Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Starting the Rebuild

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Starting the Rebuild

Okay, so far we’ve covered a lot of ground in just surviving and eking out a safe space to keep on surviving. By this point, you’re well into the Zombie Apocalypse and it’s time to change the game a bit. Instead of just surviving, you want to begin focusing on living, growing, and thriving with an eye towards rebuilding a viable civilization and reversing the Zombie Apocalypse.

So, how do you do that? Well, it’s not that easy. It took humans well over one hundred thousand years to develop civilization. It took us close to three thousand years to build a society that was capable of technological, legal, social, economic, and political change and adaptation without constant bloodshed (hat tip to Greece and Rome for pointing us in the right direction). Luckily, we don’t have to re-invent everything (we already know a lot and have the whole “writing” thing down) but we will have to regain a good bit of lost ground. Things are going to go backwards for a while — they’ll have to. Our current system relies heavily on electricity and the wonder that is the internal combustion engine. Those things go “bye-bye” during the Zombie Apocalypse.


Oh hell no…you mean to tell me there aren’t any showers up in here?

Some of you probably laughed when I suggested raiding a library or making certain you stole or “gathered in” as many books as you could. Well, get ready to eat those giggles. Those books are going to teach you things like “how to find metals,” “how to smelt and forge metals into tools,” “how to generate electricity,” “what electricity is and how it works,” “why you really want to try to set up base not too far from a nuclear power plant because that sucker will *still* be generating electricity and all you need to do is figure out how the controls work to harness it,” as well as “how to build a sewage system (and you will need one),” and “how to deal with tainted water.”

This is the point in the Zombie Apocalypse when, if you’re recruiting people, you’ll want to risk reaching out to lone wolves to see if any of them are just gun-shy individuals who possess a lot of knowledge or useful skills but might not be able to small-talk their way out of a paper bag (like me). Case in point: if you need a system (damned near any kind of system) worked out or you need to understand how one worked before, I’m really good at that. I have a talent that borders on “freaky super-power” for seeing how different parts/units/things/subsystems are composed and how they interact with each other in the larger system. Computers, computer programs and languages, computer networks, legal systems (the framework, not the actual practice), medical devices, surgical procedures, organ systems, communication and transport networks, molecules, galaxies — to me, they’re all just different kinds of systems organized of various components and sub-components with certain behaviors and rule-sets that interact in predictable and logical manners (with the occasional emergent property or three) and they can be deciphered, understood, and explained. That means they can also be harnessed and manipulated (with stipulations).


…Dammit, tell Daryl not to bring back any more systems nerds unless they have their manuals or a translation guide with them.

But if you ask me which shoes go with a certain purse or to comment on the latest celebrity sex scandal…well, I’m less than clueless there. I have finally learned who the Kardashians are. I’m still not certain who Taylor Swift or Kayne West is, though, other than that Kayne interrupted some awards ceremony because he really likes Beyonce (who is a singer…I think). I don’t know what clothes look good on me; I care very little about that. I know a handful of actors’ names and it’s because they’ve played characters I really liked. Trying to engage me in small talk is…just don’t do it. It’s not a good idea for you or for me. Conversations heard in my house (I had to move back in with my parents) often go like this:

Me: *staring into space* What’s the oldest civilization? When was it started? The Egyptians were, what, 4000 BC?
My mom: I think they were around 2000 BC so civilization would be 4000 years old (she’s used to my random questions)
Me: Actually, wait…didn’t the Chinese have a dynasty that was a few centuries, maybe a thousand years before that?
Mom: I don’t know. But I don’t go into all that lost civilization from 10,000 years…
Me: No! Neither do I. I’ve got this idea for a sci-fi story set 10,000 years in the future so I’m trying to find a data point to extrapolate from on how garbled events from the current era would be to people living in 12,000 AD. Because even with video…
Mom: Well, even with video, that’s no guarantee. I have 8-track tapes that I can’t find a player for. There are VHS tapes but no one has a VCR these days…
Me: Yeah, true, but going digital did eliminate *some* of that. Still, there would be a lot of telephonic garble.
Mom: Okay…
Me: Because history is often like that telephone game. You know, where a kid whispers something to one kid who whispers it to another and another…
Mom: Yeah, I know.
Me: I guess I’ll go with the Chinese, then. Better chance for a closer data point to extrapolate from. Also, the language is more unified — modern Chinese is closer to ancient Chinese than modern English is to ancient Egyptian. Less drift. Makes them a better example to work from. Thanks!
Mom: …did you finish cleaning the kitchen?

I’m great with systems and I know a lot of things from books. But I am so not the person you invite to a social occasion that doesn’t involve sitting around a table rolling polyhedral dice and arguing over saving throws. That’s why, in a Zombie Apocalypse, I’ll probably stake out a place as a lone wolf or with a group of people I know very well.


I am so going to have this printed on a t-shirt one day. Anyone else want one?

Funny thing is, weird, quirky people like me generally wind up being damned useful at rebuilding. So, you have to go out and find us because we are not going to be looking for you. We’ll build our own slice of heaven and fucking. stay. there. Forever.

And speaking of finding and recruiting people…now that you’ve established a base camp worth defending, maybe it’s time to come up with some hard-and-fast rules on how people can join your merry little band of survivors?

— G.K.

3 thoughts on “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Starting the Rebuild

  1. Metals… Okay, I just stumbled by and that caught me. Haven’t read the rest of the series (yet) of ZA preparedness, but metals are absolutely freaking everywhere even in disaster sites, but things like spring steel are effing gold because they are hard to make from scratch (skipping oxidation color schemes, quenching mediums, and other craziness) and are extraordinarily useful for, say, homebrew crossbows. You *can* smelt ores with a crap ton of heat, but its better to snag decent alloys and blacksmith. Bonus points if you find any good bar stock. Noisy, though, beating on metals…

    And depending on the cutoff point for “civilization,” there was, say crude farming (or agriculture) over ten thousand years ago, and slash-and-burn goes back a lot farther, but supports only smaller bands/tribes I think. Modern humans have been around a bloody lot longer time than that if I remember my college courses right. Given the things that survive tens, hundreds of thousands of years, who is to say there wasn’t some sophistication (by standards of the day) back then that left no trace? Crap, sorry, rabbit hole, that. Deep one.

    Rebuilding civilization… I think mankind usually defaults to Strong Man type civ, but that’s very volatile, doesn’t last well. Getting folks invested in building a future takes time, shared myths, some ineffable wozzit that keeps people from bashing each other on the head every time they get peeved at each other. That seems tough. Even with a shared past. People need other people, but don’t necessarily want them.

    Crap. Got late, must work early. Thanks for giving me something to think on. Cheers!

    • No problem — I love geeking out on stuff like this.

      I agree that disaster sites and foraging are definitely viable ways to get good metals and alloys (broken down cars, junkyards, rail stations, etc). Still, the big disaster places will generally be places that are either: 1) overrun by zombies, 2) under control of another faction (in which case, you’ll need to trade with them or negotiate or something), or 3) too far from where you’ll be set up if you’ve followed my earlier advice and gotten the hell away from high population areas to set up your Tree Fort City of Awesome (see earlier entries — just click on the “Zombie Apocalypse” tag).

      The noise and the smell (as well as the heat) will be issues but, again, if you’re following my multiple palisade, tree-fort-city, multiple ditches and a moat plan, you have *some* defenses already. I’m going to do a more detailed Tree Fort (or Other ZA Locale) City Defense Plan in a later entry.

      I’m actually outlining the different “meta-groups” that societies will tend to fall into during the ZA that scale up a bit from the smaller groups and Strong Man/Warlord is one of them. That’ll be a future entry. I think I’m going to shut up now, though, because you’ve given me some ideas and I have to work tomorrow too. I hope you bookmark this site and come back and read more of my nerding out. 🙂

      — G.K.

  2. Thought for the morning, still haven’t caught up yet: railroads. Good steel, railroad ties are decent wood, gravel. Rail yards could have AO rigs or cutting torches, machine shops, other very useful goodness. Also, not all are swallowed up by cities, and some are in near-abandoned areas due to city growth and decay (pre-Fall).

    Industrial areas. Due to changes in US economy, we don’t do factories as much, but there are still factories in outlying areas unlikely to be zombie block parties. Probably places to find people, too, because this one will pop up in people’s minds. Some of these will probably be hostile, or camped there.

    Truck stops are in the middle of freaking nowhere all over the U.S., too. Farms, lots of nothing. Problem is, farms don’t show up on the handy dandy truck stop/ Ranger station maps. Orchards, same.

    Also, even with forts, palisades, tree living people, where’s the GOTH plan? Disaster planning is going to be a hot topic on people’s minds once they get 3hots and a cot… Okay, I do need to catch up on that. Cheers!

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