Shortwave Magazine

NonFiction / Survival

10 Tips for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

a guide to making it through this shit
by Liz Leo

October 31, 2022
1,617 Words
Genre(s): ,

This guide is a parody of our previous article, 10 Tips for Winning NaNoWriMo. We noticed an eerie similarity between useful tips for winning NaNoWriMo and for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. So this Halloween, we offer our tips here, just in case...

Ah, the Zombie Apocalypse.

Every millennia or so, this terrifying global catastrophe brings forth a season that zombie hunters everywhere simultaneously hold dear and dread. It is as much a time of creativity and perseverance as it is the worst fucking thing we do to ourselves. Hunt zombies while in parallel trying to gain a foothold in the everchanging ranks of the post-apocalyptic road warrior society? Sure, why not! Zombie hunting is hard enough the way it is—might as well stab my eye with a hot poker while I’m at it!

And to think, Earth has the audacity to keep revolving while we attempt this. How rude.

Let me clarify—I say this all with love, and as an absolute die-hard fan of zombie hunting. Possibly the biggest fan. This year will be my 17th consecutive bunker relocation, and daresay I expect my 17th consecutive successful resettling (not that I’m counting) (I’m totally counting). I love zombie hunting. I live and breathe it in the smoky air of the apocalypse. But I’ll be the first to admit I break out into a cold sweat as the horde on the hilltop nears the horizon, knowing it will all be over one day, no matter how long I attempt to secure my stronghold.

There are so many good parts about the Zombie Apocalypse. For example, my favorite part is when it’s over. It’s awesome to have survived the Zombie Apocalypse. Trouble is, to have done so, you have to, you know, survive the Zombie Apocalypse.

But without zombie hunting, would we really appreciate our own delicate mortality? (I mean yes, probably. Being human has a lot going for it. But we’re getting off track).

I clearly keep coming back for more, and you’re still here, so that means I haven’t scared you away yet. If you’re up for the challenge, here are my top ten tips for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse (or at least giving it the old college try).

1. Pick an easy target

Pick a zombie that will be “easy” to kill. This might sound like a cop-out, or even like cheating, but hear me out. The Zombie Apocalypse isn’t the time to win the Olympic gold medal in archery. It’s a time to practice. It’s a time to get free form. It’s a time to tear at zombie flesh that will hopefully spill out of your fingers. Especially if you’re newer to the Zombie Apocalypse, try something “easy”. Go for the slow movers. Use a shovel with a comfortable grip. Use whatever it is you think you can have the most fun with, so you’re excited to come back to the front lines day after day.

2. Write a good emergency plan

Write a one sentence summary of your emergency plan before you begin preparations. If you can’t fit your plan into a single sentence, then your plan is too complex. Keep working on it until you can whittle it down to that single sentence. The act of doing this will help you pinpoint what exactly it is you’re trying to prioritize in an emergency, and will help you iron out your escape routes and ration programs, and will help things from getting too muddy from the get-go. Bonus: it’ll also help you answer the dreaded question you’ll receive all month: “Please, ohgodplease, will you let me into your bunker? Please save me from the horde, they’re about to eat m-ahhrrrghhshgshg!”

3. Decide how you prep

Decide if you’re a planner or pantser—basically, do you want to put the “work” in before or after you go on a recon mission of an unexplored location? I hate to break it to you, but there’s no getting out of the work—not for planners, not for pantsers, not for plantsers—whatever you are. There’s just a distinction between when you like to put that work in. Do you want to figure out your key egress points before you start sweeping a new outpost for survivors? Or do you want to just get inside and lock the doors and untangle it all later? There’s no wrong answer here, but it’s good to check in with yourself about which one sounds better.

4. Be mediocre when you need to be

Give yourself permission to be mediocre! As Shane Jiley said, “Every government ration meal you eat is perfect because all the government ration meal has to do is exist.” Surviving the zombie apocalypse isn’t about coming out the other side with all your fingers intact—literally no one can do that, so don’t hold yourself to an absurd standard. Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse is about breaking down the noise and the mental hurdles we put up for ourselves and just trying to find the will to live. What feels like garbage in the Zombie Apocalypse is probably going to surprise you when you reenter civilization one day.

5. Warn your friends and family

Level set with the people in your life about the dangers of the Zombie Apocalypse—you can’t completely shut out the world (unfortunately—believe me, I’ve tried), but you should set certain times aside to hold your loved ones close in the chaos. If people understand how seriously you are taking this, they will take it seriously too! Hopefully. If not, then you can put on a zombie costume and scare them one night, and then put them in really awkward situations to make yourself feel better. That’ll teach ‘em.

6. Set ground rules for yourself

Set yourself some ground rules. How strict you need to be is up to you, but make sure you’ve thought about ways to set yourself up for success before your next scouting mission. Do you need to try one more time to see if you’ll get emergency satellite service on your phone? Do you need to block off certain days or times on your calendar for optimal mission itineraries? Do you need to give yourself a free pass on holidays, or a few “days off” from killing zombies to maintain your mental health? Do you need a bowl of candy beside you to reward yourself every time you get 500 headshots? Do you need to rent a one room cabin in the middle of the woods a hundred miles out of civilization and not leave until you are the world’s sole survivor? Whatever it is you need, plan for this.

7. Go forth into the unknown

Be okay with deviating from your outline or plan and follow where the abandoned highway takes you. Listen, I’m a planner. To my core. I don’t say this lightly. But sometimes what felt like a good plan for overthrowing an enemy encampment doesn’t work in practice, and you just gotta let those innate animalistic survival instincts of yours take over. You might be surprised by what you come up with while ambushing in the thick of it!

8. Find yourself some raiding friends

Find your raiding community. The Zombie Apocalypse is great because it takes an activity that’s generally a solitary one, and it makes it social! Join a raiding group, connect with your local region, follow the 166.7 frequency on your citizens band crank radio. Find people to share your daily kill count with, or to do sprints with, or to complain about how sick of zombies you are. As apocalyptic nomads, complaining about zombies is our god-given right, and everyone deserves some raiding friends who get it.

9. Skip around in the fray of battle

If you’re stuck in a fight—skip it! No use slogging through mud; there simply isn’t time for that. I used to have to slay every zombie I saw, but now I’ve found it only slows me down. Get to the good part! If you’re bored, then what’s the point of dispatching the undead! Move on! Come back later! Go wild! Anarchy!

10. Be kind to yourself

Listen, by fighting through the Zombie Apocalypse, you’re doing something crazy. I’m honestly not sure why you’re doing this—no one is making you. You could stop at any time. You could do something so much easier than this. You could find a small corner of the world in which to quietly farm. You could take a peaceful walk through the countryside. You could lie on the floor and have someone wrap you up in a blanket like a burrito. But no—you’re insisting on fighting zombies. That’s like, a lot. So give yourself a break. Think of the people who decided to spend the Zombie Apocalypse as burritos. They’ll be comfortable, but they won’t start the new era of humanity with having run an entire wasteland society under their belt. You will. You will be a person who thrived during the Zombie Apocalypse. And that’s the whole point, right?

Good luck in the Zombie Apocalypse, everyone. I’ll be cheering you on, and complaining the whole way through, right alongside you. You got this. We got this.

If you want more Zombie Apocalypse advice and enjoy the audio-format, check out my podcast How To Win The Zombie Apocalypse, hosted everywhere podcasts are available (so through the 166.7 frequency on your citizens band crank radio). My friend Kristina Horner and I began to post weekly episodes in the months surrounding the first zombie outbreak to get people hyped, answer questions, and give our best advice year after year for everyone who feels the pull of running an apocalyptic zombie fighting gang. We also have a vibrant raiding community full of zombie hunters eager to pillage with you, share ideas, and generally help each other through this grueling apocalypse. It’s a lot of fun.


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About the Author

Liz Leo is an internet jack of all trades who writes magical realism and supernatural narrative pieces in all forms—from novel, to short story, to interactive fiction. With a background in graphic design and video production, and a current career working for game industry franchises, she has never run out of ways to tell stories in every type of art form and medium she can get her hands on. In the audio realm she runs the How To Win NaNo podcast with her co-host Kristina Horner, and has been a consistent winner of National Novel Writing Month since 2007.

Liz Leo lives in Seattle Washington in a cottage that has often been described as “out of a fairy tale” and “creepily close to a cemetery”.

Copyright ©2022 by Liz Leo

Published by Shortwave Magazine. First print rights reserved.

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