If there’s a moral to this story, I suppose it would be don’t mess with a geek!
“You’re my little geek girl, Linda.” Her father’s voice came to her from years away.
“Flipping switches, turning knobs, pushing buttons,” she said aloud, and grinned. “Gotta figure out how stuff works.” What was once a passion was now a survival trait. She’d been in touch with her parents up in New York City up until the phones stopped working. Maybe they were still alive.
Linda Ma stepped away from the edge and wrote in her notebook:
Weaknesses: All senses seem dulled except for sense of smell. They can hear a gunshot, but not a bow. Sense of touch is all but gone; they ignore arrows to non-vital parts. If they are upwind, they cannot find a living person standing still in shadow.
They appear to be lazy, following the path of least resistance unless they smell prey. Stairs are difficult for them, locked doors are impossible.
Feeding habits: they are pack hunters, not scavengers. They will not eat carrion — which makes sense, otherwise they would attack each other. They will eat animals they can catch, but prefer human flesh. Packs of dogs follow them and attempt to snatch some of their kills (or tear off hunks of zombie legs) without themselves landing on the menu.
Knowledge — potentially useful — gained from a nauseating week of observation. Most of it had been done from right here, her fourth-floor rooftop garden, where the zombies got only occasional whiffs of her but no ideas how to reach her. Some of her work, though, required getting way too close. The dogs made things easier for her, though — the constant racket of their barking, nipping at zombies, and their smell (they rolled in carrion) kept them from noticing a living human lurking downwind. On the one occasion they spotted her, she reluctantly put an arrow into a dog and ran for it; they went for the easy meat.
She turned back to her notebook:
Miscellaneous: the zombies and dogs are in the process of forming a sort of symbiotic relationship. It might be useful to think of the dogs as remora, or pilot fish, but more aggressive. She pushed away the memory of what happened after she crippled one zombie with lucky shots to each knee: the dogs fell on it with gusto and left it little more than a skeleton, twitching on the street. Given the opportunity, they have no problem eating each other — but it’s possible that the dogs will start protecting the zombies, and perhaps even helping them find food, as time goes on.
She could hold out a long time. She had managed to raid a grocery store, and between that and what others left in the apartment building, she had plenty of food. Her father had immigrated here, her mother was second-generation, and they had raised her as Western as they knew how. But rice and vegetables just agreed with them all, and they made little effort to Westernize their diet. A vegetarian diet was about the only thing Chinese about her habits.
Picking up her notebook, she felt reluctant to add the next part:
How to fight: stay downwind. Attack from cover. Avoid using firearms, it seems to draw them. She remembered the small group of people who’d shot up a small pack of zombies, only to attract several larger packs with the noise. It had not ended well for the living. Crippling them is much easier than killing — the latter requires severing or destroying the head — and once crippled, the dogs will finish the job.
It may be better to take an Eastern approach, and simply remove ourselves from their path instead of trying to confront them. Their primary food supply (us) is mostly gone already, and they are not clever or quick enough to catch most animals. Zombies need an energy source, just like anything else, and without that they may finally turn on each other. Or they may simply lay down and finish dying.
“Or,” she said with a grim smile, looking at the cases of dynamite, fuses, and blasting caps she’d carried up, “you can just blow the bastards to Kingdom Come, and let the noise bring more. Lather, rinse, repeat.” It wasn’t an endless loop, but it would be a lot more fun than waiting.