Wow. Lots of great comments last week. Sadly, we can't get to them all right away, but none of them have been forgotten.
In place of the usual Myth/Fact format, this week's Zombie Monday answers several questions about zombies with scientific facts.
"Can zombies climb vertically up building walls? That was an important part of my old ZSP." - Tim
Tim: Yes and no. Zombies do not have any special climbing powers that humans don't, so a sheer slippery cliff with no holds will be a significant obstacle for zombies. But, as with humans, zombies are able to climb if they have something to rest their weight on. Ledges, balconies, and any sort of handhold will give zombies an edge and decrease your safety. Most zombies are no Altair; high points afford at least some protection from most zombies. But if you got there, they can too. Remember that.
"I have a question: How do zombies become zombies in the first place? I've never been quite sure of this since I have never watched any zombie movies or read any books about them." - Kirk
"Where do the zombies come from -- and where are they now? (translation: Why should we believe you anyway?)" - Lauren H
It's impossible for us to see into the future and tell you exactly how zombies will break out. But we can make an educated guess based on the best evidence available to us now. Why believe us, Lauren? Because you have no evidence that we're wrong, and deep down inside you know you should be prepared for the worst-case scenario, no matter how improbable it is.
The zombie virus is a semi-intelligent organism that infects and takes over the sentient nervous systems of their hosts through contact with the blood stream. The full infection usually takes about one hour from initial contact to full takeover.
Having been infected, zombies pursue a heirarchy of needs much narrower that the one Mazlow gave us. The animal-like virus, unable to process notions like comfort and love, pursues just one goal: survival. Because the virus is unable to animate the entire body - just cause limited nervous reactions - it will be unable to prevent damage and rot to the host. The short term solution is to find fresh meat - high calorie food that keeps the zombie moving. The long term solution is to find a less-decayed host to infect. The latter solution is the highest goal of a zombie, but both goals keep zombies moving in systematic and unflagging search of human survivors.
You can become a zombie in a number of ways.
The easiest is to be bitten by a zombie. Zombies usually try to take meat from their targets in non-lethal ways, in order to make sure the new host stays operational. A little gnawing is sufficient to satiate the zombie; it will then move on to find new prey. The saliva of the zombie will infect your blood stream and gradually work its way through your body. Eventually it will begin taking over your brain, causing you to become incoherent or pass out. When the takeover is complete (meaning you're brain dead and your body is controlled by the virus), you'll "come to life" again and join the horde.
There are other less common ways, such as sharing needles with zombies or eating something infected with the virus.
The zombie virus exists, in various strains, amongst us today. There may have been a little zombie in your breakfast cereal. But almost all common zombie strains are too weak to take over the human nervous system. They fight a short battle and then your white blood cells clean you out. Whenever you feel a little under the weather and think maybe you'll be sick the next day but end up being fine - you know the feeling - that was probably your body defeating an attack from a benign strain of the zombie virus.
Several dangerous strains of zombie have been discovered and isolated. In the fifties, there were several incidents of zombie breakouts in small mountain towns. The areas were quarantined by people who choose to plan ahead *ahemahem*
Of course, there are also plenty of morons who want to break open the vaults and begin experimenting on the tubes. There's talk of finding anti-aging medicine or building super soldiers. As anyone who has seen movies knows, this will inevitably result in the release of the toxin into the world, causing apocalypse.
"What if you aren't human to start with?" - LadyLurker
As far as we know, the zombie virus only targets humans. We're not sure why - further testing and observation could answer that. Perhaps the nervous systems of lesser life forms are insufficiently complex. So if you're a plant or a bear, you're probably safe.
If you're an alien, all bets are, of course, off.
"Please, I think you have exhasted the zombie topic. Enough of zombies, please, Please? PLEASE!" - Anonymous
In a word, no. Let us pose you this question, Anonymous: would you choose not to plan for a house fire or a car crash because those events are unlikely and unpleasant to discuss? Of course not. Zombie apocalypse may not seem like an imminent threat, but that's no reason not to have a plan, just as the statistical likelihood that your house will never catch on fire is no reason not to install smoke detectors and know the nearest exit.
What's the worst that can happen from formulating a ZSP? You just enagaged in a healthy mental excercise.
What's the worst that can happen from NOT formulating a ZSP? Think back to a time you watched a little boy eat lasagna. Now hold that sound in your mind. You got it? That's you on Day One of the apocalypse.
Don't be Zombilagna like Anonymous. Post your zombie survival plan and we'll try to respond in an upcoming Zombie Monday.