How to survive a zombie outbreak
So it's finally happened. Whether through mad science, a mutated virus or some kind of voodoo curse, the dead have risen and are rampaging through the streets of the UK. With a horde of flesh-eating ghouls on your doorstep, things can seem bleak, but don't panic!
Keeping a few simple tips in mind can greatly increase your likelihood of getting through a zombie outbreak.
Know your territory
In the early stages of a zombie outbreak, you're going to be doing a lot of fleeing. The key to a successful escape is to know where you're going. There's nothing worse than fleeing a zombie horde only to run into a blind alley or a room with only one exit. Familiarise yourself with local roads, and with the location of all fire exits in any building you visit regularly. If you're away from home when the crisis hits, a local map should be your first acquisition.
- Whether through mad science, a mutated virus or some kind of voodoo curse, the dead have risen and are rampaging through the streets of the UK.
- If you're away from home when the crisis hits, a local map should be your first acquisition.
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Risking your life in combat with a zombie is never a good idea, but there are going to be times when you have no choice but to disable an attacker, usually by removing the head to destroy the brain. In Britain, unlike in some other countries, you won't find guns lying about, so you're going to have to do this the old-fashioned way. Choose a weapon that's easily portable and can inflict serious damage on a zombie's head and neck. Pickaxes, crowbars, hatchets and cricket bats are good examples. Chainsaws are stylish but impractical.
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Start with mobility
When the outbreak first hits, it can be tempting to find a defensible location and fortify it. Until you know what you're dealing with, though, this fortress could easily turn into a trap as the living dead surround it, leaving you with no way out. In the early stages, mobility is the key to survival. Avoid bulky armour or protective clothing. Acquire a good pair of running shoes. Vehicles are also useful, but don't get too attached; if a traffic jam means you need to abandon your car, do it and don't look back.
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Know your zombies
Zombies come in many different varieties, each with its own powers and weaknesses. Knowing your enemy can help you get out of a zombie outbreak alive. Are you dealing with the traditional shambling hordes seen in "Night of the Living Dead", or perhaps the more motivated zombies of "28 Days Later"? Will any injury stop them, or are headshots the only solution? Traditional Haitian zombies fear salt -- do yours have any similar weaknesses? The more you know, the more tactical options you have available.
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Treat survivors cautiously
When you're on the run from a horde of shambling corpses, it's easy to see every other normal human you run into as a potential ally. Unfortunately, that could be a very big mistake. Most people are reasonable under most circumstances, but in the context of a zombie outbreak, they may start to crack from the strain. Your new-found friend may suddenly go mad and start alerting zombies to your location or try to betray you in order to preserve his own neck. Teamwork is a great asset, but don't just accept every new person unconditionally.
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Quick wits and fast reflexes may be enough to get you through the initial stages of a zombie outbreak, but if you're in it for the long haul, you need to be thinking about your exit strategy. Are you just going to find somewhere to sit and wait for the military to restore order? Find an isolated cottage in the Highlands and avoid all human contact? Try to find a cure for the zombie condition? Locate the zombie master's base, infiltrate it and defeat him? It's never too early to start thinking about long-term solutions.
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Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.