Happy Days

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Lesson #1:

Now, I’m sure you’re already sick of hearing about it, but let’s skip back to the falsity of television once more. Why am I telling you about it if it’s redundant? Because I can’t stress enough that knowing the difference between TV and reality is what will keep you alive.

Recall the heroic, stalwart survivors in our favorite flicks and episodes. They fought off ravening hordes at least once a week, and were always under constant threat of being overrun. Hell, they couldn’t take a piss in the middle of a wide open field without at least one popping up out of nowhere. I’m not judging; I was just as intrigued as everyone else.

Every single person was a crack shot, wielding guns that never seemed to run out of ammo unless the plot line demanded it. But shit, every twelve year old could put a .45 slug through the eye of a deader at thirty yards… blindfolded. ..with one hand tied behind their back. In the event that the bullets did run out, our heroes could walk forward with their trusty Swiss Army knife and shove it easily through a deader’s skull, dropping it lifelessly to the ground.

Living in the midst of everything, I have to laugh at humanity’s thought process. Just for a quick anatomy lesson, the human femur is stronger than concrete, and next to the spur of the elbow and the enamel on your teeth, the cranium is the hardest part of the body. Of course, fiction is always more enjoyable and easier to create when you haven’t had to live through reality. To be honest, fiction is much more exciting.

Deaders are pretty quick; that’s the first thing that you need to know. Sure, they aren’t the most graceful things in the world, but they can get some speed behind them when they choose to. They don’t have much of a thought process outside of sheer instinct: Kill; eat. Not necessarily in that order. They don’t work as a team or as a pack. They just happen to frequently move together in groups, almost like some part of them remembers what it was like to socialize.

Remember the old episodes of Shark Week on the Discovery channel? Where some scientist or another would chum the water and then throw in a half torn tuna? The sharks would converge on it. There could be dozens in the water, but they didn’t work together; they just attacked. Deaders are the same way; all muscle, no mind.

Now, you can kill them pretty easy with a gun; they die as efficiently as we do when half of their head gets blown off. Bullets are a precious commodity that we held onto for ourselves as best we could, though. Ammo was hard to get before the virus took hold- thanks in large part to our now dead President- and it was even harder, now. Fortunately for us, our street had a tidy little supply sourced together from our own people. Francis- hillbilly ‘Merican and staunch supporter of the Second Amendment- had a nice selection for a variety of different handguns and rifles with plenty of rounds to match each. I had my Sig 9mm with a couple of cases of ammunition. Lewis and D’wayne each had a number of rifles and shotguns for hunting. Hell, even Sister Tracy had a little Derringer that she’d kept tucked away. It was a veritable fortune in current day value, but- needless to say- they were for an absolutely last resort.

Our day to day “tools” were of a rougher sort, but possibly more effective. See, despite what television would have you think, people can miss when they fire a gun. Especially when they’re scared, or have the shaky hands of their fight or flight mechanism kicking in. It’s a little harder to miss with a good ol’ fashioned Louisville slugger, though, and a good solid swing does about the same amount of damage as a bullet.

See, TV almost had it right on that account. Almost. What TV never did was explain and validate the simple underlying fact that deaders don’t feel pain; they don’t feel anything. You, as the viewer, were supposed to infer it, but the broader picture was never given to you. You can crack them across the ribs with a pipe, shoot them in the arm, stab them in the chest. They might move at the impact, but they didn’t feel their ribs breaking, the flesh shriveling away from the entry sight of a gunshot wound, their punctured lungs filling with blood. But, yeah, smashing their head apart seemed to do the trick.

Personally, I’ve had enough practice at putting them down that I can generally get the job done with one shot, but I prefer to use three.( Firstly, because it’s prudent; secondly, because I like it.) What the average viewer would never understand, though, is that hitting an angry deader in the head for a clean kill shot is harder than you would think. Physics plays a huge role, and human error takes care of the rest. Deaders aren’t stationary targets, and most people are scared when they find themselves in a face to face situation. Moreover, the skull is like a bobble head figurine; it will swivel and bounce around. Blows can easily glance off, allowing injury, but dispersing the force of impact.

What I found in the first few days was that the knee, hip or ankle was the first place I wanted to hit. It didn’t matter whether they felt pain or not; you break apart an articulating, weight bearing joint and they fell to the ground like a grumpy sack of bloody oatmeal. The fact that they didn’t feel anything was actually an asset to us in that sense because they didn’t know to try and compensate for the injury. They wouldn’t shift their weight to another leg and hobble after us; no, they’d just flop around on the ground, attempting to crawl forward, and we could decide whether to flee to safety or kill them. I generally preferred the latter, although I’m not above admitting that I’ve had to back off more than once. Common sense, remember?
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