The day has come. The day we’ve all been waiting for. Day zero of the zombie apocalypse. Still reeling from the simultaneous Emergency Notification System calls, emails and text messages, you’ve decided it’s high time to mobilize. You thought you had prepared sufficiently by learning the art of the Zombieland Double Tap and by knowing how to “play your records”, à la Shaun of the Dead. Sure, Double Tap may work if you aren’t surrounded by hundreds of hungry zombies, but forget the latter as well as all that 28 Days Later stuff. That’s how you survive the zombie apocalypse in England; we’re in America.
The Walking Dead returns for its third season tonight on AMC, with the survivors still in search of a safe haven after leaving Atlanta. But what if zombie armageddon hit Northwestern? Good thing North by Northwestern has two plans tailored specifically for Northwestern students.
Create a team
There are several ways to go about creating a successful zombie survival team, none that far off from assembling Greek philanthropy event teams. You can stick with a small group to ensure maximum mobility or you can find safety in numbers, probably just to use the most annoying member as a shield if and when the need comes. From my extensive research on the subject, I have concluded that the optimum number of people per team is five. In the event of the zombie apocalypse, you, Member One, would be wise to not make your very first destination Burger King (sure, you’ll miss it, but at least it means you’ll be alive to miss it) but rather Slivka. Every successful zombie survival team needs at least one engineer, Member Two, who can stay level-headed about equipment and zombie traps. Member Three should be someone with athletic prowess, whether he or she hails from the ParaCombative, football or lacrosse team. Member Four should probably be a token redneck. Finally, Member Five should be that shady friend you have who wouldn’t shy away from stealing guns and ammo like they were fraternity shot glasses.
There are plenty of places on campus where you can potentially wait out the zombie outbreak, like Deering Library, Dearborn Observatory or the roof of Block (with that newly higher ledge, no zombies will be getting up there anytime soon), but none are as good as Tech. Even Northwestern students, who happen to sit a few steps up the mental ladder from mindless zombies, get lost in Tech. How would you expect a few errant zombies to follow you through the winding corridors when you’re running at top speed? Set up a couple of barriers, erect a few traps and know where the exit is at all times, and you have a safe base. One group member can always be on guard, you can command control of all the fun and useful radioactive substances housed in the complex and you can finally locate Einstein’s. Assuming that it is in fact a 28 Days Later situation in which zombies will eventually die of starvation, Tech wouldn’t be the worst place to live for a month. Some students do it for four years.
Where is Project Cookie when you need them?
In the event of a zombie apocalypse, it’s important to look at life in the big picture. Talk to your friends, team members, loved ones and professors and make sure they know that, in the event of an emergency in which they fall victim to the zombies and end up a zombie, you must “take care of them” in the best interest of the survivors of the world. You should expect the same of them in case you get bitten. On that note, I do not suggest dressing up as a zombie. It didn’t work for Bill Murray, so it won’t work for you. But don’t worry about what your zombified loved one will think if you must take him or her down. It’s all for the greater good of the Northwestern community survivors.
The long term
So maybe these zombies aren’t of the "eventual starvation" category. By this point, you and your remaining team members are exhausted, dehydrated, craving sunlight and irritable (sort of like finals week, but just a bit more dire). That’s another great reason you’re bunkered down in Tech with an engineering student. Throughout this ordeal, you should've been treating your team engineer as the team's most valuable commodity. If you already let him or her succumb to the hordes of flesheaters, then shame on you. I don’t know what to tell you then. But if your engineer still has game, commission him or her to build you an airplane or a boat. Tech must store enough supplies for the project within its labyrinth of classrooms and storage, but just be careful who you send out to pick up supplies. If your shady teammate gets the job, he may not return. Just saying.
Note: The above states how to survive the zombie apocalypse without even leaving campus, but that doesn’t mean it’s exactly my plan. That specific plan is to be kept top secret until the time comes to share its insight. Because who wants a few thousand other students vying for that perfect spot you picked out the third day of your freshman year, right?
See you on the other side, friends.
Find a weapon
Melee: You are not going to get anywhere unless you can somehow kill those undead classmates of yours. Some frat fool will probably say, “Grab a chainsaw!” Well, he did say that before he was eaten, that is. Any weapon that runs on gas or electricity is out. Those luxuries are going to be hard to find, so nix them. In that case, you can’t go wrong with a simple crowbar. I would check in the shop rooms at Kresge. They won’t break after a few head-bashings like a bat, and they don’t require the heavy lifting of a sledgehammer. On top of that, they’re a nice multi-tool. And they go great with any outfit. I might also suggest the banjo.
Ranged: To my knowledge, guns aren’t exactly common around campus. Or anywhere in the general vicinity of Evanston. We also don’t have an archery club. This all means ranged defense is going to be a real challenge. Your best bet is finding an NU or Evanston police officer or cruiser somewhere near the now demolished campus and getting your hands on a pistol. If that’s a bust, then I hope you’re good at making a slingshot.
Find somewhere to go
Some more bad news: Before the outbreak, you lived near one of the most populated cities in the United States. This is not good if you planned on not being eaten. But, you’re at Northwestern! That is a plus. After all, it provides some fantastic areas to hole up and survive. The perfect place has to be chosen based on a couple ideas.
- You need a place that’s going to keep you safe, not just from the brainaholics, but from the good ol’ Chicago winter, when that time comes around.
- It needs an escape route. If the shpoop hits the fan and you can’t get out, you're a Lunchable for an undead foodie.
- It needs to lack windows! The more windows, the more ways for the undead masses to break in. If it does have a ridiculous amount of windows, then make sure you don’t go to the first floor.
So what buildings on campus serve that purpose (if they’re still standing, that is)? Well, unfortunately, they all have around a bazillion windows (obviously the architects were not thinking ahead). But there are some passable places. Any dining hall is a good place to start. Not only do they have some stores of food, but the buildings have few points of access. They will also have the most lootable rooms! Blankets, coats, lava lamps, Game of Thrones posters and whatever else you could need. I’ve also been told that the fourth floor of Tech is a good way to go – nobody knows it’s there and it’s high up.
You have to be able to get around the hungry mob. A bike is your best friend, but that’s not your only option. A scooter, skateboard, roller skates/blades, pogo stick, moon shoes, camel, horse-drawn cart, tractor, boat and Heelys (if you're a child in the early 2000s) are all viable options. Well thats it! You are now ready to survive your first Northwestern zombie apocalypse. Load up on Chipotle (and booze – it’s going to get really boring), team up with Willie and always aim for the head.