Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse in the Long Term

Alright, so you've survived the total breakdown of society and watched most if not all of your family get snacked on by the undead. You've brained zombies, you've killed walkers, you've survived mayhem, panic, chaos, and anarchy, and come out unscathed, or at least not a zombie, which means you win.

Now what?

Well, conventional wisdom, i.e. just about every zombie movie, book, and tv series out there, will tell you to find other survivors to increase your resources, help defend against further zombies, and to help try and rebuild society. But here's the thing: rebuilding society is a huge pain in the ass.
There's a reason Habitat for Humanity volunteers are usually court-ordered.

Seriously, who wants to be the new architect of humanity? Not me, that's for damn sure. And besides, if there's only a few dozen of you left (best case scenario), it's going to take a long time, and probably not going to be worth the effort. Most Americans I know can't even tell you how air conditioning works, much less lay out the plans for repairing the shattered remains of modern living. I've played enough Sim City to know that by the time you're done, you're thinking "why the hell did I spend so much time on that?"
Besides, if you're anything like me, your society will always end up looking like this anyway.

Fortunately, I have the answer for you. Traditional wisdom tells you that there is safety in numbers. Traditional wisdom is wrong. You see, in every zombie movie, book, tv show, etc., there is always trouble when people band together in groups. Turns out most people aren't mentally or physically prepared for an apocalypse and the end of life as we know it, and this tends to cause problems. Relying on other people for support means that you are only as strong as your weakest link; in other words, one idiot is all it takes to completely transform your heroic story of survival into a tragic tale of caution. 
See that guy with a skateboard? That is basically what I am talking about.
The answer is to keep to yourself. Being responsible for only your own survival (or maybe one other person, if you have a significant other you like enough to want around) is the best way to ensure that someone else won't cause your demise at the hands of zombies due to their survival ineptitude.
Zombie survival in the long term requires two things: finding a way to live relatively zombie-free, and being able to procure and maintain food, water, and shelter. Fortunately, there is one location that will easily (well, maybe not easily, but reasonably) provide both requirements and allow you to live out the rest of your days in relative peace and quiet.

The mountains.

I've always said that the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse for a long period of time (or really any apocalypse) is to head as far up into the mountains as you can and make your home there. I'll lay out a few reasons why.

1. Isolation

The mountains are a tough place to live. Consequently, most people tend to avoid them. This might sound horrible if you're addicted to Twitter and love shopping at the mall regularly, but it's actually probably the single biggest benefit in a zombie apocalypse. Living in the mountains means that people have to work to access you, and this is no different for zombies. Not only does being sparsely populated mean that you'll have less zombies to deal with at the outset, it also means that it's much more unlikely that zombies will just wander into your camp and try to eat your flesh while you're out choppin' wood or acting out scenes from Jeremiah Johnson. The point is that living in the mountains means that anyone who wants to get to you, be it a zombie looking for your delicious flesh or another survivor looking to steal your squirrel jerky, will have to work for it. And if there's one thing I know about Americans, it's that they're lazy as shit. The mountains will keep you safe, at least safer than living out your days scavenging for food at abandoned gas stations and elementary school cafeteria stockrooms.
You think a zombie is just gonna roll up on you when these are your digs? No way.
Which brings me to my next point..

2. Resources

If there's one thing I've learned from watching Jeremiah Johnson dozens of times (and I've learned WAY more than one thing), it's that the mountains can sustain human life indefinitely. People have been living in the mountains for centuries, and that's because they're able to. If you pick the right mountain, you will have ample access to food, clean (i.e. not polluted) water, and plenty of wood to build a shelter, keep a fire going, and generally hang out and grow a beard and do all the other stuff that mountain men do. As I said before, staying in an urban or even a rural area means that you're going to be constantly scavenging for food, all while dealing with zombies and other survivors who are competing for the same limited resources you're seeking. Not in the mountains. With a little survival know-how, you can hunt, fish, plant, and harvest all the food and water you need, all while not having to worry nearly as much about surprise zombie attacks and/or hungry survivors who just "happen" upon your camp. Granted, you may have to deal with things like bears and wolverines, and living entirely off the land would be pretty difficult, but let's face it, it's the end of society as we know it anyway, and living anywhere is going to be difficult. You might as well live in one of the few places that has enough natural bounty to keep you alive, right?
Of course, you'll want to choose your mountain carefully...

Splash Mountain is probably not the best choice.

3. Climate

Living in the mountains offers many distinct advantages over many other types of terrain, and one of the main benefits is that it gets COLD in the mountains. This is particularly important in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. As everyone knows, zombies are basically humans that aren't alive anymore, only they can walk around and eat brains and not get tired. However, even zombies have limitations, and one of them is that they're made of mostly water. This means that when it gets balls cold and everything freezes, guess what: zombies freeze too. One of the biggest problems with a post-apocalyptic zombie world is that you always have to watch your back. It's like living in Baltimore, only the drug dealers are zombies and the crooked cops are also zombies.
Unfortunately zombies don't whistle before they attack.
However, living in the mountains means that eventually it will get cold enough to freeze anything that's not alive and stay that way for a few months. Meaning that for a few brief months, you can sleep at night knowing that all the zombies in your area are frozen stiff and covered with snow. And if they were wearing jewelry when they became zombies, that basically makes them Christmas trees. Horrifying, hellish Christmas trees. Plus, if you're into that sort of thing, you can make dispatching wayward frozen zombies a fun game to pass the long hours of winter. And if you have a snow machine and gas, well, your winter just got a lot more bearable.
And if you have one of these, your winters are going to be sweet.

Living in the mountains is a tough game. You have to battle the elements, fight for survival, and devote most of your time and resources to staying alive and well off only your wits and the natural resources around you. But once society is gone and all that remains are the ghostly demons that walk the earth in search of fresh meat, all that sounds pretty awesome compared to scavenging for scraps in the urban wasteland that used to be called America. 

And no, I'm not telling you where my mountain refuge is going to be. If you want my brains or my jerky, you better come get it now.

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