Picture the scene; hordes shuffling up Portswood Highstreet, eyes glazed over, drooling and moaning. This is no typical Monday night post-Jesters tramp home; these bodies have been dead for a while and cheesy chips will not sate their appetites – the only thing on their minds is juicy, delicious human flesh.
From horror films and TV to shoot-em-up games, the zombie is an increasingly popular figure in our culture nowadays. Originating in Haitian legend, the concept of the ‘zombie’ has changed a little since its inception. Initially referring to corpses reanimated through magic or voodoo, the zombies familiar in contemporary culture are now presented more as a part of a contagious epidemic, first killed, then reanimated into mindless, hungry killing machines.
But would we really know how to deal with them if an infection hit? Should the apocalypse happen during your study time at the university it’s critical to have a tactical plan! To help with this we’ve cobbled together a useful set of guidelines specific to the university campus.
1. Location. It’s imperative to try and get up somewhere high. A good vantage point with minimal entrances will allow you to defend your safe zone much more easily. The maths building looks over a large amount of the university and would be a good signalling point for help (a rescue helicopter may even be able to land on top of it!). Alternatively the top level of the library would be easy to defend but is limited in terms of resources. The top of the Stag’s Head could be a helpful territory due to its proximity to the SUSU shop; half the team can act as look-outs while the other half raid the shop for leftover food!
2. Food – It’s important to get hold of a lot of goods as a zombie apocalypse is unlikely to be a short-term problem! Tins are great in the long term, but only if you have a tin-opener. Perishables aren’t advised as they may go off. In the short term, however, it’s important to use up food that can be cooked while buildings still have power. The main student union building, if properly defended, offers a few areas (Stag’s Head, The Bridge, The Cafe) where food can be properly prepared until the generators run out and you’re back to tins of beans.
3. Self-defence – Anything can be a weapon. Large textbooks (often found in the library) can probably do a bit of damage, or at least slow down an advancing zombie if aimed properly! There’s no shame in throwing knives, forks, chairs or tables.
4. Teamwork – One of the greatest advantages of a zombie apocalypse survival group at a university is the diversity that’s possible. An ideal group might include someone athletic who can sprint around, a nerd who might know a fair bit about the zombie threat, someone technological who can search for emergency evacuation and rescue radio signals and someone who can make tins of beans and spaghetti hoops taste like a banquet. It’s also ideal to have a gender mix in case you have to repopulate Southampton!
5. Nerd up! There’s a wealth of zombie films, games, books and television shows that are at the very least great entertainment, if not filled to the brim with more tips than we could possibly summarise in this guide. In the case of an apocalypse the zombie-nerds are the most likely to survive due to fascination with the culture, so you massive improve your chances if you make friends with one, if not become one yourself!
The best way to survive a zombie apocalypse is to be prepared and no one demonstrates this better than college student Columbus in the film ‘Zombieland’. By developing a set of rules for dealing with the undead hordes he manages to ably avoid being nibbled on by zombie strippers, so in order to improve your survival chances we’ve selected our five favourites.
– The Double Tap – so you’ve knocked a zombie out with a excellently aimed bullet or blow from a blunt object and they’re down – but they might not be out! Take the time to hit or shoot them again and make sure they’re dead; the best indicator of a dead zombie is one whose brain has been destroyed so go for the head. That way when they’re down, they stay down.
–Cardio – in the case of a zombie apocalypse, chances are you’re going to have to run from something that wants to eat you at some point. Even if these zombies can’t move fast you want to make sure that you can! Fat and unfit people make easier targets for undead munching so by making sure you can run fast or for an extended period you’ll massively increase your survival chances!
–Travel in a group – the merits of travelling with a bunch of people rather than on your own can’t be denied. Other people bring skills and advantages that can be useful for finding food, self-defence, keeping sane and (if needs be) repopulating the planet. Giggity.
–Travel light – you don’t want to be lugging along more than you need when you’re running for your life. You might love your Xbox or your GHDs but they’re not necessary or useful for surviving a zombie apocalypse! Unless of course you heat your straighteners and lob them at an oncoming zombie (but then again, minor burns are unlikely will slow them down). Try and make a list of the essentials, such as matches and can openers. Mini-fridges don’t count as essentials either.
–Check the back seat – you might be lucky enough to have your own car, or be skilful enough to hot-wire someone else’s to escape a sticky situation but this can backfire if you have an unwanted undead passenger that fancies using your brain stem as tooth floss.
As well as taking hints and tips from films there is a wealth of information that can be gleaned from zombie-genre games; in particular Resident Evil, Left4Dead and Dead Island. Once again we’ve handpicked some of our favourites to ensure your survival.
-Car alarms attract hordes – Zombies, although stupid, still have the ability to react to sound and light so sneaking around quietly is the best way to avoid a confrontation. By setting off a car alarm or other loud noise they’ll come running towards the all-you-can-eat fleshy banquet you’ve just invited them to. And they don’t have good table manners.
-Find a safe house – Any building or room that can be boarded up and defended makes for a good respite point! Once the apocalypse descends there’s really no such thing as personal property or theft anymore so if you’re faced with the choice of breaking into a secure-looking house or being overrun by hungry zombies you should probably choose the former. Plus, you never know, it might be full of medicine, weapons or ammunition (probably not though).
-Guns are hard to come by – Guns are much harder to come by this side of the pond than for our American cousins; in the States it seems like everyone and their mum is packing heat. As a result we have to be a lot more resourceful and take advantage of our (less dumbed down) brains to make do with what we’ve got. A hockey stick or a baseball bat makes an effective weapon, especially when it’s packed with nails; and never underestimate the damage that can be done with a ripped-off toilet seat.
-Have lots of weapons – There’s no point limiting yourself to just one as chances are that unless you’ve got a machine gun you’re going to need more than one weapon. If you have time to wrench your kitchen knife out of each zombie noggin you launch it into then no problem; otherwise stock up and try to keep a few blunt objects on your person at all times!
-Know what you’re up against – Some games have seen the occasional super zombie; the Resident Evil games are no exception. With players having to fend off huge armoured undead executioners it’s important to be tactical if you want to stand a chance. Even the Left4Dead games require specific knowledge and ways of dealing with certain types of zombies. Some might be faster than others, some might be filled with corrosive exploding liquid, or they may cover you in a goo that attracts other zombies like there’s no tomorrow. Keep your cool, know your enemy and you’ll keep your head.
-Distractions! – Sometimes it’s just not possible to fend off an entire horde at once, or even get away from them safely. In cases like these it’s always handy to have some type of diversion up your raggedy sleeve. Pipe bombs can be used to attract large numbers of zombies away from you as they emit high pitched beeping and flashing lights. Molotov cocktails are a choice distraction, both for the pyromaniacs out there and even the average student as large quantities of alcohol are ideal for fuelling the fires. The only downside in this case would be that you’d use up all your alcohol pretty quickly, potentially leaving you with very little booze left for a post-zombie apoco-lash.
-Tight but thick clothing – Some characters in games and films manage to survive despite running around in tiny hotpants and tank tops (I’m looking at you, Jill Valentine!). This type of dress is definitely not recommended as a quick nip to any exposed flesh can mean imminent infection and the rest of your existence spent feasting on brain matter and not even wearing any limbs (decay is a bitch).
Realistically speaking, a zombie apocalypse isn’t particularly likely, but it’s always good to know what to do should such a tragedy ever occur! If you’ve read this far then at least you can now count yourself a bit more prepared and hopefully if it ever does happen we’ll be seeing you camped out on top of the maths building with a fortress made of cans of beans in the future!