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.

Zombie Apocalypse, Epic Fantasy, Police Thriller — Oh My!

Zombie Apocalypse, Epic Fantasy, Police Thriller -- Oh My!

Good news, everyone! I haven’t forgotten you all this week. I just have had an insanely crazy-hectic-oh-my-God-it’s-been-weird kind of week and weekend preceding it which meant that I didn’t have time to get the updates I had finished integrated until this Wednesday night. However, hopefully things will be turning around soon-ish so my life will be a bit more stable and you’ll be getting your chapters on a more predictable time-frame. That said, all is not puppies, kittens, and rainbows in Warden’s Keep. Rooster and Pig’s other owner has had a serious medical emergency. He’s okay but I’m scrambling to take care of getting this quarter’s royalty statements done and sent out as well as finishing up the new R&P website and eCommerce site. There’s also a good bit of trying to figure out who’s doing what, when, and all and trying to take care of my own side of things.

Sometimes I think Sisyphus is a slacker, yo.

Anyway, the latest chapters of The Masterminds, The Search for the Seven Scepters, In the Shadow of Yggdrasil, and Risen Ash are up for all of you who are looking to scratch your zombie apocalypse, epic fantasy, or police thriller itches or cravings. So go and get your reads on!





Don’t forget that you can back me on Patreon or support my writing habit by getting a membership here now!

— G.K.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Meeting Other Groups

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Meeting Other Groups

If you’re lucky enough to have survived the initial Outbreak, gotten out of the population centers, and found (or started) a group of your own, eventually, you are going to run across other groups of survivors during your wanderings in search of a safe haven to set up a permanent (or semi-permanent) base of operations. These groups will have their own social and leadership structures and you will need to be prepared to deal with them and to size them up quickly so as to not find yourself and your own group at a complete disadvantage. Some groups will consist of good people and you may want to combine forces or form an alliance or pact with them even if you don’t merge your groups together (which can carry its own problems since merging command structures can be very problematic even in a non-high-stress environment). Others will be harmless either because they lack the ability (due to lack of access to weaponry or numbers) to harm you or they lack the will to do so. The last group, the largest group, is the Asshole Category and they have various degrees of “avoid,” “destroy,” “kill on sight,” or “nuke from orbit.”

Small, Friendly Groups

The fact of the matter is the most common group you’ll run across will be the small, friendly group. Now, they will be wary if they’ve survived very long but so long as everyone is careful, it’s clear that everyone is free to go at any point, and no attempts are made to take anything from anyone, communicating with them and establishing relations with them should be easy and straightforward. Most of these groups will be family groups or friends who are living a nomadic lifestyle as they search for a safe place to hunker down. The smallest groups may be willing to integrate themselves into a larger overgroup. They may also be open to forming a loose confederation in exchange for a mutual defense agreement, trade, and access to food, water, and medical supplies. You will want to exercise caution and discretion before taking them in, though.

Large, Friendly Groups

If you have established your own base of operations and are scouting or if you and your group are wandering in search of a place to secure and settle down, you may run across a much larger group. This group may have its own scouting parties out who are either tasked with actively recruiting members (in which case you may be asked to consider joining if you meet their requirements and needs), with merely keeping an eye on people passing through their territory, or with keeping trespassers out. If you are approached by a scout who announces himself and provides tangible evidence of the existence of a larger group and the guidelines for joining, consider hearing him out. Make certain that the outlines for any trial period are clear and include the right to exit the community with the provisions and gear you brought in to it (or an equivalent amount), that there is either a set date for the trial period to end or a set event to conclude it after which your group would be considered full and equal members with the same rights as everyone else, and that all members of your group will be granted a single orientation meeting where all of the rules, laws, mores, and enforceable customs of the community will be outlined along with their punishments. A reasonable question-and-answer session should follow that session to make certain everyone understands what they’re getting into. If you decide not to join with this larger group, request a meeting with a trade delegation at an external location to discuss opening trade with them. Keep in mind that trade can include news as well as goods and services.

If the group does not have those things prepared, then they really aren’t prepared to absorb outsiders. You should point that out to them and suggest that they reconsider their recruitment drive until they’ve organized their immigration policy better. You might still consider going with them but you will want to negotiate to keep as much independence as you can and insist that they retain their own. Co-existence and cooperation should be the goal while you work out your relationships.

Friendly Itinerant Groups

No matter how far along you are during the Zombie Apocalypse, you’re going to come across wandering groups. These groups will differ in that they have given up finding any place to permanently settle down and are content to keep moving. For some of them, safety may be in staying mobile. Others may have mastered the art of trading and become peddlers. A rare few may have even formed mobile societies or tribes much like the Tuatha’an from The Wheel of Time. Your first contact with these groups should be cautious until you know their ways. Once that’s established — they’ll have developed ways of detecting and dealing with others — you can open relations with them. However, they will probably not join your group or form any kind of lasting alliance beyond non-exclusive trade. Still, it is wise to give them some supplies, any news or warnings you can provide, and then let them go on their way. If this is their first time through your established territory, just let them know who you are and where your base is (or where your outpost is if you don’t want your permanent base to be a known location for outsiders), what territory you claim and who your neighbors are and your relations with them, and then try to establish a good rapport with them. It’s always better to have friends, after all!

Lone Wolves

From time to time, you’ll run across an individual or a very couple who, for whatever reason, have struck out on their own. They might be nomads just passing through or they may have established a small base camp. However, no matter how friendly you are to them or how welcoming you seem, they may reject any offer to join your group. At best, they’ll just be skittish and wary. At worst, they’ll be unfriendly. Your best strategy here is to move along. If they happen to set up in your territory (without them knowing it) and are not causing you any problem, leave them be. Simply let them know that they are in your territory and that you just want to know who they are and why they wish to be left alone. Their reasons could range from a simple disdain for other people or an inability to deal with social conventions well (like yours truly here) to having suffered some very bad experiences in other groups and taking a rational “wait and see” approach before deciding to put themselves at your mercy. So long as you have adequate guards, lone wolves are not a threat.

Nutty Normals

In the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse, you’re going to find people who are out to prove that “de Nile, she ain’t jes’ a river in Egypt.” At best, they’re harmless farmers who think that the undead are just sick and that a cure is coming Real Soon Now and so they’ve kept the zombies locked up securely in their barn. So long as no Drama Queens break the lock and chain, everyone’s fine. At worst, they’re psychos who are trying to build a little slice of Pleasantville where everyone can have barbeques and cookouts and parties and cotillions without having to deal with the fact that the undead are trying to eat them just outside of whatever flimsy barricade they’ve built up. If you come across a community where you’re asked to surrender your weapons before entering, you may have stumbled on a den of nutcases led by someone in denial (at best) or a man who’s building a harem and your women are fair game (at worst). This is why establishing the rules for trial membership is so crucial — if you are ever asked to disarm yourself, you need to be very wary. There needs to be a damned good reason for it and that reason needs to be explained to you before you surrender your weapon.

Warlords

Strongmen who can gather other strongmen and toughs to their cause will win out early on. They’ll establish tribal structures and set themselves up as warlords. They will also kidnap women whose sole purpose will be to take care of the “needs” of the warriors. Any time a warlord’s army conquers new territory, the men will be executed and the women will be held captive. These are some of the worst kinds to deal with because the only way to handle them is either to kill them or to be so much stronger than them they won’t take you on. In the midst of a Zombie Apocalypse, you are not going to have the resources in manpower to imprison or rehabilitate them so, really, crippling them or executing them is about the only way to defeat them. Also, depending on how long the women have been held, some of them may have succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome and you may simply have to kill them as well.

That said, if you can outgun them and you can make it clear that they live only by your sufferance and that their leader keeps his place only so long as he doesn’t piss you off (and you will have to get in his face and make it that clear), then you can keep them on a leash somewhat. However, it is a bit like keeping a rabid dog on a leash so caveat emptor, dude.

Restorers

You’ll run into these types often enough — send them away or along and do not get involved. They’re a special case of denialist who believe that they and their group are on a mission to restore the world (or the United States) and that anyone who opposes them must be destroyed. Make it clear that you are simply trying to survive and that you wish them all the best but that you have your family to look out for. You do not want to get dragged into a fight for territory or resources unless you absolutely have to.

Scumbags

Your group will eventually encounter scumbags. They might be individuals who were kicked out of another group or they might just be drifters who have made a living of preying on innocent survivors. Regardless, the only thing you can do for them is send them on to the next life. Hold them only long enough to find out if they really are part of a larger group (scumbags will occasionally form warlord bands) that poses a threat to your group and then get rid of them. Permanently.

So, with all that said — where’s the best place for you to set up a base of operations? Well, we’ll talk about that next time!

— G.K.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse — Who To Take

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse -- Who To Take

…and who to avoid and why.

Early on, if you’re a decent person, your impulse will be to try to save as many people as you can. And, if the Outbreak looks like it’s going to be contained and controlled and a promising treatment developed soon, that’s not a bad idea. However, if the Outbreak overwhelms civil authorities and you find yourself in the midst of a full-fledged “The End Is Nigh” apocalypse, you’re going to want to be a bit pickier about who you save and who you leave to fend for themselves. Now, bear in mind that this is just a list of guidelines and suggestions and not a hard-and-fast Gospel so with your grain of sodium chloride ingested, we shall proceed.

Those To Save

Defenders

This is my wall and I’mma guard it, k?

It’s a simple fact that any group is going to need a good number of defenders. These are your Ricks and Dales. Almost all the able-bodied adults (male and female) will be called on to handle defense but there will be a couple of them for whom defense of the group is going to be a primary calling. Leadership might also tend to go naturally towards them or it might not but they will generally be mostly concerned with strategies that ensure that the group survives over the long term and that the people within the group have their talents and skills used in ways that benefit the group’s chances to survive.

That said, the defenders will tend to get so focused on survival that they will forget all about living and growing. They do suffer from tunnel vision and can adopt something of a bunker-mentality wherein anyone outside the group is not to be trusted. They will need the occasional break from defense to something else in order to keep this from happening.

Builders

Is Jim gonna have to smack a bitch?

Builders are good, too. These are your mechanics, your carpenters, your handy-men. If you break it, they can fix it. Most of them will have worked with their hands before the Outbreak but some of them will not. Those who weren’t handy-men (or women) before the Outbreak will generally have a way of looking at things or seeing potential in a place or in items and inventing something that makes you remember the scene from Apollo 13 when the NASA guys managed to make the “wrong” CO2 filter fit in the CLM opening so the crew wouldn’t asphyxiate on the return trip (it was awesome). You’ll want these people around because they’ll make life so much simpler and they’ll be able to repair, replenish, or just flat out invent and innovate their way through the Outbreak. Sometimes their hair-brained ideas will blow up in your face but sometimes those ideas will lead to breakthroughs that make Salk look like a slacker.

However, the two types of builders exist in a very yin-yang relationship. Sometimes they get along great and you’d think they are all speaking a language that no one else knows. Other times getting them to work together makes herding cats look simple.

Teachers

Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I’ve gone stupid, son

Teachers are those who have knowledge and can pass it on to others. And, yes, everyone is going to be a teacher in some form or fashion during the ZA. However, the elderly and women who are pregnant or with young children will generally be the primary teachers in your group just because that’s how the resources are going to fall out. That said, if you stumble across someone who is a biologist, a chemist, an engineer, a physicist, an astronomer, or has other highly advanced knowledge of the sciences like that — save them unless they are completely irredeemable because that knowledge is fucking invaluable.

Thinkers

What? It’s true

Thinkers come in all shapes and sizes. They’re not just the verbose, lettered, bookish types who can quote all manner of esoteric arcana at the drop of a hat like me. Some of them are the surly, crossbow-wielding type who could track the wind over rocks. The commonality is that we all live in our heads, we tend not to deal well with other people, social graces escape us completely, we’re way outside our comfort zone dealing with “teh feelz” of any kind, we tend to act quickly and sort out how we feel about it much later (if ever) and some of us can rationalize damn near anything even if we know it’s immoral and unethical.

Still, we generally come in useful, we’re fairly low maintenance, we pitch in and help out, and aside from the fact that we have a tendency not to socialize, we’re not bad people.

Workers

You can count on us for anything

These are the people who don’t fit into any particular category above or who maybe kind of fit into some of them but not completely. They may not be specialists but they work hard, are honest, do their share, make life easy for others, are fun to be around, and genuinely care for the rest of the group. You need them if you’re ever going to have any hope of rebuilding the world. These are people like Glenn, Beth, T-Dog, Carol, Martinez, Michonne, Tara, Tyreese, Carl… They aren’t perfect but then, no one is.

Those To Avoid

Drama Queens

Avoid. Avoid. Avoid!

It doesn’t matter how close you are to them, how long you’ve known them, how much you care for them, or how skilled they are — drama queens are going to be more trouble than they are worth and they are going to get you killed. In the ZA, the energy they consume is going to be greater than that which they contribute. Their need to be the center of attention and the constant siren-call of their psyche for self-reinforcing immediate gratification is going to get you (and everyone else) eaten by the undead. Avoid them. Avoid them at all costs.

Syphilitic Donkeys

Heed my advice: don’t stick it in the crazy

If the population drops by 90%, there’s going to be chaos. Yes, you are going to need to concern yourself with reproducing and that means you are going to have to start thinking about things like genetic variability and possibly considering alternate marriages like line marriages (as from The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress) or something like that to avoid the bottleneck (or Founder’s) effect which can happen if things get really, really, REALLY bad (like if there are less than 10,000 people in the world). However, even with those “alternative” schemes in mind, adultery cannot be tolerated. Men and women who have committed to a relationship — in whatever form that takes in your group — have to be faithful. If they’re not, then that behavior can’t be tolerated.

It’s not actually the sex per se that is the problem — it’s the secrecy and betrayal. Minus those, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Egomaniacal Totalitarian Messiah Wannabes

Bet you thought I was gonna post The Governor

You will run into more of these than you would have believed. Most of them will be very charismatic, persuasive, and charming or will be able to claw their way to the top of a power structure and use their influence over the muscle to maintain their power base. If you happen to stumble across a group like this, get away from them and put as much distance between you and them as you can. They will wind up destroying their group and killing whoever is with them once their ego is threatened and, in a ZA, their ego will be threatened.

There is one last group of people — the largest group of people, actually. They are the Questionables. Some of them can be saved and some of them can’t. It will all come down to your individual experience with them.

In our next entry, we’ll go over some of the forms of groups that you’ll encounter might take and how to deal with them and their command structures.

— G.K.

RIP Beth Greene

RIP Beth Greene

I have not been this sucker-punched since the first time I watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. If I were anymore floored, you could put carpeting on me. So, all I have to say is…

 

Well done, guys. Very, very well done. I haven’t been this emotionally traumatized over the death of a fictional character in a while. I thought the death of Sturm Brightblade in Dragonlance Chronicles was harsh but at least there had been some serious foreshadowing for that event. No, this is up there with losing Aeris in Final Fantasy VII right after you get her Ultimate Limit Break and spend over 20 hours leveling her so she can learn it. Even watching the Doctor lose Rose in Doomsday wasn’t this gut-wrenching.

 


Of all the times to run out of Phoenix Downs…

 

I may need to join a support group for this.

 

It’s not just that Beth and Daryl were my OTP ever since “30 Days Without An Incident.” It’s not just that she brought something that no one else could to the group — hope, idealism, and a little ray of sunshine. Yes, she started out in a bad place but that was just an aberration. She grew so much and was such an important but constantly taken for granted part of the prison gang that knowing that there is no chance we’re going to see her grow further is really, really depressing. But that is not the worst.

 


Yes, I was a Beth-Daryl shipper. Look at this and honestly tell me you don’t see it happening.

 

No, the worst is that her death was completely her own fault. Beth Greene practically committed suicide and she had to have known it. As soon as she put those scissors in her cast, I knew that there was no way this was going to end well. And I was right.

 

Now, before you jump on me with “well, she wasn’t just going to let Noah go back and let Dawn keep being Queen Bitch,” I get that. I know that she couldn’t do that. But, Cthulhu help me, she could have stopped and thought it out a little bit better. Rick can be a pretty silver-tongued fellow. He’s talked them out of some pretty bad situations when he was dealing with people who had at least some rationality left in them (so the Governor does not count because he was bat-crap crazy). She also knew that Dawn’s days of running Grady Memorial were well and truly numbered. Chances are that if Beth had just stepped back, one of the other cops would have taken Dawn down and then everyone (who wanted to) could have walked out of that hospital which is what Daryl wanted.

 


Instead, we got this

 

I’m both dreading and anticipating the second half of the season in February. I know it’s going to be tough watching the rest of the characters deal with the aftermath just when all of us in the fandom will have begun to move into the “Acceptance” stage of grief. However, gut-wrenching as this is, it must be necessary to the plot. It will give the characters who still live a chance to grow…or to be paralyzed. Watching them decide which way to go will be interesting even as it may wind up being heartbreaking.

 


Tell me that’s not heart-wrenching

 

And no, I’m not pissed at the writers. The only way they’re going to piss me off is if they take a page from Captain Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru playbook and throw us “The Search for Speth” or some other kind of deus ex machina maneuver. Beth’s death is a tragedy. I feel horrible for Maggie* because I know exactly what must be going through her mind. I feel terrible for Daryl* because I know how this has to have hollowed him out completely. But she died. Nothing’s going to change that. And if the fandoms turn against the writers and the show because they’re not going to magic up a solution to this relentless and remorseless fact of life, then they can vote me right off the island, too.

 


And now permit me to deliver my rebuttal…

 

Still…hardest sucker-punch since Wrath of Khan. That’s a badge of honor, Kirkman. A badge of frickin’ honor.

 

— G.K.


*I do mean the characters and not the actors. I’m sure it must be difficult for them to lose a coworker in what must be a very emotionally-charged environment. But, I do respect that the actors and the characters are separate people so no, I’m not spending a lot of time wondering what Lauren Cohen or Norman Reedus is thinking. It’d be a bit creepy if I did since they probably already have half the fandoms sending them sympathy cards or the like. I’ll just continue my respectful “not ever interacting with them because the 30 seconds I don’t take from them is 30 seconds they can do something they’d rather do” policy. So far, it’s working great! 😉

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