My Zombie Plan, Part 4

  By Shamus   Feb 11, 2013   114 comments

splash_zombies.jpg

And so this series drags ever onward. Before I get back to the making of silly plans for an even sillier eventuality, I should address a few remarks I see coming up again and again:

Q: Hey Shamus, wouldn’t it make more sense to make your defenses using razor wire / bulldozer / .50 machine gun nest?

Obviously any of that would be better than wooden pikes. I’m sort of torn. On one side I’ve got people challenging me for giving myself too many unlikely resources, and on the other people are wondering why I’d ignore such things. Earth-moving equipment, razor wire, and military hardware are all cool stuff. But they’re also kind of exotic. Yes, they’re easier to acquire after the zompocalypse than before, but a lot of other people are likely to come to the same conclusion. Rather than haggle over just how hard it would be to acquire, relocate, operate, and maintain a bulldozer, I just decided to leave the fancy stuff out. You can assume that if our team happens across two miles of unattended barbed wire and a bulldozer with the key in the ignition, we’d put that stuff to use.

Q: You should go to the library!

That’s not a question.

Q: Sigh. Fine. WHY DON’T YOU GO TO THE LIBRARY?!?

That’s an awesome idea. My only concern with that idea is that a lot of people have that idea. Same goes for Home Depot. Those places might even get cleaned out in the first days, before everything falls completely apart. Rather than assume I’d be one of the lucky ones, or that I would get there first, let’s just assume I’d stop by, see the place is empty or overrun, and move on.

Q: How many people are in your group?

Yeah. This is my mistake. I should have nailed this down at the start. If not for the reader, then at least for my own benefit. Sometimes I’m picturing a group of six or so, like Lee’s group. Sometimes I’m picturing a group of a dozen adults, plus children. We have no way to guess at how many people survive. (This value is always set to “whatever the writer says it is for the purposes of the story.”) So we should have simply chosen a useful number at the outset and stuck with it. Obviously the population of the group will have a huge impact on what sort of projects we can undertake. Two dozen adults could put up a pike fence in a few days. If we’re six adults plus children, then such a project is probably way out of reach and we should focus on fortifying our homes and staying quiet.


The No-Fence Scenario

NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED

Perhaps we find more zombie traffic on the road than I’d originally anticipated. Or perhaps we’re a small group and the multi-layer fence idea from the last entry is simply too labor-intensive for our team. Perhaps we’ll have to deal with a swarm before we can undertake the fence. Then what?

The trick isn’t keeping the zeds out of your home. That’s easy, barring writer shenanigans by way of unlikely structural failures. The trick is doing it in a way that still allows us to move around, fetch supplies, and get air and daylight.

I suppose parking some cars in front of the doors ought to block the zeds well enough. Sure, they could bash up the car, but I don’t think zeds obliterate the frame to the point where it would no longer be an obstacle for the mob, even with their magic plot-muscles. With the doors blocked, we can allow access to the house via a simple ladder to a second-story window. (With the ladder rooted in the ground and nailed to the house to keep it from falling over.) As far as these stories go, I’m pretty sure zeds can’t climb ladders. Even if they can, a single person can keep them out by poking them with a broom handle when they reach the top of the ladder.

Next we need to block the first-floor windows. Around here, windows are usually a meter or so off the ground, which should prevent the Z force from smashing their way through with the sheer weight of the crowd. They will need to bash open the windows and climb in. A good slab of plywood should be more than a match for zombie fingernails and teeth.

The problem is, if we board up the windows we can’t see. I’m assuming the power is out, and we don’t want to waste generator power running electric lights in the daytime. Most work will be done outside during non-stormy, non-zombie conditions, but if the weather or zombie population is bad we’re still going to want to do our sewing, canning, cooking, and reading.

I’m tempted to suggest making plywood shutters with a hinge at the bottom and a pullchain at the top, so the shutter swings downward (like an oven door) to let light in. If a herd of brain-munchers show up, you can draw the shutter closed. What I dislike about this is the structural weakness created by the hinge. Zombies can’t gnaw through plywood, but their pounding might strip some screws. Plus, I’m not sure what will be supporting those screws. Metal window frames, brick, and aluminum siding are all terrible things to try to drive screws into. You’d need just the right power tools and supplies to make that work and make it secure. Seems iffy.

You might also simply hang the plywood from a couple of ropes, like a swing. This would form a simple flap over the window. (The ropes could be draped out of a second-story window, or up over the roof. (The latter being counter-balanced with a same-size chunk of plywood on the opposite side.) Someone with a brain could lift the plywood and have direct access to the window. Stupid zombies would just beat their fists against the wood uselessly. Since the wood isn’t nailed in place, most of the energy will be absorbed as the plywood bounces against the side of the house. It would be noisy as hell, but ought to keep the creeps out. This is assuming the zeds even recognize the wood as a structural vulnerability and don’t just think of it as “more wall”.

When things are clear, you could draw the flap up (assuming it’s hanging out of a second-story window) to let the light in. My worry here would be wind hazard. If we get a good storm, we don’t want these things slamming into the side of the house.

Another idea is to just put some simple chicken wire over the windows. Now, chicken wire isn’t strong enough to hold back the crowd, but it doesn’t need to support the weight of a dozen zombies. It just needs to rebuff the fists of the half dozen or so of them that elbow their way to the front of the crowd.

Just picture attacking a chest-high rectangle of wire. In that position, you can’t brace your hip against the obstacle and put your legs into the work, and are stuck just pounding with your fists. This fence, mixed with a series of trip-lines and snares around the windows, ought to be enough to foil the dum-dums and deny them the leverage to bash open the windows and climb in.

It’s impossible to tell which approach would make more sense. It all depends on the strength of zombies, the terrain around the windows, and the way our houses are built. Still, these two concepts are a good starting point for rapid, low-cost ways to keep zombies out in emergencies while letting air and sunlight in the rest of the time. We’ll be forcing the writers to cheat as hard as possible to get to us.

Obviously neither approach will kill the attackers. This is just to keep them at bay until we can get our fighters into position to deal with the problem. We shouldn’t trying to outlast a siege, we’re just keeping the kids safe until the people in zombie-fighting gear can assemble and respond.

Siege

This is very bad.

If we do end up under a massive siege? Then either I’ve miscalculated, or the writer is cheating his ass off. Either way, if we’ve got hundreds of zeds beating on the house and they don’t wander off on their own, then we’re boxed in and we’re ll dead. Not because we can’t kill them, but because with numbers in the hundreds, we’ll lose our lives even if we win the fight.

Even if we have a good choke point where we can dispatch them, being attacked by hundreds of zombies is a death sentence. That many dead bodies around the houses would be a monumental biohazard. I’m not even talking about the zombie virus. I’m just talking about airborne threats and water-tainting sludge that would present a powerful breeding ground for contagions. In war, large numbers of dead bodies tend to lead to civilians deaths this way. This is another reason I decided to live out here in the wilderness and not in the city.

Sure, if we have tons of excess fuel around (scoff) we might be able to burn them, but even then: You’re talking about moving several tons of rotten flesh and building a fire that will darken the sky with black smoke. Ugh. If we had the time and manpower to undertake that, then we would have been able to build fences. Plus, even the ash pile from that would be a serious environmental hazard.

Hundreds of zombies would require heroic levels of fighting, followed by massive manual labor, followed by a dangerous and fuel-devouring burning project, all of which will simply make the stuff marginally less dangerous while possibly attracting more zombies. It’s not impossible to survive, but even total, rapid victory with no casualties could end up killing quite a few before we can clean up the mess. If the waves keep coming then we’d never get to harvest our food or cut our firewood, and we’d die. Well, we could escape and start over, but that would reset all our plans and create a bunch more problems to speculate about.

We’ll just proceed assuming that doesn’t happen.

Troublemakers

I’m gonna kill you! Because you’re a murderer!

We’ve already established that more people is almost always better. We want more knowledge, more manpower, more brains working on the problems and figuring things out, and more people to specialize into the new careers we’ll be creating in carpentry, animal husbandry, auto mechanics, running a distillery, and so on.

I reject the notion that everyone who survives the apocalypse will be aggressive, irrational, hateful, selfish, stupid, and short-sighted. Zombie stories have that because PERSONAL CONFLICT IS DRAMA!!! Sigh. I also reject the notion that the apocalypse will naturally bring out these qualities in people. Sure, people will suffer from hunger, fatigue, and stress. But that doesn’t mean Bob the Accountant will become Bob the girlfriend-beating racist murderer thief. These stories are usually written with the mindset that deep down, we’re all evil assholes, and the apocalypse would strip away that fake veneer of civilization and expose us as the monsters we really are. I’m not buying it.

Still, if I’m writing this scenario then I suppose I’m obligated to outline my plan for dealing with dangerous unrepentant assholes.

Let’s use Larry, Lily, and even Ben as examples, since they represent three different types of threat: Death by pointless malice, death by crazy, and death by stupid.

First off, Larry would be less likely to try and murder Lee if he was at all worried about being held accountable for his actions. While understandable, it was very foolish of Lee’s group to ignore what Larry tried to do. Larry should have been made to answer for this act. Not just for the sake of justice, but to establish the idea that Murdering People is Not OK in this group. This is not a free-for-all. If you let it slide, then other people will come to understand that this group is lawless and that there is no justice or accountability. People might not be monsters by default, but if you demonstrate that the best course of self-preservation is “do unto others before they can do unto you”, then you will be pushing people towards monstrous behavior.

Assuming Larry did try to flagrantly murder someone, then he’d be exiled. When we exile someone, we give them a couple of weeks of food and drive them an hour in any direction they like. We allow them to go their way peacefully, with a warning that if they come back they will meet hostility. Assuming they’re not in a murderous rage, they should be allowed to take their weapons with them. Their gun will be unloaded, with directions that they’re free to load up once we drive away.

Giving them food and ammunition is going to:

  1. Encourage them to not freak out and cause trouble when they are exiled.

  2. Give the rest of the group an incentive to not exile people without a REALLY good reason.
  3. Make sure we aren’t throwing away human life needlessly.

We don’t want the exiled person to die, we just want to protect ourselves from their dysfunction. We make troublesome people go away so their trouble-making doesn’t lead to violence and death. If Lee can tolerate Larry but Larry can’t tolerate Lee, then Larry is the problem and he needs to leave. He might even do just fine if he finds a new group.

An unhinged Lily might present an interesting challenge to such a bare-bones system. What do we do with someone who hasn’t YET hurt anyone but seems to be a credible threat to the group because she’s batshit bonkers? That’s a dicey problem and there’s never an easy answer, even in the technological wonderland of the pre-apocalypse society. However, she’d be a lot less likely to crack if she wan’t in charge of a doomed group.

Shamus! You’re dodging the question! What would you do with crazy people?

Sigh. It’s hard to say. As a leader if you rule too hard against her then you’ll look like a tyrant and a bully. Let her run wild and she might shoot somebody. You can’t make an official policy for stuff like this. You have to judge it on a case-by-case basis and you have to make sure you’ve got the group supporting you. Not in a gossipy, backstabbing sort of way. Just get a feel for how everyone feels about her and how afraid they are. You know, like a leader who knows the group and has a sense of what they’re thinking.

Still, if Lily:

  1. Began the “Someone stole my crescent wrench, which is morally equivalent to trying to murder me!” talk.

  2. Insisted that we line everyone up and interrogate them over a crime.
  3. Was just seething with anger and threats.
  4. Couldn’t be made to see reason.

If she did these things, then the group ought to sense the danger and we should be able to exile her with minimal fuss and drama.

The point stands that this is a real threat. Even in the real world there are never easy answers to stuff like this. You can be a very wise leader with excellent understanding of Lily and still wind up making a terrible mistake. I’m not even sure if what I’ve proposed this is the right course of action. Human life is so precious, and this is literally a choice of, “Will you risk the life of one or more reasonable people to spare the life of the crazy person?”

So what about Ben?

Ben wouldn’t be a threat since the menial jobs should vastly outnumber the critical public-safety jobs. Just don’t give the kid a gun and don’t entrust him with anything serious. He might not enjoy his life of digging irrigation ditches, hauling water, and chopping firewood, but the writers would need to contrive something implausibly stupid for him to get anyone killed.

The next entry will wrap this series up.


A Hundred!14114 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


  1. Katesickle says:

    “With the doors blocked, we can allow access to the house via a simple ladder to a second-story window. ”

    My fear of heights would basically be a death sentence in the zed apocalypse, wouldn’t it?

    Wait, I’m actually first? Kinda wish I had something more interesting to say, then…uh…glad you mentioned my library idea? I agree that Ben shouldn’t be much of a liability, and like that you’re willing to keep people like him around?

    Jeez, this is a lame comment to kick things off with :D

    • madshaw says:

      I’m scared of heights too, but I like to think that I’m more scared of zombies

      • Finding a ladder capable of supporting me would be problematic, and I also get vertigo pretty badly when I have to climb stuff. In an emergency, I could do it. But you’d have a hard time getting me out of the house otherwise.

        Not being able to get out of your structure in a hurry is a safety risk, though. What if somebody screws up and starts a fire? How fast will you be able to get everybody out?

        I know what I’d do if I were fortifying our house–seal up all the doors and windows on the first floor, and widen at least 2 of the basement windows into a door I can crawl up out of. We don’t have a second story. Although, I probably wouldn’t fortify OUR house because we’re in a bit of a pit that tends to fill with water when it rains–if we can’t run our sump pump in wet weather, the basement floods.

        It’d be even better to have a ranch house like my parents’ old place–it’s on a fairly steep hill above a good-sized creek. The soil alongside the creek is great for growing stuff, there’s a huge empty front yard, the basement didn’t flood because it was way too far above the water table, the house was solid construction and would be easy to fortify, and most of the surrounding land was woods/farmland. Not the best setup, maybe, but not the worst, either.

  2. Never mind wood, let’s cover the windows in bubble wrap! Beside protection and letting light in, the zeds anger would be abated by popping bubbles!

  3. SougoXIII says:

    ‘but the writers would need to contrive something implausibly stupid for him to get anyone killed.’

    Shamus, judging from how the Walking Dead writer handled Ben, this situation is very plausible.

    • Zombie says:

      Someone would walk by as he’s chopping wood and the back swing from the ax would take off a body part, or bash them in the head. And then Ben would cover it up so no one blames him for anything.

      • SougoXIII says:

        Yep and that someone will die, turn into a zombie and end up ninja’d the whole group. They’ll lose 1 or 2 survivors against the zombie but the struggle will somehow produce enough noise to draw the attention of the entire zombie hoard in the area. After they narrowly evade the hoard but not in the clear, he will break down and confess causing unnecessary tension which doom even more members of the group.

        This is the same level in which the Walking Dead writers handled Ben

        • Naota says:

          Don’t forget: before the risen ninja zombie reaches its zenith of undeadness, Ben blames the disappearance of the dead group member on somebody else, who is then killed by other characters or exiled without supplies to immediately die. Their screams draw the horde, and their risen corpse then leads the charge (shuffle?) to the survivors. Ben sees this and, wracked with guilt, drops his weapon; another group member dies trying to save him/cover for him.

          Now it’s Walking Dead logic.

    • Hieronymus says:

      My guess?

      He’s digging that irrigation ditch, and punctures a filled natural gas line that runs under the house.

    • Isy says:

      Shamus needs to address how he would deal with people who are clearly cursed by gypsies, because that’s closer to what Ben actually was.

    • James says:

      i concider myself creative, too some defree lets see if i can come up with some examples, that i have not already seen.

      while ferrying clean water he stumbles and spills it into a pit, the water in the pit is clear, so Ben scoops it up and carries it rest of the way, Everyone dies of dysentery

      while harvesting the food, ben sneaks of for a ciggerete, and burns ALL the crops down, the smoke draws the Zed’s everyone dies of a mixure of hunger and fatigue (and Zeds)

      Ben trips while running with scissors stabbing someone in the eye, covers it up, comes back as Zed who infects someone, infection spreads everyone dies.

  4. Caffiene says:

    It seems to me that all the talk about window opening contraptions is asking for trouble.

    IMO, you’d be better off boarding up the window and having no big points of failure. If you need light, go for the simple solutions:
    a) Leave a small gap at the top of the window to let light in.
    b) Make a hole in the roof (or high up on the wall) to let light in, and have any board-and-rope contraptions cover that hole which isnt going to need to face any Zs.
    c) Just use the second floor (which has already been hypothesised as the entry point anyway) instead of the darkened first floor.

    • SolkaTruesilver says:

      Indeed. You can always use the ground floor as storage space anyway.

    • MrGuy says:

      Or, you could just CUT the plywood.

      Say, into strips 1-2 feet wide. This is easily possible with a simple hand saw, and it’s not a huge number of strips to cut. Then just install them with, say, a 1-foot gap between strips. It will still let in a lot of light, and won’t impair visibility to a problematic degree.

      There’s a question of how you’d attach the strips. But you have the exact same problem with how you’d attach the full sheets of plywood – you need SOME kind of fasteners in either case. Screws are probably the most likely option, but in any case, “strips of plyood” and “sheets of plywood” are similarly plausible.

    • Isy says:

      I wonder if there would be too many logistical issues with rope and plank bridges out of the second story. If you were in a position where you never had to set foot on the ground, it’d seem like you would be golden.

      • Shamus says:

        I was wondering the same thing. I don’t know enough about bridge-building to know if that would be a brilliant idea or madness. Seems like it would take a ton of wood, which may or may not have been recently spent on a pike fence, but if we could stick to the second story it would indeed make us that much safer.

        • Rope. It would take a ton of rope. Actually, not that much, you can make a perfectly serviceable bridge with three ropes–two to hold with your hands and one to walk on with your feet. If you’ve got people with vertigo, you can take twine and run it back and forth between the hand-ropes and bottom rope in a V pattern, it doesn’t have to support weight just keep the ropes from moving away from each other much. You can do this with two ropes, one above the other, if you don’t anticipate having to carry much stuff across. I did this one year at girl scout camp, and we crossed a gorge just fine with two lengths of rope. The main issue if it’s going to be a long-term structure is that the rope tends to stretch over time and you have to have someone go and un-knot it (not an easy process), pull it taught, and re-knot it. Crossing a *slack* rope is extremely difficult and dangerous–you want it as taught as you can make it.

        • TMTVL says:

          Reaching your neighbour might be conceivably possible, if you stick to a town. Crossing the street means you’d need to make supports, and if you’re not high enough up, that means putting a wooden support pillar in the middle of the street (the alternative being slanted supports distributing the weight back to the buildings, which is far more difficult and resource-consuming).

          Unless you want to make a temporary bridge, which doesn’t have to be as heavy.

          • Alex says:

            A bridge with supports could be dangerous. If the zombies manage to take out the support (or your own amateur carpentry isn’t up to par), your bridge turns into a pair of zombie ramps.

    • Cutting a hole in the roof is a really bad idea, unless you want the house to eventually degrade (even faster than it normally would). This is the heading of Chapter 2 from “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman:

      ‘If you want to destroy a barn,’ a farmer once told me, ‘cut an eighteen-inch-square hole in the roof. Then stand back.’
      — architect Chris Riddle, Amherst, Massachusetts

      Rain, snow, moisture of just about any kind, plus pests would find such holes rather inviting.

      • MrGuy says:

        If you leave the hole open, agree completely.

        But the suggestion was replace “use windows for light” with makeshift skylights. If we’re boarding up our indoor windows, we’re potentially freeing up the window glazing from the openings to be used to cover these. Removable sash windows (reasonably common) will yield 2 ~2 ft x 3 ft sealed glass panels. Laid down on the deck of a roof with some reasonable caulking, and you have light without massive internal leakage.

  5. Ardis Meade says:

    “That many dead bodies around the houses would be a monumental biohazard. I’m not even talking about the zombie virus. I’m just talking about airborne threats and water-tainting sludge that would present a powerful breeding ground for contagions.”

    No, no it isn’t. This is a very common and dangerous myth. It’s old school “miasma causes disease” style thinking and has caused problems in disaster relief situations when resources are pulled from helping people to deal with what should be the low priority task of body disposal. If a person dies from a disease, then yes their bodies pose a danger for a while. However, a corpse is not otherwise a threat. Diseases do not breed in dead bodies. The only downside to leaving a bunch of dead bodies lying around is that it will lead to population surge in scavengers and vermin.

    tl;dr Just because a corpse is icky doesn’t mean it’s dangerous.

    • SolkaTruesilver says:

      Do you REALLY need fuel to dispose of bodies? I heard the human body actually burns pretty well once caught on fire. The hard part would be to start your fire, no need to waste fuel to burn perfectly inflammable fat.

      • Ardis Meade says:

        Yes. They don’t make cremation kilns for fun. Under the right conditions people can burn pretty easily, but that’s not always the case. Even if you can get a “kindling effect” going you’ll still have get it started and there will probably be leftover pieces.

        • X2-Eliah says:

          Um, no, bodies actually burn very easily. Just think about all the spontaneous combustion cases. Also, consider – why are there fire alarms and extinguishers in most gyms? That’s right, because humans get dangerously close to conflgaration due to working out.

          • Ardis Meade says:

            That’s a joke right?

            • Moriarty says:

              Of course not, why do you think we hang fire alarms in our bedrooms? A sleeping human isn’t able to feel the heat burning inside him/her and may combust at any moment without warning!

              • SolkaTruesilver says:

                I am sorry to burst your bubble halfway, but spontaneous combustion did not actually happen. Investigation in the matter revealed theses case we’re most likely people setting themselves on fire by falling asleep while smoking.

                Hence my point that the human body, once ignited, probably burns pretty well. Sure, there might be remains left, but just keep adroitness to the next zombie pyre.

    • Shamus says:

      “This is a very common and dangerous myth.”

      Dangerous? To who? What danger is there in avoiding dead bodies? And how can this not be a danger to the water supply?

      “The only downside to leaving a bunch of dead bodies lying around is that it will lead to population surge in scavengers and vermin.”

      Which is also a big danger.

      • Ardis Meade says:

        “Dangerous? To who? What danger is there in avoiding dead bodies? ”

        As I said “has caused problems in disaster relief situations when resources are pulled from helping people to deal with what should be the low priority task of body disposal” the problem isn’t that they won’t go near bodies, it’s that they’ll take time needed to do other stuff and waste it dealing with corpses.

        “And how can this not be a danger to the water supply?” How would it? People are made of meat. It’s not dangerous to consume them. Barring rare cases like Kuru. If you’re drinking water is collected 10′ downstream from a rotting body i’m sure the water will taste bad, but it won’t kill you.

        ETA: “Which is also a big danger”
        Maybe, but since scavengers and vermin are edible, I see it as more of an opportunity.

        • Deadfast says:

          “And how can this not be a danger to the water supply?” How would it? People are made of meat. It’s not dangerous to consume them. Barring rare cases like Kuru. If you’re drinking water is collected 10′ downstream from a rotting body i’m sure the water will taste bad, but it won’t kill you.

          Don’t forget we’re dealing with zombie virus here though. Considering a tiny bit of saliva transmitted during a bite is enough to infect you I wouldn’t want to be downstream from a rotting zombie corpse.

          • Ardis Meade says:

            I’m responding to Shamus saying bodies are dangerous without the Zombie virus. Personally i think the idea of a zombie virus is stupid (magic make a lot more sense for that), but having one would certainly make corpses dangerous.

            Get it, because corpses would rise as zombies and zombie corpses would be a means of infection? I totally killed that joke.

        • I may be wrong, but from my understanding this is 100% inaccurate–the pollution caused by rotting human corpses is actually why the Nazis built crematoriums to dispose of their death camp victims–people were getting sick from the water and ground pollution. It is not the corpse per se that causes the problem, but the fecal and necrotic bacteria that riddle a human corpse. Kuru isn’t the only disease humans carry. E. Coli, Cholera, you name it, sanitary corpse disposal is no joke. Heck, even the stench produced by rotting corpses can make people ill, not to mention the diseases carried by the enormous number of flies you’d attract.

          Hmm, Wikipedia says that the biggest problem is with gastroenteritis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_risks_from_dead_bodies That’s good to know. The worst water-borne disease I know of is probably cholera, which is (whew) rare to nonexistent in the U.S.

          Granted, if you’re not dealing with an *entire city* full of people, you can dispose of them by rolling them not too far downhill away from your structures and dump some lime over them to keep them from festering too much. Lime is reasonably easy to obtain, and you can make it if you’ve got limestone available, just cook it in a kiln. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find or build a kiln, they’re *very* useful structures that people build themselves in their backyard, plus you can always start with pit-firing and work up from there. That, and you can use lime to make mortar or concrete so it’s far from a single-purpose luxury. It may not be very high-quality as a very high temperature kiln is difficult to build, but it’d be better than nothing.

    • Ummmm, I think you might be understating the matter a little. Yeah, rotting corpses don’t produce magical killing miasma. But still, a lot of rotting corpses (especially if, as is common in zombie fiction, the corpses were already in bad condition) will definitely breed some bugs. There’s a reason why corpses were thrown into castles in the days of siege warfare: People with weak immune systems are likely to get sick and then spread the bug. I do think that one could handle the situation pretty well if one simply wore good gloves and masks (preferably coveralls as well), moved the bodies into a truck or cart, and then simply took them about a mile away and did what one could to bury them, but still, it is a concern.

    • In any case, it seems to me that, rather than worry about disposal of the bodies, the easier solution after a huge zombie attack that left piles and piles of corpses would be to move house.
      Really, there’s plenty houses available. If your redoubt suddenly has serious drawbacks, get a different one a few houses over. The investment you lose in any non-transferable defensive measures is probably less than the work you avoid not having to muck with the corpses, deal with the scavengers etc.

    • Adam Fuller says:

      Rotting meat in your water supply is bad. Bags of rotting meat filled with human feces in your water supply is even worse. Getting little bits of rotting meat on your clothing is a health hazard. Hordes of flies which have been feeding on rotten meat and human feces landing on your food is a health hazard.

  6. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Shamus, have you considered having some people dedicated to scout, scavenge and hunt Zeds?

    You know, “warrior caste” or something. People with mobility; either on horse, cars, etc.. They could try to scout hordes before they reach you, and try to divert them away from your position. They also could try to reach other survivor groups for potential trade, as well as keep scavenging for the occasional bonus food/tool.

    In addition, I believe killing every zombies you can is most likely a good thing. There is a finite number of them; whittling their number little by little would be the best thing for everybody. Finding ways to trap the hordes in close proximity and set the whole place on fire.

    • rayen says:

      there are a few problems with this.
      1) if you use guns, you’re going to be using valuable ammo and making loud noises which will attract more zeds, which will in turn use more ammo etc, etc, until you run out of ammo panic and lead the zeds back to base.
      2)you don’t use guns. While quieter is also more dangerous, also weapon upkeep knowledge of such things is a must and not many people have such knowledge anymore.
      3)you are removing people from more important jobs at the base.

      If you have an overabundance of people and are defending a large area it might be a good idea but still uses ammo and puts valuable survivors who would be able to do more meaningful manual labor back at base.

      • It still seems like something a medium-sized group, say 15+ people, could do on occasion, maybe weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. You always want to have an idea of the lay of the land, see if there’s anything new that’s changed, etc. When I’ve done survival roleplaying games, we’ve typically found that in the long term (which we don’t always get to because of the format of the games we play) you need at minimum the following (at any one time):

        *4 guards. With 4 guards, you can do shifts of 30 minutes each to keep alertness high and prevent boredom. That’s 4 guards at any one time. Preferably, you’d have eight guards total, but anyone in a camp aside from children or the seriously crippled or old can probably be a guard. This is just the group that has to stay at home. I’m also assuming that one has two guards on duty at any given time, to cover two 180 degree arcs. Preferably it’d be at least three guards at a time for three one hundred twenty degree arcs, or four guards for ninety degree arcs (cardinal directions), but this is minimal.
        *4 dedicated scavengers or food producers. You never want to have everyone leave a home area lest it become taken over when one is gone, but a group should ideally have four good people to watch each other’s back and be able to split up into two groups of two. These people either get supplies or help farm.
        *1 medic. The medic doesn’t need to be doing their job most of the time, so they can be guards or scavengers, but preferably they’re never put into harm’s way.
        *At least 1 domestic worker. Keeping a space cleaned and sanitary, mending clothes, washing clothes, cooking meals, tending fires, knitting things or making blankets, etc. is always useful.

        So if you have a group of 15 people, you can afford to send out something like 4 to 9 of those people and still have your base be reasonably defended and be doing most of the jobs that you need to get done during the day. I personally add one construction specialist to that task. The guy who is putting up our pikes, making plywood and rebar walls and barricades, moving cars around, building bridges between houses, keeping the house repaired (and electric appliances working for those times that you have the generator working), etc. and can do that work quickly and quietly is a god send.

      • Deoxy says:

        Don’t use guns – get a pulley (or 3), rope for it, some length of chain, a very heavy object (such as an engine block), and any half-way decent structure that you can stand on out of zombie reach.

        Make a lot of noise to attract zombies. Drop heavy object on them. Haul heavy object back up (with pulleys, it is easy). Drop again.

        Zombies are unintelligent. They are worse than almost any AI in any game in the last 20 years. Easy firearm-free methods to kill them by the horde abound.

        • SolkaTruesilver says:

          I don’t even think you need any sort of elaborate contraptions. A bunch of people with iron or steel-tipped spears could easily hunt and hold off a relatively large number of zeds in a pitched battle if they can have a choke point (yes, I am talking about Zombie Hunting Spartan Style).

          Have someone as a bait to draw the zombie attention on top of a wall or something. Make him do a lot of noise. Send in your spearman to Jan the zombies on the side or the back of the head as silently as possible.

          Advantage of the spear over most melee weapons is obvious: reach, energy-efficient in battle, easy to build and maintain, can be used in tight group. And a good jab won’t have a problem going through a slow moving zombie.a open mouth, eye, or side-cranium.

          If your bait is loud enough, you can take out a large number of Zeds before they even notice you.

          • Deoxy says:

            The problem with any form of physical combat with zombies is that people get tired and zombies don’t.

            Also, people make mistakes. Being in a place zombies can’t reach you is just SO much safer.

            But your idea would probably work, too… but with the rare casualty.

            Actually, I think I’d modify that to some kind of blunt weapon on the end of a pole rather than a spear (though of course a spear tip on the end of that might be a good idea, too). Skulls are fairly tough, and relatively small but still blunt tip (like the flanges on medieval maces) would punch through much better, and with much less effort with a simple swing at the end of a long pole.

            Of course, then we could combine the 2 ideas, stand somewhere safe, and kill the zombies below with swings from our long club-ish things (there’s probably a word for what they are – there were dozens of long-handled weapons in the middle ages, and they all had their own bloody name).

    • Adeon says:

      Food would seem the obvious problem. Subsistence level farmers (which is essentially what people would be) don’t produce much in the way of excess food so the “warrior caste” would need to provide extra food for the group either directly (hunting/scavenging) or indirectly (gathering supplies that will increase the yield from the farmers).

      That being said, a few good hunters (possibly armed with bows to keep the noise down) are a good idea if you’ve got people with the skills to do it.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      More sensible version would be to have a few people go out with spray cans, shovels, some sticks and some knives to make more sticks. Make well-marked punji traps out in the wilds, so any zeds that fall in are stuck or unable to walk, and thus easy prey for anyone who happens across them. This is assuming you’re not in a situation where you just hole up and wait for the zombies to starve, though.

  7. Rick says:

    I’m really enjoying this series :D I’d probably avoid the plywood-on-ropes idea though. It’d only take one zombie limb to slip behind the wood while it’s bouncing and they’re in. Probably a case of “a hundred zombies at a hundred windows and eventually one will get in”, but more plausible than Shakespeare from a monkey.

    I think items like barbed wire, heavy machinery etc will vary a lot from farm to farm depending on what they’re farming and where. But it’s nice to see someone taking the humble approach to things.

    I searched for “open source zombie plan” expecting to find a site where situations, resolutions and theories could be discussed and voted on… None such site exists, but post 2 from this series was the first result :p

    I could build such a site of course, but I don’t know how much ad revenue I’d get from Google Ads for shotguns and survival games. Hmmm.

  8. Andy_Panthro says:

    A simple set of laws/rules and a method for settling disputes is probably quite important, once you’ve got past the initial survival stage. This becomes more important the larger the group.

    As for the problems of removing large amounts of dead zombies… have you not considered just moving away? If there’s an abnormally high number of zeds in the area, and you spend a lot of time fighting/hiding, then perhaps you need to find a new location!

    • MrGuy says:

      A simple set of laws/rules and a method for settling disputes is probably quite important, once you’ve got past the initial survival stage. This becomes more important the larger the group.

      Two men enter! One man leaves!

      • Taluien says:

        And there we have the Crazy-Lily-Loophole: “You can’t throw me in the Thunderdome for shooting whoever you did not let die back then, I can make babies!”

    • Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      Go to a library, get the 4 volumes of Black’s Legal Dictionary -BOOM! Your commune is now a Common Law Jurisdiction.

      And I bet that book is still there.

      Who’s going to scour the legal reference section?

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Well people who are reading this would! Actually… LOOK OVER THERE!

        [sound of car engine revving and tires squealing away in the direction of the local library]

  9. Kavonde says:

    Shamus, I think in this scenario you’re overestimating the number of people who will immediately go into long-term survival mode. I suspect that most folks, whether they knew what zombies were or not, would initially just stock up on perishable supplies and fortify their homes, expecting the military to show up within a matter of days (a few weeks, tops) to deal with the problem. Even the folks who are genre-savvy enough to have come up with a plan will likely also be skilled enough critical thinkers to realize that, realistically, there’s no reason our trained soldiers and guardsmen–many of whom will no doubt also be genre-savvy–couldn’t deal with the zeds. By the time it becomes clear that they’re operating in a world governed by writer fiat and the Rule of Drama, the handful of folks who immediately started setting up long-term shelters will have had plenty of time to scavenge materials.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      It’s a zombie apocalypse and mistakes, overconfidence and pinning your survival on hopes is going to get you killed. The base plan should assume nothing goes in your favour that isn’t as certain as the sun rising in the east. Yes, using barbed wire, or raiding a library, Home Depot or gardening centre will help immensely, but it’s not a sure thing and any plan that requires it is prone to failure. It’s better to have a stable base to bolt any useful stuff onto.
      It’s like playing FTL, you can’t plan your build around getting a decent burst laser or an ion weapon or pretty much anything unless your ship comes pre-equipped with it. You need to assume you’re going to have nothing more than a pile of lemons and need to plan how you’re going to weaponise them.

  10. Nick Pitino says:

    Have you watched The Colony Shamus?

    You should totally watch the colony, I think it’s still on Netflix.

    Also, if you’re in a two-story house I’m going to throw in my vote with living in the upstairs and using the downstairs as storage and the like. Greatly reduced lighting problems and if zeds manage to get in the downstairs you have a layered defense of barricading the upstairs.

    Speaking of lighting, did you know you can make VERY long burning candles out of tubs of Crisco?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsY-d44SpeQ

    On a more general note the thing I always end up taking away from the “what happens if there are zombies/nukes/superflu/whatever” conversations is that probably the best thing you can do is be prepared and have a plan. These hypothetical situations always start with “Well assuming you’re NOT one of those people with food, water and bullets stored up…” which speaks to the immense value that such preparations can have.

    I’m not even talking going full Red Dawn OMG the-bombs-are-falling it’s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it survivalist crazy here, but just doing things like having food & water stored and having a planned route for how to get out of the city if need be.

    It’s not even that expensive to do really, plan out a year’s worth of meals that can be made with foods amenable to long-term storage and then every week you go grocery shopping spend an extra $10 or so buying a few items at a time to build up the stocks.

    The long term problem after some sort of massive societal collapse is always needing to start growing food again (or surviving for long enough that food production is re-established) which if you’re unprepared is either extremely difficult to impossible depending on the time of year disaster strikes. Imagine how much easier it would be if you knew with certainty you and your family could safely eat for at least a year.

    Have some food stored, save seed packets, keep first aid supplies on hand, plan for getting water whether it be having a well or storing it.

    This isn’t paranoia people, it’s called “I don’t want to end up like those poor bastards in the Superdome after hurricane Katrina…”

    • Deoxy says:

      Or “those poor bastards after Sandy, who are still in bad shape, even though you don’t hear about it every bloody day like we did with Katrina”.

      I’ll leave determining why we don’t hear about it, even though it’s both noticeably worse and noticeably longer, as an exercise to the reader.

  11. MrGuy says:

    Two dozen adults could put up a pike fence in a few days.

    I think this is the central thing all the fence detractors (myself included) disagree vehemently with you about.

    You’re talking about a large number of sharpened 6-feet long pikes.

    Let’s think about defending a single house. House measures maybe 40×50 feet. If you want a fence to be remotely useful, you need to be about 20 feet larger than this on all sides (and this is if we DON’T defend the grain fields). That means a fence measuring 80×90 feet, or 340 linear feet of fence.

    Let’s go with your assumption that a pike every ~3 feet is close enough together to be a useful fence. That means we need ~115 pikes.

    With the angles you’re talking about, the pikes need to be ~6 feet long, and sharpened on at least one end. That’s a lot of long sticks. Where are you proposing to get them?

    You’re not going to find reasonable sticks this long lying around. It’s pretty long for a tree branch. If you’re going to look for fallen branches, this is a HUGE amount to find.

    So, I think you’re chopping. Which, by the way, is a lot of noise. Also, most tree branches aren’t really long and straight enough to make a good pike. Your better option might be something like small pine tree trunks or saplings.

    Lets say you can get 2 pikes out of every tree (i.e. maybe 10-12 foot trees). We’re talking 50-60 trees, cut down and possibly de-limbed (though maybe not – limbs might help with the fence gaps).

    Then we need to sharpen them, which isn’t a small job – if you’re using a 10 foot tree, it’s probably 5-6 inches in diameter – that’s a lot of material to remove to make a pike.

    Oh, and then there’s the whole buring them in the ground to contend with.

    I don’t see this being the quick and easy fence you seem to think it is.

    • Shamus says:

      The concern about wood is a valid one. Again, I’m wedged between people saying, “Why don’t you just use X?” versus “Where would you possibly find X?!?”

      In this case, I’m assuming there would be supplies like: Furniture, privacy fences, a deck, or whatever else was made of wood and no longer required for survival. I was also assuming that since we’re not repelling humans, the pikes don’t need to be perfectly arrow-straight. If they’re crooked or made from smaller poles lashed together, it still ought to do the job of making something pointy and un-climbable for the zeds.

      115 pikes for two dozen people is five pikes each. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that a healthy adult could cut, sharpen, and plant 5 pikes in the space of a couple days. (Provided tools are available, etc.) Sure, it’s a lot of work, but not preposterously so. Maybe they need four days instead of two. Still, it’s do-able. But if the group was just 6 adults then obviously the economics of this would be very different. It would take a couple of weeks of labor before you began getting any benefit from it.

      The sound problem ought to be mitigated slightly by the chimes. As zeds draw close, they would hopefully be drawn to the steadier and more immediate sound. Obviously nobody can argue if you think that wouldn’t work.

      • MrGuy says:

        I guess I disagree with the ease of finding/assembling things long enough to be useful and structural enough not to fall apart under their expected use in the quantity you need.

        The problem isn’t “can we parallelize the sharpening process?” It’s the finding of raw materials.

        • Katesickle says:

          Whether or not he could find the materials would really depend on where he wound up. If he was lucky enough to find a place that has lots of bamboo he’d be set–and he’d be able to constantly grow more for when he wanted to add more to the fence later. Same if he’s in an area with lots of existing fencing (and if he’s on a farm this seems likely). Floor lamps could possibly work as well (the poles can’t be sharpened, but they would still provide an obstacle). Brooms and mops have long handles, though they’re likely going to be plastic, not wood. Still better than nothing.

          So basically depending on where he is this could range from being ridiculously easy to completely impossible. But I think that being on a farm would give him a pretty decent chance of finding what he needs to get a good fence of some sort up.

          • MrGuy says:

            But I think that being on a farm would give him a pretty decent chance of finding what he needs to get a good fence of some sort up.

            Convince me. What are the sorts of things you think would be easy to find around a farm that would make it reasonably easy to come up with ~100 workable pikes.

            I don’t think you’ll come close with floorlamps and broomhandles.

            • Shamus says:

              Stuff I was thinking of:

              A porch: Usually if the house is on a slight grade, the back or front door will end up a couple of feet off the ground. A porch is likely to be all wood, and all it does is make it easier for a large group to congregate around the door. Remove the porch or deck and you’ve got a LOT of wood, plus your door is now off the ground and harder to attack. Here in Western PA, EVERYTHING is a slope, and so a majority of houses have wooden porches in front or behind.

              Privacy fence: It’s a sheer wall of thin planks. Useless for stopping zeds, but if we split the boards they ought to be long and pointy enough to snag the zeds.

              Unwanted stuff: Porch swings, treehouses, frames for swingsets, excess furniture. (I’m betting the entertainment center isn’t going to see a lot of use.)

            • Katesickle says:

              In addition to what Shamus said, I also wouldn’t be surprised if a farm had chicken wire or even razor wire on hand. You’ll note I said “a fence of some sort” and not specifically a pike fence–my point was that a farm should have stuff to get SOME kind of barrier up.

              • MrGuy says:

                Right. I’m a big believer in the barbed wire fence idea being the most plausible option – there was a large discussion on this on “Part 3.”

                What I’d tired to focus this thread on was specifically Shamus’ pike fence idea as a plausible “good and practical solution” to the problem, in his stated environment with his proposed labor force.

            • VitezKolya says:

              Don’t forget that farms also have a lot of barbed wire around. Farms with cattle seems to have a lot of it.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        The thought occurs that if you have less wood, you can make a series of one foot deep and wide holes one foot apart, then another series of holes offset by a foot. Put a one foot spike in each whole, and on each patch of earth, and make punji spikes to shove in later to shred any leg that’s unthinkingly yanked back out. 340 feet means six people dig 57 holes each, which, even if you assume people take an hour to dig each hole, is five twelve hour days to dig the holes, and 680 smallish spikes, which you could probably cobble together just from ripping up those luxurious floorboards. Zeds shamble towards it, fall over, alert any lookouts, and you’ve at least cut down their numbers if it’s a big horde moving in a straight line. This at least buys you time to scavenge up the wood for the pike fence or stone/concrete for a wall, or a deep trench.

      • Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

        Years ago when I was an army brat, I was told that the rule of thumb for entrenchment was 10ft by 6ft by 4ft per person per day. A foxhole was something like 3ft by 4ft by 6ft and could be dug in a couple of hours.

        Though when my friends and I tried to replicate this, we were much slower. It took four of us two days to dig that trench, which is probably more accurate for non-soldiers.

        So, 5000 square foot property has a perimeter of around 280 feet (assume a square), so 12 adults would dig 30 feet of trench a day -getting all the way around the property in a little under 10 days.

        If the palisade is less work than the trench, I could see it being done in less than a week.

    • Moreover, I think you’re overestimating the point of the fence. I know that I’m breaking the rules a little bit by thinking logically, but any predator, even horde predators like zombies, should give up if a location is difficult to get to. If there’s a bunch of spike fences one way and just a straight road to the other, the predator’s going to go on that road unless they have a certainty of payoff. It’s all about making it just a little more dangerous. The tradeoff is that you are signaling to human survivors that there are people here, but still.

      Of course, if you’re doing Dead Reign/L4D style zombies where zombies can include thinking zombies and zombies that move through sewers and such, then it becomes more difficult, but that’s not our assumption here.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      As far as answering “Where do you get long straight sticks?” I just trimmed my fruit trees, which haven’t been trimmed for probably 20 years. They are covered with long straight “water sprout” branches. Just one tree probably got me fifty of the dang things, two inches across at the base, twelve feet long each. A single grove of trees, or a small neighborhood of ornamental/fruit trees, would provide all the long straight branches you would need, at least for a small job like this.

  12. Even says:

    It’s not that people will automatically turn into assholes, it’s that the specific part of the population who suffers from being one has never been as free to express their assholiness on the rest of the world. Some areas may be safer from them than others, but they’re still a fact that you may have to deal with. Desperation and abusal of trust are also poisons that can turn even the most idealistic person or group out there into a selfish, distrusting, cynical and/or apathetic one. It’s easy to idealize how you want to act, but you have no real guarantee of how witnessing the apocalypse will truly affect you and your decisionmaking. Holding on to your beliefs could always be harder than you think, but it’s still admirable and respectable that you’re willing to put them first and foremost.

    • Works the other way, too, though. People are in some ways freer to be assholes in large societies where they can do bad things sequentially to a whole bunch of people, none of whom they are likely to meet again. Perhaps the purest example is road rage.
      When the community shrinks down and people are stuck with each other, they have to treat each other better. Reputation sticks to you. Of course, people may be slow to adapt to this shift.

  13. Jay says:

    Two comments:

    1) When things get bad, a lot of people would try to leave the cities. This would likely cause the sort of huge traffic jam that we sometimes see in Florida before a major hurricane; the major highways would be full of virtually still parked cars. For zeds, it would make a fine buffet. I imagine the highways would be full of idle cars and zombies.

    2) PTSD would be the new normal. Expect everyone to break down and cry at odd intervals, or just stare into the distance for hours at a time. If you ever meet an adult who isn’t suffering from PTSD, shoot him. He’s a sociopath.

    • Ardis Meade says:

      You say that like sociopaths are a bad thing to have around. Seriously, we’re pretty likely to be people you want on your side. Rational self-interest keeps us helping the group while our sociopathy keeps us functional no matter how bad things get. After the end of the world you want us around.

    • Even says:

      Not gonna dispute 1) since I don’t live in the US, but you’re making a lot of generalization with 2). It would probably be more common place but it’s not very reasonable to assume that every non-sociopath must suffer through the horrors in the same manner.

    • LadyTL says:

      That also assumes that everyone would find a zombie apocalypse to be horrifying enough to cause PTSD. Plenty of people work in traumatic to people jobs and don’t break down.

    • Alex says:

      “If you ever meet an adult who isn’t suffering from PTSD, shoot him. He’s a sociopath.”

      That is completely ass-backwards. Not showing obvious signs of PTSD doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering from PTSD, and it doesn’t mean they don’t care about what people have lost.

      If you want to find a sociopath, look for the guy who would shoot someone who has done nothing wrong except endure in the face of a traumatic experience.

  14. “Just picture attacking a chest-high rectangle of wire…”

    As we all know, chest-high anything is often an impenetrable barrier and causes whoever is nearby to come under heavy gunfire.

    Regarding the not buying that people become assholes and so forth. Yes, in fiction, drama is hyper-ized for maximum… well, drama. What you might be underestimating is what percentage of your group has an a-hole tendency at given moments and how few a-hole moments are required to screw things up. Take terrorism, for example. Most people are not terrorists (or other kinds of murderous folk), but look at how few of them as a percentage of a population are required to cause civilization to start backsliding.

    Perhaps the best way to address the a-hole problem is to widen it to “how will we handle it when someone does something foolish, like we all do every so often?” Someone might forget to latch a gate, check a battery, argue with someone when they should have been paying attention, or suspecting someone of stealing the last ho-ho when something nasty was creeping up on them.

  15. Doug Sundseth says:

    Rather than nice, pretty pikes planted in the ground, you might want to consider an abatis. It has the advantage that it starts out already connected together in 40′ (or so) sections and you only need to sharpen the ends of the branches to get a pretty nasty barricade.

    In other parts of the world, you might want to consider a thorn boma or the like. Again, this would minimize the work necessary for a useful effect.

  16. HiEv says:

    See, now I just want to see a “reality” TV show where “teams” of survivors are each (unbeknownst to each other) given a house to defend in the “zombie apocalypse”. They’d have to stay within a certain area on a map, but they could scavenge whatever they wanted within that area. They’d be given paintball guns and limited ammunition (but unlimited CO2) and could attack anyone with a “Z” for zombie sign on them or an “S” for survivor sign on them (any other “civilians” should be ignored as though they aren’t there). After that, just let them go and see what happens.

    You could put them in various survival situations. Throw zombie hordes at them. Have them encounter other possibly hostile survivors, including the other teams. Perhaps plant an actor as a “drama generator” within each team. Etc… Then give a prize to the best team, as voted by the audience at the end of 28 days or whatever.

    I’d love to see what happens and what plans work or fail.

  17. Psithief says:

    My zombie apocalypse survival plan is to not live in a universe where the laws of thermodynamics are so easily violated.

    So far it’s working great, not a zombie in sight!

    • Deoxy says:

      Real zombies are in many way possible, actually…

      But yes, these theoretically real-world-possible zombies do need food and water and DO die of most normal causes (bleeding out, for instance).

      • The Rocketeer says:

        So, zombies could be real in the same sense that vampires could exist as folks who eat rare steak.

        The horror.

        • Deoxy says:

          No, zombies could be real in the sense that vampires are real as someone who decided to live exclusively on human blood and violently kill people to get it from them, then drink it directly from their body before they are even dead of their injuries.

          Real-world possible zombies would mimic fantasy zombies in most ways for the short term. They would only immediately stop and die if you took out their nervous system, they would probably not have enough higher brain function to speak other than vague moaning, they would ignore any wounds they received and continue coming as long as they were physically able, and they could indeed have a psychotic desire to consume other humans (though just the brains is probably stretching it a bit).

          For the first hour or so, the differences wouldn’t be important. After that, as they bleed out and/or begin collapsing from lack of sustenance (over the course of days or weeks), sure, it’s less scary… but that wouldn’t matter much to all the people they kill first.

  18. Dragomok says:

    “And so this series drags ever onward.”
    Just like zombie apocalypse trend, eh?

  19. I’ve always preferred the idea of just going onto the roof. Use a skylight or second-story access. Yeah, it sucks to be in the dark, but if you have good second-story windows and some candles it shouldn’t be too bad. On a roof, you can have fortifications such that you can see out while only the most dedicated attackers (i.e. not zombies) can really see you. And you have a good line of sight to kill zombies that get close with a longbow, crossbow, hunting rifle or silenced pistol.

  20. I’ve always preferred the idea of just going onto the roof. Use a skylight or second-story access. Yeah, it sucks to be in the dark, but if you have good second-story windows and some candles it shouldn’t be too bad. On a roof, you can have fortifications such that you can see out while only the most dedicated attackers (i.e. not zombies) can really see you. And you have a good line of sight to kill zombies that get close with a longbow, crossbow, hunting rifle or silenced pistol.

    I’ve done many roleplaying games where we started as ordinary people fending off during an apocalyptic situation. It usually came down to getting to a relatively rural area, fortifying, having plenty of blankets and clothes, having some medical supplies, using daylight carefully, and mostly resting, eating and keeping morale high.

    EDIT: Sorry for the doublepost, the server lagged.

  21. Klay F. says:

    “On one side I’ve got people challenging me for giving myself too many unlikely resources, and on the other people are wondering why I’d ignore such things.”

    This is one of those things I’ve never understood, especially since DayZ got popular. Any location likely to have supplies is also certain to be overrun by A.) zombies, and (the more dangerous of the two) B.) other people who are more likely to shoot you than to let you keep breathing.

  22. kyoodle says:

    You’d let Ben chop wood!?

    You might as well just shoot everyone, it’d save time.

    • HiEv says:

      Heh. Reminds me of the time I was at survival camp in the mountains of Montana (don’t ask) and one of the camp councilors tried to chop down a small tree. He ended up bouncing the axe off the tree and hit himself in the head with the butt of the axe. Nothing like being deep in the woods with a severely bleeding head wound, an hour’s horse ride from the main camp, which is itself at least an hour’s car ride from civilization.

      I don’t recall if the councilor’s name was Ben or not. ;-)

      • Paul Spooner says:

        And that’s why you stand far away from anyone swinging metal objects.
        What was he trying to do, chop a tree with a blunt axe? Showing off? I’m assuming this was a “hatchet” kind of axe, where one might, concievably, hold one’s head close to the work (if you’re an idiot).
        But, you got to let people make mistakes. Learning through pain is still the quickest way to expertise.

  23. Raydeebug says:

    Given open spaces and cord, tent pegs, or short stakes, I’d probably make tripwires my first defensive measure. They’d be set up in staggered, concentric rings, with more rings added as time and resources allow.

    Each “tripwire” would probably be no more than a meter wide and set at about knee height or just below, so if one zombie trips over one, and unseats it, the rest of the wires shouldn’t be impacted.

    Given uncoordinated, clumsy zeds, they’ll fall over. Plop. Then, the people on sentry duty should be able to easily dispatch the zombie as it tries to get up, and with some practice, they’d be able to do it without a gun. Hitch a rope around the ankles, drag to zombie compost tank, reset the wire if it was knocked askew, return to the rounds.

    A perimeter of tripwires shouldn’t take long to set up, even setting them around a fairly large cluster of houses and buildings. It could probably be accomplished by a couple adults over the course of an afternoon or two.

    This sort of thing is most effective against stragglers and tiny herds–if you have to deal with more than that at once, your writers are actively trying to kill somebody.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      and of course if the “chimes” work, you can always get a couple of guys with a length of rope, run cross-circles a few times, and then take the roped up clot of zombies over to a dispatch zone. It all depends on learning “what works” against zombies. Lots of it is scenario dependent.

  24. Cyanide says:

    One of the things I’ve been wondering about is what you’d do in the case of large, organized groups with very authoritarian leaders trying to conquer you, demand tribute from you, enslave you, etc. under the guise of restoring order. I don’t know much about the Walking Dead show or comics, but as I understand it this has been a major problem for the survivors in both cases (Saviors, Governor).

    I guess maybe that’s a little bit far down the road, but sooner or later I feel like someone would get all feudalistic on your settlement.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Well, you could look at it this way. Anyone who wants to “rule” you is going to need to eat. They will be interested (just like you) in maximizing the output of the fields, maximizing the labor, and minimizing threat from anyone other than themselves. It’s not an ideal situation, but fiefdom could be a step up from anarchy, especially in the early days.

  25. Paul Spooner says:

    I think the problem you’re running into is that this speculation is a “Survival” scenario that exists at an ill-defined location on a spectrum, with “Survival Zombie Horror” at one end, and “Survival Swiss Family Robinson” on the other. In both cases you are “cut off from society” (the classic “Survival” assumption). But that’s where the similarity ends.
    “Survival Zombie horror” basically says: Although you are surrounded by cultural artifacts, you can never find what you’re looking for, and you are outnumbered by clever unruly wildlife that are almost impossible to kill (zombies).
    “Survival Swiss Family Robinson” basically says: Although you are stranded in untouched wilderness, you can find whatever useful cultural artifacts you are looking for, and you outnumber the stupid docile wildlife which are easy to dominate (fantasy “wild” animals).

    Like I said, this series is trying to exist in a nebulous place between these two near opposite paradigms. It’s fun to read, and to think about, but it’s not really a “zombie horror” setting, since that setting assumes things won’t go as planned, and that your efforts to control both the zombies and the environment will ultimately be thwarted.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Well, here’s every ‘true’ Zombie Horror plan, then: sweat and cry in squallor until everyone dies.

      Something in me prefers whimsy to validity in this instance.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        Oh, I totally agree, it’s much more fun this way.
        But I think the “why don’t you just…” questions assume a more Swiss Family setting, and the “you can’t just…” statements assume a more Zombie Horror setting. Since the setting isn’t well defined, both of these assumptions are equally valid, and not easily answered without touching on the root assumptions of the world.

        The impression I get from Shamus’ treatment is that this series assumes “Three parts Zombie Horror, one part Swiss Family Robinson”. Whatever the assumptions, a clearer statement of the setting seems in order, as there still appears to be a great deal of confusion on this topic.

  26. The Rocketeer says:

    For the record, I was the jerk suggesting razor wire, and I said the same thing: where the heck do you get razor wire, anyway?

    It wouldn’t even bear mentioning if it wasn’t just such a perfect solution to the problem at hand, and I had it on my mind since I see it a lot.

    One big thing you’re overlooking, though, is that planning well and making the writers cheat to try and put you in danger is just going to lead to ridiculously contrived dangers from nowhere that will be very hard to deal with when they occur. Intentionally leave a few ‘open’ spots in your general defense strategy, to direct inevitable breakthroughs toward them, as they tend to happen in the same volume regardless of your preparation, and you may as well route them to where they are easily dealt with or result in non-critical losses.

    Survivor: “Uncle Shamus! The walkers have broken through the balsa fence into the gazebo garden!”

    Shamus: “Nooooo! Not our gazebo garden! It was… so lovely. Surely there is no reason for further tragedy to befall us this season! *sniff* So lovely…

  27. DaveMc says:

    Aren’t content-generated ads fun? With these entries on buildin’ and fortifyin’ and such-like, the ads are all for things like prefabricated DIY steel structures.

    I’m just waiting for the ads about handy “Zom-B-Gone” ointment to appear, before I publish my own Zombie Plan.

  28. Josufu says:

    Is anyone else just wandering through the comments bookmarking sites to peruse later?

  29. ? says:

    I don’t think of Lilly as “death by crazy”, but more of an extension of situation with Larry. It was Larry who pushed her into leadership position and verbally abused everyone who did not play along. It was because of Larry she couldn’t be reasonable and objective which lead to her being bad leader. And then a redneck (possibly with his convicted murderer buddy) killed her father in front of her… here began madness. Except I don’t know if I would call that madness. From her point of view they gave her all responsibility of being a leader, but they will turn on her whenever it suits them. Then when she tries to reassert her place in a group, things go bad.
    Better rolemodel of death by crazy would be Jolene or Stranger , but they were never part of Lee’s group.

    Problem with Lilly was less of a problem with individual and more with a group being splintered into small cliques with their own agenda. Would you exile one troublesome person if it would mean everybody close to them would also leave, taking their skills and stuff away from your group? Kenny is probably as crazy as Lilly was, but his wife is a vet, if he leaves she leaves. What if exiling one person leads to alienating large part of a group, which could lead to mutiny and being exiled yourself or worse?

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