(The following is a Sojo article compiled by myself and Laura Bobisink. Special shout out to Alison Gowens,Tristan Estes, and Cameron Price, RPCVs, who never gave up striving for preparedness. Their fight is in the US now. And Alissa Bell, Ally Erickson and Lewis Kiker for their brainstorming tactics with us at the first ever Zombie Action Council meeting)
When some people think of zombies, they think of Halloween costumes, that one song by the Cranberries, or a classic dance routine in "Thriller." When other people think of zombies, the contingent of the population who has read World War Z and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they think of survival tactics. Even in the latter category, we often joke about the threat of Zombie Apocalypses, "better learn how to use a crossbow, ha-ha". But in recent weeks, disturbing cannibalistic occurrences are being reported back in the States, via every news agency from Huffington Post to Fox News, that have caused zombie enthusiasts to stop dead in their tracks (not literally, of course) and re-think their survival plans. Are we really ready? Has Resident Evil prepared us fully? The lines between fact and fiction are consistently blurred, movies like 28 Days Later and 2011‘s Contagion are among many popular life-like thrillers portraying epidemics that spread out-of-control and cause apocalyptic scenarios. Last year, the CDC, having recently been depicted rather notoriously in an AMC zombie series and Walking Dead, released a zombie survival plan, meant to please the cult-classic, comic book crowd while educating the masses on emergency preparedness. There is even a terrifying documentary on a particular type of fungus, Ophiocordyceps, which exists famously in ant populations, and changes the brain and behavior of the ant in ways that ensure widespread distribution of the spores. Once dead, the fungus fortifies the exoskeleton of the ant, and more spores grow out of the animal to infect the whole colony, a classic zombie scenario. Granted, these are insects, but still. Between Hollywood blockbusters, Nat Geo, and general hypochondria acquired being a PCV; we remain on high alert for Patient Zero.
While there have been countless proclaimed ends-of-the-world in the last decade, the Mayans‘ time to prove their prophecy chops is nigh, in 2012, smack dab in the middle of Group 9‘s service. As many of us struggle to survive without electricity, water, or new episodes of Game of Thrones, the question is, has being
Peace Corps Volunteers made us more or less prepared for a Zpocalypse? Will our location in Swaziland
aid survival or hinder it? Likely, our newly acquired skills of utilizing solar power and conserving rainwater will benefit us, as well as having burglar bars and relative isolation. But there is a crucial lack of secure structures and a wide distance between resources, unlike the convenience stores one could loot for untold numbers of imperishable goods (i.e.Twinkies) in an American metropolis.There is a wealth of resources out there to arm oneself with the only thing better than leather and denim (difficult to bite through) in case of Zombies: knowledge. Obviously, this knowledge pertains solely to Romero-style,classic zombies, which is likely what we are working with: brainless, slow, regenerated bodies who feast on brains and flesh, not the type that glitter in the sun and fall in love, a la Twilight, which are unrealistic and promote complacency, or even adoration, of the undead. We have a Zombie Action Plan (ZAP) for you!
It has been discussed to the point of infinite detail, almost to the point of exhaustion but who are we kidding? It's essential information, so we know what to do (here's the kick-ass plans) should (when) Zack attack. From an infamous presentation during our PST on breaking down stereotypes with walkers to Southern Africa, consolidation points, and weapons of choice (intense debates between swords vs.
baseball bats), we believe as PCVs we are a hugely valuable asset on surviving World War Z.
If you don‘t own the essential Max Brooks textbooks, The Zombie Survival Guide, and World War Z, do
so immediately. None of this library crap. Go buy the books and commit them to memory. Also, watch Zombieland a few dozen times. Funny and informative.
The Great Panic
First, hit the pharmacy and hardware store. Load up on antibiotics, Tylenol, malaria prophylaxis and multivitamins. Bleach. Bleach can do anything and it is essential. Michael Westin has made me fall
in love with hardware stores. Since he could take down anyone in the US with three things bought from a hardware store, you can survive Zack with what‘s at Build It. I‘m fond of plastic
zip ties, bungee cords, a tiny portable radio, batteries, walkie talkies, binoculars, rope, a whetstone, matches, a solio, my leatherman, and shovels. Then find yourself weapons. If you have a seemingly endless supply of ammunition, please, teach yourself how to shoot and shoot well. Use a metronome and have Sandlers to help
you. If you don‘t, as many of us won‘t, find something durable and handheld that you can wrought destruction with. I‘m becoming increasingly attracted to several aluminum baseball bats, a machete, a crowbar, and a serious blade set, a la the Gerber model in Walking Dead that several of my
friends now actually posses (Why, you ask? The answer should be obvious
at this point.). I love the idea of cars (and horses for that matter, but that‘s a different story) for escape routes because they offer protection and vantage points. My chosen teammate for life details the positive aspects of a pedal powered electric bike and the brutal (but necessary?) tactics of robbing the unsuspecting at gas stations. But for fuel efficiency and maneuverability, I am all about a motorcycle. This means, in your planning, have your motorcycle license and learn to shoot while steering, shooting, swearing,
swerving, and sighing. Cut off your hair, take in your clothes, and start exercising. I don‘t care if you are a p90x Insanity champion. I want you running 5 miles a day and bustin' out some serious strength training. Overall, these rigors leave Zack with less (fat, hair, and clothes) to grab and start masticating. Plus, you are going to need it running up mountains and dragging your terrified ass into trees. Have two good pairs of running shoes and a breathable jacket.
The Real Estate Market: All about Relocation Get to a defensible ground with a
few escape points. When the Great Panic happens, walk quickly, quietly-- get to your transport and vantage
spot. You need a point that you can defend but doesn‘t hem you in and lets you see for the maximum distance. Ideally, take your delicious hardware store stash and set up some serious alert points so you can hear when Zack are hungry and coming for a snack. The northern Plateau and Sibebe offer some serious advantages. You don‘t want to be anywhere near Manzini, except when you need to raid, which you don‘t because you. are. prepared. In order to survive for the long haul, which you will, you have to get yourself to Lesotho (or as a back-up Robben Island). This has been determined as the point for survival once the outbreak happens. Incredible mountains, horses, severe terrain, fertile soil, and actual weather. Defensible and reachable from Swaziland.You might have to bribe the border guards initially because you know for damn sure they are going to be seriously twitchy, if not infected themselves.Alcohol, a smile, and some extra rand will get you through. Then hole up. A point of real consideration: Brook has completely sold me on prisons as an ideal site for bunkering down and settling in…when offshore oil rigs are unavailable. Prisons have kitchens, probably with food stocks, toilet facilities (might initially work until you have to dig pit latrines), protected outdoor areas, towers, and some serious walls. Impregnable--even Brom would agree--or at least as much as you can hope for. You will have to clear them out, which you can do, so establish your mountain hideout first, ride out the initial waves of planning, meditating, and practicing, and then go about re-establishing the human race--Peace Corps style.
Whole truth and nothing but
Let me break it down for ya. We know we can survive in less than comfortable conditions amidst a population already trying to take bit and pieces of our person anyway. Not only can we deftly use a pit latrine, we can build one. We can solar boil, provide basic medical care (some believe they could relatively proficiently carry out minor surgery), maintain gardens, eat bugs (hell, eat anything and enjoy most of
it), build fires, hand-wash our clothes, harvest water, and jury rig almost every kind of basic household item. We already live without electricity and decent communication technology. Plus, you gotta be a little bit crazy to survive in the post-apocalyptic world, and I vehemently believe we are all slightly unhinged. Or if you aren‘t now, you will be in a few years.
We are always seeking to recruit new members to our ranks, so if you are interested or have some particularly profound Swazi-specific survival techniques such as animal husbandry skills, ability to fly a small aircraft, or just a generally strong joie de vivre, please let us know! The fate of humanity depends on it…over and out.
–Zombie Action Council
Organize before they rise.
Nut up and shut up.