Zombie Survival Guide (revised and expanded)

Having grown up next door to a mortuary and across the street from Petaluma’s “cemetery row,” I was keenly aware of the possibility of a zombie attack.

This was during the second, “classic” wave of classic zombie flicks, produced by George Romero and his imitators, including “Day of the Dead,” which was released on my 13th birthday (though my first – and favorite – zombie film was “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” a low-budget depiction of an insufferably pretentious theater troupe whose black magic shenanigans raise the dead with predictable results). Now, nearly a quarter century later, I find myself again surrounded by cemeteries and cinemas full of the undead. My office is situated between three cemeteries separated by mere blocks and – gasp! – it’s on a second floor. When the zombie apocalypse occurs and lurching hordes of re-animated corpses come knocking, however, I’ll be prepared.

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks offers comic advice (his forthcoming graphic novel The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks, is due out from Random House this October). Ditto last year’s Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead by Jonathan Maberry, but it’s recently released study “When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modeling of An Outbreak of Zombie Infection,” penned by Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Imad and Robert J. Smith of the School of Mathematics and Statistics, Carleton University, that backs its plan for staving off a “doomsday scenario” with real, albeit, weird science.

From the paper’s abstract: “…We model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies. We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead. We then modify the model to include the effects of possible quarantine or a cure. Finally, we examine the impact of regular, impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which eradication can occur. We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.”

Okay, now I feel better. This paper, of course, comes from an institution of higher learning that bills itself as “Canada’s Capital University” (I don’t feel so bad about SF State anymore – though I do believe one could minor in vampirism there).

Spend a couple of years in Sonoma and one comes to appreciate the seasonality of the Valley’s aromatic experience. Every fall, the air becomes pungent with the fragrance of grapes rent by an Armbruster RotoVibe destemmer (which sounds like it belongs in a horror film).

This musty perfume still lingered in my nostrils when I opened my office window and was met with the fearsome reek of death. It emanated from the second story window across the alley from me, which had been opened in a vain attempt to aerate the place. When I went to investigate, the police present on the ground floor outside the building were polite but couldn’t share details.

Their doleful eyes, however, indicated that Halloween had come early to the complex. The stench wasn’t some over-inquisitive rodent selected-out of the gene pool by a Darwinian drainpipe, but rather a human corpse in such a state of decomposition as to suggest it hadn’t many visitors in the previous weeks.

Needless to say, my officemates and I were well-rattled – not by this foreshadowing of Zombiegeddon that had arrived in a heap of decayed flesh not more than 15 feet away from our place of business – but by the fact someone’s last thoughts, last words and breath went unheard, in the dark and solitude of a one-bedroom apartment, and no one noticed for weeks.

About Daedalus Howell

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