Love Prevails: A Zombie Nightmare

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But "Black Mirror" is usually smarter. Season 3, Episode 2: "Playtest" This episode relies too much on typical scares to be among our favorites. The sudden turn into real-life horror is more affecting than the haunted house scenes. This time the victim is pop star Ashley Miley Cyrus! We like her , who ends up inside a robot toy owned by one of her adoring fans. A caper to reunite mind and body ensues, making this one of the funniest episodes of "Black Mirror.

Season 2, Episode 1: "Be Right Back" We recommend this episode, and all the ones that follow, with zero reservations. Season 4, Episode 2: "Arkangel" This episode has the best setup of any "Black Mirror," and seems poised to launch a savage critique of over-parenting. But it doesn't escalate as much as we expected it to, and can't quite live up to its brilliant concept. We think about this episode every time we ride an exercise bike, which probably isn't often enough. Season 1, Episode 1: "National Anthem" This mean little story feels all the meaner because it's so easy to imagine it happening in real life.

It's a perfect first episode, because there's no better test of whether "Black Mirror" is for you. Letitia Wright and Douglas Hodge counter the ugliness with some beautiful acting. Just asking. What a revelation! For a movie set in Haiti, there were at most a handful of black actors given very minor roles. They even go so far as to have white actor Dan Crimmins appear in blackface. Supporting character and apparent voice of authority Dr. On one hand, you have the argument that these elements were just unfortunate relics of the s, but it still made it hard for me to fully enjoy the movie, particularly because this was the very first movie to incorporate zombies, and these were not the undead variety that George Romero would create decades later with the Living Dead series.

The zombies in White Zombie are mindless drones compelled by an evil master—an element taken from Haitian lore. Instead of contemplating our relationship with Haiti at the time, however, this dynamic serves as a snapshot of the xenophobia that permeated our culture. If you can get past the racial issues, there really is a lot to love about White Zombie. Many barricades that would have exhausted three or even four physically fit humans have fallen to a single determined zombie. Speed The "walking" dead tend to move at a slouch or limp. Even without injuries or advanced decomposition, their lack of coordination makes for an unsteady stride.

Speed is mainly determined by leg length. Taller ghouls have longer strides than their shorter counterparts. Zombies appear to be incapable of mnning. The fastest have been observed to move at a rate of barely one step per 1. Again, as with strength, the dead's advantage over the living is their tirelessness. Humans who believe they have outrun their undead pursuers might do well to remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, adding, of course, that in this instance the hare stands a good chance of being eaten alive.

Agility The average living human possesses a dexterity level 90 percent greater than the strongest ghoul. Some of this comes from the general stiffness of necrotic muscle tissue hence their awkward stride. The rest is due to their primitive brain functions. Zomhies have little hand- eye coordination, one of their greatest weaknesses. No one has ever observed a zombie jumping, either from one spot to another or simply up and down.

Balancing on a narrow surface is similarly beyond their ahility. Swimming is also a skill reserved for the living. The theory has been put forth that, if an undead corpse were to he bloated enough to rise to the surface, it could present a floating hazard. This is rare, how- ever, as the slow rate of decomposition would not allow by-product gas to accumulate. Zombies who walk or fall into bodies of water will more likely find themselves wandering aimlessly across the bottom until eventually dissolving. They can be successful climbers, but only in certain circumstances.

If zombies perceive prey above them, for example, in the second story of a house, they will always attempt to climb to it. Zombies will try to scale any surface no matter how unfeasable or even impossible. In all but the easiest situations, these attempts have met with failure. Even in the case of ladders, when sim- ple hand-over-hand coordination is required, only one in four zombies will succeed.

Behavioral Patterns A. Intelligence It has been proven, time and again, that our greatest advantage over the undead is our ahility to think. The mental capacity of the average zom- bie ranks somewhere beneath that of an insect. On no occasion have they shown any ability to reason or employ logic. Attempting to accomplish a task, failing, then by trial and error discovering a new solution, is a skill shared by many members of the animal kingdom hut lost on the walking dead. Zombies have repeatedly failed laboratory intelligence tests set at the level of rodents.

One field case showed a human standing at one end of a collapsed bridge with several dozen The Zombie Survival Guide 15 zombies on the other side. One by one, the walking dead tumbled over the edge in a futile attempt to reach him. At no time did any of them realize what was happening and change their tactics in any way. Contrary to myth and speculation, zombies have never been observed using tools of any kind. Even picking up a rock to use as a weapon is beyond their grasp. This simple task would prove the basic thought process involved in realizing that the rock is a more efficient weapon than the naked hand.

Ironically, the age of artificial intelligence has enabled us to identify more easily with the mind of the zombie than that of our more "primitive" ancestors. With care exceptions, even the most advanced computers do not have the ability to think on their own. They do what they are programmed to do, nothing more. Imagine a computer programmed to execute one function. This function cannot be paused, modified, or erased.

No new data can be stored.

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No new commands can he installed. This computer will perform that one func- tion, over and over, until its power source eventually shuts down. This is the zombie brain. An instinct-driven, unitask machine that is imper- vious to tampering and can only be destroyed. Emotions Feelings of any kind are not known to the walking dead. Every form of psychological warfare, from attempts at enraging the undead to pro- voking pity have all met with disaster.

Who knows if this is humanity's greatest weakness or strength? The debate continues, and probably will forever. Memories A modem conceit is that a zombie retains the knowledge of its former life. We hear stories of the dead returning to their places of residence or work, operating familiar machinery, or even showing acts of mercy to loved ones. In tmth, not a shred of proof exists to support this wish- ful thinking. Zombies could not possibly retain memories of their for- 16 Max Brooks mer lives in either the conscious or subconscious mind, because nei- ther exist!

A ghoul will not be distracted by the family pet, living rel- atives, familiar surroundings, etc. No matter who a person was in his former life, that person is gone, replaced by a mindless automaton with no instinct other than for feeding. This begs the question: Why do zom- bies prefer urban areas to the countryside? First, the undead do not pre- fer cities, but simply remain where they are reanimated. Second, the main reason zomhies tend to stay in cities instead of fanning out into the countryside is because an urban zone holds the highest concentra- tion of prey.

Physical Needs Other than hunger discussed later , the dead have shown none of the physical wants or needs expressed in mortal life. Zombies have never been observed to sleep or rest under any circumstances. They have not reacted to extreme heat or cold. In harsh weather, they have never sought shelter. Even something as simple as thirst is unknown to the living dead. Defying all laws of science, Solanum has created what could be described as a completely self-sufficient organism.

Communication Zombies have no language skills. Although their vocal cords are capa- ble of speech, their brain is not.

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The only vocal ability appears to be a deep- throated moan. This moan is released when zombies identify prey. The sound will remain low and steady until physical contact is made. It will then shift in tone and volume as the zombie commences its attack. This eerie sound, so typically associated with the walking dead, serves as a rallying cry for other zombies and, as has been recently discovered, is a potent psychological weapon. See "On the Defense," page Social Dynamics Theories have always proliferated that the undead function as a col- lective force, from an army controlled by Satan to an insect-like pheromone-driven hive to the most recent notion that they achieve The Zombie Survival Guide 17 group consensus by telepathy.

The truth is that zombies have no social organization to speak of. There is no hierarchy, no chain of command, no drive toward any type of collectivization. A horde of the undead, regardless of size, regardless of appearance, is simply a mass of indi- viduals. If several hundred ghouls converge on a victim's location, it is because each one is drawn by its own instinct. Zombies appear to be unaware of one another. Individuals have never been observed to react to the sight of one another at any range. This goes back to the question of sense: How does a zombie distinguish between one of its own and a human or other prey at the same range?

The answer has yet to he found. Zombies do avoid one another in the same way they avoid inan- imate objects. When they hump into one another, they make no attempt to connect or communicate. Zombies feasting on the same corpse will tug repeatedly on the meat in question rather than shove a competitor out of the way.

The only suggestion of communal effort is seen in noto- rious swarm attacks: the moan of a ghoul calling others within earshot. Once they hear the wail, other walking dead will almost always con- verge on its source. An early study theorized that this was a deliberate act, that a scout used its moan to signal the others to attack. However, we now how that it happens purely by accident. The ghoul that moans at the detection of prey does so as an instinctive reaction, not as an alert.

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Hunting Zombies are migratory organisms, with no regard for territory or con- cept of home. They will travel miles and perhaps, given time, cross continents in their search for food. Their hunting pattern is random. Ghouls will feed at night and during the day. They will stumble through an area rather than deliberately searching it. Certain zones or structures will not he singled out as more likely to contain prey. For example, some have been known to search farmhouses and other rural structures while others in the same group have moved by without even a glance.

Urban zones take more time to explore, which is why the undead remain longer in these areas, but no building will take prece- dence over another. Zombies appear to be totally unaware of their sur- 18 Max Brooks roundings. They do not, for example, move their eyes in a way that would take in the information of a new setting. Shuffling silently, with a thousand-yard stare, they will wander aimlessly, regardless of loca- tion, until prey is detected. As discussed earlier, the undead possess an uncanny ability to home in on a victim's precise location. Once con- tact is made, the previously silent, oblivious automaton transforms into something more closely related to a guided missile.

The head turns immediately in the direction of its victim. The jaw drops, lips retract, and, from the depths of its diaphragm, comes the moan. Once contact is made, zombies cannot be distracted by any means. They will con- tinue to pursue their prey, stopping only if they lose contact, make a successful kill, or are destroyed. Motivation Why do the undead prey upon the living? If it has been proven that human flesh serves no nutritional purpose, why does their instinct drive them to murder?

The tmth eludes us. Modem science, combined with historical data, has shown that living humans are not the only delights on the undead menu. Rescue teams entering an infested area have consistently reported them stripped of all life. Any creatures, no matter what their size or species, will he consumed by an attacking zombie.

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Human flesh, however, will always he preferable to other life forms. One experiment presented a captured specimen with two iden- tical cubes of meat: one human, one animal. The zombie repeatedly chose the human. Reasons for this are still unknown. What can be con- firmed, beyond any shadow of doubt, is that instinct brought on by Solanum drives the undead to kill and devour any living creature they discover.

There appear to be no exceptions. Killing the Dead While destroying a zombie may be simple, it is far from easy. As we have seen, zombies require none of the physiological functions that humans need to survive. Destruction or severe damage of the circula- tory, digestive, or respiratory system would do nothing to a member of The Zombie Survival Guide 19 the walking dead, as these functions no longer support the brain.

Simply put, there are thousands of ways to kill a human — and only one to kill a zombie. The brain must be obliterated, by any means possible. Disposal Studies have shown that Solanum can still inhabit the body of a terminated zombie for up to forty-eight hours. Exercise extreme care when disposing of undead corpses. The head in particular possesses the most serious hazard, given its concentration of the virus. Never handle an undead corpse without protective clothing.

Treat it as you would any toxic, highly lethal material. Cremation is the safest, most effective way of disposal. Despite rumors that a pile of burning corpses will spread Solannm in a cloud of smoking plague, common sense would dictate that any vims is unable to survive intense heat, to say nothing of an open flame. To reiterate, the zombie brain has proved, so far, to he tamper-proof. Experiments ranging from chemicals to surgery to electromagnetic waves have yielded negative results.

Behavioral modification therapy and other such attempts to train the living dead like some kind of pack animal have similarly met with failure. Again, the machine cannot be rewired. It will exist as is, or it will not exist at all. However, the origin of their name is the only similarity between the voodoo zombie and the viral zombie. Although it is said that voodoo houngans priests can turn humans into zombies by magical means, the practice is rooted in bard, undeniable science.

The toxin temporarily paralyzes the human nervous system, creating a state of extreme hibernation. With the heart, lungs, and all other bodily functions operating at minimal levels, it would be understandable if an inexperienced coroner declared the par- alyzed subject to be dead. Many humans have been buried while in such a state, only to awaken screaming in the pitch darkness of their coffin.

So what makes this living human being a zombie? The answer is sim- ple: brain damage. Many who are buried alive quickly use up the air inside their coffins. Those that are recovered if they are lucky almost always suffer brain damage from lack of oxygen. These poor souls shamble about with little cognitive skills, or, indeed, free will, and are often mistaken for the living dead. How can yon distinguish a voodoo zombie from the genuine article? The telltale signs are obvious. Voodoo zombies show emotion. People suffering from zombie powder-induced brain damage are still capable of all normal human feelings.

They smile, cry, even growl with anger if hurt or otherwise provoked something real zombies would never do. Voodoo zombies exhibit thought. As has been stated before, when a real zombie encounters you it will immediately home in like a smart bomb. A voodoo zombie will take a moment to tty to figure out who or what you are.

Maybe it will come toward you, maybe it The Zombie Survival Guide 21 will recoil, maybe it will continue its observation as its damaged brain attempts to analyze the information given it. What a voodoo zombie will not do is raise its arms, drop its jaw, unleash a hellish moan, and stumble directly toward you. Voodoo zombies feel pain. A voodoo zombie that trips and falls will undoubtedly hold its bruised knee and whimper. Likewise, one already suffering from some other wound will nurse it, or, at the very least, be aware of the wound's existence.

Voodoo zombies will not ignore deep gashes in their bodies like a real zombie would. Voodoo zombies recognize fire. This is not to say that they are afraid of open flames. Some that have suffered severe brain damage may not remember what fire is. They will stop to examine it, perhaps even reach out to touch it, hut they will recoil once they realize it causes pain. Voodoo zombies recognize their surroundings. Unlike real zom- bies, who only recognize prey, voodoo zombies will react to sudden changes in light, sound, taste, and smell.

Voodoo zombies have been observed watching television or brightly flashing lights, listening to music, cringing at thunder, and even taking notice of one another. This last fact has been critical in several cases of mis-identification. Had the zombies in question not reacted to each other they looked at each other, made noises, even touched each other's faces , they might have been accidentally exterminated.

Voodoo zombies do NOT have hypersense. A human who has suf- fered the debilitating effects of zombie powder is still a sight- dependent human. He cannot operate perfectly in the dark, hear a footstep at yards, or smell a living being on the wind. Voodoo zombies can actually be surprised by someone walking up behind them. This is not recommended, however, as a frightened zombie might react in anger.

Voodoo zombies can communicate. While this is not always the case, many of these individuals can respond to audiovisual signals. Many understand words; some even comprehend simple sentences. Many voodoo zombies possess the ability to speak, simply, of course, and rarely for extended conversations. Voodoo zombies can be controlled. While not always true, many brain damaged humans have lost much of their self-realization, making them very susceptible to suggestion.

Simply shouting for a subject to halt or even go away can he enough to get rid of a voodoo zombie. This has created the dangerous situation of confused peo- ple believing they could control or train true zombies. Several times headstrong humans have insisted they could simply command their living dead attackers to stop. As cold, rotting hands grabbed their limbs and dirty, worn teeth bit into their flesh, these people discov- ered, too late, what they were tmly dealing with. These guidelines should give you a good idea of how to tell a voodoo zombie from a true zombie.

Although it is not impossible to find someone who has been turned into a zombie by a houngan elsewhere, the chances of such an encounter are slim. Scholars, scientists, even con- cerned citizens have all argued that these movies depict the living dead in a fantastic, unrealistic fashion. Visually stunning weapons, physi- cally impossible action sequences, larger-than-life human characters, The Zombie Survival Guide 23 and, above all, magical, invincible, even comical ghouls have all added their colors to the controversial rainbow that is "the Zombie Movie.

These serious charges demand an equally serious defense. Unless we are discussing pure documentaries and even some of those are "sweetened" , moviemakers must take some artistic license to make their work more palatable to the audience. Even movies that are based on actual events will sacrifice pure reality for good storytelling.

Certain characters will be an amalgam of real-life individuals. Others may be purely fictional in order to explain certain facts, facilitate the plotline, or simply add flavor to the scene. One might argue that the role of the artist is to challenge, educate, and enlighten her audience. That may be true, but try imparting knowledge to an audience who has either left or fallen asleep within the first ten minutes of the picture. Accept this basic rule of moviemaking and you will understand why Hollywood zombie films stray, in some cases wildly, from the reality on which they are based.

In short, use these photo-plays as their mak- ers intended: as a source of temporary, lighthearted entertainment and not a visual aid to your survival. The number of zombies in this class of outbreak ranges between one and twenty. Total human casualties including those infected range from one to fifty. The total duration, from the first case to the last known , will range between twenty-four hours and fourteen days. The infested area will be small, no larger than a twenty- mile radius.

In many cases, natural boundaries will determine its lim- its. Response will he light, either exclusively civilian or with some additional help from local law enforcement. Media coverage will be light, if present at all. If the media is present, look for common stories like homicides or "accidents.

Class 2 Urban or densely populated rural areas are included in this level of out- break. Total zombies will range between twenty and one hundred. Total human casualties may reach as high as several hundred. The duration of a Class 2 attack may last no longer than a Class 1 outbreak. In some cases, the larger number of zombies will spark a more imme- diate response. A rural, sparsely populated outbreak may extend to a hundred-mile radius, while an urban outbreak may encompass only several blocks.

Suppression will almost certainly be organized. Bands of civilians will be replaced by local, state, even federal law enforce- ment. Look for an additional, if low-level, military response, the National Guard in the United States or its equivalent abroad. Most The Zombie Survival Guide 25 often, so as to ease panic, these units will take a more noncombatant role, providing medical assistance, crowd control, and logistical sup- port. Class 2 outbreaks almost always attract the press.


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Unless the attack occurs in a truly isolated area of the world, or one where the media is strictly controlled, the story will he reported. This does not mean, however, that it will be reported accilrately. Class 3 A hue crisis. Class 3 outbreaks, more than any other, demonstrate the clear threat posed by the living dead. Zombies will number in the thou- sands, encompassing an area of several hundred miles. The duration of the attack and a possible lengthy mop-up process could last as long as several months. There will be no chance for a press blackout or cover- up. Even without media attention, the sheer magnitude of the attack will leave too many eyewitnesses.

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This is a full-blown battle, with law enforcement replaced by units of the regular military. A state of emer- gency will be declared for the infested zone, as well as the neighboring areas. Expect martial law, restricted travel, rationed supplies, federal- ized services, and strictly monitored communication.

All these mea- sures, however, will take time to implement. The initial phase will be one of chaos as those in power come to grips with the crisis. Riots, loot- ing, and widespread panic will add to their difficulties, further delaying an effective response. While this is happening, those living within the infested area will be at the mercy of the undead. Isolated, abandoned, and surrounded by ghouls, they will have only themselves to depend on. Class 4 See "Living in an Undead World," pages Now that the enemy has been defined, the next step is early warning.

This does not entail building a "zom- bie command post" in your basement, sticking pins in a map, and hud- dling around the shortwave radio. All it requires is looking for signs that would slip by the untrained mind. These signs include: 1. Homicides in which the victims were executed by head shots or decapitation. It has happened many times: People recognize an out- break for what it is and try to take matters into their own hands.

Almost always, these people are declared murderers by the local authorities and prosecuted as such. Missing persons, particularly in wilderness or uninhabited areas. Pay careful attention if one or more of the search members end up missing. If the story is televised or photographed, watch to see what level of armament the search parties carry. Any more than one rifle per group could mean that this is more than just a simple rescue operation.

Cases of "violent insanity" in which the subject attacked friends or family without the use of weapons. Find out if the attacker bit or tried to bite his victims. If so, are any of the victims still in the hos- pital? Try to discover if any of these victims mysteriously died within days of their bite. Riots or other civil disturbances that began without provocation or other logical cause.

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Common sense will dictate that violence on any group level does not simply occur without a catalyst such as racial tension, political actions, or legal decisions. Even so-called "mass hysteria" can always be traced to a root source. If none can be found, the answer may lie elsewhere. Disease-based deaths in which either the cause is undetermined or seems highly suspect. Deaths from infectious disease are rare in the The Zombie Survival Guide 27 industrialized world, compared to a century ago. For this reason, new outbreaks always make the news. Look for those cases in which the exact nature of the disease is unexplained.

Also, be on the alert for suspicious explanations such as West Nile vims or "mad cow" disease. Either could be examples of a cover-up. Any of the above in which media coverage was forbidden. A total press blackout is rare in the United States. The occurrence of one should be regarded as an immediate red flag. Of course, there may be many reasons other than an attack of the living dead. Then again, any event causing a government as media-conscious as our own to clamp down merits close attention.

The truth, no matter what it is, cannot be good. Once an event has tripped your sensors, keep track of it. Note the location, and its distance from you. Watch for similar incidents around or near the original site. If, within a few days or weeks, these incidents do occur, study them carefully. Note the response of law enforcement and other government agencies. If they react more forcefully with each occurrence, chances are that an outbreak is unfolding.

Follow them to the letter. Punishment may range from a sizable fine to incarcera- tion. In any case, the resulting criminal record is something you cannot afford! When the dead rise, law enforcement must look upon you as a model citizen, someone to be trusted and left alone, not a felon of questionable background who should be interrogated at the first sign of trouble. Fortunately, as this chapter will show, simpler, legal weapons will serve you much better than paramilitary death machines.

Practice as often as possible. If classes are available, by all means sign up. Learning from qualified instructors will save immense time and energy. If the device can he disassem- bled, do so, both in sunlight and total darkness until you know every pin, every spring, every curve and edge of that all-important machine. With practice will come both experience and confidence, two traits you must develop in order to successfully do battle with the living dead. History has proven that a well-trained individual, with nothing but a rock, has a better chance of survival than a novice with the latest technological marvel.


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Anyone with firearm experience knows that inspection and cleaning are part of everyday use. This also applies to close-combat weapons. Blades need polish and rust protection. Grips need checking and mainte- nance. Never abuse your tools or expose them to unnecessary dam- age.

If possible, have them tested regularly by experienced professionals. These experts may detect early-stage defects imper- ceptible to the amateur user. Always research your chosen item thoroughly and ensure that it is intended for actual use in the real world. Do not rely solely on the company's word. If resources permit, purchase a duplicate item and train with it to the breaking point.

Only then should you trust in its abilities. Americans are notorious for their bad diet, lack of exercise, and relentless fetish for labor-saving technology. Weapon No. Obey a strict diet and physical-fitness regimen. Concentrate on cardiovas- cular instead of strength-building exercise. Monitor any chronic health conditions you may have, no matter how small. Even if your worst ailment is allergies, treat them regularly! When a situation does arise, you must know exactly what your body is capable of! Study and master at least one martial art. Make sure its emphasis is on escaping holds rather than delivering blows.

Knowing how to Hie Zombie Survival Guide 31 slip from a zombie's clutches is the single most important skill yon can possess when yon find yourself in close combat. Given a zom- bie's lack of speed, it is much easier to run or walk quickly than stand and fight. However, it may be necessary to destroy a zombie at close quarters. When this happens, split-second timing is critical.

A wrong move, a moment's hesitation, and you may feel cold hands gripping your arm, or sharp, broken teeth biting into your flesh. For this reason above all, choosing a close-combat weapon is more important than any other in this section. Bludgeons When using a blunt weapon, the goal is to crash the brain remember, the only way to kill a zombie is by destroying its brain.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

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The human skull is one of the hardest, most durable 32 Max Brooks surfaces in nature. So, of course, is the zombie's. Extreme force is needed to fracture, let alone shat- ter it. However, this must be done, and done with a single, well-placed blow. Missing your target or failing to breach the bone will leave you with no second chance. Sticks, ax handles, and other wooden clubs are good for knocking a zombie out of the way or beat- ing off an individual attack.

What they lack is the weight and strength necessary for a lethal strike. A section of lead pipe will work 1 1 for a single encounter but is too heavy for those on 1 the move. A sledgehammer has the same drawback I and also requires practice for its user to hit a mov- i ing target. The standard, one-handed car- f! Its short handle allows a zombie to grab your arm and pull it in. The police baton, made of acetate plastic in most cases , is strong enough for any battle but lacks the lethal power for a one-blow kill.

Note: This was intended in its design. The best bludgeon is a steel crowbar. Its relatively lightweight and durable construction makes it ideal for prolonged close combat. Its curved, semi- sharpened edge also allows for a stabbing motion through the eye socket, directly into the brain case. More than one survivor has reported killing zombies in this manner. Another benefit of the crowbar is that it may he necessary to pry open a door, shift a heavy object, or perform other tasks for which it was origi- nally designed.

None of these functions can be accomplished with any of the previously mentioned items. Even lighter and more durable than the steel crowbar is the titanium model. Edged Weapons Blades, in any form, have advantages and disadvantages over bludgeons. Those hat have enough strength to 1 i t the skull rarely stand up after many repeti- tions. For this reason, slicing, particu- larly decapitation, serves almost the same function as a head blow.

Note: The severed head of a zombie is still able to bite and must be regarded as a threat.


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