Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Walking (right into a trap) Dead

In case you didn't know (haha), I'm rather a fan of the zombie horror/comedy genre of entertainment. There's much I haven't read, but little left to watch. So I've been watching "The Walking Dead" and enjoying the heck out of it.

Except... I don't think these people are as smart as they think they are.

Maybe I'm not being fair. I've had my Augusta, Ga.-based zombie survival plan mapped out for at least the last 5 years. Having a child really makes you take stock of what's important in life. And I'd say zombie defense is a pretty high priority. Oh, you don't agree with me? Nice knowin' ya, "Running Buffet."

Anyway, perhaps AMC writers think that being smart wouldn't advance the plot very far, but these folks are still doing it wrong. There are some basic survival rules anyone - in any situation - would naturally follow.

First, run and hide. Many of them have managed this pretty well.

Second, find supplies. Apparently they have an RV full of them, plus some camping stuff. Meh, second rate, but I'll take it for now.

Third, find defensible shelter on high ground. See, this is where they've begun to fail. They drove about 10 minutes outside the downtown area to the former Bellwood Quarry, pitched some tents and began domestication.

NO! People, this is beyond stupid. First of all, a quarry goes down, not up. This is not the high ground you're looking for. All you've done is made a giant people soup bowl for hordes of ravenous undead. You won't even be able to see them coming because you were too stupid to set up watches at the top.

Second, tents are not defensible. What are you - the Three Little Pigs? It's like defending yourself with a house made of towels. Zombies are undeterred by zippers. And they do not knock politely. Get your ass something with bricks and mortar - and very small windows.

Third, it's not that great a shelter. There's no bathroom, little privacy. You have to think long-term. And if we've learned anything from the new global media, it's that cramped conditions and lack of latrines make for outbreaks of disease. What's the first thing the Army does when it sets up camp? It digs the latrines. So, for those non-Atlantans who have never heard of the Bellwood Quarry, you should know that there are already some buildings on site. They're old, and they'd need shoring up, but they're better than tents.

Fourth, why did they drive West of the city? The population there is less concentrated, which could be an advantage if you want to avoid the undead, sure. But if they wanted that, they could have at least made it outside the perimeter. I-285 isn't that daunting of an obstacle, so stopping there was just lazy. They are literally a 10-minute drive to downtown.

Going West means the likelihood of meeting survivors with whom you can team up is also lessened. So are: access to supplies, shelter, weaponry, transportation, and fuel. The chance of finding assistance lies to the immediate North and to the East, which are more densely populated areas.

The answer for these fools is obvious, but no one has made even the slightest mention of it. Any native Atlantan (hi, y'all!) knows there are several areas of defensible high ground with amenities available within a reasonable drive. So, assuming you can't find security at Ft. McPherson, here are some ideas.

1. Stone Mountain

This is my first instinct for places to hole up during a zombie apocalypse. First, it's high ground - 825 feet higher than the ground, to be precise - and there's only one side pedestrians can climb. Some of that might be accessible to zombies with advanced motor skill control. But much of that climb is too steep, and the last 50 yards requires strength and a hand rail to keep from slipping. Second, there's a wall-and-glass tourist pavilion at the top that provides shelter, plumbing and cooking facilities. Third, that pavilion also hosts a transmitting tower. If you're going to reach survivors, here's where to do it. Fourth, you have an escape/reconnaissance route through the cable cars, so you can either motor up and down the mountain to get supplies and carry larger/heavier items, or to look over the situation on the ground. And, finally, as the area surrounding Stone Mountain is a protected wildlife preserve and heavily wooded natural area, there is plenty of wildlife and a lake full of fish. Them's good eatin's. Disadvantage: Once the plumbing gives out and the electricity fails, you'll have to port water up the granite basolith. But a pulley system could offset some of that annoyance.

2. Kennesaw Mountain

Residents of Cobb County are screaming for me to choose this favorite spot. Well, guess what? I'm not gonna. Not only is there no shelter at the top of the mountain (the interpretive center sits at the mountain's base), but there's a freaking paved road straight up to a parking lot on the dang thing. The hunting is fine, but water's a hike. Advantage: rocky and heavily wooded terrain impedes progress of large hordes of the undead and allows natural cover for survivors. Also good for building new structures. But the presence of a largely pine forest means no low branches, so building aerial structures has a low success rate. Questionable: the presence of Civil War-era canons on site. Do they still work? Hmm... could be useful.

3. Little Kennesaw Mountain - Um, see above, minus interpretive center and canons. Also: "little." Not good.

4. Panola Mountain

Photos of Panola Mountain State Conservation Park, Stockbridge

Slightly better than Nos. 2 and 3 is this unusual park that shelters rare plants of the Piedmont region. It's minimally developed, very rocky in parts, heavily wooded and features an interpretive center that offers shelter, plumbing and basic cooking amenities. It's not perfect, because there is a road that leads right smack up to the building. But it is isolated and unlikely to attract others - and thus, teeming with wildlife for hunting. In addition, there are areas of retreat deeper into the park. Disadvantage: Access to water. Streams run on the property, but I don't remember them being close to the structure. You'll have to port water from Panola Mountain Lake - but there's good fishing, too.

5. Arabia Mountain

Not so much a mountain as it is simply higher-than-normal rock outcroppings, Arabia Mountain is another nature preserve. It is unpopulated and sports a few ancient structures in various states of disrepair, yet the old quarry office can be made nicely defensible. It offers isolation, 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside and access to loose rocks/wood for structure-building and hunting. Nearby Lake Arabia provides fishing and fresh water. All that makes this still better than Kennesaw Mountain. Sorry, Cobb County. I know you're accustomed to winning things.

6. Brasstown Bald

Once you've stocked up on supplies, moving out of the city is probably safer for everyone involved. Fewer people mean fewer undead. And if you move north, you have the added advantage of the Blue Ridge Mountains and winter's freezing temperatures to form a natural barrier. As the undead aren't likely to shop at REI, temperature and terrain slow them considerably. It's a long drive to the highest point in Georgia, and thus a dangerous journey - but it may be the most rewarding. The mountain is topped by a high tower with all the necessary amenities. While there is a bloody great road leading up to the top, it's very steep, very long and many undead will likely shamble accidentally over the side at some point. Bonus! Disadvantage: Lack of water at the top means you'll be porting the wet stuff up the mountain; also, thick clouds frequently mask the landscape at the top, making watchful defense difficult. Can you imagine the horror of a horde of zombies shuffling out from an eerie fog? (shudder)

7. Fort Mountain

Ahhh... I like the sound of this place! A fort on top of a mountain? That's what Kennesaw should be, but is not. Fort Mountain offers copious shelter. In the park, there are 15 cottages. Elsewhere on the mountain is the Global Conference Center, a first-class resort with plenty of room. If things are dire, there is also the historic fire tower on the property. The forests, streams, and surrounding lakes are teeming with wildlife and fish for eating, and it's up in Chatsworth, Ga., about 90 minutes from Atlanta (if you go the speed limit, which is completely unnecessary without state patrol on the roads). That means it's closer than Brasstown Bald, but not as easily defensible. And on the way: barbecue. Yum.

So what would I choose, were I in Atlanta? If things are dire and immediate, I head to Stone Mountain. If I have time and transportation, I try to make it to Brasstown Bald, with Fort Mountain as a fallback.

Fewer options exist in Augusta, but it's possible to survive. Let me just say that rooftop transportation can come in handy for safety, signaling overflying rescue craft, and for reconnaissance and supply runs - as can access to the river for food and water. But you'll have to develop your own survival plan in the Garden City on your own. I have a family to protect.


  1. bar-b-que and Stone Mountain. You can't go wrong!!