Defenses, balloons and noisy bikes

What are the best defenses against the zombies? Against individuals versus a full on hoard and everything in between?

-Dying for a good night of sleep.

Dfagnos, we all crave that night of sleep you’re talking about and I can’t say that any of us are getting it. Even as secure as my enclave is, I still have trouble finding the sandman each night when my head hits the pillow. Against singletons or small groups of zombies, a sturdy door or fence will be sufficient, so long as you’re not being a doofus and attracting the hoard you mention above. A hoard is a horse of a different color and once one starts moving, they are a force to be reckoned with. The problem is that they overwhelm most fences, fill up moats (or even small rivers) and pile up to the point where they can breech most walls. As I have mentioned before distracting a large group of zombies away from your defenses is a great strategy. I’m not saying NOT to have walls/fences/pits in place: you need those too! But if you see a hoard a comin’, well you best scramble your fastest vehicle, put a set of speakers on it and have them blaring dubstep at top volume to change the course of the zombies before they hit your defenses. Your defenses can handle the odd few that still impact them, but I can’t think of any (practical) location that would withstand ten thousand zombies at this stage of the war.

Sure, I hear you saying, “But WarriorOne, we have a bomb shelter from the cold war, a converted missile silo and the zeds can’t get through the meter-thick concrete door when it’s closed, it’s impregnable!”

Yes, and good luck growing your food underground. And I hope there’s water and electricity down there too, not reliant on piped in energy. If a hoard lands on top of you they will stop at the last sign of activity, which means on your doorstep, and your group can’t win that kind of siege.

Back to the answer though, use your local resources as best you can: Pits, if you can dig them, rough ground if you can’t manage a pit, zeds aren’t great with jagged terrain even. If you can’t build a three-meter-high wall around your hideout, use logs for a palisade, no logs? Scavenge chain link? No chain link? Trip wires or ropes set about a third of a meter off the ground. No wire or rope for tripwires? Ya’ll better relocate to a place with some resources… I am in favor of multiple layers of defense myself. I’ve advocated for it extensively in my town with good local support, so here we have rules in place that each block of five houses is walled off from everyone else, this compartmentalizes the damage a loose zombie can do. So, on the outskirts you have pits, some trip wires and the odd set of walls to divert or channel zeds into kill zones. Closer in you have your main wall at least 3 meters high, with a walkway behind it to provide room for fighting. Behind that you should have another space, a few meters between the walls and the nearest structure, which better also be a wall, the wall of the compartmentalized family units. Inside each of those mini-forts the individual houses need to be fitted with stout doors and a ‘safe’ room if possible, for a final defense. I’d like to say we came up with these plans from the start, but we really were lax in our defense and this is what we’ve evolved to. A lot of people died to get to this point.

~WarriorOne

 

Our group has a weird mix, probably true for most groups that survived, but one couple was big on hot air balloons and we have their equipment, their hot air balloon, fuel and even the trailer and truck to haul it around. We’ve thought about tethers the balloon and sending it up and down, as a look out. Do you think we’d drawn more zombies doing this?

~Hot Air Afficianados Want to Fly Again

I’d test this in a location well away from your encampment, Haawtfa. Well away. My gut says zombies will see it as a beacon and head right toward it. Let us know if that’s what happens. If that is the case, then that’s excellent! Why? Because you can use it to keep the zed’s attention in a last-ditch effort to get away from a hoard. Put the ballooners up in it with a radio and some mirrors to draw the zombies away from everyone else, then they can cut loose from the ground and you can collect them later.

~WarriorOne

 

Hey WarriorOne,

We have a bunch of dirt bikes collected from a dealership and we love them for scavenging, but they are too loud, is there a way to muffle the noise on them down a notch or three?

~Quiet Rider

We’ve had similar concerns QR an there are things you can do. Now you may have two stroke bikes mixed in with some four stroke, two stroke bikes are quieter in general, so use those for your scavenging if possible. Then it’s a matter of science, sound reflects and bounces off of things and your bikes have mufflers on them to help keep the noise down in the first place. Repack the mufflers, hopefully you have a guy who can help with that, if not, you’re going to have to take a chance and do some experimenting until you learn how to do it. If that’s not an option, then wrap the muffler as best you can with metal screen of some sort, and then wrap fiber glass over that a few times and secure it with light metal or duct tape to improve the sound absorption.  Another trick to try is adding an extension to your exhaust that points more directly to the ground, a forty to ninety-degree angle with 20 cm of pipe should be enough to get the vast majority of the noise angled into the dirt. Noise directed into the ground is better than noise shooting out behind you in a cone, right? Hell, we’ve had good success with just using old radiator hoses taped onto the exhaust, good luck riding quiet!

~WarriorOne

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Tips, tricks and changing the power dynamics of your group

Do you have any tips or tricks for hiding from the zombies? Or bypassing them? My boyfriend says we can kill a zombie and roll all over it and the smell will make other zombies ignore us, but he hasn’t put this to the test, do you know if it works?

~Afraid to Roll on a Corpse.

 

Well, Atroac, I’d be afraid to test this out too. Corpses are corpses and there is a damn good reason we, as a species, didn’t keep bodies lying about after people die. Disease for one, smell for another. I’ve heard of this scent-based theory before, but you would be a fool to rely on it to save your life. The community I live in actually did test this early on and the data was…mixed. If you go ‘whole hog’ on the idea, yeah, I’m talkin’ taking a zombie’s innards and wearing them like a muumuu (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) then it seems to be fairly effective with the following caveats:

  • You can’t move too fast, zombies notice this.
  • Don’t get into a pack, some zed will turn on you.
  • If you’re wounded and bleeding, it won’t work, fresh blood is enough to override the rot.
  • Sweating seems to negate the stench too.

What I’m saying is, it is not very effective, unless you are not wounded, slower than a sloth, it’s a mild day and the zombies are thin on the ground. Better than nothing, I suppose, but let’s face it, if your best hope of surviving means dressing yourself in zombie guts, you’re probably already dead.

Tips that do work? The tried and true, Atroac:

  • Be quiet. A zed’s hearing is better than its sense of smell, noise draws attention.
  • Stay clean or at least sweat and shit free to the best of your ability, smell draws them when noise does not.
  • Stay out of sight, their vision is not great, but they are attracted to movement and shiney reflections. Laser pointers of industrial size work pretty well against them too. They follow those dots around like cats.

Tricks that work well, in order of least effective to most effective:

  • Flash lights with a blinker function are great, they run right toward it and keep pawing the light until it breaks (if it breaks).
  • Shit jars can are pretty effective too. A mason jar full of excrement provides a decent, if temporary distraction (when it breaks, they congregate, weirdest behavior you can see.) This can, in a crowd be as effective as the number one trick. Pro-tip#1 – the fresher the better. Pro-tip#2 – bury your excrement or at least move well away from it after ‘going’, that shit attracts unwanted attention.
  • A stereo blasting pop music. Why pop? Who knows? I think it’s the changing cords and rapid beats, high pitched (ie- female) songs seems to work better too. Pro-tip: Build a wooden (or metal) box with holes in it to let the music out and prevent the zeds from destroying the device/speakers, so you can collect it and re-use it.

I hope this information helps!

~WarriorOne

 

 

Hey WO,

Typical problem here, the leader of our band has a big head, bosses everyone around, treats some of us like shit and plays favorites as well as causes unneeded drama by pitting people against each other. I swear the cliques in our group of 60 people are worse than I remember in high school. I’m 55 and not inclined to take this loser-leader out myself, past leadership changes in this manner have made the assassin the new leader and I am all about getting by, not about leading (and watching my back for the next wanna be petty warlord.) Any advice on how to handle this situation without me leaving or killing this asshole?

~In Need of a Hero

 

I don’t know everything about your group’s dynamic, Inoah, so keep that in mind. Do you have allies? Do other people feel like you do?  I can tell you in my own community we have factions and cliques too, humans seem built for unnecessary drama, some more than others. However, things are not going to change for you. If you’re content to just keep on getting by and staying below the radar, then suck it up and do just that. If things are as bad as they seem, and you don’t want to become the new, short lived leader or leave, then your options are few. You might try setting up a ‘warrior’ faction in the group and prop up someone who could be a rival leader, you could call it a ‘Scavenger’ group or even a ‘Mechanic’ group if you wanted. Then work in that smaller group to make yourselves valuable to the larger group, this divides up the power, and if your current leader is as short sighted as you imply, he might not stop this group until it becomes a faction of its own. Encourage other groups to form, hell even a ‘Sewing Circle’ to keep the group’s clothing in good repair could gain traction. The more groups you have, the less power the leader has. If he comes down on 10 people in the hunting group, the rest of the larger group are going to feel the pain when there is no meat on the table, understand? It’s like the old ‘guild’ system in the old days, the guilds had power to make the leaders life difficult, so the leaders granted concessions. It’s a long-range plan, if you have time for it. If not, I’d recommend putting a bullet in this guys brain or packing your bags ASAP.

~WarriorOne

 

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Alcohol, Zombie Types

 

Hey WarriorOne, I’m in a flyover state, we got off lightly on Z-day. Like you have alluded to I am in a small community college town with lots of farmland, good right? Nah, not so good, the corn we had on hand was all of the ‘feed’ variety and it seems like people who know how to take care of animals are few and far between. Oh, we got a herd, but mostly we harvested a lot of corn that we couldn’t do much with. So, being humans, we turned it into alcohol. Alcohol has a lot of uses, aside from drinking, we have a few cars that get around 5 miles per gallon, but it beats walking, and we have some alcohol burning lights to keep the darkness away, plus, well corn burns hot and keeps more than a few buildings warm in the long winters. It’s that first thing though, that’s becoming a problem. We got a couple here, real alcoholics, let’s call them ‘Janet’ and ‘Brad. Well Brad, he is a highly functioning alkie, but Janet is not. I’ve seen Brad go from passed out on the sidewalk to zombie killing machine in zero point two seconds, he’s never let the group down. Janet, however is a loud, annoying drunk. When she’s consuming the devil’s piss she starts making noise, daring the zombies to come get her. Not a problem, in my opinion, if it were just her at risk, but she’s in a group and the group is fed up with her. She has brought small herds of zombies down on us twice in the last six months, both at night! Hell, WarriorOne, once should have been enough to get her booted…but then there’s Brad. He’s an asset, the man can scrounge fresh oranges in mid-January and I’ve already said he can fight drunk or sober, day or night, a real survivor. If we boot Janet, Brad is sure to do something stupid, like go with her. I don’t want her to be set out, just to shut the fuck up, oh and maybe drink a lot less too. Is there any hope here? Do we cut off our nose to spite our faces?

~Love the Brad, Hate the Janet

 

Well, that’s a pickle not too many of us have these days. Most hard-core addicts of whatever vice either gave them up or burned out quickly. You’re in a flyover state too, huh? Maybe we should see about doing some trading… As to your Janet problem, well you know the answer, as far as I can tell. If you’re looking for me to justify it, then you have my blessing to turn Janet and possibly Brad out. Look, a good scavenger is gold, we all know people who just have the knack at finding…fresh oranges in the dead of winter, but one who comes with a side of group endangering vices is not an asset on your team. You could try reasoning with Brad when he is sober, tell him, as a group, that you have to dry Janet out, then throw her in the local jail for a couple of weeks to make sure it takes. If she doesn’t agree, once she is sober, then show her the road, hell, send her with a few fifths of booze to make the journey easier. If Brad goes with her, and chances are he will, make sure he knows that he is welcome back at any time. Group safety is too important to mess with and you’re lucky Janet hasn’t called down a mob too big for you to handle. We both know it’s just a matter of time before she does.

 

Dear WarriorOne, I’m down south, think Miami and you won’t be far off. We have some electricity, and more than a few short-wave radios set up. I hear over in Europe they have different kinds of zombies than we do, fast ones, do you know if that’s true?

~Worldly Fan

I have bad news for you: it’s true. Not only that but there are some varieties of zombie that are smarter than others, not “I’m going to sing you happy birthday” kind of smart, but cunning and fast. The zombies in England turned out to be rage zombies, the bad news is, like our typical zed, theirs are attracted to noise, movement and other things that predatory creatures notice (trails of blood, the smell of fires).  The good news is, theirs starve to death. We have some HAM radios and have been talking to people all over the world, when the weather is right. People in England are mostly okay, those that survived the initial outbreak, which came nearly two months after ours. The rumor is that it was a toxin introduced by the Russians that started things up in the old country. Overall, they suffered losses close to 80%, far better than our 90-95% and their problem is GONE. Of course, they are an island nation and growing enough food, even for that reduced population is a problem. But they are also a sea-going nation and, according to our friends over there, the fish stocks have rebounded. Their journeys across the channel have led them to discover our type of zombies on the mainland, begs the question of what the hell happened, doesn’t it? As for the feral zeds, could be they are an adaptation or mutant variety of our slow ones, or they could be different altogether. There are stories of even stranger zombies out there too, but the rumors aren’t worth repeating here, it pays to stay vigilant. So Worldly, can you comment on the state of the fisheries? It’d be good to know, should we consider relocating further south?

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What would you do?

What, personally, would you do if bitten by a zombie?

~Doree of the Mountains

 That’s a tough call, isn’t it? I imagine you’re talking the “Oh! I got bit in the hand!” variety of bite, where the infection will be lethal, but not immediately turn me into a brain craving animal. I would say it would depend on the circumstances, so, I’ll use my current ones to expound upon my answer. I’m in a small community, a former college town, hence the access to the broken wide web and electricity. This isn’t to say we’re safe; there are zombie migrations and the odd zed or two wandering in from the nearby, larger, communities to contend with. Ammo is a thing of the distant past, at least for us. So, we rely on good ole fashioned muscle power to take our walking dead down. If I could still swing a club or stab with a spear I think I would get myself a rope, tie one end off to my leg or around my waist and head for the nearest zed concentration. Once there I’d do my best to tie myself to a stationary object then make some noise to call the zeds. I would be doing the community a service by hacking as many down before they took me out. I figure if I could trade myself for four or five, or more of them, then that’s a good trade. And anchored to something, I should be easy pickings for when the area eventually gets cleared by survivors. Barring a bite that gave me some active time, like if I were bit in the neck or stomach, then I would probably have to ask one of my companions to do me in. Suicide by spear seems unduly slow and painful…and probably I wouldn’t be up to the task to pierce my noggin’ in any event.

 

My camp mate, Todd and I disagree on the most effective zombie killing weapon. I hear you, WarriorOne, use a spear, but ole double ‘D’ carries around this sword he found, not like a straight up long sword, which would be good for poking, but a curved one, like a saber the cavalry used to carry. I’m a mace man myself, it’s hard to get your mace stuck in a zed’s rotted head. Todd says the recovery time on a mace means his saber is the better weapon.  What do you think? Saber or Mace?

~Weighted Club

The think you gotta ask yourself here is, “Are we still alive?” Seems to me a mace in the right hands is just as effective as a saber in someone else’s. There are going to be times when Todd is right and times when you wouldn’t trade the world for your heavy club. I’ll give you this, a heavy club can be useful for breaking down doors and through walls, maybe making it more useful in a pinch if you have things to break. But you can’t slice off a haunch of meat with a club either, or shave with it, or cut a rope. See? Both have their strong points. Swords break a helluva lot easier than clubs, but you can grind down the remains to make knives and knives are always useful. My dog in this race is still a poke-stick. They’re easy to make and can strike zeds before they get in hugging distance. True, they ain’t so useful for tight in spaces, which is when I switch to my tomahawk, barring that I have a kukri, which, believe it or not I bought pre-apocalypse from a catalog. I’ve notched it, I’ve lost it (and went back and found it) and I’ve had to make it a new handle, but the damned thing has saved my life more than once…thinking back on it, it may be the only thing I still own that I owned 10 years ago. But it is no longer my weapon of choice. If I had a choice, it’d obviously be a firearm all the way. Even a single shot black powder rifle is preferable to spear.

 

Dear WarriorOne,

I managed to come through the last decade with my wife and two kids. It’s a miracle I know and I think God every day for his grace in sparing our lives. The problem is my wife, “Vicky” is no longer interested in sex. I’m going crazy here, I’m not even 40 and have to go rub one out in the shower like I’m 13 again? There are plenty of women in town who have flirted with me, it’s not like I’m disgusting or rude, but I believe in the sanctity of marriage. This year there wasn’t even any ‘birthday’ sex, what can I do?

~Chaste down by the river

First congratulations on helping keep your wife and children alive through the horrors! That’s minor miracle, though not quite enough evidence to make me a believer myself. As for your situation, well, Chaste, I think you’re fucked. Sorry, but if you’re as religious as you say the odds of there being a preacher around of your particular denomination to give you an annulment are pretty damn slim, so you have to make a hard choice here. Stay loyal and keep visitin’ the shower (hopefully they are not communal showers), split from your wife without religious blessing or just stay with her and cheat like a ten-year-old playing Monopoly. You’re approaching forty, so your kids could 20 or 10, I’m inclined to believe they are closer to the latter than the former and splitting up with kids is tough no matter the state of the world. If sex is critical to you, then you have to reach an accord with Vicky. Here’s a thought, have you spoken with her about this? Perhaps she will release you from your vows of sexual fidelity? It’s worth an ask, though don’t expect the answer to be a hearty, “Go hit the whores, Chaste!” Perhaps your companionship in these trying times is worth enough to her that she will look the other way if you don’t rub her face in what you’re doing. People get old, they stop lighting the candle of passion, it happened pre-z-day, it keeps happening now, somehow we overcome it.

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Selling yourself for money, canned food

Dear WarriorOne,

A few months ago I ended up in a fairly secure apartment block, you know the drill, the stairs have been barricaded off, no one lives on the ground floor and the courtyard is a ‘U’ shape and well barricaded along the open end. All in all I feel safe, it’s not glamorous, but I don’t have to worry about some zombies shuffling up to me while I sleep, nor wasteland warriors breaking in either (there are other, weaker targets.) This is a good thing, right?

You would think so, but a few weeks after I settled in, could help but notice that the woman living next to me is getting a lot of traffic to her room at all hours of the day. She never goes out foraging and the men always bring her ‘gifts’, hell, WarriorOne, she’s been putting on weight!

The group controlling the complex has a strict, ‘earn your keep’ rule, everyone pitches in, everyone contributes. Is providing sex for extra rations a contribution? Is selling yourself for toilet paper and bottled water? I’m so disgusted that they let her pay her rent by renting herself out that I want to move…but this places is a good thing! I just want everyone to pull their own weight. What do you think I should do?

~Don’t want to live next to a prostitute.

Well, Don’t Want To, there are things people will do, to not to have to go rub elbows with the walking dead. ‘The oldest profession’ is probably your neighbor’s way of getting out of the scavenging and if she is making her ‘rent’, who are you to complain? I take it your in one of those more democratic complexes where each person has to contribute so much to the group and gets to keep some choice bits for themselves? That’s the only way I can see this working out for your neighbor. Sounds like you’re in a metropolis somewhere, so urban gardening is probably out, too many zeds, not enough tillable soil.

If this really bothers you, and it sounds like it does, then you have to decide whether you are going to leave or live with it.  Think hard about leaving — it sounds like you have a fairly stable and safe set up. You don’t mention if you’re male or female, your letter has me thinking you’re of the female persuasion, with perhaps a bit of the old god upbringing in your past. Remember the one thing that separates you from all of the dead – Adaptation. Society has changed, the rules have been blown to smithereens and if you were not flexible, you’d already be dead. So…decide if your neighbor whoring herself out bothers you more than moving, then make your choice to live or stay. More importantly live with your choice, own it, don’t get all pissy-assed and passive aggressive if you decide to stay, become the neighbor you would want if you had to sell yourself to make rent. I’m hoping you adapt and stay, sounds like you’ll live longer that way.

 

Dear WarriorOne,

Simple question here, how do I know if canned food is good to eat? I’m finding a lot of stuff well past its expiration date, but eating it anyway. Can I eat raccoons? I still see a lot of them, but I can never get close enough to club one and I’m not going to waste a bullet if it isn’t edible.

~Hungry in Maine

Him, a good rule of thumb for canned goods is to check the integrity of the cans, if they are misshapen or swollen or even rusted, then you are probably okay to eat what’s in ’em.  As for the garbage feeders…let’s just say you can if you really need the protein, but you ain’t gonna like it. Here in my part of the woods I’ve bagged squirrels and eaten a ‘coon or two, but it’s tough eating. I get the impression that Raccoons fall more in the ‘carn’, part of omnivore, than the ‘herb’ part.

Our ancestors were made of tougher stuff, living through a major depression, well there were people in food lines and starving, stuff we didn’t have to live through until recently and most of the skills for stretching food or growing/hunting our own, were long gone. Sure, I fished before the fall, FISHED. And if I didn’t catch anything I stopped by McDonald’s on my way home or the grocery store to buy a steak to grill up. I never killed a land animal for meat before Z-day and gutting my first squirrel was an experience, my initial thought was “This is it? People put bullets in these for this little meat?” Damn right I ate what I shot, though and I’ve done it again many, many times, but I leave those night lines out on the river every single day now…I digress, back to your raccoon question.

If you manage to get one, you’ll find the meat gamey and fairly tough, so bad taste and hard chompin’. You can’t really get the game flavor out of them, but you can make them more palatable by boiling them slowly over about six to eight hours. You have canned goods, maybe you’ve scrounged up some ketchup or barbecue sauce, use as much as you can spare and you’ll get the meat down.

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Hello World!

Jed said I was always better at solving other people’s problems than dealing with my own, so I’ve set up shop here on the frail structures of what remains of the inter-webs to dispense my wisdom.

Dogs? Do you recommend having them around or are they not worth the food and noise they make?
~South Dakota Dog Lover

First, you might not wanna use that handle to sign off with anymore, it brings a whole ‘nother picture to mind when I read it.
Dogs are mankind’s best friend and they will always have a spot in my heart of hears, that’s for sure. However in today’s world where we have zombies giving chase for every damned noise that is made, you are better off without your furry companion. Hell, I don’t know when the last time is I saw a dog, they went down with their owners pretty quick when this whole mess started. If you do have a dog and it is a quiet one, don’t expect it to be much help in a fight. It may warn you of an incoming herd of zeds, but it won’t be able to crush their brain pans like a handy sledge hammer. They do have another use though, hard as it may seem, if things get desperate you can always eat them.

 

How long can we expect the unleaded gas to last?
~Sitting on a petrol dump

Ah, a technical question, good, I have answer for those too, for as long as it runs your vehicle. Does it go ‘bad’, not so far, in my experience. What? We’re two years into our new reality and if I find a tankful, I haven’t been let down yet.  Of course, I haven’t had a car for the last year either, so my uses are mostly of the fire starting variety. Other readers might be able to chime in and give their two cents worth too, in case you do have a working vehicle.

 

Love triangle problem here. I’m a forty year old woman who lost her husband, family, the works, like almost everyone else I know. I hooked up with this guy, let’s call him ‘Rob’ and things were good for a couple of months, if you know what I’m saying. Then we joined another group, a larger group and Rob decided he had to have this woman, ‘Tina’ and tried to dump me like yesterday’s jam. Well, Tina wasn’t haven’t any of that, Rob was good for a fling, but that’s all she wanted him for, a one off without even a kiss goodbye. Now Tina and i have become close and Rob is sniffing around my sleeping bag again. Do I take him back? Tina has said she’ll still use him, if I’m okay with it. The thing is, I’m not okay with it. I want Rob and i want him to want me, but I can’t really see me and him getting back together AND Tina and I staying friends. Rob’s mentioned the three of us forming up as something like a group marriage, but Tina insists she’s doesn’t want the commitment.

~Dumped in Mass

Whoa! Juicy! I like it! You say you’re part of a larger group now, is this the one I hear about over the wire just west of Newton? How you people survive that close to zombie ground zero, I’ll never know. Dump Rob, hook up with another guy from the gang, you can’t tell me there isn’t anyone else there you haven’t wanted to scratch that itch with. Rob’s just wanting some group marriage because he thinks he’ll get Tina more and he’ll end up ignoring you once he things he has what he wants. Trust me, he doesn’t want this. The good lord knows men want to fuck a different person every night, but also that he can’t keep more than one steady woman happy at a time. In your situation, just end it and keep it ended. Tina sounds reasonable, tell her how it will kill your friendship if she’s hooking up with your ex and let her do what she wants. Time will tell if the sisterhood can withstand her sex drive. Good luck to you and if you are hooking up, protect yourself. Babies and the undead are not a good match.

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