Zombies 101: What They Are
Don't Freeze Up...
You've Left the House
You've accepted what's happening. The radios and news are no longer broadcasting, but the last thing you heard before getting on the move was that this was a global phenomenon. Fear is a constant within you, and it seems like you hear moaning and the shambling footsteps of the dead all around you as you walk down the street, clutching a baseball bat to your chest You're paranoid. It'll keep you alive. The undead seem to be more preoccupied by their current meals. Those being your neighbors, maybe friends and family. You must get somewhere safe, somewhere impenetrable. Somewhere with weapons, maybe. As you search, you note that these zombies aren't all the same. Some stumble about with no real signs of coordination or speed, while other are bolting across the streets, growling viciously as they overtake even the quickest of people. Where are you going? What are you doing? The questions run through your head, but only one answer is constant. You must stay alive...
In this segment of my zombie series, I'll talk about the different zombies in fiction and how they act, how easy they are to kill, and what makes them stronger or more fearful. The goal on this Hub is to make you aware of some possibilities if this "Z-Day" were to ever happen. I realize that most people have seen the movies, read the books, played the game, etc., but at least this way it's generally all in one place. I realize that this is taking a step away from my previous factual hub, but seeing as how we're not in the apocalypse now, there's very little to go on besides fiction. In any case, I hope you enjoy!
A "Normal" Zombie
Types of Zombies: The Usual
Walkers- Walkers are, by all accounts, the most basic and popular of the zombie types. In the old days as well as recent years they've been included in movies, games, and books. These zombies are the kind most of us would probably laugh at, were we confronted by one. The shuffle about on unsteady feet and have little to no coordination whatsoever. We could almost literally walk around them in circles at a brisk pace and probably be alright. They always appear to rot quickly, and can be dismembered quite easily. In some cases, they can be destroyed just by causing enough harm to the body in general. In others, only destroying the head will work. Their strength lies in numbers, however. Get three or four of them together, or more, like hordes, and there's a problem. Suddenly, your path is cut off and they're coming at you from more than one direction. If they get their hands on you, beware They seem to possess the strength to latch on that is extremely difficult to break. All in all, be cautious, but don't run around screaming. It's never a good idea.
Runners- These are much more frightening. The name is self-explanatory. Zombies of this type run at full force toward whatever they may be targeting. It's speculated that they might be able to run faster than the average human, only because their mind doesn't force them to stop like ours does when we're in danger of ripping or tearing muscles. What's more, we can only go so long before our bodies can't take anymore. We get winded and must stop to breathe. Runners have no need for air. Have a plan. Because even if you are faster, they will have a limitless amount of stamina. These zombies also seem to decay slower, allowing them to sustain a "fit" form over a longer period of time. Be warned, it isn't just their legs that move fast. When they attack, it's with a singleminded rage. They can tear apart a body in seconds. Shoot fast and/or hit hard. Even one is dangerous enough. Get a group, even a small one, and your chances for survival drop significantly. Take no chances with them.
Some Different Types
Bloated- There are a few different variants of these grotesque zombies. All seem to be essentially suicidal, exploding their own fluid-filled bodies. It's what this disgusting explosion of gore does that determines what the variant is. Some explode, throwing bodily juices all over survivors that seems to attract other zombies, even from a distance, to a prospective meal. Others explode extremely violently, causing massive damage to humans and possibly causing infection. It is never, ever a good idea to get near these. Some are known to projectile vomit their fluids, causing the same "targeting" aspect for other undead. Where we survivors have the upper-hand is that their bodies are so tightly packed with fluids and their skin stretched so thin that in most cases throwing a rock with enough force can involuntarily cause them to explode prematurely. At a distance, this is definitely a great idea. If you're too close, get to a safe distance first. Another benefit of this is that the living dead around them might possibly attack one another if the fluid gets on them, and the ones that only cause damage with their explosions could take out multiple zombies in their immediate vicinity. The best offense with Bloated zombies is a safe distance and some form of projectiles. They can be known to move quickly as well, so factor this into your strategy.
Tongue- Distance can be the enemy with these zombies. Their tongues have a range that borders on the ridiculous. They control it with superb ability, coiling it around their prey like a snake and the muscle is strong enough to pull the survivor over a long distance right to them. However, being close isn't always the best strategy. Some of these "Tonguers" are extremely strong and fast, and always violent. A foolproof strategy is to take the tongue out. Don't hesitate in blowing it or slicing it in twane. If you're in a group, help one another. As far as it can be seen, just having a tongue wrapped around you doesn't cause infection, at least unless you try to chew it off or it gets in a wound. If you have firearms, try shooting the zombie from a distance as opposed to backtracking to try and wrestle the tongue off. You probably won't have time for that.
Jumpers- Zombies falling under this category are particularly nasty. They seem to have particularly strong muscles in the legs, allowing them to leap great distances. What makes them even more dangerous is their ability to land directly on their target. It would seem that they've retained, or even developed the ability to judge distance and trajectory. The impact they land with is enough to bring even the largest survivor to the ground. To complicate facing off against these undead even more is the probability that there are already other zombies present. Once you're on the ground, your survival rate is cut drastically. Some good strategies are: if you see them, kill them as quickly as possible. Running probably won't help much. If you have a ranged weapon and their in mid-jump, try to take them out of the air. Even if you don't kill them right off, stopping their momentum is definitely helpful. If you have only a melee weapon, there's a possibility you could take them out right as they come into range, but a better strategy, I think, is to simply wait until the last moment and move. They might be able to know when, where, and how far to jump, but once they're in the air, they can't do much else but land. Dodge and then attack. They're most likely much easier to fight once on the ground. Another simple strategy is to find cover if it's available and doesn't corner you. But always keep an eye on them. An note to be added here is that there are the living dead known to fall under both the Tongue and Jumper categories. Mix up your knowledge of both when confronted with these. They can just as easily catch you and pull you away with their tongues as jump the same distance or farther.
Tanks- Tanks are, by any standard, larger than average zombies that possess immense strength. In many case they are also able to sustain heavier damage than the average risen deceased, even to the head. Whether it's a bodybuilder returned to unlife or some mutation of the infection that makes them muscle-bound beasts, they're always extremely dangerous and highly violent. Some might be able to simply tears your limbs from your body, or at least snap your bones like a twig, while others could throw boulders or flip cars in your direction. The first instinct you might feel, as would anyone, is to run. It's definitely one strategy. But often times these juggernauts don't stop. It isn't suggested to hide behind anything anywhere near them. They might be able to bust through a brick wall, let alone plow you over with the same car you're using as your cover. Most seem to be a little slower than average, given that their upper bodies are so much heavier than their legs seem to be able to keep up with. Outrun them if you can. If not, at least keep moving while you fight them. Try to keep as much distance as possible from them, and if you absolutely have to fight with a melee weapon, aim for the legs first. They're probably much easier to break and any zombie forced to crawl is much easier to deal with.
Chargers- I wasn't entirely sure whether to add these along with Tanks or not. Chargers are very large zombies that are not only very strong, but if given the chance to build momentum can reach extremely high speeds and plow through just about anything and are likely to keep going. Think Juggernaut from The X-Men. Some are known to grab a survivor in mid-stride. Some just plow over them, likely killing them in that single rush. If not, well, there's always the eating and all. These can be taken out at a distance, even as they're charging at you. At the last second, as with Jumpers, dodge. Even if you only have a melee weapon you can bash or hack at them when they stop to turn around. Another strategy is to go up. It seems like their unstoppable-like momentum can't be attained on upward inclines. I wouldn't try a downward one, though. As usual, take no chances.
Intelligent- Or I should say the possibility of intelligence. These zombies can be identified by acts of curiosity that most others seem lacking in. If you see a corpse holding something, turning it over, examining it, then it's most likely learning on some level. Make no mistake, these aren't people anymore than can be befriended. They'll almost definitely still eat you. And what makes this type more dangerous is the possible use of guns, using the same baseball bat your friend was carrying before it killed him, or even seeing you and your group coming and hiding in wait like a true predator. These zombies are also known to naturally "lead" others. The others might not be of the intelligent sort, but they'll follow it to you. Or some other colonized hold-up. It would probably be smart to take these guys out as soon as you see them. A horde of zombies roaming around is a mess. A horde of zombies following one that knows where it's going is a catastrophe.
Keep in mind, please, that the zombies I've listed here are based almost entirely on fictional renderings. I honestly have no idea what type of zombies the world might be facing were it to ever actually experience such a thing. I'm aware, also, that I probably have missed certain types, and posting comments about them is always helpful. I hope you enjoyed this segment of Zombies 101 and got at least a little information from this. At the very little maybe a heads-up?
The next hub in this series will be Weapons, Armor, Vehicles! I look forward to hearing your input!