What REALLY Is The Biggest Threat In A Zombie Apocalypse?

Having read Jack Flacco’s interesting blog on parasites that might cause a form of zombie-ism, it reminded me of a part of my biology degree where we studied parasites. Thanks Jack, I’d nearly forgotten that!

Having said that, if we look around us there are a million ways in which the human race could be driven to extinction. But how to be one of the survivors? One of the reasons I like to take my survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse to the USA is that there is so much more land there in which to disappear and hopefully survive. But let’s look at that for a moment. What do we really need to worry about more than rotten old bodies coming at you with unbrushed gnashers and halitosis?

  1. Nuclear Power StationNuclear power stations – without proper management these will ultimately go all China Syndrome on us and you don’t want to be near one when that happens. There are eight active stations in the UK, twenty one in France, up to seven in Spain and a further one hundred and forty eight across the rest of Europe, not counting the further seventeen under construction. You may not even have to be near one to succumb, a lot of it will go airborne – Chernobyl is an excellent example of that problem.
  2. HIV-virusLaboratories with deadly diseases – of course this is an undisclosed number for obvious reasons. The risk there of course is that you are walking past what appears to be a harmless enough looking, rather dilapidated building only to come down with smallpox or some other nasty disease.  There are probably hundreds of these sites across the UK, not including the less-than-legal ones. And what about those missing thousands of phials containing some of the worst diseases known to man and about which I’ve written before, they could be in any of the ‘semi-detached suburban’ houses you walk past or settle near.
  3. Ground water infection – I did a lookup of the population of the Earth the other day and discovered there are over seven billion – yes I said billion – of us lovely people (check out http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/) on this blue orb. Now imagine an apocalypse with say, 60% mortality rate. Eighty percent of the deaths will be in cities and larger conurbations so you’ll have to steer clear of these as we ‘ooze’ people, when we’re dead we ooze. It’s that simple. Then the rain washes us away and into the water table because sewers will soon clog up and cease to function. You want to get above these levels in order to have the best chance of finding drinkable water – which you will still have to boil before drinking because of the dying animal population which will release parasites and infection into the water. Sheep and cattle will die out quickly because the way we have bred them requires constant management. So you ‘go higher for cleaner’ – remember those words.
  4. tarballsPollutants – In each country there are huge vats full of stored oils, gases and chemicals for use in industry – quite literally billions of gallons of lethal chemicals just waiting to kill us off. They can also become more lethal once mixed producing gas such as chlorine, so one day everything is hunky dory, the next you’re gasping for breath wondering what the hell is going on. Of course, those not airborne get into the water table and endanger you via this route as well. It will lay waste to vast tracts of land, poisoned for all time.

I think you probably get the point that life after the apocalypse will be no picnic. The key to survival, once you have evaded the zombies, the escaped criminals, the recently insane, the packs of ever more feral dogs, and anything else the world can throw at you, your biggest challenge is to move somewhere that won’t kill you simply by being there.

Now then, the big question: Am I right to send my heroes to the USA to have a stronger chance of survival? Is there really such large tracts of open and untouched land in America that could afford them not to be poisoned either slowly or quickly? In the USA there are sixty five nuclear reactors, the majority of which are on the east coast and a few across as far as Kansas, although there are a few down in Arizona and a couple in California. Interestingly there have been eight accidents/incidents at these plants since 1979, the latest due to corroded pipes leaking coolant into the ware table. See what I’m talking about, folks? Imagine one, two or three years of no maintenance. At least my decision to take the story in “The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle” to Denver appears to have been a potentially reasonable one. Plus I love that area – got my worst blisters walking in them there hills!

Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration
Courtesy of Federal Highway Administration

In this diagram (from this article) you can see the concentration of industry (supplier and assembly plant density is a good indicator of industrial activity, I’d say) so you can see where the greatest chance of water table pollutants is likely to be a serious issue. What it doesn’t say is that local knowledge is critical to your survival – what about those lone industrial plants that have already polluted the area’s water in the past? They are almost guaranteed to leak again.

All in all, I do think that getting to the USA is a reasonable thing to do, as long as you head west, young man, albeit with local advice for additional guidance.

Well, this has been an exhausting blog to write, and one thing is for certain, wherever you are, the Apocalypse and surviving it is one hell of a lot more complex than surviving snapping teeth!

OUT SOON: “The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – California Dreamin’ ”. This is the third in the series.

Zombie books by David K Roberts:

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle

UK          USA        Canada    Australia

Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor

UK           USA         Canada    Australia



  1. Thank you, David, for the honorable mention! Also, your description of power plants is frightening. Certainly we should have learned something from Chernobyl. The same thing could have happened to Three-Mile Island in the States. Not sure what happened to save it. Anyway, great post!

    1. My pleasure, Jack. I have enjoyed a great number of your blogs, always an interesting point of view and food for thought to be had.

      Writing this particular blog depressed me a little. It appears that through our desperate determination to provide energy and mass volume sales of everything, with electrical goods being the most chemically dangerous, we have doomed any survivors of a civilisation-changing event to a miserable, disease-ridden existence. Did you ever watch the film, ‘War Games’? Not the kiddie one but the one made in the early 70s showing the effects of a nuclear war? From my investigation I don’t believe we need a nuclear war to end up the same way, just leakage and melt-downs of power plants.

      Damn, I think I’m beginning to see TWD as uplifting adventure! 🙂
      All the best
      PS 3 Mile Island – the damaged reactor is closed and a new one has recently come on line – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident#Cleanup

  2. Jack’s parasite post was disturbing! Thanks for taking the panic to another level lol.
    I’m in Texas so i think I’m doing ok with the whole wide open spaces thing.
    I’m going to check out your zombie books! I’m reading Jack’s right now.

    1. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to look too closely at things like the apocalypse, you really might not like what you see. Makes TWD positively tame! I look forward to your thoughts on my books when you get there 🙂
      Thanks Melissa.

      1. It doesn’t pay to look too closely at a lot of things! lol
        as for TWD…Daryl Dixon would make it worth fighting zombies. I don’t even know what it is that I like so much about that dirty redneck but he’s my favorite.
        I’m looking forward to reading your books, I love zombie books!

      2. I’m horrified at the number of men (a lot of them young as well) that moisturise and do other stuff these days – spending more time in the bathroom than women. I’m not a man’s man by any means but I do believe there should be a difference between men and women 🙂
        PS I do wash!

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