How to Survive an Outbreak of Undead

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Introduction:
You've been watching the news and the inexorable advance of the undead as the outbreak approaches your location. At first it was just an unusual diversion on TV - something frightening, but safe because it was happening far away from you and the authorities were doing something about it. But then things get more serious as the talking heads begin to look scared. The national guard is called out, but they're overwhelmed. One by one, checkpoints are overrun as infection spreads. What was once a small quarantine zone on the news has suddenly grown much larger. Whole towns are abandoned as the rate of infection grows exponentially and the undead spread at a terrifying rate. At about the same time that news feeds start to disappear, leaving anchors staring blankly at their monitors, you begin to realize that roadblocks and national guardsmen aren't going to be enough. 

Your local TV station preempts national coverage of the epidemic to announce that the undead have appeared in the streets of your own city. Somebody cranks up the tornado siren over by the fire station and the TV goes to static. Now you're sitting in your living room staring at a screen full of snow listening to that mournful wail of the sirens in the distance, and it feels like the end of the world.
Short term survival Long term survival Undead biology

Seek shelter
Maintain situational awareness
Locate a weapon

Tactics
Avoiding contamination
Transit to a less populated area

Gathering mutual defenders
Planning defenses 
Keep it simple
Choosing a structure
Barricades
Weapons
Tactics
Supplies
Communications
Rescue

Undead biology and behavior
Necro phage
Truth versus fiction
Differing physical dexterity and mental faculties
Propagation through infection

Epilogue
About the author

 
Short term survival
 

Seek shelter

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Seek a defensible shelter.  If you are outdoors, go inside and secure the area. Lock all doors and windows. Close blinds and drapes so no one can see in.
 

Maintain situational awareness

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Maintain situational awareness at all times.  What is happening near you right now? Is there anyone in the house with you? Do you hear any noise outside? This is your intelligence. Use it to respond to threats against you. Learn to prioritize so you can deal with the most immediate threat first.
 

Locate a weapon

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The preferred weapons to be utilized in an IUTE (Interpersonal Undead Tactical Engagement) are the AR15 semi-automatic rifle and a bolo machete. However, any firearm you can lay your hands on will be helpful. A rifle, shotgun, or large caliber handgun can be utilized to destroy the brain of an undead person. Alternatively, a large knife or machete may also be used to decapitate said person. If neither of these types of weapons are available, you can utilize any of the following items as a short-range defensive weapon; baseball bat, fire poker, table leg, any stout metal or wooden pole, axe, shovel, or other heavy garden tool. Avoid lighter items such as rakes, broom handles, and armadillos.
 

Tactics

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The undead cannot be frightened. They do not feel pain, and they cannot be reasoned with. If an undead is aware of your presence, it will keep coming for you until it is destroyed. The only effective means of halting unwanted advances by an undead is incineration, or to destroy its brain or remove its head from the torso. Blows to the body and extremities are easily shrugged off. They're simply a waste of ammunition and effort.

One on one combat

Undead exhibit varying degrees of agility and awareness. Some move verly slowly to the point of near immobility. However, others are terrifyingly quick and can run, fight, punch, kick, and claw their way over obstacles to get to know you. When confronting a single undead, you must destroy its brain or decapitate it before it has a chance to infect you. If you have access to a firearm, you must decide on a course of action. Do you fire at a distance and risk wasting precious ammunition, or do you wait until the target is much closer, making it easier to hit? Whatever the case, you must destroy it before it can overcome you. It cannot be intimidated, so if you have a clear shot, take it. If you do not have a firearm, you can still inflict damage with a baseball bat, machete, or other large blade or stout club-like weapon. This is not the preferred means of engaging in combat with the undead because your attacker will be practically on top of you before you can use your weapon. 

Only in cases when it is absolutely necessary should you attempt to incapacitate an undead using a club or blade. If using a blade, the longer the better. Kitchen knives are practically useless in this regard. If you are utilizing a machete or sword, cut at a 45 angle from below the ear. Then repeat on the opposite side of the neck. Unless you are exceptionally strong, or have training wielding a sword, you may need to strike several times to remove the head. Chainsaws are discouraged because of the heightened risk of contamination by the large quantity of bodily fluids that will undoubtedly escape. If you have grafted a chainsaw onto your forearm, use it as backup for when your boomstick is out of ammo.

A club makes an unsatisfactory close-in weapon against the undead due to its undesirable effect of further propagating undead by adding you to their numbers, which will likely make you very unpopular in what's left of your group. However, if you must use a club, strike quickly and back away. Repeat until the skull is crushed.

Group combat

Engaging packs of undead mano al corpse is extremely hazardous. Know your enemy before jumping into a melee. How many are you likely to face? How many can you realistically subdue at one time? The undead do not attempt to hide themselves and they will be drawn to you by scent or by other means not yet understood. They'll converge directly on your position by the most direct route they can find. Use this to your advantage. If you can avoid a fight, maneuver around or away from them. Maintain 360 operational awareness and keep moving.
 

Avoiding contamination

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The biological proccess that causes a normal individual to "turn" is not yet fully understood. However, infection can be likened to a virus, and the change is irreversible. A deceased person is likely to turn when there are other undead in the area even if the undead do not come into direct contact with the deceased. Exposure to blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids of the undead can turn the living. Bites are nearly always fatal. Open wounds should be thoroughly cleaned and covered. Protect your eyes and mouth when in close combat with the undead.

The best way to avoid contamination is to keep your distance from the undead. This, however, is not popular with them and they are constantly drawn to the living. It is believed that scent plays a major role in aiding their compulsion to seek out the living, but they may also utilize other sense we do not currently understand including infra-red heat signatures. The undead don't seem to recognize a living person directly by sight. However, they are drawn to sudden movement, lights, and sound as well as smell.

It is important to recognize when an infected individual is beginning to turn. Mental faculties will quickly deteriorate soon after initial infection. Signs to look for include nausea, malaise, palour, an inability to speak, rictus (a gaping grimace), and the inability to recognize companions. If an individual exhibits these symptoms, it will be necessary to initiate a sterilization procedure. Sterilization should take the form of decapitation and, if possible, incineration.

An infected individual can turn within seconds. However, some may not turn for minutes, hours, or even days. It is believed that the body's natural immune system may play a part in delaying the spread of infection, but to date no individual has proven to be immune. Once infection sets in, there is a 100% mortality rate.

Animals do not carry infection. The undead will feed on a live animal until the animal itself dies at which point the undead seem to lose interest. Unlike humans, animals do not reanimate.
 

Transit to a less populated area

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Secure reliable transportation and use it to exit populated city centers. A 4x4 vehicle is preferable because you will likely be forced to drive off-pavement. Always lock the doors and keep all windows rolled up. If you encounter undead, do not stop for any reason. Some newly turned undead are nearly as nimble as the living, and may be fully capable of breaking through a windshield to reach you. If your vehicle becomes swamped with undead, accelerate, then immediately decelerate until they have been dislodged. Remember that they do not feel pain, but also remember that your vehicle could become incapacitated by ramming any 200lb object, undead or otherwise.
  
 
Long term survival
 

Gathering mutual defenders

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You will likely meet other living. It is desirable to gather a core group of like minded individuals to mount a mutual defense. Keep in mind that large congregations of living will undoubtedly attract larger congregations of undead. Each new group member should agree to a basic set of rules and standards before being allowed into the group. Chief among these is the understanding that if any member of the group exhibits signs of infection, he is subject to sterilization. He may not be willing to submit at the critical time, but all group members will have agreed that the common good of the group is paramount. As difficult as it may be, sterilization should be carried out immediately by other group members as opposed to allowing the infected to nobly commit self sterilization. If you believe you have become infected, you should submit to sterilization. This is preferable to the alternative and much less embarrassing for everyone involved.
 

Planning defenses

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Take notes from our cousin the prairie dog and always have ready a means of escape. The best defenses are never impregnable when humans are involved. Someone on guard duty will fall asleep. A nearby enclave will fall and flood the vicinity with a crush of undead. The minefield or trip-wired claymores will fail becaus Fred is an idiot and didn't set them up correctly. Plan for these instances and be ready to exit your position in a hurry. Avoid setting up enclaves within urban areas as these will likely be populated with the largest number of undead. Choose a more isolated area.
 

Keep it simple

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Elaborate defenses are subject to mechanical failure. Both Murphy and Moore's Law are against you in that a critical system will fail at a critical time and the number of undead attempting to chew your ears off will roughly double every month.
 

Choosing a structure

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Avoid buildings with many large windows. Storefronts should be avoided because they are likely to contain large windows that will fail under the pressure of a mass of undead. Avoid buildings with crawl spaces as they are a potential failure point. Very few floors are strong enough to thwart a determined undead slithering along in the crawl space.
 

Barricades

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The undead will walk miles to feed, and a poorly constructed barricade is unlikely to faze them. Barricades must be strong enough to keep out a healthy living person before they can be deemed ready to hold off masses of undead. Unless you are a smithy, or otherwise versed in the metallurgical arts, use stout wood to cover windows and doors, and secure them with screws instead of nails. Two-by-four wall studs work well. Sheet metal can be used if any is handy. If your building has a second floor, make sure to secure all windows. If there is a basement, secure windows and entrances. A well-constructed barrier is more effective protection than attempting to ward off hordes of undead with guns and clubs. Do not assume that a door lock is strong enough to hold back several undead, and if you think you could probably pull that piece of plywood off the window then you'd better fix it before some undead gives it a whirl.
 

Weapons

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After your hiding place is secure, it's time to put thought into some serious weaponry. You should procure firearms and ammunition. However, never depend on a weapon any more advanced than a sharpened stick. Whatever you use will invariably jam at an inopportune moment, so it's important to have a backup stick/machete/sword ready. Hunting and sporting goods stores are a good procurement source. Train each person in the group to handle a firearm, and always keep them close by.  Never venture outside your enclave without a firearm and at least one other weapon (machete/sword/baseball bat/M1A1).

"Gun-drawing practice.  Ten minutes every day.  If I ever have to use this baby, I want to teach it to come to papa in a hurry."      ~ Barney Fife  

Tactics

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Plan your defenses around a single front if possible. In other words, decide where the undead are most likely to approach from and concentrate your defenses there. If your situation allows it, block off all avenues except one or two leading to your enclave. Clear away any debris that obstructs your view of these approaches. Create small, well-protected spots with a clear view of your approaches and man them with rifle bearers. If your barricades are strong enough, you may not need to directly engage the undead for some time. Keep in mind, however, that they will probably not just give up and go away unless another, more readily accessible prey item presents itself. They will continue to try to surmount your defenses, and their numbers will attract others to your location. Wait until they are close enough to be neutralized by a head shot.
 

Supplies

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Unless your enclave is already well-stocked, you will need to procure food, water, and ammunition. Grocery stores and nearby homes can provide you with food. Plan any excursion as a military operation. Post heavily armed guards, move in, and get out quickly. Spend as little time as possible outside your enclave. Be prepared for encounters with other living individuals on these shopping trips, and know beforehand what to do if they prove hostile. They may not like you raiding what they may believe is their personal supply depot. If they are not hostile, share information with them and set up some means of communication. Walkie talkies, CB, and FRS radio sets work well in these instances. Always plan shopping trips during daylight hours.

When gathering supplies, avoid perishable items such as packaged meats. Focus on canned foods, and try to include canned fruits and vegetables to ward off sickness associated with malnutrition. In addition to foodstuffs, gather the following items; bottled water, batteries, flashlights, a radio, analgesics (ibuprofen, acetaminophin, or aspirin), bandages, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, candles, matches/lighters, rope, nails, screws, tools.
 

Communications

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Walkie talkies or handheld radios are good ways to keep in touch with other enclaves as well as with other group members. These can be found in department stores, and generally operate on AA or AAA batteries. Telephones and cell phones will probably be unreliable, and will cease to function during a regional power loss. A ham or citizen's band radio are very useful for communicating with the living/authorities if you can find a means of powering them. CB radios can be run from a DC power source such as a car battery. Monitor a radio on both AM and FM bands for instructions from the authorities.
 

 

"Hello, HQ, this is Police Dock. Operator dead, post abandoned."
~  Stephen 'Dawn of the Dead'

Rescue

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Rule number one: Don't count on it. Prepare for the worst. Your rescuers were probably ambushed along the way, and you may as well expect to encounter their flayed corpses at some time in the future. On a happier note, chances are there is no one out there to do any rescuing at all. If that's the case, then you're no worse off than anyone else. Focus on survival. Enhance your defenses. Consolidate enclaves if possible. If you receive official instructions regarding a rescue, follow them. Just be ready to spend a long time living in your enclave.  Rule number two: Please do not write on the walls as it is very difficult to remove.
 
 
Undead biology & behavior
 

Undead biology and behavior

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Biology is the study of life. The term "undead biology" is something of a contradiction. The study may be more aptly described as "undead necrology". Whatever you wish to call it, it is important to know the enemy.
 

"Necro phage"

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Studies of the necro phage are ongoing, and have recently revealed startling results. A victim of the disease is any individual, living or dead, who displays the characteristic traits of the undead; mainly, an all-consuming urge to feed off living flesh. The chemical and biological processes responsible for transforming an individual into an undead are still not understood. We really know very little about the mechanics of a transformation or how to prevent it from occurring. But at least now you have a name for it.
 

Truth versus fiction

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Undead are sometimes referred to as zombies. Movie zombies dine on brains. Real zombies are less picky. They will feed on any living tissue. Once the tissue dies, they have no more interest in it. This explains why the undead do not attack one another, and why they will at times get up and walk away from a seemingly fresh kill.
  

Differing physical dexterity and mental faculties

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The majority of undead move about quite slowly. However, you will doubtless notice that some appear to be quite nimble and are even capable of chasing down their prey with some ferocity. Studies indicate that newly-turned humans suffer less from tissue damage and are therefore are capable of more coherent motor activity. The longer an undead remains animated, the more the body tissues break down until finally the muscles themselves can no longer function. Necro phage seems to enable the body to continue functioning in this state of disrepair for some months after initial infection. In addition to this preservative effect, the brain itself is also affected. Memory is apparently erased, and basic instincts like self-preservation are non-existent. The compulsion to feed on living flesh is not yet understood.
 

Propagation through infection

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The undead propagate by infecting living and deceased individuals with necro phage. Once infected, the individual quickly degenerates into an undead. In certain cases where the infected exhibits underdeveloped social skills or his hygeine habits are sub-par, it may be difficult to determine the point at which he actually turns. It will become apparent, however when he becomes fixated on your person and energetically tries to bite you.
 

Epilogue

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If the first five slugs didn't do any good, chances are the next five won't either. Work on your aim. If you're not hitting the head you're wasting ammunition.

Written by S. Blue
Undead outbreak survivor
Having lived in the shadow of Louisville, Kentucky for many years, it is impossible not to learn a thing or two about dodging the undead.

Blue wrote his first survival how-to novel in 1996, "Skeletons in your closet and other pesky critters: When animal control won't come" to dismal reviews.  This is his second outing in the surviving horror genre.

 

At the odd times when you enjoy the benefit of numbers, stay together. Don't pair up and go off in search of that curious moaning noise.
Don't be a smartass. The comic almost always buys the farm; either via a slug from an unamused group member, or the monsters who chomp him to death because everyone was watching him try to juggle instead of guarding the crappy barricade he helped to build.
After having beheaded the last zombie nearby and you notice the camera panning away for no apparent reason, run like hell.
Don't make fun of, or play with, apparently dead things. This is just as bad as being a smartass and will invariably end with the same result.
Skeptics are always proven wrong and die horrible, nasty deaths. Be a believer. If you can't be convincing at that then you may as well save yourself and your group a lot of effort and just chuck yourself over the wall for the monsters to chew on. You'll end up there anyway, so why draw things out?
Dont' be fooled into thinking that now that the world has been destroyed by zombies that your personal survivial is a sign from gawd that you should become king. Your eventual grisly death will just be a little more memorable than it would otherwise have been.
Before taking the Necronomicon, you were instructed to say three words. If you didn't say every single little syllable, then the necro phage is your fault. Thanks alot.
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