveyard after all.
Joel Reynolds is a student at the University of Michigan. An aficionado of everything geeky, his pastimes usually revolve around graphic novels, video games, animation and art.