What do you think of when you conjure up an image of the apocalypse? Zombies, mostly, I’d think. Maybe marauding bad guys, or, if you’re closer to my age Mad Max type extras driving around in Scrap Heap Challenge cars.
In my book, ‘The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle’ (UK, USA), I used perfume and aftershave as a way of not attracting zombies – it confuses what senses they have and, as long as your footsteps are measured and unhurried you could even walk among them if you so chose. So what if, like the man in today’s article, it has unfortunate side effects. For this poor sod just one whiff of Chanel No. 5 causes him to collapse unconscious. Maybe it might be a good thing; the real question that never gets answered is whether you really want to survive the apocalypse. Are you better off dead?
Then there’s the woman who, when her house was burgled (burglarized in the USA) while she was at home, passed out. Her blood pressure rocketed and she collapsed. She had gone blind. The last thing you want is to go blind every time a zombie takes an interest in you. I guess it would only happen once unless you have some very accepting friends in your group.
All in all, the risks to every individual during an apocalypse are not just the blindingly obvious. Many of us will struggle to cope with the stress of such an event. I can understand this. Writing books in the apocalyptic genre makes me consider many instances where people would struggle to survive; I have discovered there are many in which I would not like to find myself.
Christmas is coming. Imagine you are out doing some shopping for your loved ones (sounds like the intro to the Twilight Zone), the streets are busy, you are on Oxford Street in London or Time Square in New York. All of a sudden a contagion sweeps through the ever-maddening throng. You discover you are a member of the one in a hundred to not succumb to the virus. Everyone around you has turned, their eyes are nacreous, blood and drool runs down their clothing, their teeth appear to elongate as their gums recede. Their smile is a rictus that pleases at first and then horrifies as you realise that the grin is opening to take a bite. What do you do? Where can you possibly hide? Remember you are surrounded by thousands of people who want a piece of you. I can seriously understand those who collapse as their bodily systems shut down in fright; I haven’t been able to think of a way out of that conundrum. Even if you are built like a brick s***house you would succumb, the sheer numbers and weight of so many people would prevent you from making a suitable and survivable stand. It only takes one bite.
Have you noticed that in most zombie films, the survivor has come out of a coma, or been incarcerated during the worst of it. It appears I’m not the only one who realises the improbability of surviving in a large crowd at the wrong moment.
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