They're coming for you.
Hordes of staggering, undead creatures. Lusting for flesh. Yearning to feast on your tasty, tasty brain.
They don't tire. They don't give up. The only thing that matters is their aching hunger – every other need has been burned out of their fetid, rotting corpses.
So what do you do? How will you survive?
If you're holding this magazine, chances are you've had that conversation with friends more than once. And if you're regularly reading/watching The Walking Dead or bow at the altar of Romero, you probably have it a lot.
But it's highly unlikely you really know to survive. So we asked someone who does.
Mark is a sniper with the Canadian military. He's done numerous tours in Afghanistan and has come under all different kinds of fire -- from light machine guns to rocket-propelled grenades. The man knows a thing or two about survival.
He asked that we not use his last name, as the Canadian Forces can be a bit testy about that sort of thing. But he did agree to sit down with Comics and Gaming to talk about just how he'd navigate the zombie-infested apocalypse.
You hungry, bro?
Forget weapons, or anything like that. The first step for this soldier is water and food. “Right away I'd start stockpiling food and water for sure,” he says. And forget boarding up or fortifying a house or building with the intent of bunkering down there.
“I wouldn't stay in one spot,” Mark says. “You're only good so long.”
“You can fortify all you like -- eventually they're going to find a way in. If you found a way in, so can they. And there's a lot of them and not a lot of you.”
“So I would definitely keep moving.”
Mark says his inclination is to head north with a stockpile of supplies in some sort of truck, hoping the cold would slow the dead down.
If he had his choice of vehicles, it would be a light armoured vehicle like his unit used in Afghanistan. But even that isn't perfect. They run on a serious amount of diesel – even if they do run like a tank.
A decent compromise, he says, is an American Hummer (the truck – get your mind out of the gutter, buddy.)
“It's smaller – which not so good against an IED blast, but you're not too worried about that with zombies,” Mark says.
“It’s quicker and more agile, but still has enough armour that you don't have to worry about anyone breaking in.”
And what about finding a boat and heading out to sea? “You could do that,” he says, “But I feel like I've seen a movie where those frigging things could swim, man.”
“I can see me finding an island – but even then, I think they'd eventually find you.”
What about firepower?
That sounds pretty grim – guess you'd better defend yourself. So what works, weapon-wise?
“I'd get really good with a sword,” he laughs. “Or an axe. Because eventually, you're going to run out of weapons.” Just because he's in a sniper platoon doesn't mean that's Mark's go-to weapon. “I definitely wouldn't go that route,” he says. “One, it's way too heavy – not a lot of bang for your buck. Plus, if a zombie is far away from you, you shouldn't be worried about trying to kill him anyway.”
“You'd want a small, semi-automatic carbine rifle, and maybe a pistol.”
“But even with that, you're going to run out of ammo,” he says. Needing bullets would get tricky, fast.
“Pistols are no good because you don't have enough ammo at once – and a machine gun is no good because it's too heavy, and it's too hard to reload.”
“But if you had some kind of sub-machine gun or a semi-automatic assault rifle, something like an M4 with a red dot sight or some kind of close up sight. Once you're in the shit with a whole bunch of zombies, you're going to want something quick and dirty.”
That's all well and good – but carrying that kind of ordinance and its ammunition would be almost impossible for a single person. “When we're out doing any kind of mission, we always look at weight restrictions,” Mark says.
So what's the solution? “I'd get really good with a sword,” he laughs. “Or an axe. Because eventually, you're going to run out of weapons.”
It's a good crew...mostly
Adept as he may be, Mark says he'd always try to find other survivors to wander whatever bit of human civilization that's left once the dead have risen. Or the plague destroys everyone. Whichever.
“From a military standpoint, you never want a fair fight,” he says. “You always want to outnumber them. Granted, that seems pretty tough with zombies.”
So who gets to call the shots? Is a Rick Grimes-kind of leader necessary?
“This may sound a little brainwashed – but from a military perspective, it's definitely important to have one guy who's in charge,” Mark says. “When you get too many chiefs and not enough Indians, stuff always goes to crap.”
“I could probably keep going for a while, but I don't think I'd be dying of old age, by any means.” Those survivors would need training, too – be it in survival situations, combat, and firing a weapon. “I think you would have to train them,” Mark says. “That comes down to having a competent leader. You'd want to pick someone who knows at least a little about survival – whether that's the guy from the military, or a cop or a paramedic.”
So is his “dream team” full of army grunts? Surprisingly, that's not his first choice.
“I would want Bear Grylls with me. Some super-survivalist type dudes,” he laughs. “Because you won't be in a gunfight with these guys forever. Eventually you're going to have to hack it out in the middle of nowhere with very little stuff.”
“I'd want some guys who had been in the woods for some serious amount of time, a doctor, some soldiers and some cops. But mostly – just no old people or kids. They always die and get picked off like that.”
Invariably, as is always the case with large groups during the zombie apocalypse, someone in your group is going to get bitten. So what do you do?
“Kill them.” Mark says, with no remorse. “No mercy. Absolutely not.”
Okay – but what about hacking off a body part to save the person in question? Sometimes, that seems to be just what the doctor ordered to stop the spread of the infection – if infection is the problem.
“Well, we could try that,” Mark says, “But knowing full well that we were probably going to kill him.”
It's not a fair fight
No matter how careful you are, no matter how stealthy your group may be – at some point, you'll end up fighting zombies. Not to be stupid about it though. There's no need to engage an enemy unless it's totally necessary, Mark says.
“I don't think you ever try to get rid of them all,” he says. “I wouldn't worry about it. Because those bastards are tricky, man.”
Because they travel in packs, zombies invariably end up getting the jump on survivors. So what do you do when faced with a horde of shambling undead breathing down your neck?
“Do I have a rocket pack?” Mark asks, meekly.
No Mark. No, you don't.
“I have nightmares about this shit,” he laughs. “You would be shocked by how much this conversation comes up in the military.”
Maybe we wouldn't. So, how do you fight off a whole pile of zombies?
“Well, you never enter a room without knowing where the exit is, for one. I would hope a person would have enough wits about them to not let a room completely flood with zombies before they realized it.”
Hope all you want – but it happens. So what then?
“I'd say a couple of well-aimed shots, take out the few in my way, and just book it.”
Survival of the fittest
Mark seems pretty prepared – at least compared to a normal person. So how do his chances of survival stack up against the horde? Would he make it?
“Not a chance,” he laughs. “They don't get tired, and you do. And you've gotta sleep sometime. And if your enemy sleeps less than you do – eventually, you're screwed.”
“I could probably keep going for a while, but I don't think I'd be dying of old age, by any means.”
Seems bleak – because if Mark doesn't survive, what chance do you really have?
None, sadly. You're probably lunch.