Myth Bashing – Frontal Lobe à la mode

We are back once again to bash myths Zombie Survival Crew style. Our researchers wracked their brains to gather this knowledge so you, loyal brigadiers, don’t end up with your bones as toothpicks for the undead.

Myth: Zombies prefer to chow down on grey matter.

Fact: Well if that’s the case, I know more than a few people that will be perfectly safe once the Zombiepocalypse kicks into high gear… [RC ducks a crossbow bolt] I’m kidding!

The zombies we know and see most often on film and in television shows are based on George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. In that film the word “zombie” never once occurred. The undead were called ghouls.

What are ghouls? Ghouls stem from Arabic folklore. In those tales, ghouls were demons that took the form of animals to lure victims in and devour them alive. Alternative tales state that ghouls assumed the form of their last meal, often appearing as human-munching children. Still more stories tell us that ghouls prefer to haunt graveyards and eat freshly interred corpses.

The main theme through all of the variations of the term ghoul is, of course, devouring flesh. Which is why Romero used that term for his animated corpses. At the time, it fit far better than calling them zombies. Zombies had been something solely derived from magical means in movies like White Zombie.

So where the heck did the masses get the idea that a zombie is only interested in our brains? Five words, my friends: Return of the Living Dead. That one movie became such a cult classic that the myths they created to tell their version of the zombie creation process seeped into popular culture. “Braaaiiins” is something easy for people to remember—a quick way to let someone know that their buddies were doing their best zombie impersonation… that didn’t involve an abstract interpretation of the Thriller dance.

Brain-eating zombies took off in popularity for a little while, but we’re seeing the reemergence of the ghoul-like zombie. I prefer to think of the former as picky eaters. Be adventurous, grab a leg and gnaw away. Don’t turn up your nose at an “inferior” cut of human. You can’t be picky during the Zombiepocalypse.

Myth Bashing – It’s a Trap!

We’re back to tackle another round of myth bashing Zombie Survival Crew style. This segment is here to help you, loyal brigadiers, from using bad information to protect yourselves during the Zombiepocalypse. Your safety is important to us.

Myth: There is no way to build a functional zombie trap.

Fact: Well, not if you go into the planning stages expecting to remake a mousetrap in human size. Laying a bloody arm on a wood platform and rigging a pressure switch to release a giant iron bar to crush whatever happens to get in the way seems like a cool idea (and yes, I did consider building one just because it seemed cool) but that isn’t what we’re talking about here.

The idea behind a zombie trap is to capture and dispose of as many undead as possible with minimal risk or loss of human life. Given that we’re placing these traps in what will likely be a wasteland after the first wave of attacks, there isn’t much concern about how much collateral damage these traps cause.

With that in mind, I say kill them with fire.

Many of the zombie trap designs I came across while researching involved making modifications to your home that would contain one or two zombies at a time, allowing you to dispatch them with a blow to the skull. That’s all well and good if you live in a rural area with a low population. The more people around you, the more potential zombies are lurking next door.

Down the road from my current undisclosed location is a string of abandoned warehouses. These were businesses that went belly-up in the latest financial crisis and just locked the doors, leaving everything inside. A few of them have mountains of wooden pallets. While scouting locations, I came up with this zombie trap plan:

Cut off a quarter of the building’s interior with chain link fencing that will withhold a good amount of weight. Make sure this portion of the building has at least three exit points. This is your staging area, be sure to secure the exterior of each exit point with solid walls of metal sheeting. In the rest of the building, lay down old carpeting and stack up anything flammable to create a maze of sorts. Cover all but one door and seal any windows that can be used to escape in that portion of the space.

Now for the part that can get a tad hairy if your team isn’t prepared. You’re going to have a party. Not really, but that is about the noise range you need to reach in order to draw the zombies in. Be loud. Light a barbecue (outside, that place is rigged to ignite FAST). Basically, you’re advertising that humans are present and waiting to be slaughtered like teens at a summer camp.

Once the zombies find a way to get to the yummy humans inside the building, you need to act quickly. Prepare about half a dozen or so Molotov cocktails and have them ready to go. Light and chuck them into the stacks of flammable materials. Once the building goes up, so will the zombies. Don’t worry about blocking the door they came into. They’ll bottleneck trying to escape.

The important part is to get out of the building as quickly as possible once it ignites. Outside forces need to make sure there is a clear line to your vehicles to get out of dodge before the building comes down.

Is my zombie trap a loss of resources? Yes. But if you plan to stay in the city, sacrifices will need to be made in order to put a serious dent in the undead population. It isn’t the perfect zombie trap, however it will work if done right.

Do you have a zombie trap planned? Share it with us in the comments.

Is there a zombie myth you think we should dig into? Send to us in the comments

Myth Bashing – Heads Up!

From under the desk of RC Murphy

It’s time for another round of myth bashing with your Zombie Survival Crew commanders. We do all of the research on the myths you guys send our way to be sure none of us end up chow during the Zombiepocalypse.

Myth: Cutting off a zombie’s head is just as good as destroying their brain.

Fact: Taking shortcuts will get you killed.

Did you know that the human brain can survive up to two minutes without blood being actively pumped to it from the heart? That is a normal brain in a normal body, without any zombie funny business mucking things up. Neat, huh?

Now we have to mix in the various definitions of zombies—all of whom in fact have no heartbeat to drive their bodily systems. Zombies undergo a reversal of sorts from how we are hardwired to function. The animalistic portion of the brain drives them and that’s it. The nervous system, which regulates heartbeat and lung function as well as pain receptors, doesn’t come back on line. Essentially a switch is flipped and they become eating machines without the ability to step away from the meal and say, “I’m full” because that portion of their body just doesn’t function.

What does that have to do with decapitation? Everything.

Zombies do not need their bodies to be attached to their heads in order to “live”. Everything is contained within their grey matter. So even if you send their head flying a good fifty feet away from the rest of their body, the zombie will still attempt to sate the unrelenting hunger propelling them through the world. This doesn’t pose much of a threat unless you leave the head lying somewhere without destroying the brain. Someone could walk past unawares and get within biting range. Ankles biters are still fully capable of infecting someone. That infection will be brought back to your base camp.

Boom. Outbreak amongst the survivors.

Not to mention, leaving a zombie’s head to lie there snapping at passing squirrels and hikers is simply inhumane. The ZSC has always taken the stance that if you must kill an infected human or dispatch a zombie, do it as humanely as possible. If you were in their shoes would you want to become a potential soccer ball for the undead? I think not. So yes, decapitation works, but only to neutralize the threat. After that, you must destroy the zombie’s brain so there are no accidental attacks.

What zombie myths have you heard? Submit your myths in the comments below and we’ll do our best to prove if they are fact or just plain nonsense.

Check out more of the Myth Bashing series

Myth Bashing – Space Case

From under the desk of RC Murphy

We are back for another installment of myth bashing with your Zombie Survival Crew commanders. This series strives to separate fact from fiction so that you all have a snowball’s chance in Hades of surviving the Zombiepocalypse.

Myth: Save the space program! We can use the space shuttles to haul all of the zombies out into space and watch them blow up.

Fact: You’ve been watching one too many Sci-Fi movies.

A few facts about space: First, space is a vacuum. It is devoid of air pressure. In contrast, Earth has approximately fourteen pounds of pressure weighing us down. To counteract, our bodies push back against this pressure with equal force. When exposed to a vacuum, the pressure inside the human body doesn’t magically turn off to balance things out. Instead the unchecked pressure builds, creating tiny gas bubbles in bodily fluids that expand, testing the elasticity of human skin and the capacity of our chest/stomach cavity. (Imagine a marshmallow in the microwave here.) It doesn’t take very long for swelling from the gasses to cut off blood and oxygen, leading to brain death.

Got all of that? Good.

Now we need to look at physical characteristics of a zombie. They don’t breathe, so they wouldn’t asphyxiate when dumped into space, which is what generally kills humans first. Almost all zombies have wounds deep enough to pierce the dermis, if not rupture the body cavity, so in theory it would take longer for the pressure to build in a reasonably fresh body. (I say in theory because, lets be honest, it would take years of studying to know all the facts on this stuff.) But once the pressure did build, brain damage would be severe enough to dispatch the zombie permanently. That and they’d be a deadcicle from the water vaporizing out of their body and freezing as gasses expand.

“What if space aliens find the zombies?”

Really? Okay, fine. We’ll go there.

As I’ve stated, the undead would be frozen. Freezing does preserve certain bacteria, but it could also destroy the microbes. It is impossible for us to know if the temperature would drop low enough to destroy whatever it is that reanimates the corpses. Barring any cellular changes from the radiation found naturally in space, it could be possible if an alien species found the Earth’s dirty laundry floating in space for them to be exposed to it once the zombies defrost.

That doesn’t mean there would be alien zombies navigating through space, though. If the species is, say, reptilian in nature, they likely won’t have enough in common genetically for the zombie virus to jump over to them. That isn’t to say that they wouldn’t be infected by it. It just wouldn’t affect them as it affects humans. The virus may even begin to mutate through the generations to eventually turn this alien species into zombies. That would be far off from the discovery of Earth’s undead, however.

(Of course, seeing as we have no proof of alien species existing, that whole explanation was simply to appease Sci-Fi fanboys. We live to serve.)

What zombie myths have you heard? Submit your myths in the comments below and we’ll do our best to prove if they are fact or just plain nonsense.

Check out more of the Myth Bashing series

Myth Bashing – The Taller The Better

From under the desk of RC Murphy

Welcome back to another round of myth bashing, Zombie Survival Crew style. This series is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind the tales one might hear while preparing for the Zombiepocalypse. We’re here to make sure you don’t end up digesting in a zombie’s stomach early on because you followed bad advice.

Myth: When being chased by zombies, the only safe place is to climb up a tree.

Fact: There may actually be some truth to this one.

It takes a good amount of coordination to be able to climb a tree. Most adults loose the flexibility (and lack of sense) necessary to traverse the tricky feat of making it more than one or two branches off the ground. Zombies are often encumbered by broken or missing limbs and severe muscle damage resulting from decomposition. They can hardly walk in a straight line, let alone direct their bodies to accomplish the difficult task of climbing.

But that isn’t to say they cannot make it up the tree somehow.

What the undead lack in motor skills, they make up for in sheer numbers. So sure, you think you’re fine and dandy sitting up in the branches of a tall tree, carefully picking off the zombies clawing uselessly at the trunk, but they’re drawn to the noise of the gun and the fuss their cohorts are making. Bodies pile up quickly. It is a lot easier to scramble on a writhing pile of moving corpses that don’t get upset when you step on their faces—there’s more horizontal surface to work with, therefore requiring less muscle. It wouldn’t take a large horde very long to build up enough for one zombie to body surf up and cling to a branch.

The question is, how dangerous would a treed zombie be?

Probably not very dangerous. What would kill you is dehydration, starvation, and exposure to the elements. Even if you make it up the tree with your heavy go bag in tow, it won’t have enough in it to tide you over until the horde disperses. They have one focus—food. And guess what? You’re the only item on their menu once they catch your scent.

However, we are not opposed to camping out in a sturdy and well-secured tree house. First of all, the idea just sounds cool. Secondly, if you use a rope ladder that can be pulled up and a very tall tree, there is very little chance of a zombie making it all the way up to your safe haven. This idea only works for individual survivors and not on a permanent basis. Hauling enough supplies to live on up a rope ladder would be backbreaking work, even if you pre-stored most of your items before the attacks began. We suggest using a tree house as an initial “get out of Dodge” location before moving on to a ZSC resupply station in your sector. But make sure you aren’t followed. Once a group of zombies surrounds your tree, getting back down to the ground to move on to a safer location will be very dangerous.

What zombie myths have you heard? Submit your myths in the comments below and we’ll do our best to prove if they are fact or just plain nonsense.

Check out more of the Myth Bashing series

Myth Bashing – Bodies in Water

From under the desk of RC Murphy

Over the course of the years, we’ve heard a lot of people claim they know the perfect way to avoid becoming a Happy Meal for the undead set. Sometimes these ideas seem so founded in fact that they may actually work when the Zombiepocalypse kicks into high gear. Unfortunately, after some digging most of these claims prove to be well thought out wishes, but provide little in the way of real safety.

In this series, your Zombie Survival Crew commanders will take a look at some of the more prevalent myths surrounding surviving once the earth is overrun by the undead.

Myth: Zombies can’t swim, so I’m going to live on a boat, yacht, island, etc.

Fact: To put it bluntly, this is a very naïve idea. If we all used this train of thought, people would be digging moats around their neighborhoods after the first zombies crawled out of their graves. All a moat would do is ensure other humans couldn’t gain access to the supplies you’ve stored. But it also isolates you, keeps you separated from those who are capable of helping to protect your family.

The truth is, zombies don’t breathe. Fear of drowning is what keeps a large percentage of people from learning how to swim or going into the water at all. However, after death there is nothing to stop them. Cadavers found in water are somewhat buoyant; they float near the surface during decomposition because of gasses trapped in the chest and abdomen. For normal bodies, this lasts for as long as it takes to dispel the gas. It is unknown how much of the gasses from decomposition stay in a zombie. So while the undead may lack the coordination to compete in the 100 meter freestyle in the Olympics, they can float and move around enough to execute a very basic “doggy paddle” to propel themselves through water.

“Well, what if the zombies don’t float?”

Then you will have a situation like in Land of the Dead (2005) where the zombies entered the water and sank like stones (which is what happens to the dead once their chest cavities burst and release built-up gasses anyways). Once submerged, the undead simply walked along the bottom of the lake. In this instance your only chance to use water to keep the zombies at bay is to find a chunk of land surrounded by swift-moving rivers. The force of the water would knock them downstream, but then you are back to my original point… isolation. How long could you survive on what you have stored and the limited hunting available on an island?

What zombie myths have you heard? Submit your myths in the comments below and we’ll do our best to prove if they are fact or just plain nonsense.