Driving people insane
Zombies are reanimated mindless shells of former human beings. Filled with unquenchable rage to harm the living, these walking dead are horrific monsters. What could transform a person into a zombie faster than commuting ninety minutes back and forth to a wage slave job five days a week? We’ve all been there. Single occupancy vehicles overcrowd the freeways creating unending car jams. Bumper to bumper traffic enrages drivers and at the same time monotony numbs their brain.
Shaun of the Dead nails the social commentary on the drudgery of morning routines (sleepwalking, or ‘falling asleep at the wheel’) with precision sarcasm.
In this classic comical example, our hero (Simon Pegg) is on foot. But what would it be like if a zombie outbreak caught you while stuck in traffic?
It’s Wednesday morning, and you are sitting in your car, dragging your heels on the way to work. Your mood is sour as a result of upsetting news vomiting forth from talk radio. Groaning out loud to no-one, you pick up your phone off the center console and mindlessly check Reddit for the third time in five minutes. A woman glued to her cell phone cuts over a solid yellow line in her white Audi to get ahead of a large line of cars waiting to merge onto an off ramp. Mashing the brakes, as she forces her way into the que that you’ve been he’d hostage to for fifteen minutes, startles you. Scalding coffee spills into your lap, simultaneously burning your crotch and soiling your freshly cleaned pants.
Cursing out loud and daydreaming about quitting your job, you lean over to the vacant passenger side of your car. You’re pretty sure there are some pilfered paper napkins left over from a drive through trip many moons ago. It doesn’t matter if you take your eyes off the road. The car is shifted into park. As usual on Wednesday morning, the local homeless methodically wander up and down the cars. Begging window to window of drivers powerless to escape, each person stares at their phones to avoid eye contact with the transients.
The glovebox comes up empty. Fortunately, the soggy burning wetness in your pants feels less like a pot of boiling water and more like you’ve just pissed your pants. One of the homeless has reached the woman in the Audi who cut you off, and holds out his hands. He looks even more filthy, sick and decrepit than they usually do, and starts to paw at the glass. She rolls down the window to give him some change. Suddenly, he snatches her behind both ears and drags her head to his face. Even with your windows closed, you can hear her blood curdling scream as he bites her face.
The crazed man is now so far into her car his legs flail into the air. Violently, he continues to attack her and bright red arterial blood splatters all over the smooth interior pane of the windows. There is so much blood it begins running down the door panel and pooling under the car.
Gasping aloud at the bath salt zombie style attack, you fumble for your cell phone. With wide eyes, you witness the woman losing the fight for her life. Abruptly, the Audi lurches forward, ramming two more cars in front of her. 911 rings on your phone but the line is busy. The cars in front of the Audi empty of their oblivious drivers. They see the attack unfolding, but they don’t see more of the these strange infected, ‘homeless’ moving from the mass of parked cars. There is a surge of pedestrians rushing towards an unknown location behind you. A swarm of undead is trolling along behind them.
What do you do?
Solution – Evasive, Defensive, or Offensive ?
It’s time to get the truck out of Dodge.
You may be one of the concealed carry types. Nothing wrong with that, but 95% of the US citizens aren’t packing heat on their daily drive. Taking a quick inventory of potential zombie killing melee weapons in your car comes up short. You find the following; a festive coffee mug with Christmas decorations, an ice scraper, and your keys. Your mind flashes back to a McDojo defense class that you took once, and you remember being taught to use your keys as substitute for brass knuckles. One glance out the front windshield convinces you that trying that on the approaching zombies would be a fatal mistake.
PING! A light in your head goes off. You have an iron crossbar, used for removing lug nuts, in the truck in of your car. That would be your best bet to fend off any zombie attacks. Making a critical decision, you grab the charger for your now impotent cell phone, fling the driver’s side door open, and pull the release lever for the trunk hatch. Screams of those already being eaten alive full the exhaust choked air.
The lid pops up faithfully. You lean in up to your waist and retrieve the tire iron at the back of the trunk. By the time you manage to free it from being wedged user the spare tire, a zombie is right on top of you. Swinging instinctively in a wide right cross and you… CONNECT! With a sickening thud, the blunt end of the cold iron smashes the mandible of the undead nearest you. The jaw hangs loosely in it’s unhinged state, and the reanimated corpse doesn’t seem to mind the missing teeth or feel any pain. Staggering only momentarily, the zombie regains it’s footing and is coming right back at you again.
Not waiting around to further assess any more damage, you turn and run. Fleeing in the first and immediate direction without threat, you hustle towards the back of the pack of cars and trucks. A stampede of panicked motorists are right behind you. Your legs burn and you’re huffing for every breathe. How long have your been running? Do you dare risk looking over your shoulder yet?
Automobile sales in the USA ebb and flow alongside other economic trends. If the price of oil goes up, sales of automobiles go down. One thing is for certain, regardless of consumer buying habits, in the USA there are a lot of cars and trucks sold each year. In March of 2018 2,400,366 were sold, according to The Wall Street Journal. One does not require an advanced degree in civil engineering to know that is plethora of light vehicles. In addition to causing the traffic jams that are the basis of this Zombie Combat scenario, these cars also contribute the global climate crisis humans are facing now.
For the sake of this article, we are fortunate to have a glut of blockbuster movies in which various disaster events take place while helpless hordes of people are trapped in their cars. Here are but a few examples of what Hollywood thinks the Road Rage of the Dead might look like.
World War Z
Brad Pitt discovers that something terribly wrong is happening while he and his family are trapped in Philadelphia traffic. ®2013 Paramount Motion Picture Studios
The Day After Tomorrow
T.D.A.T. wasn’t a zombie movie, but the giant tsunami would be a ‘wave of fear’ to say the least. Skip ahead to 1:21 in the video if you don’t have any patience. Notice people running up and over cars in order to find safe haven. A reasonable person would expect a similar response to a wave of the undead.
The Walking Dead
How convenient for all of the walking dead in this clip to stand in a straight line. If killing zombies was this easy and cool, no wonder fanboy wants to be a survivor in a zombie apocalypse wet dream. PS: This would not work.
Ok, so we admit we put NYC destroying tsunamis on the list. Deep Impact brings back a touch of 90’s nostalgia and was the more believable of the ‘giant asteroid hits the Earth’ pair that included Armageddon. Similar to T.D.A.T., helpless people, trapped on roads and freeways are powerless to extricate themselves from impending doom. Yet, some still try.
If The Blair Witch Project was the mother of all found footage horror films, J.J. Abram’s Cloverfield is the big budget father. Of course, NYC gets it again in the alien smashing rampage movie. Here is a clip when, millions of people are trapped in the street with no place else to go.
This list of apocalypse scenes entrapping thousands of motorists could go on forever. List some of your favorites in the comments below. Regardless of the fantasy depictions in doomsday movies, we already know from the Fake Hawaiian Missle Alert that people will abandon their vehicles when life threatening imminent descruction is near. When the roads and highways are blocked, panicked men and women become pedestrian once again. Running for their lives to the nearest possible safe space and utterly shunning the cloak of pride that was once represented by their automobile, these drivers will be without the comfort of their cars in the impending doom of the undead apocalypse.
Odds of Survival
C-. If you are attacked by a horde of zombies while trapped in a rush hour traffic jam, it’s going to come down to mere luck if you survive or not. Where you are located within the pack of cars, your ability to escape and evade, and capacity to stay calm under extreme stress will be determining factors in your survival. Even if you are one of the people that keeps a loaded weapon inside your vehicle at all times, it’s likely your ammunition would be quickly depleted by the sheer number of undead attacking you.
So, instead of commuting in your personal vehicle, you’ve decided to take public transportation now. You might want to think again before you ride the bus…. Zombie Combat – Public Bus.
Zombie Combat is a series that investigates hypothetical situations involving the undead in melee combat. Will you fight, run, or hide? Have a suggestion for Zombie Combat? Leave a comment below or email JohnjRambeaux@Yahoo.com.