Q: Is there a zombie Adam and Eve?

A: Yes. At least an Adam. And that, of course, would be Jesus. He is the first revenant. The first to rise from the dead and walk among us. Presumably he did not begin eating acolytes and chowing saints and lepers, but you never know. Yes, Jesus was the first zombie. If you believe in him, you believe in Z.


Q: How come Zombies don’t eat every part of a body before they move on to the next one?

 A: Do you eat all the toppings on your pizza, or do you pick some off? Do you always wipe your plate clean, or do you get tired of the pheasant compote in balsamic reduction after a few bites? Zombies are an amalgam of teeth, hands, gristle, and vague memories. Sometimes those memories take precedence over the logic of calorie intake.


Q: Do zombies freeze?

A: Yes. The small amount of liquids and oils remaining in most zombies will freeze at zero degrees Celsius and below. Antarctica is a perfectly safe plague-free zone. Until global warming takes complete effect. When thawed, Z are perfectly capable of resuming activity. Theoretically, the freezing and thawing should destroy every cell wall in their bodies, but doesn’t. We have yet to determine why not.


Q: I was just reading this zombie book where the United States fights off a zombie outbreak and eventually cleans the entire country of the things, winning the battle and restoring order. It this even possible?

A: Well, most necrologists and other zombology professionals generally agree on the “Bauer Breakdown” or what’s otherwise known as the 6-3-1 model. Essentially it postulates a numerical likelihood for every ten given people during the initial wave of infection. Namely that six will turn Z, three will die outright (suicide, heart attack, car accident, etc) without turning, and one will “survive,” or remain human. If we extrapolate these numbers, given a U.S. population of roughly 300 million, that means 180 million will be zombies, 90 million will die immediately, and 30 million will survive. If those 30 million were somehow able not only survive, but establish a provisional government and fighting force, they would need to kill 180 million zombies—almost all of them by individual head-shot. This, of course, would be almost if not entirely impossible. Just to eradicate 10% of the beasts—using a (very generous) 50% accuracy rate—would require 36 million bullets alone. No, the fantasy of organized ballistics-based “eradication” is just that, a fantasy.


Q: Are zombies really just bulimics with bad skin and an unfair reputation?

A: Who let this person in?


Q: What is the one thing that the movies always get wrong about zombies?

A: Children. It’s a grim but true fact that a vast percentage of children will not survive the initial outbreak—some estimates as high as 94% for ages from 0-12. Pre-teen children are slower, weaker, and do not have adequate reasoning or problem solving skills. They are easy targets for zombies and most movies that show hordes walking down streets or through malls rarely reflect the likely age composition of any given zombie group when younger casualty rates are factored in. In fact, parents who try to protect their children have a 96% higher mortality rate than single or individual survivors. Protecting or comforting a child in the open, trying to explain random horrific violence or the nature of evil, seeing to its needs, scavenging for two, and counting on it not drawing zombies to your location or hideout with assorted whining, crying and the like, is nearly impossible. Should humanity survive a zombie attack and regain the upper hand, it may very well perish anyway, as re-population of an entire age group will prove extremely difficult.


Q: Do zombies ever have to take a shit after eating all that fatty meat?

A: Zombie excretion is unheard of. Bowel activity ceases with the onset of the virus. A highly active zombie should theoretically be more weighed down by the sheer flesh poundage it ingests as opposed to a zombie yet to feed. Even so, we have not noticed a diminishment of motor function in the field due to being “over-served.”


Q: How can they function if they don’t breathe?

 A: The zombie brain is much like a D-cell battery with the barest remnant of a charge. It requires no internal oxygen replenishment. There is some speculation that Zombies absorb oxygen through the skin in a crude method akin to reverse transpiration. While this theory has its adherents, I don’t put much stock in it. Zombie lungs might as well be a pair of old rubber boots. And, of course, their blood does not require cleaning. Oxygen, therefore, is largely superfluous.


Q: If they are decomposing, that means their muscles are decomposing too, which means they would be totally weak, if not crippled, right? How come zombies are strong?

A: Zombie locomotion is entirely without precedent in the natural world and would seem to defy logic. Even demented logic. You are correct that they should not be able move once the muscle, tendons, and fascia degrade. Even “shambling” should be beyond them. And yet it is not.


Q: What will be the most valuable items during a zombie siege?

A: A head-mounted flashlight. Batteries. Matches. A pistol fitted with a silencer (opening up on a horde with an AK-47 may momentarily clear your lawn, but will almost certainly draw every other zombie within a three mile radius to your location). Ammunition. Freeze dried food. Iodine tablets. Basic medicines. Cooking oil. Needle and thread. Light, warm clothes. A hammock for sleeping in trees. A blizzard-rated sleeping bag. A cudgel or other heavy bludgeoning weapon with a short handle (baseball bats and fire axes sound good on paper, but are useless as they have zero leverage/swing radius in tight quarters—a five-pound roofer’s hammer is nearly the perfect weapon). A small, sturdy backpack. Good boots. A hunting knife. A screwdriver and pliers. A crowbar. A propane stove and canisters. Binoculars.


Q: Can they bite through thick leather? What about Kevlar? If you had a motorcycle helmet, boots and full Kevlar gear on, could you just walk through a crowd of them?

A: Zombie dentistry is a small but burgeoning sub-science of which I am not entirely qualified to comment on, but it is interesting how strong zombie teeth tend to be. What can’t a zombie bite through? There are undoubtedly various fibers and protective coverings which will repel the incisor or molar in question. The problem is that they’ll keep trying, no matter what. And the flesh beneath the protective covering will begin to suffer damage regardless. Large scale edema, abrasion, and even organ malfunction may follow. Finally, though, any protective covering is only as good as its ability to withstand a horde of zombies and their pernicious hands and teeth from pulling it off. Unless a motorcycle helmet is welded to your skull, at some point it is likely to be flung aside and access granted to the more delicate prizes within.



Q: What’s the worst thing you can do should the zombie apocalypse happen?

 A: Barricade yourself in somewhere. Of course, it’s a natural impulse to lock doors, push bureaus and other heavy items in front of attic entrances and the like. But most people forget that their temporary safety will soon become a slow, torturous death trap. If you’ve locked yourself in the basement of a house filled with zombies, those zombies are unlikely to leave. And sooner or later you are going to run out of food and water. Or at least fresh air from having to remain in proximity with your own excrement. Freedom of movement is essential to survival. Out in an open field dodging slow shamblers is instantly preferable to a week’s safety that becomes a self-inflicted hellhole. The one steadfast rule of all plague scenarios: supplies always run out.


Q: Why do they want to eat flesh? Why not tofu? Or bacon?

 A: For the very same reasons you prefer a hamburger to a cucumber. Fat, salt, protein, flavor. There is some possibility that—much like the subconscious human inculcation to procreate, that zombies have a pre-conscious dictate to “turn” all those that do not resemble them. If everyone’s ugly, than no one is ugly. The problem there, from a zombie survival viewpoint, is what do they do with themselves when the last human has been fed upon?


Q: Why don’t they just want to eat brains? I thought they all wanted brains. Must. Have. Brains.

 A: The dictates of B-movie zombie lore have no bearing on reality or scientific fact.



Q: Why don’t they bleed?

 A: Zombies do bleed, when freshly turned. After that, they tend to seep a thick gel coagulate, until, with time, they become more or less fully desiccated.


Q: If a zombie falls and rots in the forest, but there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

 A: This is a foolish question that I have no interest in answering. So I’ll ask you something instead: If a moron wants to know nothing, and is only interested in making cheap jokes, are chunks of said moron vastly more likely to soon be residing in a zombie esophagus than someone who takes their survival seriously?

Clearly, yes.


Thank you for your time.


On sale 09-25-12
(yeah, that’s tomorrow)


***The preceding excerpt from The Infects has been revised and expanded for this forum.

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SEAN BEAUDOIN's latest novel is Wise Young Fool. His stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including the Onion, the San Francisco Chronicle and Spirit, the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airlines. www.seanbeaudoin.com.

3 responses to “Q&A with Renown Zombie Necrologist Dr. Ely Kyburg”

  1. Erika Rae says:

    I cannot tell you how many times I have asked the defecation question. Thank you for your thoroughness. Personally, I think the best defense any city can have against zombies is to create strategic “barriers” of moving sidewalks throughout. Thoughts?

  2. Don Mitchell says:

    I’ve been thinking about the Kevlar issue, and also toying with the idea of laying in some war-surplus .50 caliber machine guns. But now I see how wrong I’ve been. It’s not easy to get silencers, though.

    Tomorrow? This means the Kindle edition as well? Holy shit! Happy boy! Of course I’ll be traveling, and so — Erika, I’m talking to you — I’ll download the Kindle edition in some sleazy motel in Missouri but at least I’ll have it.

    I’m headed to visit Stefan, so Sean’s zombie and Stefan’s whatever-they-are can have a party. It’s close to Texas so I can probably score that silenced .22.

  3. AMPillsworth says:

    Zombies must die!

    Oh, wait….

    Never mind.

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