The universe operates according to the First Law Of Thermodynamics, which basically states that you can't get something for nothing; if you consume no fuel, you get no energy. Also, there has been more and more general acceptance of the idea of fast zombies as a more realistic alternative to zombies, with a more immediate, in-your-face style of terror.
While it is still hotly disputed as to which kind of zombie is the most dangerous or terrifying, few can debate that the recent popularity of FastZombies has left an indelible impression on the greater horror genre. As such the definition of a zombie, as defined by popular consensus, is an unintelligent humanoid predator, devoid of even the most basic survival skills.
In a basic sense, slow zombies are technically dead predators who are totally independent of a physiological need of any kind. They feel no pain, need nothing to fuel their bodies, and require only their intact brain to exist.
They are almost totally without intellect or reasoning skills (according to the Zombie Survival Guide, only a quarter of them can figure out how to use a ladder). As mentioned earlier, they are extremely durable, being able to survive and hunt for years if not killed by brain destruction.
The Solarium Virus which kills a person, and infests a reanimates the corpse, takes between 12-48 hours, depending on how quickly the virus reaches the brain (it's been proven that a small bite which reaches no major blood vessels takes longer than the traditional model to produce a zombie). Fast zombies are usually (but not always) humans still technically alive, but radically transformed mentally and physically by a mysterious viral infection.
While they also feel no pain, without the concern for food or water (they do not need to sleep), they inevitably die from thirst or hunger. While they are more durable than an ordinary human, this is because of constant adrenaline production, and deactivation of pain receptors, so injury and fatigue also do not concern them.
They still depend on all of their organ systems, and can be killed through blood loss, asphyxiation, or poisoning. While Brooks' slow zombies also try to kill and eat all animals (but prefer and trade up to humans, as tests have shown), FastZombies are more concerned with the destruction of their target, and use their hands and feet as much as their mouths to inflict damage.
Both Kinds of Zombies can triangulate a target, and instinctively work as a horde or swarm to overwhelm prey. Also, fast zombies provide a much greater challenge to be overcome in the initial weeks than do slow zombies.
Reports of mass hysteria, cannibalism, armed search parties, and the end of civilization as we know it are tell-tale signs of a zombie outbreak. If sufficiently thorough preparations have already been made, then one should have reasonably good chances of surviving any magnitude of “classical” zombie outbreak.
Purchasing a powerful car (or truck) with emphasis on horsepower, not gas mileage, could be highly beneficial. At worst, you initiate a cycle of retaliatory violence that will destroy any effort to effectively repulse the quickly incoming zombie horde.
Obviously, destroying the brain of multiple dashing attackers before they grab or infect you are a tiring if not unrealistic or even suicidal feat. The solidification of Solarium infested tissue prevents this phenomenon from occurring with slow zombies.
Ramming Zombies of either kind head-on is, in most cases, rarely a good idea as at high speed, the body will simply crash into the windshield, weakening it, or perhaps shattering it entirely, hitting the survivors in the front seat. Pick-up trucks and body-on-frame SUVs equipped with aftermarket, off-road parts such as grill guards, bush bars, lift kits, and skid plates should be able to handle that kind of abuse, as they are designed for the sole purpose of protecting the vehicle from damage, regardless if that damage is running down a large sapling or wandering undead/ infected bodies.
If you don't have a vehicle like that, then slowing to a cruising speed, and allowing the other passengers to fire on, or hack away at the zombies is a viable, abet less effective alternative. Pre-Crunch targets for panicked humans (such as airports, police stations, military bases and hospitals) will very quickly draw pursuing infected.
In other words, popular places of refuge become their own undoing, and as such, independence and keeping a low profile buys time. Seaports and Marinas will also be overwhelmed, but once again, with strong contacts, money, or supplies, one has a chance at a nautical escape.
The roads will inevitably be jam packed, so early efforts to arrange for air or sea travel are highly recommended. Large flights pose a challenge in the sense that there is a greater chance someone on board is infected, but not yet a slow zombie.
Post-Crunch FastZombies The about a week after it has become obvious that the transportation systems have failed, is probably the most difficult time to survive a fast zombie infestation. Stops for gas, and maps (unless someone in your party has a masterful grasp of the area) are vital, and worth risking infected combat for.
Post-Crunch Slow Zombies Immediately after Transit System Failure, there may still be some areas where the government is trying desperately to evacuate survivors by air. It will likely be a difficult task, either because of zombies at the perimeter of the evacuation point, or because officials will not allow the theft of their supplies.
Building a fort or stronghold that will resist the waves of intruders for long periods of time is a daunting and difficult task for either type of outbreak, but exponentially more advisable than staying on the run. Both types can be surprisingly opportunistic, even seeming to lie low until an opportunity awaits (although this is likely to be due to survivors not being immediately aware of every spot a zombie might be in a given area).
The option to come and go at a moment's notice (to let at a party member being pursued before the zombies run him or her down) depends on having an entry point that unfastens quickly, and where many survivors can attack a small space, from different angles. Soundproofing, or having the outer walls reinforced or far from the living quarters is also a good idea, as fast zombies tend to yell and ramble on if they see or hear any sign of a human, which can make sleeping even more difficult, and lead to exhaustion.
Building a holding cell that functions like a spacecraft's air lock is advisable for slow zombies. Slow zombies have a long incubation period, so having newcomers wait a few days in holding to be certain they are uninfected can be very valuable.
Because Slow Zombie outbreaks last so much longer, having a large space to hold more supplies at one time is important. In some cases, a permanent fortified stronghold just isn't realistic or possible, due to lack of people, supplies, or geographical area.
Despite the negatives such as not having a 100% awareness of your surroundings, constant fuel consumption, and more, the positives include fresh scavenging for food and supplies, mapping out what areas are concentrated with infected, and having a better chance at coming across other survivors, friendly or not. Once enough time has passed, then one may begin clearing out the surrounding area, assuming one is part of a large enough group that is well armed enough to not be swamped by the lingering infestation.
Clearing the surrounding area will allow for more effective scavenging and the beginnings of living sustainably. It is also strongly advisable never to stray too far from the stronghold, in case a chain reaction draws infected in from miles away.
As mentioned earlier, one can expect fast zombies to die in one to three weeks after becoming infected, so the entire outbreak should be over between 6-12 months, at most. Slow zombies, on the other hand, tend to last much longer, upwards of 15 years, in some cases.
Within a couple of months, the impetus for survival from both types of outbreaks shifts from the need to defend and attack in battle at a moment's notice to the need to expand consumable supplies (such as scavenging more canned goods) or develop sustainable supplies (such as farming). Developing your group, and your land into a tribe or nation of the next age will be the direction all future challenges take you.
The methods behind food production, medical care, water collection & sanitation, and keeping peace with neighboring groups lie outside the realm of this article. As sure as the end of an outbreak means not every trace of mankind was eliminated from the face of the planet, so too must a survivor remember that there will still be the potential for other (albeit more manageable) outbreaks, be it from slow zombies wandering in from a white zone, or from a specimen of the viral infection lingering on in a frozen corpse in the mountains or arctic.
The virus will always be out there, so one can never totally abandon many of these zombie survival techniques, and one would be wise to pass the knowledge to future generations. Since George Romero first introduced the modern zombie in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, pop culture depictions of the undead have continued to evolve and change with the times.
And no zombie iteration has ever caused such heated debate as Danny Boyle’s running hordes in 28 Days Later. Its success led to the inclusion of fast zombies in the remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead in 2004.
Any zombie defense plan that doesn’t stack up to this test is worthless, as the first group of desperate survivors to cross your path will simply rob you of everything you have and leave you to die. So stop asking yourself if you think zombies will be slow or fast, and start asking how you’re going to keep from being killed by your neighbor when the water runs out and his kids are dying of thirst.
In “World War Z,” the time between being bitten by a zombie to being reborn as a sprinting, snapping shock troop of the undead yourself is less than 15 seconds. “That offers the possibility for incredible spread within a defined community,” said Jonathan Gentleman, head of the infectious-diseases division at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
A scene from “World War Z” proves his point (mild spoilers ahead): A zombie ends up locked in the closet on an international flight. The zombie virus can get on a plane to Europe, but because it spreads so fast and so lethally, it’s going to have trouble getting off.
There’s a reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a whole page on Zombie Preparedness but nothing on Dracula. But there’s a reason rabies hasn’t overwhelmed Earth: It’s not a very efficient disease.
That’s why Anne Schubert doesn’t stay up nights fretting over zombies. Schubert, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, has worked on meningitis in West Africa, disease surveillance in South Africa and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in China.
The terrifying diseases, she said, tend to have three qualities: first, a host population that isn’t immune; second, the capacity to spread rapidly; third, severity. But that’s enormous across a society.” Had its death rate been 100 percent, by contrast, the flu would’ve been stopped in its tracks.
And for all the advances of modern medicine, influenza would have an enormous advantage today: Modern air travel means that a flu that begins the morning in Nairobi can end the day in New Jersey. If globalization is influenza’s ally, the ability to rapidly disseminate information is its mortal enemy.
The quicker the world knows what disease is coming, the faster resources can be mobilized and behavior can be changed to stop it. This is where reality and “World War Z” -- the book this time, not the movie -- converge.
SARS caught the world unprepared in 2002 because authorities in China, where it first appeared, covered it up. They’re real models now.” Their responsiveness and transparency were tested in February when a new strain of avian flu was found in China.
Schubert said that this time the Chinese did everything right: They alerted the World Health Organization, sequenced the genome and released the results, and mounted a massive effort to locate infections.