Zombies seem to have taken over my life recently. My television, the action figures next to my desk, and my current work-in-progress are practically all zombie-related. Even this blog seems to be drifting off into the living dead with this Writing Zombies series.
Who survives the initial outbreak?
It’s important to consider the types of people most likely to survive a zombie outbreak, not just in
terms of who will survive long term but who will survive the initial outbreak. First responders (like paramedics, firefighters, and police), emergency room/hospital personnel, and soldiers will probably not survive for very long during the initial outbreak. They come in contact with the infected and zombies first simply due to the nature of their jobs, responding to emergencies.
So people with jobs not directly responsible for the life and safety of others (such as in offices, at schools, or in retail) are more likely to survive the initial outbreak. They have a much smaller chance of coming in contact with an infected individual.
Who survives long term?
Once people start venturing out after the initial outbreak, a significant number of them probably won’t survive for very long. Not understanding what zombies are or how the virus is transmitted will lead to a lot of infections and deaths. But there will be people who survive from sheer dumb luck. Or simply because they refuse to venture outside.
Those survivors are not guaranteed to survive beyond that. Human beings need basic necessities like food, clean water, and shelter. So they’ll need to be adept at scavenging or hunting for those things, possibly coming against other groups which have and/or want those things. They’re also going to need weapons to protect themselves.
Yet if all of those things manage to go right, injuries and illness will still happen. Broken limbs from falls, infections from uncleaned or untreated cuts, and internal injuries like burst appendixes are deadly without the proper treatment. Plus there’s the glaring issue of medication and medical supplies. The average person isn’t going to know the proper antibiotic dosage or how to suture a wound. As mentioned before, doctors are going to be in pretty short supply.
So what kind of person is capable of all those things? Former soldiers, hunters, and survivalists seem like the obvious answers. But anyone can have those skills.
Does society rebuild?
About half of zombie fiction (whether TV, movie, or books) keeps humans in a state of perpetual conflict with each other and with the zombies. They fight over food, shelter, and supplies. The groups that form are more like warring states clashing on a regular basis. Society as a whole never really reforms. The Walking Dead is a great example.
However the other half of the zombie genre is more optimistic. After a period of turmoil, people begin to work together and achieve their goals. They rebuild cities and downs, get a handle on how to defeat or at least manage the zombie problem, and form a new society in this changed world. Think Rot & Ruin or World War Z. Life is changed for good, but there’s a society that’s built from the ashes.
So that concludes my three part Writing Zombies series. I learned a whole lot more about my zombie writing process from these blog posts, and I hope that something in here sparked your creative juices.
Do you have any favorite zombie writing advice? And what’s your favorite zombie work?