In many ways, vampires and zombies are two sides to the same coin. Both are undead. Both spread their condition through bites. Both have specific methods in which they can be killed. But vampires are the patricians of the undead with fussy European accents, bright sparkly skin, cheerleader girlfriends, tailored suits, and slinky party dresses. Zombies, on the other hand, are strictly blue-collar and, I daresay, typically American. They roam the streets, disheveled, dispossessed, homeless. They are the middle class, marginalized into oblivion.
Taken singly, zombies are slow, idiotic, and relatively easy to kill. Laughable, even, with their witless drive and ungainly movements. One zombie? Destroy the brain, drop the shambler. But collectively, zombies are an inexorable force, knocking down chain-link fences, busting through windows, treating your neighbors like bowls of spinach dip. They're the ultimate union. And their collective bargaining powers can't be legislated away.
To survive the zombie apocalypse, you're going to need a plan. Survival means you're going to have to accept the blue-collar ethos that the zombies embody. Time to roll up your sleeves, put on your best Mike Rowe face, and get ready to do some dirty work. In no particular order, here are 10 essential items for surviving the zombie apocalypse. For a more in depth exploration into zombie apocalypse survival techniques and items, feel free to check out This Dark Earth, my zombie survival treatise-cum-novel. Wait. Not a cum-novel. Strike that last bit. Sheesh, you people.
1. Running Shoes
There's a reason they're called the walking dead. They don't jog. They definitely don't sprint. And if you're in reasonably good shape, heart and lungs and brains in working order (in addition to being absolutely scrumptious), once the dead rise you'll be getting a hellacious cardio workout. Good shoes are essential.
2. Granola Bars
The world's gone horribly pear-shaped and there's shamblers toddling about everywhere, including the aisles of your local Whole Foods. Keep some granola bars handy. They'll give you the burst of energy you need to scale the side of the building from the fifth floor to the roof, make the flying leap over to the fire escape. Also, just because the world has ended doesn't mean you need to forget about having enough fiber in your diet.
Bet you thought I was going to say shotgun, didn't you? Nope. Firing a gun in any semi-populated area after Zombieggedon is tantamount to ringing a big-ass dinner bell. What you need is a good old headknocker for up close wetwork. Up close and personal zombie disposal without drawing a crowd of shamblers.
Headknockers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can find one in every garage, every toolbox in America. A hammer, a hatchet, a crowbar, a two-by-four. A Louisville slugger. Destroy the brain and you're good to go. Big plus: relatively quiet and no need to reload.
4. Wet Wipes
They secrete fluids from the mouth, the nose. Goo pours from their eyes and ears and other orifices. And that's just the living homo sapiens. Zombies are a bajillion times worse and absolutely teeming with bacteria. You'll need some wet-naps for cleaning up after a good session of ooey-gooey headknocking.
The Surgeon General recommends six to eight cups of water a day, on average. But since you're gonna be running, jumping, climbing, and screaming all day long, you'll probably need more. Get used to drinking from toilets.
Let's face it. America is fat and only getting fatter. I'm just ballparking numbers here, but let's say the average American weighs 170 pounds. So, New York is gonna have... Let's see, 9 million times 170... New York's gonna have 1,530,000,000 pounds of rotting human flesh sashaying about. That's a billion and a half to you and me. You're gonna want to sprinkle some Old Spice on your bandana and wrap it around your face to help with the stench.
7. Thick Clothing
Remember that leather jacket you got back in 1997 after browsing through a J. Crew catalog? I want you to dig that sucker out of the back of the closet and try to bite a hole in it. I'll wait. See? It's hard to bite through, isn't it? When the zombies rise, you'll want some good work gloves and a leather jacket. Dungarees. Steel-toed boots for stomping on zed skulls (if you've switched from running to last stand mode). A little leather can give you the protection you need when dealing with a onesy or twosy. A little protection can give you enough time for your buddy to brain Mr. Chompers while he's gnawing on your forearm.
Any more zombies than two, your best bet is hunching over in a protective ball, placing your head between your legs and giving your gluteus maximus one last smooch in thanks for all the good times.
If you have Kevlar motorcycle gear, in addition to looking cool, you're freaking gold, hombre.
8. Defensible Position
Wal-Mart? Target? The mall? Whatever you do, don't go to a large retail outlet in hopes of living out your Dawn of the Dead consumer fantasy. That's where stupid people go, and stupid people usually become zombies. They're halfway there, after all. Nope, what you need to find is a defensible building, hopefully brick, with few windows. Old WPA buildings, dams, power stations, water treatment plants. Anywhere that the government might've beefed up security after 911. Get yourself to a defensible position first! Worry about food and water later.
You've been bitten by the dead girl in the garage - Of course she didn't need your help! She was just hungry for living flesh! - and you don't have much time left before your husband starts resembling a talking sirloin steak. You're gonna have to take yourself out, I'm afraid. You'll want a large enough caliber to make sure your noggin is vaporized. Place the barrel on your soft palette, pointing toward the ceiling, and give it a squeeze. Your loved ones will thank you for not having to shoot you themselves. Well, some of them, anyway.
10. An Object of Affection
You've done it! You've reached safety, if only for a while. Now you need to reaffirm your humanity after all the running, screaming, headknocking, and death. Hopefully, along the way, you've run into another survivor with great abs and a canny ability to assess any situation. Best way to reaffirm your humanity? Sex. That's right. Bow-chicka-bow. Life affirming, mind blowing sex.