Daylight Day 87: Further Zombie Apocalypse Advice

They begged me to stop singing. I negotiated a deal for three hundred chocolate-filled advent calendars. One last cunning plan. . .


With thanks to

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Shaun_of_the_dead_zombies You’ve found out how to take down 500-foot monsters, and learned the secret to terminating Terminators.  Now it’s time for the ultimate challenge. How you should arm yourself to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Step one, Know Your Zombies.

The idea of the zombie derives from Voodoo lore. Voodoo (or voudou or vodun) is a much maligned and misunderstood religion; the popular idea of it in the United States and Europe is about as close to the reality as Satanism is to the Catholic church. Anyone using voodoo for evil (a bokor) is the equivalent of the guys who carry out ceremonies in deserted churches with pentagrams and goat’s blood.

In any case, zombies do not feature in the original West African voodoo; the idea of a person drained of their soul and forced to obey a master only appeared in the Americas. These we could class as Natural Zombies. If you believe anthropologist Wade Davis, these are created by poisoning the victim with ‘zombie powder’ which includes puffer fish venom (tetrodotoxin). Supposedly this causes a death-like coma and brain damage which turns the victim into a pliable slaves. These zombies are harmless; you don’t need to shoot them, but watch out for the bokor who controls them.

Then there are Supernatural Zombies, corpses possessed by spirits or demonic powers. If they are animated by angelic spirits (as in the Rime of The Ancient Mariner), then they are here to help. If they are animated by something demonic (as in The Evil Dead), then firearms may be of limited use as they are beyond the laws of nature. Consult your priest, Rabbi, guru or shaman for further advice. Unless you’re one of the ultra-cool gangsters in the terrific zombie/yakuza flick Versus, that is — in which case, gunning down zombies is all in a day’s work.

However, mostly you’re likely to encounter the type of Alien Zombie favored by Geroge Romero. These are reanimated by an extra-terrestrial force; this is an infectious form of zombiedom that seems to be spread via biting. They are oblivious to most injuries but can reliably be taken out by destroying their brain.

When battling this type of zombie, you are basically trying to stay alive and get to a place of safety, as there are likely to be far too many for you to defeat them.

One tempting option is to go out there with a flamethrower. Zombies may have a natural aversion to fire, you should be able to ignite several of them with one burst, and it looks spectacular – there’s a video of a demonstration here. However, if you check the specifications it has some serious drawbacks. The U.S. Army’s M2-2 flamethrower weighed about seventy pounds, and is effective out to around fifty yards, but the big limitation is ammunition:

a fuel tank holding 18 liters of gasoline, enough for approximately five bursts of two seconds each.

So you’re probably better off with a conventional firearm. At least this is one area where we are spared the interminable debate of 9mm v .45 handguns and 5.56mm v 7.62mm. Unlike living humans, stopping power counts for nothing as far as zombies go; it’s all about shot placement. (And reliability – take at least one back-up gun in case you get a jam or run out of ammo at a bad time.) Anything larger than a .22 will do the job, so long as you’re capable of putting a round squarely though the head. And this is very much harder than you think.

In a firing range, anyone can reliably hit a man-size target. In real combat, you will probably miss most of the time. This is borne out by an analysis of armed encounters involving police officers:


The police officer’s potential for hitting his adversary during armed confrontation has increased over the years and stands at slightly over 25% of the rounds fired. An assailant’s skill was 11% in 1979…

In 1992 the overall police hit potential was 17%. Where distances could be determined, the hit percentages at distances under 15 yards were:

Less than 3 yards ….. 28%
3 yards to 7 yards …. 11%
7 yards to 15 yards . 4.2%

It has been assumed that if a man can hit a target at 50 yards he can certainly do the same at three feet. That assumption is not borne out by the reports.

An attempt was made to relate an officer’s ability to strike a target in a combat situation to his range qualification scores. After making over 200 such comparisons, no firm conclusion was reached.

The situation is much worse with zombies. The target – the brain – is very much smaller than with humans, and if you are a trained marksman you will reflexively aim at the body. Police officers are professionals who spend long hours training for close-quarter encounters; you probably don’t. And while the adrenaline factor may be high when you’re facing an armed suspect, a horde of shambling undead takes the terror to a different level.

You are liable to waste a lot of ammunition, so bring plenty. Some favor extended magazines, like the 90-round clip for AR-15/M-16 rifles or 33-round magazines for your Glock handgun. These are fine, so long as they are reliable and you have the discipline not to just keep firing until you run out.

Human factors are probably much more important than hardware. Stay cool, and keep moving. Bring a friend or three, so long as you can count on them not to scream, panic or cause friendly-fire incidents. Zombies are liable to come from all directions at the same time; you don’t get bonus points for killing more of them, so just do what you have to in order to get to safety. And watch out for the ones that are just playing dead. (Actually, they really are dead…but you know what I mean.)

Some sort of protective gear might be handy -– but can you afford to be slowed down? Do you carry something like a sword or a chainsaw for very close encounters, or are you dead by then anyway? Can you dazzle zombies with a flashlight? Any additional suggestions for zombie-fighting are, of course, welcome.

Published by Felicity Banks Books

I write books (mainly adventure fantasy for kids and young adults), real-time twittertales, and a blog of Daily Awesomeness. @Louise_Curtis_ and My fantasy ebook is on sale at

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