Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Deal with your Zombie Problem - in Australia

I’ve been inspired by the redoubtable Mr Barnes[1] to add a small monograph on dealing with Zombies for the average Australian. As he has said, the recent development of artificial life in the form of bacteria with completely synthetic DNA means that the rise of Zed and the Zombie Apocalypse cannot be far away. Much has been written on this topic from the American viewpoint but we are unlikely to have access to pump-action shotguns or indeed the apparently limitless supply of handguns found in the USA. We must therefore manage with what is at hand. This paper describes weapons which are legal in all states except Victoria. If you live there, you must either emigrate or rely on running very, very fast indeed. Or be the kind of Victorian whose family appears in Underbelly[2].

(Each useful implement or "weapon" has been rated on a scale of 0 to 10 because a “1” might imply that they could possibly be of some use, however limited. Because different weapons are better suited to some environments than others, explanatory comments have also been appended. Illustrations include a matchbox for scale. (This should not be taken as an endorsement of Redhead products.))

For simplicity I have assumed that Zed will arise in the night and that the morning of the Apocalypse will find us at home. Or at someone's home anyway. The unprepared will probably dress and set off for the station to catch the 7:40 to Central, unaware that Mrs Griggs at the corner is now an undead monster with a lust for cerebellar gooeyness.  They are doomed. Worse, they will add to the Z problem faced by the rest of us. Some may think to reduce this problem by preemptively beheading neighbours who show Z-like tendencies (I'm looking at you, Q). I do not recommend this, unless of course you have a foolproof method of body disposal. For example, it might be possible to conceal two or even three Irish backpackers in a single mildewed mattress during a kerbside pickup.

But I digress. If you are in the habit of checking news reports and your immediate neighbourhood for signs of Z, you're off to a good start. Now your first impulse will probably be to close windows, lock doors and arm yourself before even considering where to loot. This is good, but what if Z is already in the house or battering mindlessly at your pathetically fragile modern doors? In this case you must arm yourself immediately and destroy the invader!

Household objects, useless     Score = 0/10

Seriously, if this is all you have, take off your clothes, squirt steak sauce on your head and run outside shouting “Here I am, eat me!”[3] 

You really must do better than this. 

Strictly speaking the boot knife may not be one of your household objects but there are all kinds of families, eh? Note, this not the kind of Smith and Wesson which will help you in a Zed attack.

Household objects, marginally useful     Score 1/10 – 2/10

Now these are better but far from adequate. If you have only one old, slow Z to deal with, you might be lucky enough to reach the brain. Otherwise, practice your screaming and shambling.

Household objects, Marginal to Fair

Getting better. You have a real chance with some of these, assuming a reasonable speed and skill on your part. Chain saws frankly aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Unless they have a long bar, plenty of fuel and you have the upper-body strength to swing one around – forget it. Use the fuel for fire, transport or a generator.

Electric Chainsaw         Score 3/10

Little electrics like the one shown will sever gray, livid arms, grasping with blind malevolence through your boarded-up windows. Until the power fails.

Short Axe   Score 5/10

This is short but very sharp and heavy; nasty in confined spaces – a bit like me. Given a longer haft, this would be a 7/10

Household objects,  Fair to Good

Now we’re talking! Note that these weapons give you some reach so you can avoid those rotting teeth and the virus-laden saliva that oozes around them.
Sledge.        Score 6/10

Brush-hook.        Score 6/10

Axe.  Score 7/10

“Real” Weapons

In the words of Max Brooks, “shotguns are fine, but blades don’t run out of bullets”. Nevertheless we must consider several points about the blade (sorry).
  • To “kill” the Zombie, one must destroy the brain, though beheading is acceptable if the head itself is avoided. So the blade must enable us to reach the festering mass of hunger and rage-filled synapses and disrupt it, without getting bitten. Length is important!
  • Disabling a Zombie by the removal of, or severe damage to the limbs is very helpful. Hence a cutting edge is preferred, with one exception shown below.

Ideally then, we need a long, sharp blade which can lop limbs or heads or split a skull with equal ease. As we will see, not all blades are created equal – let the buyer beware!

Sabre (German, 1900-1918).           Score 5/10

Why so low? A nice sword surely but too light and too short. De-limbing and beheading would take more skill and strength than most of us possess.


Sabre (British, early 20th C).  Score 6.5/10

Longer and heavier, excellent bell hilt for bite protection and face-punching. Older readers may remember when “Wilkinson Sword” was a brand of razor blade. How are the mighty fallen. This is a Wilkinson sword, by Henry Wilkinson of Pall Mall, by appt, etc.

Cutlass (modern but “real”). Score 5.5/10

Sharp and strong. Pity it isn’t longer but surprisingly good at maiming and the removal of digits. No home should be without one.

Foil (French, Leon Paul)        Score 1/10 for novices, 7/10 for fencers.

A skilled fencer (hi Sarah) could put down Zeds all day with this little sweetie. Light as a feather and much better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Unless you happen to be one of the undead, in which case it’s far, far worse.


Two-handed sword (Modern but decent steel)  Score 9/10

This will cut a pig in half assist greatly in the early stages of the preparation of meat products. Flexible enough to bend into a semicircle, sharp and pointy. Best of all, it’s stylish and will discourage other survivors from messing with your stuff.


And a Personal Favourite - the Halberd  Score 9/10

This little sweetie has a shorter than usual haft for those confined indoor spaces, while giving a wide swing to keep the Life-Challenged at a respectful distance. The long terminal (love that word) spear can wreck that virus-driven Zed brain while both sides have skull-piercing spikes. Until the Apocalypse, just leave it near the front door in case of unwanted callers, in-laws etc.


Garbage Warning! Imitation, so-called weapons.

I bought this on the Net for $20-odd just to have an example of this trash. Otherwise it’s hard to explain to people the difference between a sword and a vaguely sword-shaped piece of cheap, low quality metal that tossers buy in fantasy shops. If you bend this “Sword of Zorro” just a little – very easy incidentally – it stays bent. Absolute rubbish. Avoid at all costs.

Still to come:
  • Turning your home into a lethal fortress
  • Convincing the examining doctors of your sanity
  • Escaping from a straitjacket
  • Looting - Brand-name or No-name. Should You Care?
  • Your Post-Apocalyptic Garden - Rose thorns can slow Zombies with careful planting
  • Potassium Hydroxide, Methanol and Zombie fat - make "true" Biodiesel which will run almost any unmodified engine.

[1] Watching, waiting, prepared.
[2] If you are reading this and your Victorian family was immortalised in “Underbelly” – well done you! No offense intended. Have a nice day.
[3] If for some perverse reason you should decide to practise this, choose your location carefully. Such behaviour is considered mildly eccentric in, say, West End, but may place you in immediate mortal danger in, say, Ipswich.


  1. Excellent selection, covers most of the choices available.

    I would only add the additional category of those weapons so awesome in concept they must be inveted

  2. I'm reduced to the pizza cutter level. Someone please pass the barbecue sauce?

    Greybeard, we're planning breakfast at the Pancake Manor on the 25th, if you and your good lady would care to join us?

  3. I think you should include your tree pythons.

    If you throw them, the zombies might get confused and trip over them.

    Ahem, Morgana was going to get onto you about rescheduling our Pancake Festivities.
    Sunday 25 July at the Pancake manor, breakfasty time I assume, but yet to be confirmed. Are you and Mrs. Greybeard up for it?

  4. I'd love to. Thanks to slack post-checking and general male goofoffery I totally forgot the last one. We have a 70's themed dinner that night so breakfast out would be great.

    Er Quokka, are sure you want to deal with Zombie Pythons?

  5. You didn't miss much.
    In fact, you missed nothing at all.
    That one was cancelled as I was sick, missed my exam and had nothing to celebrate.
    Since Morgana has the furthest to travel and Mayhem has to do many laps of the city to find the place, (Havock says so) I will leave it to them to arrange a time.
    I'm guessing it will be around the 9am mark though.
    Want to scoot over to MMs for confirmation?

  6. In the right hands even your "Marginal to Fair" household objects might stand a chance against Zombies.

    Meat workers with their sharp knives and steels may be a match for a zombie while some bozo with an axe or sword would be just zombie fodder.

  7. Razorwire, Greybeard. Where's your razorwire? Where are your pikepits? Where are your molotov cocktails? Your bazookas? Your rottweilers? Your hydrochloric acid bombs? Your ride-on lawnmowers? Your kidnapped rat-skinning mothers in the oubliette?

    We ALL have these things just lying about the house, so we should be made aware of their Zombie-destroying potential. Perhaps Mr Barnes could be persuaded to run a training course?

  8. Alas the razor wire is unstrung, the postie complained about the pits and rotties, my son uses the HCl to make something odd in the cellar and my wife drank the molotovs etc. I'll be keeping Mayhem's Mum VERY safe if there's a plague of Zombies. If she were infected no place on earth would be safe.

  9. While I am very interested in subscribing to your pamphlet - what about some other household tools? Unfortunately I don't happen to have a claymore sitting around the house - but there are a number of tools which you haven't included - screwdrivers, crowbars, hammers, shovels etc - all of which could give you a chance against the zombie threat...

  10. Disturbing - and yet pleasing - news from Casa Quokka.
    Things have been very, very quiet next door in the land of the no-doze leprechauns. At least one of their number appears to be AWOL.

    A blood and urine soaked mattress has appeared on the footpath a few doors down. Normally they appear on the footpath outside backpacker central but this one is stacked against the stone wall outside the Social Worker's house.

    I've been wondering if I should poke the mattress with some meat skewers and see if starts to ooze. I suspect it will.

    Now if it were a cake and the skewer came out gooey, I'd know what to do. Oozing mattresses, though, have me at a loss.

    Suggestions, zombie killers?

  11. Point taken Guru Bob. I'll have to regard this as a work in progress. Or go into business selling sharp instruments?

    Against a stone wall Quokka? No probs - douse with petrol, lay a trail in the opposite direction to your house and light. If something nasty tries to get out, run. (Rule #1 - Cardio)

  12. Perhaps if I douse it with guinness they'll be less motivated to leave.

  13. A waste of good guinness, if you ask me.

    Yeah, Greybeard, spiky things are good. My favourite kickin' boots have long, spiky heels - although I'm not keen on messing them up with zombie gore. Can you get me a Mace and Halberd?

    Oh, and what about chemical weapons? Do we know if there's an antidote for Tetrodotoxin? I'm hoping against all hope that there is. And that it's guinness. But vodka will do.

  14. We have a new chemical weapon of mass destruction.
    Its sold as coffee at the Pancake Manor.

  15. I have exactly the same boot knife.
    Excellant work sir.