Weathering the Zombie Apocalypse

It only took 24 hours for me to devour Max Brooks “World War Z”. This book is set-up to be an oral history of the zombie war that engulfs mankind in modern times. It tells the tale of the zombie infestation through series of interviews from all over the world and it just so happens that the zombie invasion starts from my current country of residence, China. The author does an amazing job exploring the cultural aspects from different countries during the zombie attack. Dealing with China, Brooks describes a situation where doctors are reluctant to go help the “nongmin” farmers, he has the zombie infestation spread from China from the “shetou” people smugglers, who are trying to help some infected pre-reanimated people escape from the government crackdowns, and also deals with issues related to China’s migrant labor force. However, China is only one of many countries examined in the zombie attack.

Being located in China myself and reading this book got me to thinking about how I would deal with the situation. Rolling over , giving up, and dying isn’t an option here. I want to weather out the storm of reanimated corpses, maybe have a little fun in the process, and help to re-populate humanity.

Densely populated areas are a no-no for trying to stay alive. The district I live in , Jing An District , had a population density of 41,994.8/km2 (108,765.9/sq mi) as of 2008. Considering 3 years have passed this number could easily have doubled. (Just kidding there, Shanghai’s growth isn’t quite that crazy but still expect the numbers to have increased). Once someone is infected in this area the spread would be incredible. 42,000 potential new zombies per square kilometer. Around 300,000 in Jing An district alone. 23 million in Shanghai total and with  Add in Shanghai’s efficient subway and bus systems and the spread would be all over the city , fast. Then consider the rail and bus links between Shanghai ,Suzhou, and Hangzhou. Less than one hour by high-speed rail gets us to Suzhou with 8.8 million people and Hangzhou with 10 million people. The two provinces directly bordering Shanghai (Shanghai is its own province) have 80,000,000 (Jiangsu) and 54,000,000 (Zhejiang) people. Basically it would be time to get the hell outta the Eastern seaboard. We will deal with that situation later, the situation if escape from Shanghai were possible.

For now though we will examine survival options within Shanghai’s administrative borders.

Guns are illegal in China and most police officers do not carry them. Therefor we will be arming ourselves with blunt objects , knives, clubs, and any other sort of handcrafted battering device. This could also make things a little difficult.

Now stuck within Shanghai we could have several options:

One would be to flee to the least densely populated area of Shanghai , Chongming Island. If you could make it to Chongming and then blow up the connecting bridge this might be an alright option. Forested parks, relatively low population density , farms , isolation (except for the bridge) from the mainland all work in favor for this location. However , Max Brooks makes it clear that zombies can and will walk across the seafloor. So now we have the 23 million potential zombies from Shanghai walking under the water ( don’t have to breathe!) and coming up on shore on Chongming Island. This could present a major problem.

Hmmmm. Back to the city center. We would need an enclosed fortified area with room for growing plants or raising animals. This is potentially feasible. Many Shanghai apartment complexes are walled and gated and have a little green grassy area inside the complex. If the gates could be completely sealed then possibly survival could happen. The biggest problem would be the amount of people inside. For example my building is 28 stories tall and contains 3 apartments per floor. My apartment has 2 bedrooms and 2 inhabitants but the ones next to ours are split into multiple tiny bedrooms and I would say we have 7 people crammed in one apartment. If we go on the low range and estimate 4 people per apartment that leads  28 floors x 12 people = 336. However there are 4 such of those buildings. 336 x 4 = 1344 people. Oh yea plus 3 smaller 14 story buildings.  12 people per floor x 14 floors x 3 buildings = 504. So 1848 people crammed into the apartment complex. Definitely not enough room for vegetable gardens outside in our limited green space. Indoor plants are a possibility but we would have to have these prepared in advance , grab them during the early days of the mayhem , or somehow make a near suicide sneak mission outside to grab materials. Hmm not the best situation possible. I wouldn’t just barricade myself up in my 28th floor lair either. Maybe the zombies wouldn’t get me but I would eventually slowly succumb to death by starvation. Carrefour (grocery store) is a 3 minute walk ( less than one minute sprint) but man all those zombies out there would rip me to shreds and I would have to contend with all the survivors stripping the shelves bare.

Another option I can think of would be to go to one of the city parks. The parks are walled and gated (closed at night) and might offer a reprieve from the undead. If we could effectively block off the entrances from zombies and not let too many humans inside this could be okay. Century and Gangqing also have lots of trees so firewood for cooking and heating would be available. The problem is too that too many of Shanghai’s 23 million residents would also have similiar park aspirations.

Now onto the subway tunnels and shopping malls. Forget about it. Simple as that. Suicide to do that. With so many subway stations and exits to the outside world it would be very hard to ensure that all entrances to the tunnels and stations would be sealed. Imagine groping through long pitch black tunnels and running into a squad of zombies. Nope not for me. It would also be very easy to get cornered and subsequently devoured. Same as shopping malls , too easy to get trapped and too hard to ensure it’s sealed from the outside.

Basically the greatest hope lies with escaping the cities and going far , far, away. I personally think the idea of the mountainous sparsely populated regions of Tibet , Xinjiang , or northern Yunnan , sounds best. A mountain hide-a-way would form a natural obstacle to the swarm. If this mountain home was additionally fortified by humans than even better.

Some prime locations to survive would might include , the great wall , Datong hanging monasteries , Tibet in the Himalaya mountains , and the TianShan mountain range in Xinjiang. A bit closer to Shanghai Huangshan in Anhui province could be viable as well.

For me the plan would be to grab a nice bicycle and leave Shanghai right away. I would keep on biking west avoiding major population centers. If perhaps I could find a section of the great wall in a mountainous area then I could settle on the wall. They have guard tower sections with walls and a roof to ward off the elements and provide a shelter , veggies and fruits could be grown on top of the wall , and most importantly it could keep the zombies at bay.

All in all I hope this situation never comes to pass but keep yourself entertained with World War Z!

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