Editor’s Note: Matthew Sylvester is an expert in Counter Zombie and Anti Zombie tactics, and is a leading member of the Zombie Apocalypse Preparation Service (ZAPS). In these articles, he explains how a Zombie Apocalypse is possible and – more importantly – how to ensure you don’t die like 90% of the people around you.
First off, this is not a mamby-pamby fictional account/story. If you truly want to survive the Zombie Apocalypse and everything else that comes with it, then this is vital reading. This first part is going to be the ‘fact’ part, and where I lay out a nightmare scenario that sets the scene for the Zombie Apocalypse. I make no apologies in that I’ve followed a certain stereotypical setting, with a few tweaks. The second part will cover the skills, equipment and actions you’re going to need to take in order to survive, and keep your family alive as well.
Right now, to be brutally honest, most people – and this includes you, dear reader – stand absolutely zero chance of surviving a Zombie Apocalypse and there are a number of reasons for this.
1) They don’t believe that anything so bad could ever happen.
2) Because they don’t believe that anything so bad could ever happen, they will be blind to the signs.
3) Because they’re blind to the signs, by the time they need to act, and act fast, it will be too late.
4) Many people have a faith in the ‘government’, and will believe that ‘someone’ will sort the mess out.
5) No food supplies and a lack of self-sufficiency.
Let’s address these points one after the other.
1) Nothing so bad could ever happen.
Granted, a Zombie Apocalypse – although cool – is likely to never happen. ‘Likely’ does not mean ‘will not’. Even if the chances are one billion to one, it still means there is chance. So it could happen, it’s just more likely that a solar flare, war etc will occur first. None are as cool as a ZA however, so let’s hold out hope for one of those instead. Or alien invasion.
2) Blind to the signs
Quite simply, if people don’t want to believe in something. They won’t. Or if they do want to believe in something they will. So, if there is a sudden outbreak of Zombies, or Dragons as in Reign of Fire, or simply a flu virus that appears to be getting out of hand, they will play things down.
The reason for this is simple. The apocalypse is a damned scary thing. It’s the end of the world as we know it for God’s sake. People don’t like being scared, and they don’t like appearing to be scared. As a result they play things down. They ignore them, they might deride others for being worried, and generally they’ll try to ignore the whole thing for as long as they can. This leads on to;
3) Leaving it too late
By the time that the majority of people realise that something incredibly serious is happening, it’s most likely going to be too late. One reason is that other people will have caught on quicker than them and got everything that they need first. The other reason is that by the time they realise they should have done something, they’ve been bitten/caught the flu/been abducted and probed <shudder>. Either way, they’re either going to have to play catch-up damned fast. Or they’re dead.
4) The Government
For some reason, most people believe that the Government will get them out of the problem. They’ll listen to the public broadcasts advising them to stay indoors, minimise contact with other people outside of their family unit and generally bury their heads in the sand. All whilst watching television reports of looters and rioters stripping the shops bare.
Let’s break down a Zombie Apocalypse into how it might happen, and then look at what the Government can actually do.
Viventes Mors: The Outbreak – Stage 1
Let’s break down a Zombie Apocalypse into how it might happen, and then look at what the Government can actually do. This part is indeed fictional.
Let’s say that the Zombie Apocalypse starts in some far away foreign place – because that’s usually where all the bad things happen in any film or television – and there are reports of a mystery illness. People travel a lot. Most cities in the United Kingdom have foreign nationals living in them. Most of those foreign national still have family abroad, and most of those foreign nationals travel abroad to see their family on a fairly regular basis. Especially during key holiday periods, such as Christmas, Diwahli, Eid etc.
Add to this the fact that everyone is a tourist these days, and that people like to travel to far away places, and you can see just easily people could contract the disease that became know as Viventes Mors, ‘Living Death’.
Unfortunately the first signs of this disease were easily mistaken for the flu. The patient suffered from aching limbs, sweats, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, coughing and sneezing. It also incubated for up to seven days before manifesting itself. The usual numbers of people die from this initial stage, just as they would with any normal flu outbreak, but the doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and walk-in centres are overwhelmed as so many people were catching this flu; many times more than normal. Because the symptoms were so bad in roughly 25% of cases, all elective surgeries and similar treatments were cancelled. Annual leave for Primary and Secondary NHS staff was also cancelled. The media had a field day and politicians clamoured for resignations and ‘action’.
There was another knock-on effect. Because roughly 20% (approx 12.5m) of the population were affected by the ‘flu’, other services started to be affected. Schools couldn’t run properly, and some were completely shut due to the numbers of staff and children that were ill. This meant that partners and parents had to stay at home to look after those affected. Some of those people were delivery drivers, bus drivers, police, firemen, ambulance staff and so – very gradually – society started to fall apart at the seems. Panic riots started, with a certain element of society taking advantage of the reduced police cover. The virus runs its course for roughly eight weeks, recessions loom, companies go bust and many ’emergency measures’ – both economic and societal – are enacted and enforced by governments the world over.
After the initial illness things appeared to get better for those that were sick. For a period of three months the victims felt much better and went about life as normal; returning to work, going back to the gym, having a good grappling session in BJJ etc. Society blows a collective sigh of relief the world over and settles down to trying to recover.
The first stage statistics are below;
- 20% of the UK population caught the flu – 12.5m people approximately.
- 25% of those required hospital treatment – 313,000 approximately.
- Death rate is approximately 1,000 people. Slightly higher than the normal winter flu death rate but nothing to cause too much worry.
Viventes Mors: The Return – Stage 2
Approximately 90 days later, Necrotizing Fasciitis Majoris, a new form of Necoritzing Fasciitis – rotting skin disease – started. As you can see from the picture, even treated the symptoms were disgusting. There was worse to come.
Initially it started slowly, with patients presenting themselves to the doctors with small lesions that resembled MRSA. The doctors started to refer the patients to hospital, and then the news reached the media. This caused a flood of genuine and fake patients to both hospitals and surgeries. Again the knock-on effect started to hit an already-weakened economy.
At this point, healthy people started to remove themselves from work, calling in sick in the hope that they could avoid catching the illness, pulling their kids out of school to keep them safe. Those were known to have had the flu were – in many cases – either sent home as a precaution, or absented themselves. Flu victims also started to find themselves being shunned as panic levels started to spiral.
The rotting skin disease affected 10% of those initial victims of the ‘flu’ – 1.25 million people (roughly 2% of the population), and the NHS was totally overwhelmed, with the Police and the Armed Forces being deployed to protect hospitals. Food and fuel shortages now started to really take effect and there was rioting and looting in the streets.
Total anarchy was barely staved off until the second wave of flu struck a couple of weeks later, hitting both previous and new victims, whilst the victims of the rotting skin disease started to exhibit other, more terrifying symptoms. Carers note that food did little to sustain them, and they constantly complained of being hungry, despite feeling ill. They also suffered from bouts of rage that were mild to start with and which progressively worsened. Finally, they started to turn on their carers and loved ones, tearing them to pieces and eating their flesh. Those that were able to escape being killed, soon started to fall ill themselves, progressing rapidly from the initial ‘flu’ stage to the Necrotizing Fasciitis Majoris stage in little under a week.
Reports confirmed that victims of Necrotizing Fasciitis Majoris were still carriers of the disease, passing it on to anyone who remained in close proximity to them for more than an hour or so, or who imbedded – an awful thought – any of their bodily fluids. This last factor was discovered by Law Enforcement and Armed Forces personnel after blood splashed onto them during ‘pacification missions’.
Unlike the zombies of myth and legend, sufferers of Viventes Mors retained their intelligence. Although it degraded as the rage increased, victims still retained far more intelligence and cunning than than popular folklore, the more intelligent ones seemingly able to marshall and partially control the more rage-controlled victims. Rather than the turkey shoot that was expected, government forces and improvised militia found themselves fighting an enemy that could use strategy and tactics.
Sufferers of Viventes Mors also displayed an almost inhumanly high pain threshold, requiring a lot more damage to be caused before they succumbed and died. As with the classical zombie, destroying the brain proved to be the most effective way of killing them. Unfortunately, many of those trying to combat them lacked the necessary level of marksmanship to achieve a quick kill.
Viventes Mors was everywhere. The Zombie Apocalypse had begun.
Viventes Mors: The Timeline
December 21st, 2012 people start to get ill in a far and distant land, little is made of it on the UK media. Their relatives and tourists to that area bring the illness back with them, arriving in pretty much every city that has a culturally diverse population, or an airport. This happens the world over.
December 28th – People start to present Flu-like symptoms.
January to April – People continue to fall ill and those initially ill with the flu start to feel better and return to normal life.
April – Second round of the ‘flu’ and Necrotizing Fasciitis Majoris stage of the disease commences.
May – 1.25 million sufferers of Viventes Mors rampage through the streets of the United Kingdom. Society has totally collapsed and government has devolved to local authorities, leaving them to survive as best as they can.
Back to the Government
What resources does the Government have to combat such an outbreak?
The Government has, at its beck and call, the following numbers of personnel.
- 160,000 Police
- 185,704 Doctors
- 704,332 nurses
- 176,810 Armed Forces – All THREE branches
- 37,600 Armed Reserved – The TA
Bear in mind that not all of the armed forces are truly armed forces i.e. soldiers carrying guns. There are chefs, clerks, drivers, police, solicitors, everything you can think of in civilian life in fact. Granted, they will have all had some form of small arms and battle-training, but that’s not the main thrust of their role. Their roles are geared towards keeping the ‘soldier’ aspect of the armed forces out there and fighting.
You also have to remember that we have bases all over the world, and we’re also involved in a number of peace-keeping activities as well as full-blown wars, so the real number of Armed Forces present in the UK at any given time is actually going to be smaller.
Did you see how few police we have? Roughly 0.25% of the population. How few nurses and doctors? Once you factor in the numbers of them that will become ill, or have to remain at home because members of their families are ill, or decide that they don’t want to risk getting ill themselves, you have less of those than you originally thought.
Now, add 12.5 million people getting ill and demanding treatment in the first stage alone, others looking for food, for fuel, taking advantage of the issues to steal, settle grudges etc, and you see just how quickly the the Government will cease to be able to ensure law and order. The only thing left to them would be to protect strategically important locations such as seats of Government, Food Stores and Hospitals, and leave everything else.
This is before Stage 2 even begins. Still think that the government will be able to do anything?
5) No food supplies and a lack of self-sufficiency.
Most houses have roughly 4-7 day’s worth of meals, and maybe up to 10 day’s worth of food. The differentiation is important. People tend to think of food in units of meals, and often buy their food following a menu that they have set out for the week, or whatever their shopping period is.
On top of that is food that maybe hasn’t been used up in one go – bags of peas, tinned fruit etc – which, although they don’t make meals in the traditional sense, will still do.
Shops also operate on a last-minute-purchase model. This means that they only usually carry a few day’s worth of stock themselves, perhaps 7. Quite often, when I go into a Tesco’s late on a Saturday, they’ll be restocking every aisle with the latest delivery. The same stands for petrol stations.
So, when the food runs out, what are people going to do? How many people have ever killed a living creature, skinned it, gutted it, plucked it etc? It’s pretty damn nasty. How many people would actually know HOW to kill a creature?
On the subject of creatures, what will people eat? Cats? Dogs? Squirrels? They’re all over the place in cities and towns. More so than Rabbits, Deer and livestock. See the mindset change that is going to be required?
Any way, I’m getting ahead of myself. Most people simply do not have enough food, water – I forgot to mention that when people stop going to work at power stations, the water pressure will fall and water will stop – and fuel to last a crisis like the Zombie Apocalypse. Oh, and on the subject of fuel. It’s not good news. However, you’ll have to wait for Article Two to find out why.