Posted in Monday Mayhem

Rise of the Zombies

Zombies are everywhere nowadays. You can’t turn around without bumping into one. They’re all over. What would my Monday Mayhem series be without them?

Cemetery
Cemetery

In 2013, hackers in Great Falls, Montana infiltrated KRTV’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) and broadcasted a dire warning to viewers—the zombie apocalypse had begun. A pulsating noise followed by a voice had drowned the audio to the regularly scheduled program. “Dead bodies are rising from their graves.” A blue bar at the top of TV screens ran the names of counties and areas affected by the event.

The announcement continued: “Follow the messages onscreen that will be updated as information becomes available. Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous.”

Local police reported viewers had called the station requesting information. What type of firearm can the citizens use against the roamers? Of course, the police took every call seriously even though folks had placed them in jest.

Abandoned Morgue
Abandoned Morgue

But has anyone ever asked if this scenario is actually possible? It’s all very well and fine that we know this whole thing was a hoax. Who in their right mind would take something like this and act on it is beyond me. However, several things stand out.

How did the hackers gain access to the EAS? Aren’t there security checks in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening? Who performs the yearly audit of the system? Shouldn’t someone have caught this vulnerability in deployment testing? If I were the affiliate station, I would certainly place a very concerned call to the FCC demanding a revamp of the system. Then again, I am Canadian, so my ramblings really don’t count.

More importantly, I’ll ask again, has anyone yet asked if a scenario such as this is possible?

My answer? No. A resounding no! Dead bodies rising from their graves makes for a cool horror flick but looking at it from the perspective of science can prove informative.

There’s this thing called Primary Flaccidity that occurs soon after death whereby every muscle in the body relaxes. Following this condition is Rigor Mortis, which takes place about three hours after death causing muscles in the body to stiffen. During this stiffening process, blood pools into larger veins discoloring the body giving it a pale look. This is called Livor Mortis or what embalmers call Postmortem Stain, for the bruise-like appearance of where the blood settles. The sequence by which the body stiffens tends to differ due to the variance with lactic acid levels in the muscles and glycogen levels in the different types of muscle fibers. Suffice it to say the process may begin with eyelids, neck and jaw. During the course of Rigor Mortis, the body cools in another process called Algor Mortis.

Within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, the body’s muscles relax again in Secondary Flaccidity. Within a week, the abdomen swells with gas produced by bacteria in the body. Skin blisters appear. Within two weeks, abdomen tightens and swells further. Within three weeks, organs and cavities burst. Nails fall off. Within a month, skin liquefies making the body unrecognizable.

It’s pretty morbid but fascinating nonetheless.

Anyway, getting back to the scenario of dead bodies rising from their graves in a maelstrom invasion of sorts—impossible. That is, impossible if the bodies hadn’t gone through decomposition. It would mean every body rising in every grave had to have died within minutes of each other and rise just before Rigor Mortis stiffened the muscles, Livor Mortis pooled the blood, Algor Mortis cooled the flesh, and Secondary Flaccidity prepped the abdomen for exploding organs.

Doesn’t make sense to me. If the reports from Montana were true, they’d of had skeletons roaming the streets and not bodies.

What does make sense, though, is an invasion born of the living, much like the post Zombie Apocalypse: Revisited I’d written regarding the origins of such an event.

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What do you think? Is a Zombie Apocalypse possible from bodies rising from the graves? Where does science fit in all this?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

What If Zombies Knock?

It’s Monday Mayhem and you know what that means—yep, zombies running amok making life miserable for all humanity.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles

If you’ve read my Zombie Apocalypse: Revisited post last week, I wrote how I believed if a zombie apocalypse were to take place it would happen in a large urban area. Some have mentioned to me later that it would be more difficult to detect the event in a rural area instead, thus a challenge to contain.

Regardless of where it happens, we’d still have to find ways to defend ourselves. In my post Zombie Kill of the Week II, I wrote a detailed list of how I’d like to see zombies killed. As amusing as it was writing that post, some truth remains: If a zombie were to enter our house, what would we do? It’s fun saying we’d love to jam an ice pick in the soft part of its temple but if we didn’t have an ice pick, it ain’t goin’ die by lookin’ at the thing and screamin’. That’s a fact.

So, what are we to do? What would you do?

Here are a few tips you can use in the event the world collapses and the zombies begin knocking on your door.

  1. Doorway
    Doorway

    Do not open the door. Simple, right? Wrong. Those resilient maggot bags will stop at nothing if they hear life creaking inside your house. Don’t assume they’ll show up in the middle of the day either. Expect the unexpected. They can appear anytime. If you have a snorer in the house, lock ‘em in a windowless room in the basement. You don’t need those miserable gut suckers chomping on anyone in your household at three in the morning. Bar all the doors with deadbolts and chairs. Board up your windows and make only one door your access point. Dictate which door they can use.

  2. Keep weapons handy. If zombies make it into the house, let their first greeting be a bullet to the head. Nothing says hello like a .357 Magnum. Be careful though, a gunshot will alert the others and instead of fending off one, you’ll have to deal with a whole neighborhood full of scab festerers. That’s why it would be a good idea to keep an assortment of garden tools interspersed throughout the house. A shovel can perform the duel role of cracking skulls and burying the remains. A hoe can function in a similar manner. Again, always think of the multiple uses for these tools. Now let’s say one of these brain eaters chases you around the house. What are you going to do? Sporting equipment works good too. Wouldn’t it be a relief to know at the end of a hall you can grab a baseball bat and beat the living tar out of these zombies? There’s nothing like hearing the crack of a Louisville Slugger upside the head of an undead.
  3. Plan an escape route. If worse comes to worse and the whole house gets overrun with those walking fly heaps, the next and best course of action is to—RUN! Don’t stick around. Don’t even look back. You cannot afford to stay in the house any longer. Take what you can carry and head for the hills. Your life depends on it. If you’d planned ahead, you would have left a loose bottom board to one of the ground floor windows to make it easy for you to kick in and crawl through. Better still, you could have rigged the whole house to explode with you and your family safely halfway to the woods. This would ensure the zombies would remain in the house and you wouldn’t have to worry about stragglers chasing you.
  4. Prepare a secondary home. As with any plan there should always be a Plan B. If something should happen to your primary residence, it would be beneficial to have a secondary residence in mind to act as your temporary home. This could be anything from a barn, a tent in the woods to a shed. Anything that will function as a place where you can lay your head without worrying if you’ll still have a head by morning.

These are only a few tips to keep those vermin beasts at bay while you plan your escape for the coast and hop on a boat for the nearest island away from it all.

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What are your plans for the zombie apocalypse? Have you figured out an escape route? Will you be heading to an island somewhere in the Caribbean?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Are Zombies Popular?

One of the most interesting parts of a zombie apocalypse is the beginning. How does it start? Can anyone prevent it? Is the zombie apocalypse really that scary to want to run away from it? With yesterday’s premier of Fear the Walking Dead on AMC, today’s Monday Mayhem post would be a good place to have a look at the draw people have toward zombies and why these wretched disasters just won’t go away.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

On October 31, 2010, Halloween no less, The Walking Dead premiered. From there a series began that would eclipse all other television series. Its premise is simple: a zombie apocalypse has taken over the planet and no one knows how to defeat it. As the series progresses, the audience discovers human nature, with all its entrapments, becomes a central theme in the show. Sometimes, what people do to each other is more stomach-churning than the deeds of the walkers. Should Fear the Walking Dead follow in the footsteps of its parent The Walking Dead, then one would assume the show will depict the darkest aspects of human nature.

Although zombies have always had a sordid history in low-budget spectacles, even having transformed into cartoons (eg. Scooby-Doo), recent activities in the genre have placed the undead in the forefront of creative bedlam. One thing is certain, the media does not like a vacuum. With the departure of Twilight from the Horror scene a number of years ago, vampires took a backseat to walkers. To that end, the popularity of zombies has never been better.

Fear the Walking Dead
Fear the Walking Dead

Just like their genetic makeup, zombies have crept into mainstream popularity and are now eating away at every form of media. The movie Warm Bodies is the latest entry to the genre, which film critics loved as the zombie equivalent to Twilight. The steady growth of zombie fandom hasn’t relented one bit either. Shows like The Walking Dead and In the Flesh have captured the imagination of viewers everywhere. Sites devoted to the undead have sprung up throughout the world. Commercials have even gotten in on the act. Zombies apparently love BMW, Ford and Doritos.

In the 1920s, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story called Herbert West—Reanimator. Inspired by Frankenstein, Lovecraft’s mad doctor believed he could bring life back from the dead, which he did. The caveat being the creatures reanimated came back as starved cannibals, killing and eating everyone in sight. Sounds familiar, huh?

In 1954, Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend. Although devoted to vampirism, the common story elements with modern day zombies are evident. A virus infects humans who then infect other humans with their bites. In the 2007 movie by the same name, Will Smith fights dark seekers, which blurs the lines between vampires and zombies even further. Although never spoken of as vampires, if one were to view dark seekers simply by their behavior, one would think they are zombies (feed off humans, affected by a virus, etc.).

However, it wasn’t until 1968 when director George A. Romero released The Night of the Living Dead that zombies became what they are today—single-minded eating machines. These are the same zombies featured in the show The Walking Dead (born from the dead, crave human flesh and will die with a blow to the head—as I’d written in my post The Three Commandments).

This gradual escalation of zombie popularity has yet to abate. Once we see a full-scale acceptance of the zombie genre, that’s when a true zombie apocalypse will have taken place and everyone will fear the walking dead.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
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RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you like zombies? Why? What draws you to the zombie genre?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Cottage Zombies

Given it’s a holiday where I live, and most townsfolk around these parts have gone away for the weekend, I thought for today’s Monday Mayhem feature I’d talk about zombies in cottage country. As weird as the subject sounds, I would find it interesting should the zombie apocalypse occur on a long weekend in an isolated area. Let me explain what I mean.

Boat on the lake
Boat on the lake

What if you’re sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake fishing to your heart’s content while you hear awful noises coming from the woods? Would you row the boat to investigate or would you simply sit there hoping no one or anything notices you? The idea that the zombie apocalypse could occur in a rural area is remote—no pun intended. In a city, if there is an infection of undead proportions, not everyone would have a chance to make it out alive. The infection would spread from person to person, and those caught by the the roaming hordes will become part of the crowd.

However, in rural areas, there is a slim possibility that whatever happens in the city will also happen on the farms. The likelihood of that happening is slim, since people would be further away from each other in order for anyone to infect others.

What about cottage country? Wouldn’t the zombies have the time of their lives hunting humans, since the environment would be quieter than the city and anyone making any noise would alert the chewers to their location? What if it were a long weekend?

Running through the woods
Running through the woods

To me, if such a scenario does take place, I can only relate the incident to one thing—those caught on the beach on Amity Island in the film Jaws. In the film, the small island becomes a feeding ground to a great white shark. The town is small and it relies on summer dollars from tourists to keep the economy afloat. Similarly, many of cottage towns in our vicinity thrive on summer dollars to stay in business, therefore, there is a heavy push for towns to bring in city-folk into the region.

Again, I ask, would it be possible a zombie apocalypse could occur in cottage country?

My answer is a resounding yes. An ordinary cottage town of a thousand people mushrooms in the summer to ten to fifteen thousand. If one should have the zombie infection, the whole region could come under scrutiny. Furthermore, since many of these cottage towns border on a lake, most if not all the people will be on the beach enjoying the sun while the rampage occurs.

Ah, yes. But someone may ask, how could it affect other towns?

Remember that guy in the boat? Do you think he has a chance of getting out if he knows the whole town has turned zombie? Would he row to another area of the lake as a means to escape? He could. It is possible. Unfortunately, it isn’t probable. He has one of two decisions to act upon. Either a) he stays in the boat hoping he has enough provisions to outlast the apocalypse, which I doubt, or b) he could land his dingy ashore, take a chance and run through the woods for an escape.

Either way, he won’t make it.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, folks!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you think a zombie apocalypse could take place in the rural backwoods of cottage country? What do you think would be the best way to prevent such an event from occurring?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Do Zombies Attack?

Some people never change. If you’ve heard that expression, you’re not alone. Yet In a zombie apocalypse, everyone can change. No one is safe. And the stubborn, those who run merrily along pursuing life’s little rewards, are the ones who the apocalypse will affect the most. Now, if only I can explain the zombie’s incessant need to attack—life would be perfect. Maybe there is an answer to this perplexing question. After all, Monday Mayhem wouldn’t be the same without answering another of life’s little mysteries:

Why do zombies attack?

The Walking Dead Attack
The Walking Dead Attack

Have you ever stood face to face with a lion while staring at it behind the bars of its den? I have. I’ve always wondered why it simply doesn’t attack the cage when it senses people nearby. The same goes for tigers and bears. Why don’t they without relent, pound the bars to get at you while you peruse their domain? Apparently, feeding them quells their inner desire to harvest us as their next meal. What makes zombies so different?

One would assume zombies work the same way. Feed the zombie and it would forget about dinner. It doesn’t work that way. If a stadium of people had a horde of the undead after them, the undead wouldn’t rest until every human dies an excruciating death. A handful of zombies can clear a room of unarmed humans without much trouble. In other words, no matter how much a zombie eats, it still wants more. Why?

Lions, Tigers & Bears
Lions, Tigers & Bears

Firstly, unlike animals, zombies have an “always on” switch that no one can turn off. Well, that’s not true. Shoot them in the head and they turn off—permanently. I digress. Zombies’ visual acuity does not function on movement alone but on the recognition that a live human is present. Call it thermal imaging, stealth detection or plain “I can see you” principle, zombies have a sharp optical sensor that allows them to spot its prey miles away.

Secondly, complimenting their evolved optical cortex, zombies sport an acute sense of hearing. Somehow, their auditory tracks allow them to hear whispers, which would add to the list of things that spring them into attack mode.

Lastly, as I mentioned, the zombie appetite is resilient. They are always hungry.

Put these all together and you have a good grasp of the undead killing machine.

Zombies attack because they have no choice other than to attack. Their sole motive is to consume. Their visual and auditory senses propel them to act on their impulses to maim and eat human. Simply eating one, two or three of us will not satisfy them. They want to eat us all. Their insatiable appetite hovers around madness, because their senses dictate for them to purge the world of our presence. Zombies can’t help themselves, and they will not surrender for any one of us.

If only zombies could remain docile behind the bars of a cage so as humans can visit them like lions, tigers and bears. Wouldn’t that be something?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
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Why do you think zombies attack?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Do Zombies Poop?

When I write about something, I try to find an angle to the story. Although I may have an idea, and it may be a good idea, I won’t write about it until I discover the hook. When it comes to zombies, as much as I enjoy the genre, the hook may not be so obvious. The reason for this stems from the fact that the genre has a number of mysteries I have yet to answer. I’m sure someone out there has the answer, but I don’t.

Do Zombies Poop?
Do Zombies Poop?

Today’s Monday Mayhem feature will concentrate on describing what three of those mysteries are.

Do Zombies Die?—I’ll have to admit I haven’t watched or read all the zombie stories out there. Yes, I also feel it is a travesty. Other than Warm Bodies, where, after some time, the zombies become Boneys, and in The Walking Dead, where the zombies show signs of aging, no stories of which I am familiar address this age-old question. What happens to the undead? Do they simply shrivel into a fetal position and drool their life away? Or do they rot until there’s nothing left? I don’t have an answer.

Do Zombies Sleep?—One of the lingering questions that has gnawed at my bones, no pun intended, is do zombies take time to have a regular siesta? In the last act of the film World War Z, the zombies stand in one position not really doing much of anything other than staring into the distance. They jerk around, but still, they are awake. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a zombie sleep in either a film or any other story. Why not? Don’t they tire chasing after people? The way I look at it is they don’t need sleep. Sleep regenerates cells, repairs internal damage from ordinary use and refreshes the brain in order for the mind to stay sharp and focused. I think zombies have passed the point of staying sharp. I could be wrong, though. What do you think?

Do Zombies Poop?—This, to me, is the biggest mystery of them all. With the amount of meat zombies consume, one would assume they digest and eliminate much like their human counterparts. But that would fly in the face of logic. If the undead are indeed undead, their digestive tracts would not function, their bowel muscles would certainly not work as well. So what’s the answer? Are we the audience to believe zombies can eat a whole man and not push him out the other end? What happens to the material the undead ingests? My theory? I think it piles in their stomach and comes out without digestion. My rule of thumb? Gravity rules.

That’s all I have for now. If I haven’t written about a mystery you feel needs addressing, go ahead and add it. I’m sure I will write a Part II to this discussion one day.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
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What great zombie mystery do you find unsettling? Have you yet found a reasonable explanation?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies Everywhere

Have you ever walked in the dark with your hands leading the way hoping not to hit a wall? Of course, you could be looking for the light switch or better still, attempting to find your way to the fridge. I know I’ve done it. Late night snacks are a specialty of mine. There’s a moment in time, however, when you’re standing there thinking if anyone were to attack me from within the darkness, I will swing as hard and as wildly as I can to maim the intruder.

Milwaukee Brewers Stadium
Milwaukee Brewers Stadium

Have you ever thought of zombies that way?

Let’s take a moment out of Monday Mayhem to talk about the least likely places you would find zombies, as I know I think about this, and well, perhaps others may think the same thing.

Okay, so the darkness would be somewhere you’d find a zombie. Maybe that wasn’t the best example in the world. You gotta admit, it is scary to find one of the rot breeders stalking you as you prepare to have a midnight snack.

How about going further with it? How about a ball game? Do you think you’d find a zombie at a ball game? It is after all a least likely place to find the undead. Can you imagine the home team leading three-two, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, one more strike and the umpire is ready to call the game? Then, out from the dugout a zombie appears in all its monster glory—pale eyes, bruised face, and an attitude only a zombie slayer would love to put in its place.

It wouldn’t cause panic, but it would sure give the ballplayers the onus to do something about it. I mean, think about it. Baseball bats, baseballs that can fly at about 100mph. No way would a zombie be able to survive in a ball field with professional baseball players.

The Disney Magic in Key West, FL.
The Disney Magic in Key West, FL.

What about a cruise ship? It would give a whole new meaning to the phrase Caribbean cruise lines. You’re enjoying the sunset, taking in the sea air, romance is sparking between you and your other half, then, as quickly as the last ray disappears over the horizon, a groan coming from behind alerts you of something evil heading your way. I’m sure cruise lines have exterior lighting, I don’t know, I’ve never been on one, but wouldn’t you think twice before booking that reservation to that all-inclusive? It would give a completely new meaning to the phrase, “A bad day at sea is better than a good day at the office.”

I would consider that a really bad day.

The last one has to do with commuting. You take the train into the city and discover a foul smell as part of your morning commute. Unlike other foul smells you’ve attributed to that of hitting a skunk or the tinge of diesel in the air, this has the odor of death. When you turn to the entrance of the carriage, you see seated in the last row of the train, a sight you’d rather forget—a zombie of unsuspecting demeanor ready to take the life of its next victim.

On a Monday, no less.

What about it? Where would you least find a zombie appearing in your day?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Where would a zombie scare you the most if it appeared out of nowhere?