Thanks Tom and Grace for your comments. I definitely agree with the idea of an island (though I prefer habited), and the spare glasses idea was a great call. As a fellow myopic, I’d be basically useless if my glasses ever broke.
First, to start with a few assumptions. I assume zombies do not retain their human intelligence; if they did, and I had to counter coordinated bands of zombies, I wouldn’t stand a chance anyway. I assume the virus is highly contagious and can spread from as little as a cough or sneeze; quarantining new visitors for the incubation period as known from my knowledge of when the virus is first released will be critical. I assume zombies, like humans, cannot swim a hundred kilometers in the water (they cannot store that many calories), or walk on the sea floor (they cannot withstand the pressure). I assume that like most viruses, this virus will not spread inter-species (or live for long in salt-water) and I won’t have to worry about cannibalistic zombie fish and zombie plants. Since that would cause the collapse of the global eco-system, I would be dead anyway.
When Josh and I first talked about this hypothetical, we didn’t get into much detail regarding what we would bring, mainly talking about where to go. My destination would, like Thomas’, be an island in some temperate climate. Islands are nicely removed from the main infestation centers of zombies and naturally protected by the ocean. Island living is sustainable living–one reason suggested by Malcolm Gladwell for why tropical islanders didn’t develop as much technology as the West is that they simply did not need that technology. They didn’t require agricultural techniques like irrigation, steel plows, and fertilization. Their bounty fell out of the trees and swam into fishing nets. If you lived in the Garden of Eden, you’d be in loincloths too.
Like Tom and Grace, I would liquidate assets and take out the biggest loan I could from reputable or irreputable sources. I would fly to the closest major city to my island of choice, and then rent/purchase a boat. I’d get every vaccination possible before I left. I’d ideally buy a small property in the island, near a dock, and shuttle/purchase supplies: bottled water, antibiotics, sterile bandages, tools, nets, canned food, a generator (and backups), gasoline, light bulbs, rechargeable batteries, flashlights, an AM/FM radio receiver, a long-range radio transmitter…etc. Every dollar and scrap of gold should be spent, because in an apocalyptic world the assets of value are medicine, oil, and weapons. I’d bring books, some for entertainment, but others to preserve human civilization and our literature and scientific heritage. Perhaps several Kindles, uploaded with classics and textbooks would be wise, which we would then attempt to copy to paper over the course of many years. Weapons are popular to bring, but I don’t think I could stand a chance against a true horde of zombies. I think long-range weapons with stopping power are much preferable to handguns; if the zombies are close enough for those to be useful, the only use for them is shooting yourself in the head before they start gnawing on your legs. Ideally I’d be able to have rifles, heavy machine guns, grenades/rockets, mines, and since I’m on an island, in the best-case scenario, artillery that can hit boats out at sea or incoming planes.
What island would I head to? A major consideration is having an island with a nearly limitless source of freshwater. I’d also prefer a place with people that could keep me company, help with the labor, food gathering, and possibly defense of the island. Somewhere with an American military base could be a good idea, though I wouldn’t be able to dominate the actions of that island and ensure that they followed intelligent rules for quarantining refugees. I once heard (from Thomas, actually), that the island of Comoros off the coast of Africa could be taken over by a few dozen armed men. Some place like that might be ideal so I could control policies that would ensure short-term and long-term survival. Perhaps we’ll just say, for now, the Zihuatanejo for readers of this blog can be Dominica, in the Caribbean. See you there if anything happens.
I wanted to talk about two final things. The first is how to spread the word about the impending apocalypse and save as many people as possible. Most importantly, how do we save the people we love, our friends and family? If someone, even a close friend, came to me tomorrow and told me that there was definitely going to be a zombie pandemic that would end the world, I wouldn’t believe them, especially if they could no longer show me any evidence. I’d rather believe they were crazy than that something so improbable, and so terrifying, was occurring. First, I’d try to convince them and cash in all my friend capital. Second, I’d say that even if I am delusional, here’s $X000, take a week off work and I’ll pay for a group vacation somewhere. If I’m wrong, keep the money and go home. Third, I’d try to hire mercenaries (ideally those without friends or family themselves), to kidnap people who I really cared about, but refused my offer. They would be flown or shipped to the island by force. I assume that they would thank me later after it had been clear I had saved them from disaster. One problem might be deciding whether it was financially practical/possible to bring along the loved ones of my friends as well.
A second thing to do is to try to warn the world and save as many strangers as possible. The same problem emerges whereby the story is so unbelievable, authorities simply would not act on my information. If the hypothetical were different however, and I had more time and money, one interesting solution might be using terrorism to slow or isolate the spread of the virus. For example, on the small island I go to, I plan to immediately take over/cripple the airports and seaports so no carriers can immigrate and infect the population. It might be worth exploring trying to ground global transportation by targeting several major airports in one day, though it works best if you can merely take out airports/bridges connecting islands to the rest of the world, preserving pockets of civilization around the globe.