At some point in the future, the zombie apocalypse will arrive. We know this, we've seen the films. Heck, it's even mentioned in the Bible. Billions of people will die simply because they were not adequately prepared for defence and survival, and therefore had no plan for what to do in such circumstances. If the thought of having to fend for yourself after the collapse of civilisation has you shaking like a shitting dog, you've come to the right place - this is one of the less dodgy reasons why The Zombie Apocalypse Protectorate was established.
The Zombie Apocalypse Protectorate is a group of like-minded (and, it has to be said, slightly un-hinged) individuals who share a common desire to survive in the event of such a happening, and to go on to re-populate some of the nicer areas of the United Kingdom whilst endeavouring to preserve the technical and scientific knowledge of the past to pass on for the benefit of future generations.
Many different 'models' of zombie have been created or perpetuated in book and film form. Some are plain idiotic such as the idea of rotten corpses somehow becoming re-animated; supernatural intervention not withstanding, this just ain't gonna happen! If real world zombies interest you, please read on to fill your head with some basic untruths about zombies, how they are created, what the condition does to them and how they can die.
The zombie condition is due to infection by an extremely rare virus, (suspicions are that it is of extraterrestrial origin) which is in a genus of its own and named zombovirus hominoidus. It attacks the brain, destroying primarily the prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum, but leaving the brain stem functional to a greater or lesser degree. The result of this is that the infected person loses all cognitive functions, memory is eradicated and precise coordination becomes impossible, leading to the stumbling aimless gait usually associated with the infected condition. The zombie will remember nothing of past life, experience no emotion, feel no pain and won't have a sense of self-awareness. The virus also makes behavioural changes (known as neuroparasitology), the most significant of which causes the infected person to relentlessly pursue living creatures until stopped.
The remaining functional part of a zombie's brain operates at a far lower functional level than that of a normal human. This means that the oxygen requirements of the zombie's brain is several orders of magnitude lower than a fully functioning human brain, making one more difficult to kill by damaging the body as it is possible for the brain to continue to receive enough oxygen by diffusion through the skin of the skull. For this reason, zombies cannot be drowned, as the process of essential gas exchange can continue at an adequate level within the water.
Under certain conditions, it is possible for a corpse to contract the virus and regain basic motor functions, as long as it has not been dead for more than a few hours if on land, or perhaps up to a day if the body has been immersed in water. This phenomenon may be partly responsible for the 'walking dead' legends of old, but is extremely rare.
Zombovirus hominoidus not only infects humans, but can also infect the higher primates, such as gorillas and chimpanzees. Interestingly enough, sheep can also become infected, although the exact science behind this is not well understood. Or understood at all in fact. Other animals seem immune to the virus, which is lucky as otherwise we'd really be in the poo. Infected apes and sheep are easily identifiable as they exhibit the same slow groaning walk as their human counterparts, and begin to pursue you rather than running away.
Zombies will pursue any living animal in search of flesh to consume, although in practice wild animals are rarely caught as they are able to easily escape due to the inherent predator/prey dynamic - this results in humans and occasionally captive animals falling victim. Interestingly, zombies don't seem to eat each other, possibly because the viruses program the brain this way to protect their main method of propagation. It is suspected that a zombie picks up on purely visual clues when identifying others of its own kind, such as gait and expression, and the lack of any emotional responses. Indeed, it has been shown that they can be fooled by a good actor, but attempting to do so is inadvisable.
A zombie is not immortal as some sources suggest, in fact quite the contrary. Once infected with the virus, several changes take place, the most obvious of which is in the brain, but changes also take place the muscles, which change from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic, which the zombie fuels by seeking out protein in the form of animals and humans. In addition to this, the body temperature falls to ambient, essentially making a zombie cold-blooded.
Significant changes also occur in the immune system, whereby neutrophils cease being produced in the bone marrow, the main consequence of which is that the zombie becomes susceptible to bacterial and fungal attack as it then has no defences against these agents. A zombie can continue to function even with considerable degrees of infection and decomposition present, but once the brain begins to break down, death will rapidly follow. The time taken for this to happen varies depending on environment, and exposure to micro-organisms or zombie hunters, but ranges from a few weeks to a few months.
Survival beyond four months is doubtful.
Zombovirus hominoidus can normally only be transmitted via body fluids from the infected person, and even then the virus has to get directly into the bloodstream. Simply eating parts of a zombie or having sex with one won't result in an infection unless you have open wounds which would enable the virus to enter. As the virus has been shown to be unable to survive in a nitrogen-rich atmosphere for more than an hour or so, it is highly unlikely that an infection can be caught by touching something which had previously been in contact with a zombie, as long as sufficient time has passed.
The viruses typically infect by entering the bloodstream after a victim has been bitten by a zombie, from where they non-destructively invade erythrocytes enabling the viruses to find their way to the spleen. There follows an incubation period of perhaps two to three days while the viruses multiply, after which they make their way en masse to the brain where they begin to make changes. At this stage the victim will lose consciousness, exhibiting an extremely low blood pressure, slow heartbeat and a falling body temperature. This condition can easily be mistaken for death, but between three to five hours after the victim becomes unconscious he will awaken as a zombie, the viruses having attacked the brain and programmed the victim's behaviour to relentlessly seek out flesh and gelatin rich materials, by which means the virus continues to spread.
It should be remembered that the spleen of a dead zombie will still contain very high concentrations of the virus for some time and should be handled with caution although cooking does kill the virus. As an interesting side note, if a person has had a splenectomy, this will interfere with the virus's life cycle. The result of this is as yet undocumented, but it is suspected that most of the usual changes to the body will still occur, but there will probably be very few changes in the brain. It is suspected that such infected persons would retain most of their mental faculties but become carriers of the virus until such time as they die of infection and rot as in the manner of a regular zombie - a death too horrible to contemplate.
It may be of interest to know that stone tablets bearing inscriptions have recently come to light suggesting that there has been at least one zombie outbreak in history. A rough translation of the relevant section follows:
...whereupon a lightning bolt was cast by the gods to this man at his knee. He died after two nights, but awoke once more without soul and with a desire to eat his brother. Within two seasons all had succumbed to the evil and the Empire returned to the earth from whence it came.
It would seem a small meteorite fell in Central America over a thousand years ago and hit a person in the leg. The person survived the injury but became infected with a virus which had evidently been carried on the surface of the meteorite. The afflicted person went on to attack and infect others, ultimately decimating the population, but fortunately due to the geographically isolated nature of the civilisation, the outbreak was contained and spread no further. Certain lucky people managed to escape the horror by leaving the area, the descendants of which are still alive. The location of the inscribed tablets was in the vicinity of Chichen Itza, explaining once and for all the long-debated demise of the Mayan Civilisation.
Historically every battle victory, be it a major global war or simply an inter-school scrap has come at a cost. Invariably, the cost is injury to, or even loss of, innocent civilians. Although not ideal, this is a necessary evil associated with defeating the enemy, and the struggle for survival against hoards of seemingly unstoppable zombies is going to be no exception.
Whilst the Zombie Apocalypse Protectorate does not condone or encourage violence towards civilians it is understood that certain situations, where positive identification of the approaching threat is difficult, may require adoption of the 'strike first, question later' approach. This attitude may sound somewhat american at first glance, but it is your very survival on the line here and there is no room for sentiment or hesitation.
The problem is this: There is a direct correlation between the gene pool polluting in-breeding of the intellectually challenged and the herds of genetically and cranially deficient plebeians roaming the streets. It is highly likely that you will encounter these lumbering, zomboid life forms in a post-apocalyptic land, and in the interests of survival you may wish to consider neutralising the threat. There is little to differentiate between them and a true zombie and in the event that your would-be attacker has been infected with the zombie virus it is imperative that you do not hesitate. In the same vein, if it turns out that they are simply one of the dribbling, ape-like, low hanging waistband, 'Smart Phone' generation then you will have played your part in trimming the herd.
Darwin would be proud!
Despite misleading information from certain sources a zombie can be killed, but the only way to be sure of a thorough killing is to destroy the brain. Damaging the respiratory and circulatory system is less certain because the brain, in its less oxygen-demanding state, can survive purely on oxygen diffusing through the skin. Even decapitation will not kill the head until the brain eventually runs out of nutrients, although obviously the body becomes less active and will cease grabbing at people and generally twitching after a few hours.
There are a number of ways to deal with a single zombie who fancies you for breakfast, but exact details depend on your weapon. Given the knowledge of a zombie you now have, you will have probably decided to equip yourself with either a blunt weapon such as a hammer or a cutting weapon such as an axe or a sword. Zombies are relatively slow, lumbering creatures and as long as it is only a single one you are dealing with, a good skull-smashing blow to the head should do the trick, although you do need to ensure you don't get bitten at all costs.
When aiming a blow to the head, you should go for the top, sides or rear of the head to ensure damage to the brain; A frontal impact will probably not be effective due to the protection afforded by the nasal and sinus cavities at the front of the skull. It is important to ensure you strike with enough force to not only break the skull, but also to penetrate an appreciable depth into the brain to ensure a kill. If your first blow fails to dispatch the zombie, you may have been lucky enough to have knocked it off balance causing it to fall to the ground whereupon you will be in a better position to administer a second killing strike.
If you have chosen an axe, the most effective strike would be straight down on the top of the head using sufficient force to nicely cleave the skull to an effective depth, instantly killing the zombie. It has been found that logging in the back garden makes for excellent practice in this technique.
Some of you may choose a sword of one design or another, and this option gives rise to several opportunities for amusement. As with the axe, a killing blow could be aimed at the top of the head, but there is also the opportunity for decapitation. It should be remembered that a severed zombie head will still be alive giving rise to endless opportunities to amuse the kids, but ensure no-one gets near the mouth as if the head should happen to be kicked against the goalie's leg, the mouth could clamp on giving an infectious bite. Once you've had your fun the head should be safely stored for later events, or killed.
It may not be necessary to actually kill the zombie; You may prefer to experiment with cutting off various limbs and other appendages (depending on your nature/sexual deviancy) which would render the zombie unable to move about thus reducing the hazard of getting bitten to a reasonable level. The writhing torso could then be strapped to a post and placed in a vegetable patch to scare the birds or simply left in a Sainsbury's car park to rot.
Despite our advice to the contrary, you may have equipped yourself with a firearm. The big problem here is securing an adequate supply of ammunition but let's assume for the moment you have. A good head shot is the only effective way you can kill a zombie with a gun as shots to the body won't kill it and will do little to reduce its effectiveness. You can, however, use the zombie as target practice to help tighten up your groups a little.
If you happen to find yourself in the unfortunate position of having no weapon on you when you encounter a zombie, you could grapple it to the ground whilst ensuring you don't get bitten, and tie it to a tree or some similarly immovable item. Then you just sit back and wait for the rot to set in and watch as the crows pick out its entrails. Eventually after several weeks depending on how old the zombie is, it will rot before your eyes, killing it.
Should you happen to find yourself in a situation where you are under threat from many zombies as may happen if you were daft enough to hole-up in a populated area, the defence tactics are somewhat different to when dealing with a solitary zombie as the situation is rather more worrying. To be honest, if you are in a basic house in an urban area and you find yourself unarmed and surrounded by zombies, you would have more chance of baptising a cat than surviving so it would be best not to be put in that situation in the first place.
However, if a location such as this is, for some reason unavoidable, you need to devise a plan as to how you are going to deal with the infestation, and to make sure you have appropriate weaponry to hand.
Initially, you need to ensure that no zombies can get in the building. This may seem obvious, but you must try to imagine the various ways a zombie may gain access - this would usually be doors and windows, so ensure these can be strengthened or boarded up. Zombies possess about as much athletic ability as Jo Brand, so there would be no need to deal with any access points that would require any degree of climbing.
I believe it would be fair to say that you cannot remain under siege in such a manner indefinitely, as for one thing the food would run out. The only option therefore would be to attempt to reduce the threat, and this means killing zombies. Although the amount of zombies clawing at your windows may seem intimidating, the number who find their way to your residence are limited, as is their life span and so it makes sense to slowly and methodically reduce their numbers to a low enough level to enable your escape without getting bitten.
There are many ways this could be accomplished, and I expect the first to spring to mind is a firearm. The problem here is legally owning such a weapon prior to an apocalypse, and having enough ammunition to see the job through, so on this basis we can discount firearms as an unlikely option.
The best way is to engage the zombies in a battle of attrition, whereby they are slowly worn down through a slow but extended zombie-whacking exercise. For this, it would be a good idea if the zombies could be encouraged to pass single file through, for example, a small doorway or passage, whereupon they could be killed one at a time as they emerge. Using this method ensures that you will only ever be dealing with a single zombie at a time, something which is not too difficult.
There is an important condition which applies to this method: You cannot endlessly kill zombies, as you are rapidly going to get tired, and there are all the corpses to dispose of. As we see it, there are two ways around this - have company so that the whacking can take place in shifts, or have the zombies entering through a closable aperture. A combination of the two would be ideal, but if you are somehow able to organise a door which can be closed at will, this will enable you to have your essential clean-up and rest periods.
Although the stream of attacking zombies may seem to be endless at first, eventually their numbers will begin to thin out and the job will become easier. After an indeterminate time, there will be hardly any active zombies in your vicinity apart from those who accidentally stumble upon your location whist on the rampage, and at this point you can escape from your would-be prison and high-tail it to a safer, more remote location.
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