Listless: An everyman’s zombie survival guide


There’s a ton of zombie literature and media out there but none of them really touch on the fact that most of us would never survive the zombie apocalypse. I love living in the city but the millions of us who reside in Chicago lack the basic skills needed to flourish outside of it. How many of us have shot a gun, skinned a deer, erected a tent, or have set up snares to catch food? I’d guess about 5%. Zombie movies don’t show these survivors – the city dwellers – because they’re probably all dead. So I give you…

Six tips for a non-warrior type of guy to surviving the zombie outbreak.

1) Don’t go for the shotgun

In all the bad ass zombie movies, the hero wields a shotgun. It’s a great gun for close combat and when you have a bunch of undead guys crowding you, it can even make a good bludgeoning weapon. But let’s face it – we’re what others might call “city slickers.” Most of us have never fired a gun, let alone know how to do it properly. Shotguns have a crazy kickback and can easily dislocate your shoulder or knock you off your feet, which is something you don’t want when zombies are trying to eat you. Instead, go for the melee weapons like baseball bats and get to swinging. If you do find a gun, pick up the pistol instead of the rocket launcher.

2) Horde canned goods and learn to love new meats

If the zombies don’t kill you, starvation will. Before you leave your apartment in a panic grab all the canned goods you can, especially fruits and veggies, and pick up some books on edible plant life in your area. Those cans won’t last forever. For your protein, you better learn to love new meats. We’re not hunters so killing big game is going to be near impossible for the first month or two. Start catching some rats and pigeons and pick up a fishing pole and lures if you can, because it’s going to be a long apocalypse.

3) Go to the South

We’ve already established that we can’t shoot, so why not go to the place where people can – the south. Really anywhere south of the Chicagoland suburbs will have a population of people who actually can handle an armory. As seen in The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later, large cities are not the option for long-term life. Rural southern areas will have less zombies in the early days of the outbreak, and more people who are alive and can pick off the undead as you cower in fear in the corner.

4) Stick with small groups

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from movies, it’s that people are as a big of a threat as a zombie. Desperation doesn’t bring out the best in most people and sooner or later that quirky 40-something IT guy in your group is going to snap, take your food and weapons, and leave you to rot. Stick to small groups of people you trust. Fraternize with outsiders only when necessary, like it do or die situations or when you need to barter for food and weapons. If someone wants what you have, let them take it. Getting shot over a measly can of peas is not worth it.

5) Find shelter above ground

Most zombies lack the motor skills to climb very well. When you’re resting for the night, look up for shelter. Rooftops, tree tops, even the top floors of barns are a good option. As long as you have an exit strategy you’re in the clear. Attics and second floors of houses sound safe, but when you’re cornered with nothing but a two story fall or a zombie horde between you, you’ll be regretting it.

6) Admit defeat

I love a good “fight for the good of humanity” zombie story, but if something like this has happened in real life, fighting isn’t worth it. The zombie outbreak has happened. Don’t follow the rumors of the “safe zone.” Don’t look for a cure. Live with your situation and move on with your life. Look at Richard Matheson’s I am Legend. Robert Neville is the minority in a world of undead and proud of it. But really he’s just delaying the inevitable, chasing a dream he can never achieve, and it eats him away faster than the vampire/zombies ever could. Resign to your fate and living in your new surroundings will be so much easier.

Thanks to fellow Heave contributor Dan Chruscinski for the helpful ideas on how we’ll all probably die in the zombie world.