The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 7: When is it time?

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Will you know it when you see it? ~

Jonathan Glazer, 22 January 2015


Most discussion of preparations for the Zombie Apocalypse and activities undertaken during it ignore an important element: The start. At what point do you go from your comfortable position in society as a part of an economy and a civilization to a defensive operator acting in ways to secure your and your family’s safety? It is easy enough to answer that question with “when I perceive a threat”. But what is the trigger that makes you openly carry a firearm, create a defensive perimeter (or perhaps move to a better position) and ready yourself to take a life (or stop the advance of the undead)? There won’t be a message from the emergency broadcasting system alerting you to the need to act like you are Mad Max. The news may initially report craziness afoot, but at a certain point, the authorities will put the lid on really bad news and even the media will not be reporting what is truly happening. If you ever have the chance to talk to Gulf Coast residents about what happened immediately following hurricane Katrina, they will tell you that they were in the dark, figuratively and literally for a long time.

Let’s talk about what it will be like. “It” being the ZA, a major power grid failure, quake, flood, or dogs and cats living together. Maybe there will be early reports of an unknown virus wreaking havoc. Ebola was widely reported on here in the USA, but in the afflicted parts of Africa, it was word of mouth, at best. The few cases that occurred in the states got close attention from the media. Had the pandemic spiraled out of control, the reporting would have gone downhill fast as victims spread outside of a controlled area. If the dead were rising and attacking the living, most estimates put complete societal breakdown in the majority of large cities within 46 to 48 hours. Rural areas would probably get a reprieve of up to three months, due to isolation and low population density. But cities would be like the mousetrap and ping pong ball demonstration of a nuclear chain reaction they showed us all in high school. A power grid failure or quake would have a much more rapid onset and it would be dependent on the specific calamity whether it would be immediately clear that bad things were happening.Qs

That brings us back to the question at hand. When is it time? For those in areas where open firearm carry is unusual, when do you put on a belt holster and sling a shotgun or rifle over your shoulder to walk the dog? I asked this question to someone who prepares for such things and his answer was: “It is like pornography. I will know it when I see it.” Do you wait until you see ghouls showing up in the neighborhood? Is it too late at that point? Do you need to hear distant gunfire? I know, I know. I ask a lot of questions. Being reactive might not be a healthy course of action. Waiting until you have no choice might mean you are overcome and then perhaps you become one of the undead hordes looking for a human snack. Having a plan for when to switch from Joe Sixpack to John Connor (a nod to the Terminator fans) isn’t such a bad idea. Considering that information will become as scarce as brains in Congress, you can’t wait for your local news to tell you to lock and load. You can’t wait to see if everyone else is doing it. Being the last on your block to load your magazines is not desirable.

I feel that you can very quickly get a sense for how bad things are by being tuned into the environment. Be like the deer that knows if a hunter is near by the change in the birds’ song. If you have police officers in your neighborhood, pay attention to what they are doing. Their activity and differing patterns might tip you off to the imminent arrival of evil. When bad things are happening, they may initially report for long shifts of duty. If they get worse, they may come home, gather their families and bring them somewhere safe and defendable. If things get terminal, they may cease working and take up the defense of their family on a full time basis, or they may all disappear without a word as to where they are going. Firefighters may exhibit the same patterns. I think if you see your neighbors who are police officers not going into work and walking around out of uniform while armed; it might be a good time for you to do the same. Perhaps the trigger is flipped if an event prevents you and everyone around you from going to work with no foreseeable end to that situation. If all transportation (mass or unencumbered private transit) and commerce is halted, you might want to give thought to immediate defensive activities. If the lights cut out for a couple days, you don’t need to go all Road Warrior. But you should have a pretty good idea if the lights are coming back on in the foreseeable future. If the power outage is followed by rotting reanimated corpses eating the living, you know that Walmart probably won’t be reopening any time soon.

This brings me to a related topic. Do you shelter in place or do you bug out? This was touched in a previous chapter where we talked about how much ammunition is enough and do you want to have so much that you can’t carry it. Living in a suburban environment, there is an expiration date on your sanctuary. In the aftermath of the societal collapse following the ZA, there will be baddies, both living and unloving coming your way for a tasty meal. If you have a hardened defensive position with enough supplies to ride out a very, very, very long storm, bully for you. But if you are like most people in the suburbs, or an urban area, you will need supplies and a safe place to consume them. I briefly discussed with some like-minded colleagues, the possibility of commandeering a Costco or a Walmart with enough muscle to secure the perimeter and wait for the cavalry (if they ever arrive). The problem is that if they do arrive, you and your buddies are now the bad guys and good luck trying to talk your way out of being zip tied at gun point by the new Sheriff in town. If the guys in white hats (and fresh combat fatigues) don’t mosey into town to restore order, you still face the task of securing your perimeter against the really bad guys made stronger by Darwinian forces. If they survive out there for any length of time, they have boatloads of badassery up their sleeves and will eventually breach your fortifications. At that point, I assure you that they will not be slapping you on the back for the good times you gave them with your suppressive fire and aimed kill shots. One of my band of nefarious ne’er do wells is a member of a state military force. He feels that if things get bad, he could show up in uniform at the aforementioned bib box stores with a forged order for requisitioning supplies and be able to load up his truck with as much food and other needed supplies as he can carry. I think that is a long shot. Plus, loading up impedes your mobility. But at least it is a plan.

My plan involves mobility and lots of it. I will smell the wind for encroaching badness and release the Kracken when my sensors are tripped. Once I flip the switch and go from Hank Hill to a modern version of Clint Eastwood’s man with no name, there is no going back. I hope I guess correctly.

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