Hey, I’m deaf and sometimes I think about zombies attacking and what I might do in that situation. I was wondering about your thoughts on deaf people during a zombie attack. Just wanted to know what an zombiolinguist such as yourself would have to say on the subject?
Zombiolinguist, I like that! And look, I can be the first one without even having to go back to school for another expensive degree.
This is such a great question, and something that’s been really fun for me to puzzle over because I’ve never thought of it before. In zombie movies, everyone is a strong, young, healthy, super hot, educated person. They never show what would happen to someone with a disability. (Screenwriters, take note: this would be a great movie!)
So to start… I think you know I’m going to say this, but you’re obviously going to be at a bit of a disadvantage because a human’s #1 weapon during a zombie attack is their 5 non-deteriorating senses. If you can’t hear a horde of zombies coming, you’ll have to rely on other things to keep you safe. That said, my suggestions for you aren’t so different than for anyone else. Stay with a group. Take turns sleeping. Create a safe house. Don’t be an idiot.
If you do happen to get separated from your buddies, have a backup plan. Sure, your backup plan might be a rendezvous with your final bullet, but it’s better than the alternative. I’d suggest, you know, a hidden helicopter or something, but we all do what we can.
Here’s the plus side. Psychologically speaking, I bet you’re going to have a much easier time surviving than any of your fully-aware counterparts. You’ll have the luxury of blocking out the chaos (as long as it’s not in front of your face) – something they won’t even be able to do in their sleep. Considering 75% of human deaths during the zombocalypse are caused by regular old humans snapping and becoming a danger to themselves and others, an evolutionary predisposition for staying sane will suit you well.
And before anyone asks: yes, if you become a zombie you still won’t be able to hear.
We’ve all seen the scene in “Shaun of the Dead” where Shaun and his buddies are able to walk right through a huge horde of zombies by pretending that they’re members of the undead. If you’re anything like me, you immediately determined that this was bullshit and that if you tried to walk through a room full of zombies moaning and faking rigor mortis, it would only draw their attention to you more quickly.
So how does a zombie know that you’re human – and that they want to eat you?
We know that zombies don’t bother eating each other. This makes sense. Sharks are mean and hungry, but they don’t eat each other, and they don’t eat things that are already dead and rotting. A zombie is about as appetizing to a zombie as a rock is to a shark.
First of all, this ties in closely to the various theories about why zombies eat people. My favorite, which hypothesizes that zombies want to eat us because they’re trying to reclaim their brains and therefore their personalities and their humanness, would explain why a zombie would want to eat me and not the dead guy next to him. But the big mystery has always been how he could tell which was which.
Secondly, I’ve already declared that a freshly-deceased zombie will have about the same strengths, abilities, and senses as he did when he was alive. So he could see me, hear me, and taste me as well as I could see, hear, or taste him. But what about the zombies whose eyes and tongues have fallen out, and whose ears are full of mud?
It’s my belief that a zombie can sense a human, just like a human can sense someone looking at her, or a deer can sense danger. Since the urge to consume humans is the only thing driving a zombie, it makes sense that all of the ability he has left would be working together to find humans any way he could. I think if you were near a blind zombie, he would chomp on you. I think even if you were being perfectly quiet and still in a perfectly dark house, if a zombie could find his way in, he would head right towards you. I think they can just sense life.
HOWEVER. I do not think a zombie would bother waiting around outside this house if he couldn’t get in. If he actually heard or saw a human across the street, I think he would head towards the guaranteed bait instead of trying to get at you. This is what allows me to sleep at night.
In his new novel, John Ajvide Lindqvist does for zombies what his previous novel, Let the Right One In, did for vampires.
If you read Lindqvist’s vampire story, or saw the movie it was based on, you’ll understand exactly how this book made me feel. Apparently this one was originally written in 2005, but was just translated last year and won’t be released in the US until this October. I had never heard of it until yesterday.
I read the whole thing in one day because I literally could not put it down. I want to warn you that it isn’t your typical zombie book – which is to say, it didn’t give me nightmares, so if you’re looking for something terrifying this isn’t the book for you. It left me feeling pretty good, which is more than I can say for any other zombie content I’ve come across.
I started reading it because it sounded scary and blog-worthy. It was scary, but – this is the best I can do without spoilers – the “reliving,” as they’re called in the book, weren’t really the scary part. It’s all about how the living would deal with it if a zombie apocalypse happened and their dead family members came home. It’s sad, beautifully written, and the only book I’ve ever felt deserves to be called “gripping.”
Read it, whether you’re into zombie fiction or not. You’ll love it.
If a zombie had a taco, and then I killed it, so it dropped the taco – could I eat it?
First of all, this is sort of a moot point, since zombies really have no interest in picking up anything except pieces of you. I guess they might pick up a taco with human remains splashed on it, but then I don’t think you’d be interested in going after it.
Let’s suspend disbelief though, as usual, and assume a zombie has come to hold a taco. Maybe it was a piece of debris he picked up trying to get to someone’s eyes or ankles. Let’s also assume that this scenario comes in the midst of the zombocalypse so that food has become scarce and our loyal reader is really jonesing for a taco.
Look, dude. You really don’t want to eat this taco. Considering the tendency of zombies to drip everywhere they go, I think the chances are pretty high that there are some zombie juices marinating in that salsa. On the other hand, this has a lot to do with a controversy I’ve been wanting to address – can you get infected by ingesting zombie parts, or do you have to be bitten? If the chances are low of transmitting the virus, you might be better off going with the taco than inevitable starvation.
The way I see it, the zombie virus – remember, my working theory is Solanum – is most comparable to something like HIV or snake venom. Both of these can be transmitted through bodily fluids or bites, but the risk of infection decreases exponentially when ingested. Technically, the only way you would be at risk is if something along the way of your digestive system had a cut leading to your nervous system – which, let’s face it, your insides will be all kinds of fucked up come the terrors of the zombocalypse. Right, so don’t eat that taco unless you’re about to die of starvation.
My only hesitation in comparing the zombie virus to these two is that being exposed to HIV or snake venom does not guarantee serious infection. If a zombie bites you, on the other hand, you’re done for. No exceptions. This is something we’ll have to continue to explore. Like this guy:
Teel McClanahan doesn’t mess around. He started his own publishing company, and uses it to write zombie novels the likes of which the world has never seen.
I just finished reading “Cheating, Death” – as you might have guessed from the conspicuous punctuation, a double entendre! – and was left with the kind of satisfaction I usually only encounter after watching a really good zombie crushing, or maybe after Thanksgiving. The book is the sort of simple fiction that doesn’t make you think too hard, but still manages to make you notice you’re biting your lip while you’re reading.
McClanahan shows no sympathy for his characters, building the whole story around the most gruesome destructive deaths he could come up with. The zombies are realistic, meaning they’re laughably slow and stupid but still terrifyingly relentless, and they always win. Definitely a fun read. It’s a whole series!
Speaking of realistic zombies, our gallant author took it upon himself to write Appendix Z, a list of (his) zombie characteristics. My two favorite bullet points:
Zombies who did manage to eat the brains of their victims wouldn’t be much of a threat, since they’d prevent the spread of zombie-ism by doing so.
Zombies spread quickly because the living are stupid, too.
A man after my own heart. Check out his stuff; you’ll like it.
I think my friend may be infected. Should I try to organize an intervention or just go ahead and put a few bullets in the brain?
Also, can I get your blog in paperback form? Kind of a survival guide for post-zombiepocalypse humanity.
I’m going to err on the side of caution here and warn you of the dangers of shooting your friend if she isn’t a zombie. Like, jail. Or me getting in trouble for advocating such drastic measures. So, step one is determining if she’s actually a zombie or if she’s just being a bitch. Here are some good ways to tell the difference:
1) Is she chewing on you? Has she always chewed on you, or is this a new development?
2) Is any part of her rotting and/or dripping intestines?
3) Can she speak to you in a sensical manner? Could she ever? If she’s slurring: is she just drunk?
You can email me specific symptoms if they weren’t covered here. The point is, if she’s exhibiting signs of humanity, you probably shouldn’t murder her. On the other hand, if you witnessed her being bitten, or strongly suspect that she’s about to start growling and scratching through those handcuffs you slapped on her, SHOOT HER IN THE FACE. Do not hesitate. This is the mistake people always make. You do NOT want to wait until there’s bitemarks on your arm.
I agree; I should have a book. Do you know any publishers, Travis?
1. For the last time. There is no such thing as fast zombies. Every single movie you are thinking of that includes them is either bullshit or not about zombies. Infected humans are very different; there is still hope to save them and they are much smarter. I’m not saying this is not scary – of course it is. But there are a lot of things that scare me, and that doesn’t mean I should use this blog to discuss spiders, clowns, or the emptiness of deep space. Alright?
2. People that talk about how AWESOME zombies are, or how FUN it will be when they’re blowing off heads from their safe little roof perch drinking beer in the zombocalypse, or describe themselves as zombie FANS – I hate you. You are the epitome of everything that is wrong with society. YOU are the reason we will be screwed when the time comes, because you’re going to run out and try to fucking high five a zombie. Know what’s gonna happen? You’re going to be eaten. Alive. Screaming. Watching them pull out your guts and fight over them. Gross.
Also, do you know how unlikely it is that you’ll be prepared or calm enough to find a safe rooftop and an infinite amount of guns and ammo? Do you know how little your fake samurai sword above your fireplace is going to help you? Grow up.
Q: If people become zombies by being bitten, where does the first zombie come from?
A: I’m not a doctor, but I assume it happens like any other virus. I know Solanum (my working theory) spreads through bodily fluids, but I would think it would start with a mutation of a lesser virus. By bodily fluids I mean saliva from a bite wound or just rubbing up against a bloody zombie with your own bloody fist. Also, I’ve heard people ask whether eating a zombie would have adverse effects, and I assure you – IT WOULD. Also also, I’ve been looking for information regarding necrophiliac activities with zombies, but can’t find ANYTHING (although again, I can assure you, it’s not a good idea). What do you guys think about zombie love?
Q: Do people who are already dead become zombies, or do they have to get the virus while they’re alive?
A: Dead people definitely do not magically reanimate. First of all, the virus needs a working brain to survive, so a skeleton’s not just going to turn into a zombie. Even the freshly dead, however, do not contract the disease. It isn’t airborne, so it doesn’t spread underground, and even if a zombie chewed on a corpse (which it wouldn’t) a dead brain can’t sustain the virus.
Q: What happens to zombies underwater?
A: I think I’ve already addressed this somewhere, but everyone seems fascinated by the idea. Look, they can’t swim, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. They can barely WALK. That said, water certainly isn’t going to prevent them from chasing after you. I imagine they’d just walk on the bottom, so you’d be pretty much safe until you got to shallow waters, or until it was so crowded down there that they inadvertently made a zombie ladder up to your vulnerable little boat. The other thing is it’s definitely better than them being out of water, since they’ll not only rot faster but get nibbled on by fish and maybe some sharks if you’re lucky.
Q: What about zombie babies?
A: Well, human babies are obviously susceptible to the virus. They’d definitely be creepy, but I don’t think they’d be much of a threat. [Insert hilarious dead baby joke here for instructions on disposal.]