Friday, December 10, 2010

Going Medieval

Katana blades

they are found in the house of every nerd, and video game fanatic that you know. You probably think this is the weapon that you want. But we learned quickly that these novelty swords snap quickly and are so light and dull so easy, that they can leave you tragically surrounded.

After all the tough guy talk, we were lucky. Nigel and his girlfriend Tina were on their way to a Medieval festival. Nigel is probably a pain in real life, but against a horde of creepers he gave us a quick primer on Medieval warfare.

The sword is sexy and has cool cache aplenty, but if you look at the forces that beat the odds of larger numbers. They usually used a spear, or poleax in a phalanx formation. The Spartans maintained dominance by grouping their soldiers together, protected by shields and the second row used their spears to take out the throngs. The Swiss became a neutral force because for over a hundred years they were undefeated due to their tight formations and use of the poleax. Even Zulu warriors gained power over their continent by increasing shield size and fighting as a unit.

So if you get a choice, and you probably wont. Choose a weapon that gives you distance from your target. an Axe is better than a hatchet. A spear, better than a sword. Personally, I grew more an more accustomed to a flattened shovel with sharpened edges over anything else.
If I could choose anything, I'd choose a poleax, and don't forge a shield. It gives you valuable seconds to think, and remember that is always your advantage.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fast or Slow

Well, we didn't know what to expect. The first day was mass hysteria, and fortunately we had the heavy gates that protected the SunnyStay Motel, and no one was interested in going out. But we learned something quickly. There are two basic types of undead, not that you need to sort them out, but you need to know what you are dealing with.

Once someone is bitten, it seems like there is some sort of incubation period before the virus takes over. We have seen it anywhere from 24 hours to 5 minutes. I think the incubation period was longer at first, and why it was able to spread so quickly, more and more, people aren't taking long to go from thinking to unthinking.

No matter what you are dealing with, they are all unthinking. If it's your brother, your mom or your green grocer. It's not them anymore. You can't reason, coerce, cajole or even frighten, which is sometimes a good thing. It's just one of "them". It's best not to think of them as human.

Then you see them in two different categories. We call them the bloaters and the roamers.

The Bloaters:
These guys are fast, and strong, and seem to be still living. It makes us think that this thing attacks the adrenal system first. They have high fevers, and they slowly bloat and swell. They look like what I thought when I first heard the word "Roid rage", not really muscley, just bloated. I think they just have a boost of adrenaline that runs their body. They move fast day or night, they are loud and they are angry and they want you. Specifically, they want to eat you. More specifically they are after your nervous tissues. The good news is this. They are still alive, or somewhat alive, so though they are stronger, faster and angrier, you can kill them, or sort of kill them. These are berzerkers, these are living tantrums. Feral, individual, and interested in one thing.

Let me explain. A bullet to the heart will kill one, but not really kill it. All you are really doing is popping the big pimple that is their life. They don't really die, but they reboot. they slow down, and they lose all of that adrenaline. They don't really die, they transition to a roamer. Some of them will do this eventually. The first few nights it was hard enough to sleep, but even harder with the occasional popping sound coming from outside. We woke up and thought they were dead, but that's when we began to learn about the roamer.

The Roamers/Creepers

There has got to be a better name for these, but these are the desiccated shells left after the bloaters pop. They are the frames left by the recently departed that have something pulling their strings in the brain stem. They don't want to eat you. They want to scratch you, bite you, infect you. It doesn't seem like they even really need to feed, they just need to spread.

The Creepers seem to be cold blooded. When it is cold, they slow down. At night it's almost safe to go out, except you can't see anything, and they don't seem to mind the dark. However they sense you, they come quickly.

There are a couple of things I have started wondering about. These creepers tend to cluster. More often than not, it is not one of these things that gets you, its a herd, a hive. I don't know if they are communicating, because they don't go after each other, but they are a bother by themselves, but in the throngs, they can tear down fences, knock down walls, and stop a car.

We are not sure if they can stop a Bus, but we may need to find out, sooner than later.


Conventional wisdom tells you to take out the brain. So you shoot, or you stab, and they keep coming.

It took us a while to figure it out. You can take out the legs, and at least you have slowed them down. You can take off a jaw and they can't bite. but if you want to immobilize them, and this goes for the bloaters, the screams, and the roamers, you go for the brain stem. That little, well-protected piece where the brain meets the spinal column.

I don't think it was until day three that we figured that out.

Knowing that, changes the type of weapon you want to use. First of all, guns just aren't that effective. Despite what you have seen on TV, there is just not that much force. A shotgun will do a lot of tissue damage, but for you to get to the brainstem, the shotgun needs to be within feet, not yards, and you need to be behind them. SO if you are going for a gun, hope for something large caliber, and hopefully with a hollow point.

Since the motel is in San Diego, and not Wyoming, there was a lack of high powered rifles. This is what we found that works: Crowbars, Axes and baseball bats (go aluminum, about 5 biters in, you don't want to be splintering pine). A sledgehammer is great, and so is a pickaxe, but I'll be honest, it will wear you right out.

It took us a couple of weeks to build "the Clapper" but it was very effective. We strung to heavy security doors that we took from the inside of the motel and hinged them together. We hung a pole out in front of the main entrance (blocked by the cage). We could lure on or two wanderers in and then with a cable system, we would drop the heavy doors, that would "clap" on the walker's heads.

High level reasoning isn't a strong suit, and the clapper was a pretty effective way to clear out one or two lingerers, after we had cleared out the crowd. Clearing the crowd, well that was another story all-together.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not the Brain

I think the biggest mistake that most people make is that you need to injure the brain to take down a zombie. While you can slow them down pretty effectively by taking out a knee or the arms, if you want to kill a thing that doesn't live, you have to separate the brain stem from the spinal column.

I think that was our first clue that this was something effecting the nervous system and not the brain.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We weren't ready

We weren't ready

None of us were. But we did get lucky. Secure bars on doors and windows that told us this hotel was in a bad neighborhood certainly came in handing when it all happened. They gave us a reprieve for at least a little while, at least until we started getting thirsty.