Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Zombie Story

Once upon a time, a virus broke out that turned people into zombies. Whilst the people themselves were technically dead, their bodies were still moving, and lusted for the flesh of the living. One bite from a zombie could turn someone into a zombie.

At first, the zombie plague spread quickly, and society broke down. There was no longer any effective government in place. Any survivors were now on their own...

One band of survivors raided local shops for canned food and bottled water. They then barricaded themselves in a secure building, which no one could break into, least of all a band of marauding zombies.

The zombies went on a rampage throughout the country. However, after three days, they started to die. In their lust for living flesh, they’d forgotten all about the need for water in order for their bodies to function. Within a week of the outbreak, all of the zombies were dead, having died from dehydration.

The band of survivors emerged from their stronghold, and started to rebuild their society...

OK, the above may not be the greatest piece of writing I’ve ever done, but it highlights one of the most annoying things that I find about zombie stories (the most recent example for me being the TV adaptation of “The Walking Dead”). Namely that people simply forget or disregard the basic science behind the functioning of the human body.

In most zombie stories that I’ve seen, the zombies appear to be able to survive indefinitely, with nothing being able to stop them. However, whilst they may not exactly be “people” any more, they are still using human bodies, and in order for said human bodies to be able to move and function (and attack living humans), they will still need to take in water to perform those functions. The human body simply can’t function without water, and without it the body dies in about three days – not even a zombie infection could make it move.

But let’s suppose that the zombies aren’t totally consumed by their lust for living flesh, and will instinctively take on water to keep on functioning. Are our clever band of survivors now in trouble once again? Well, no. Because in order for the zombies to keep on functioning, as well as water, they require energy. It is a basic law of physics that in order for their bodies to move (and to attack living humans) they will need to use energy. That means that they will need to get this energy from somewhere. As their bodies are human bodies, they will need to get this energy from consuming food. They could get this from eating the flesh of the living. But, even if these were reasonably clever zombies that could find sources of nourishment, eventually they’re going to run out of food sources. Often in zombie stories we just see them wandering about aimlessly, until they find a living human passing by, and then they descend on them. They’re not doing anything to produce food themselves. (And why should they? They’re zombies!)

So, it is an inevitable fact that they will eventually run out of food, and therefore energy, and will therefore die. When they run out of food (as long as they’re taking on water) they’ll survive for around three weeks, gaining energy by burning any fat reserves that their bodies have (although, of course, they’ll be getting weaker all the time).

Now, I don’t honestly believe that there ever will be an outbreak of zombies, but if there ever was, the key to survival is not to go out and fight the zombies. Just gather up supplies, and barricade yourself in somewhere that’s secure, and then simply wait. Given enough time, the zombies will simply all die out, probably within about a week or so.

(And this isn’t the only thing that bugs me about zombie stories. Where are the survivors getting so much fuel for their vehicles from? Where are they getting all this ammunition for their guns from? And [in some cases], if the whole country has broken down, how come they still have running water and electricity? [I remember that the power was still on in “Dead Set” even though the country had apparently completely broken down...])

Of course, I may just be trying to take the whole thing too seriously and spoiling my enjoyment of such stories, and am just generally being a bit silly about the whole thing. But when you have a tendency to look at the world through scientific eyes these are the sort of things you can’t help but notice...

So, whilst I don’t believe that they’ll ever be a zombie apocalypse, just in case there ever is one, you might want to stick with me – I reckon I could get us through it alive...

Next Week: Looking back...

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