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Friday, October 28, 2011

#FridayFlash: Geek vs. Zombies

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.


  1. I love the philosophical approach, bending to meet a new reality. There's a saying that the oak tree is tall and strong... until it meets the hurricane. Grasses are weak and bending... but when then hurricane comes and goes, the grasses remain.

    Of course, the blow-the-all-to-hell approach is nice, too.

  2. Nice to see you're bringing the fun back into zombie slaying.

  3. Love it! Great logical approach to zombies. :D

  4. Zen and the Art of Zombie Management. I love it.

  5. Ditto to the above comments. Great job.

  6. Pretty much my favourite zombie short story I've read.

    And agree with Cherie, I like your logical approach.

    The addition of the dogs was a nice touch too.

    Would make a great zombie movie. Maybe with an arty director. And her notebook entries read out between the action scenes.

  7. Lather, rinse, repeat. *snort*

  8. Excellent story. It's easy to see this zombie apocalypse won't end in a zombie victory. But that doesn't mean they won't wipe out all the humans before Mother Nature's creatures cleanse the Earth of the undead. Good one for Halloween!

  9. Second Craig's comment about the dogs - that's a great addition to zombie ecology. Hope you plan to expand on her character, she's got a lot of potential.

  10. Dogs are a zombie's best friend? No surprise to me. Little jerks have been biting me and giving me allergy attacks my whole life. Now it turns out they were weakening me for their new rotting masters.

  11. I would go back with the explosion option, myself.

    (Like the vegetarian Chinese idea. Never met one, but I am sure some exist somewhere)

  12. I would go back with the explosion option, myself.

    (Like the vegetarian Chinese idea. Never met one, but I am sure some exist somewhere)

  13. Hi all!

    Tony, I've heard that with the willow instead of grass, but it fits. But I'm with you, blowing $#!+ up is more fun.

    Peter, if you can't have fun after the end of the world, what's the point in surviving it, right?

    Cherie, she's a geek applying her problem-solving skills to the biggest problem of all. :-)

    Tim, Kirsten, thanks much!

    Craig, thanks a ton! Glad to hear the dogs were well-received. Humans may have altered the ecosystem, but they're still part of it — and removing them will throw lots of stuff out of balance. I actually borrowed from the White Pickups sequel for this… different apocalypse, similar result. ;-)

    Danielle, that's how the programmer died in the shower. He couldn't break out of the loop.

    Thanks, Eric. The zombies inherit the earth, but only temporarily…

    Michael, welcome to the free-range insane asylum! I'm sure Linda will find her way into another story somewhere.

    JohnW, I think you've hit on something important here!

    Sonia, like I told Tony, blowing $#!+ up is always the best option!

  14. Hmmm. Fishing for zombies. Intriguing.

    And very smart and scientific in the approach. Too many people getting hyped up and freaked out about zombies.

  15. Nice, reminds me of I Am Legend (the book, of course), where he's studying the vamps.

    Ah, boredom, the tactician's greatest enemy... ;)

  16. I like the perspective of this, and particularly like the role of the dogs, as Craig says, it would indeed make a good movie.

  17. Morning!

    Raven, very good point. Monsters have weaknesses; as long as you can figure out what it is you can win.

    John, I'll have to read the book. The original movie (starring Vincent Price) is on archive.org too.

    Thanks, Steve. I've seen short stories made into movies, so who knows?

  18. I liked the way the main character here analysed her options. I think she is definitely a survivor!


  19. Helen, I've always preferred the analytical approach to the do something NOW that doesn't often lead to a good ending too.

  20. Very, very cool - some nice, original ideas in here. Don't screw with the geeks!

  21. Very, very cool - some nice, original ideas in here. Don't screw with the geeks!

  22. Good one! I like that the protagonist thought ahead to what the end-state of the dog/zombie relationship might be. So many zombie movies have things happen because people are being short-sighted.

    The vegetarian thing hits a wrong note with me, though. It just sounds too smug, and it doesn't fit with any Chinese cuisines I know (Tibetan yes, but not Chinese).

  23. I'll have to show this to my partner (Crafty Green Boyfriend the zombie fan) and file it away for future reference when the zombies attack...

  24. Linda is pure awesome! I love the meticulous note-taking and the Eastern approach of not confronting an opponent who can overpower you.

    I imagine the dynamite will be pretty effective, too! At least in her own local area.

    Well done!

  25. Hi all!

    Aweeadventure, thanks much. I kind of feel the zombie genre has been plumbed pretty deeply, so I like to shoot for something original when I write them.

    Thanks Katherine, and welcome to the free-range insane asylum! If I do anything more with this story, I'll definitely revisit the vegetarian bit (you're the second commenter to touch on it so it much be "off").

    Thanks, Crafty! I hope he enjoys it.

    Paul, thanks much — I hope she runs out of zombies before she runs out of TNT!

  26. I loved this. It was a neat little take on the survival story, and felt somehow more plausible for that.

  27. Very well thought-out. Zombie-fighting strategy is often more interesting that gruesome zombie attacks.

    I enjoyed it. Thanks for the good read!

  28. oooh really loved this. I'm a fellow blow it upper. Hiding is for wimps. haha!

  29. Hi all!

    Thanks much, Icy!

    Matt, I like to focus on the people. The Zs are the obstacle, but otherwise (IMO aren't that interesting). Thanks!

    Tammy, if I had it to do all over again I think I'd work as a blaster. On the job stress relief!

  30. Agreed with many comments. I also like the Eastern approach. Or just blow 'em all to hell. Came over from Vamplit and your most recent post directed me to this. Enjoyed it. Have also wondered about the whole "what happens when the zombies run out of food?" And the dogs were a nice touch, as well.

    Paul D. Dail
    www.pauldail.com- A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

  31. Thanks, Paul. You can't do just one thing, after all — and I think as writers, we all too often overlook that. The trick is to not bog down trying to solve *all* the variables.


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