Zombies. You can’t swing a dead cat nowadays without hitting someone who either honestly believes they can happen, entertains the notion or has read every survival guide out there. The advice in these books ranges from the convoluted to the practical to the idiotic, and all of them have the same underlying message: “here are some hobbies you can do to while away the time before you’re chew-fucked by an infected garbage man.” From weapons to hideouts, from strategies to self-sustenance, nothing gets by the ridiculously large number of the authors of these guides–and each has an approach more ludicrous than the last. For example, I know what the definition of each word in the phrase “U.S. Army Zombie Combat Skills” means, but when put in this order, all meaning escapes me. (By the way, that guide is an actual, I-swear-I’m-not-making-this-up publication of our own Department of the Army.) Even the Center for Disease Control has issued survival guidelines.
You can’t blame humans for believing in zombies. We’ve always known that eventually, we all collapse into a heap of inconvenient meat. Sometimes we plant the meat under an important rock, sometimes we are rad enough to set it on fire, sometimes we throw it in a river to make a snake god happy. Lazarus, likely in a sea of justified confusion, woke up smelling like hell after a wizard named Jesus yelled at him. Jesus himself got his zombie on, and Western and Southern Africa, Haiti and New Orleans all have rich traditions of making drowsy corpses do chores for them.
Zombies as we understand them now are always the result of the biological, chemical or viral tomfoolery of God’s cruel hand.We’ve left the mystical element behind, which is gratifying. (Because what kind of fucking idiot would believe the dead could be revived through magic? Revivification is obviously something intravenously injected, or possibly freebased) The general consensus, based on the above-mentioned and completely serious medical and military investigations, is that viruses are the way it’ll go down. It’ll slither into your brain like the Vietcong. Then, it seems that it’ll destroy higher brain functions like self-awareness, consciousness, heuristic faculties and knowledge of the closest Tim Horton’s. This leaves us crocodile-brained, medulla-powered, intellect-sapped husks of our former selves, prone to violent actions and an incapacity to communicate, living on carnal ferocity and enjoying The Big Bang Theory.
(“Bazinga!” is neither funny nor a catchphrase. Bazinga! is the safe word you use to let your partner know beforehand that this is break-up sex.)
But it just doesn’t add up for me. There are so many variables that people either barely or just plain don’t consider, and when you pool these things together, it makes the zombie apocalypse so unlikely that it’s not even worth the bother to think about it. (Sorry, nerds and paranoids.)
For the sake of this list, I am not referring to the slow-moving zombies of the early zombie movies. If you need help dodging the grapples of something moving the speed of a sloth on heroine, your brain deserves to be the gray mayonnaise on a zombie’s moron sandwich. No, I’m referring to the fast ones–those capable of inflicting actual harm. So even if they appear, here are 5 pretty obvious reasons that zombies wouldn’t be anything more than a temporary in convenience, let alone an apocalyptic phenomenon.
1.) The tasty uninfected aren’t the only fish in the sea
So the argument runs, supposedly, that zombies are reduced to a state of absolute, vapid hostility, with only one sole and unmistakeable goal: to use your hamstrings as dental floss after eating your butt meat. But even in the most simple-minded of animals, those functionally incapable of what we would consider thought, there is still a sensory apparatus, an ability to detect both threats and prey, and competition. From mammals to fish to insects to viruses, almost every step of the evolutionary ladder is littered with dumb things that attack each other so they can eliminate competition and increase their own chances for survival. There is no reason that zombies–reduced to these aggressive, basic abilities, would be any different. Remember the look of disappointment on your little sister’s face when you were 8 and you told her she was adopted just so she’d cry long enough for you to steal the last piece of pizza? Which you didn’t even like, because it had green peppers and mushrooms on it, and you had to pick them off? And it’s like, why can’t you just get a pizza we all like? And your mom was like, “Tombstone pizzas were 5 for $10. You think we can afford to have DiGiorno whenever we want?”
My point is, you didn’t do it for any other reason than to eliminate competition for the sake of doing it. As the number of free lunches diminishes, there’s every reason to believe the zombies would turn on each other as well.
2.) We still have an army and scientists, you know
Immediately upon outbreak, there wouldn’t be just one or two military bases holding out, nor would humanity in general roll over and say “fuck it, let’s play Scrabble until we all turn into putrid, hungry meat goblins.” Even in the event a cure can’t be found, there many ways in which live subjects could be captured for the purposes of experimentation. And bar none, all roads in the scientific advancement of humankind eventually lead to weapon research and development. Be it a chemical, neurological or physical weapon, there is no doubt humans would evolve their understanding of the plague alongside the spread of the virus–and active observation of viruses and bacteria has led to approximately all cures for diseases in the history of everything ever.
3.) Impractical dietary habits
So we have a world increasingly full of excitable former friends and relatives try to gnaw your face off. See all that spastic, frantic nonstop movement they keep doing, all the time, everywhere? That requires protein, carbohydrates and basic vitamins to maintain. With no capacity for cost/benefit analysis rattling around in their brains, they will continue acting exactly like this, all the time. I don’t care how undead you are, and I don’t care if the viruses are leaking rainbows into your yesterguts–without consuming the high volume of food necessary to maintain that level of caloric expenditure, you would metabolize yourself into nonexistence pretty quickly. This is, of course, assuming that zombies don’t start urban gardens, co-ops, or learn about fast food.
4.) Water, water, everywhere, but they can’t work a sink
Even more crucial than food intake–you can survive a fair amount of time, even if you’re a groaning flesh golem that dines on the delicious innards of the living, without eating–is water. From muscle use to organ function to the circulatory system, it is more or less impossible to survive longer than a week or so without drinking water, and that’s if you’re taking it really easy. Remember, zombies are not great thinkers. And this may be a generalization, but when your main problem solving skill is bashing frantically into everything until food happens, I’m guessing Gatorade isn’t at the top of your to-do list. If you’ve ever watched the Discovery Channel and watched an antelope totally eat shit when a leopard trips it before crushing its wind pipe, you probably noticed the leopard isn’t exactly stopping in the middle for a scotch and soda. By all given descriptions,the modern understanding of zombies puts them squarely in the frame of an adrenaline-pumping chainsaw of permanent fight-or-flight murder rage. They are not going to wander into a house, refill the Brita pitcher, then down a few glasses while chewing on your asshole boss’s femur and watching Family Feud reruns. And even if they do–and they won’t– the matter will be settled when water runs dry after electricity stops working.
5.) No social skills
Finally, and most importantly, I’d think every successful military general from any era in history will tell you that you don’t win wars by giving weapons to a bunch of people, then crossing your fingers while you nurse a Bloody Mary at an Applebee’s after you send them on their way. Victory requires strategy, planning, communication and organization. One of the reasons no enormous population has ever held a country together with everyone running around like a lunatic libertarian is because it can’t happen. The incapacity to think abstractly makes the sum population of zombies into… well, zombies. It’s hard to detect the battle plans of a fractured horde of sprinting corpses, but when you have an enemy that travels in packs of one and whose only weapon is a desire for dinner, guerrilla tactics become an effective, low-risk way to systematically pick off your opposition. Sentient humans can work pretty well together when they aren’t arguing about whether or not the Yankees will cover the over/under, and when your enemy is as smart as a bunch of feral cats walking upright who took 3 weeks of junior high track and field, there is no reason to believe they would ever pose a serious threat to humanity.
Hell, you’ll probably even be home in time to catch that marathon of Press Your Luck on the Game Show Network.
No whammy, no apocalypse, no worries.