Tag Archives: Zombie apocalypse

One Apocalypse To Go, Hold the Zombies

Several months ago I talked about the zombie apocalypse and how to survive it. It was a lot of fun for me to write about the end of the world at the hands of the living dead, but I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret.

I’m pretty sure that’s not very likely to happen in real life.

But today I want to talk to you about a disaster that may affect you in the coming months and years. Economic disaster.

I’m not an economist. I do not have a degree in this. But I have made this something of a topic of personal interest, to learn about what makes the economic world function. I’ve read a number of books on the topic (most notably Adam Smith’s doorstopper The Wealth of Nations) and over the years it’s become something of an increasing concern to me that the population at large doesn’t understand the basics of economics. So today I’m doing my own small part to remedy that.

Specifically I want to talk to you today about inflation. Inflation is what happens when money becomes less valuable.

“Hold on a second, Albert,” you might be saying. “Do we need to go and get that jacket with the extra long sleeves again? Money can’t become less valuable. It’s money. One dollar is always worth one dollar.”

Ah, yes. Let me explain. You see, dollars have no inherent value at all. You can’t eat them. You can’t live in them. And if you light your cigars with them you just look like a snob.

Dollars only mean something if you can trade them for other things. Things like bread, and houses, and Zippo lighters. When I talk about dollars becoming less valuable I mean that you can’t trade them for as much stuff. For instance you can’t buy as much bread for one dollar today as you could in 1980. Why? It’s not because the bread we have today is so much more valuable than the bread we had in 1980. It’s because the dollars are less valuable.

“Wait a minute, Albert,” you might be asking. “How does this happen? Do dollars have some kind of half-life that causes them to lose value over time?”

No indeed. The factors that cause the value of dollars change are the same factors that cause the value of anything else to change. One the one hand we have “supply” and over here we have his brother “demand”. You may have heard of them.

Supply is how much of something there is. Demand is how badly people want it.

If supply does down, value goes up. If I’m the last guy in the world with a glass of water you had better believe that glass of water is going to be valuable.

But when supply goes up, value goes down. If the earth is covered in a deluge of drinking water, I’m not gonna have much luck trying to pawn off my one little measly glass of water to the guy in the next boat over.

If demand goes up, value goes up and vice versa. The more people want something, the more it’s worth.

The value of the dollar has been going down pretty steadily over the last eighty years or so because the Federal Reserve has been adding to the money supply a little at a time.

Why have they been doing this? Because they don’t want the dollar to become more valuable (there are a number of reasons for this and we can’t get into them here for the sake of length.)

“Okay Albert, so what’s the big deal? The value of the dollar has been going down steadily over the years which means that prices have gone up a little at a time. This does not seem like that big of a deal.”

And on the whole I’d say you’re right. Except.

Lately the Federal Reserve has been doing its money creation thing way faster than normal. Again, the reasons for this are kinda complicated, but remember what we said about what happens when supply goes up? Value goes down. That means that your dollar won’t buy as much as it used to.

You’re probably seeing it already, in the price of groceries. I know I have. The increased supply of dollars is creating lower money value which translates into higher prices.

Meanwhile, the US government is experiencing financial difficulties. That means that other governments are giving us the sideways eye, wondering what’s going to happen to the US economy. Result?

The demand for dollars in other countries could drop, and anything we get from overseas (which is almost everything these days) will necessarily cost more.

Now comes the scary part. You see increased prices now at the grocery story, but it’s possible things could get much worse, and if they do, it’s likely it could happen very fast. In other countries where this kind of thing has happened, prices of basic commodities would skyrocket in a matter of months or even weeks.

So what can you do? Not much. But if you have investments, it might be a good idea to take stock and see if they’re likely to hold their value as the dollar takes a plunge. I also recommend owning your own home, because if you can weather the storm of inflation, the mortgage you’ll be paying on the other side will be worth way less than it was before the whole thing collapsed.

Oh, and on the bright side, your paycheck will probably go up eventually. It won’t mean anything because the dollars will be worth less, but it’ll feel good. So that’s something.

And maybe none of this will ever happen. As I said before, I’m not an expert. And I’m certainly not a prophet. My main goal is that you all be informed, that you understand how money works. So you can watch the headlines and decide for yourself how likely all of this is.

You know what they say: Knowing is half the battle.

The other half is superior numbers and overwhelming firepower.

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A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

So apparently…good things come to those who wait. And wait.

And.

Wait.

Good things also come to those who hit the refresh button over and over and freak out until they make themselves sick. I’ll let you guess which one I am.

Yes, that’s right A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw just went live on Amazon.

A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw

It’s possible that you may be wondering: “Is this book really for me?” If you are I have compiled a helpful reference for your edification. The following is a list of the types of people who may find my book interesting.

1. People who like dogs

Come on folks, give it up for man’s best friend. Not only are they kind and loyal, but they don’t look down on you like those uppity cat things.

Seriously. How can you say no to that?

2. People who like zombies

You know the ones. The walking dead, those lovable reanimated rotting corpses that just want to have a little nibble of your brains. They waltzed their way into the popular imagination with George A. Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead, and we haven’t looked back since (except of course to make sure none of them were following us home).

3. People who don’t like dogs

Because um…maybe things might not go very well for our lovable fury protagonist?

4. People who like me

Maybe you can’t stand zombies. Maybe just thinking about dogs makes you itch. Maybe you don’t want to read a groundbreaking work of literary fiction that reimagines the zombie horror genre in a different light. Maybe you just want to an awesome dude how much you like him. Or you can just show me, and I’ll make sure some sufficiently awesome dude hears about it later.

If you fall into any of these categories then I’d suggest that you check out my book. At this very moment it is available for Kindle only, but I’m working diligently to get it up on Smashwords for those of you who happen to have something other than a Kindle (I’m one of these people so I feel your pain).

Also, if you happen to like the book, please help me spread the word. Tell a friend, tweet about it, “Like” it on Facebook. If you do the blog thing, then I’d love to do an interview. Community is the only advertising strategy I can afford. But I’m betting it’s the best there is.

And again, to all of you who have already been so supportive of me and my project…thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Zombie Tuesday: Burnout

So you’ve made it this far. You’ve kept your head in the game and you’ve remembered to think long term about this whole zombie apocalypse thing. You’ve likely witnessed the deaths of friends and family members, and now you’re living in a ruined shell of the society you once knew, doing your best to keep from getting devoured by the dead-things.

This is probably a bad time to mention that I’ve been holding out on you.

I had my reasons though. I needed you you start thinking differently about this whole apocalypse thing. Like I said in last weeks post, you may be the last hope for human civilization. You need to start thinking about your life in terms of years and decades, and you need to start thinking about the centuries that will follow after you. The light of humanity must go on.

Which means killing zombies. All the zombies.

Hopefully you’ve made a good dent in them so far with the methods I’ve prescribed, but now you’re labouring under the ever increasing realization that there are far far too many of these things for you to kill one at a time. You’ve long since given up on the military doing anything helpful. If they’re even still around they’re hunkered down so far the sun could go out and they wouldn’t notice.

It’s up to you.

Good thing you have me here, because I’ve got the answer for you. In some ways it goes against everything I’ve taught you here so far. But you have to know the rules before you can break them. So lets break some rules shall we?

Here’s what you do.

1. Find some bait.

Yeah, right. It’s the zombie apocalypse. Every living thing that can be caught and eaten probably has been. There’s no living flesh within miles. Or is there?

Take a look in the mirror bub.

Okay, okay, don’t freak out on me. I know you don’t want to get eaten, but some risks you have to take.

If you can find something else to serve as bait then do it, but if not you’re it.

2. Scout out a location

You’re gonna need a good solid place, one that can keep the zombies at bay for at least a few days. You’re going to want to have supplies here too. Water and food. Not a lot, but enough to get you through maybe a week of waiting. Hopefully you won’t be in there any longer than that.

Another thing this building also needs? Roof access.  In fact you might spend the entire time camped out on the roof. Lots of big stores have a ladder that leads up onto the roof from the inside. Well, maybe not lots. But Walmart does, so I assume it’s not that uncommon.

Got your location scouted out? Good. Because it time to…

3. Ring the Dinner Bell

By now you probably know all the places where the zombies hang out in big groups. Up until now you’ve been avoiding these places. But now you want to attract attention.

Don’t be stupid, though. Give yourself room to get a decent head-start on them when they finally see you. Maybe get one of those mostly useless shotguns and fire it into the air. Make a lot of noise and then get out of there.

Hightail it back to your location and barricade the doors. Get out on the roof and keep making noise. Shoot off your gun, blow an airhorn, yell at the zombies. Get it all out now because they’re not going to be around for too much longer.

Now all you have to do is…

4. Wait

Odds are good zombies will come for miles, and they don’t come very fast. You’re here to wait them out. You want to get as many of them as you can, so just sit yourself up on that roof and wait. Every once in a while you’re going to want to do something to get their attention so they don’t start wandering off, but mostly its just waiting. Maybe take a book up there with you? Something good and long, maybe a Stephen King novel.

After all, what good is the zombie apocalypse if it doesn’t give you time to catch up on your reading?

5. Burn Baby Burn

Dead flesh gets dry after a while. Like really dry. Your zombie friends have been out in the sun for a long time now so they’ve been dried out to the point that their skin crackles when they move.

Good for you, bad for them.

And you know the great thing about zombies? They have no sense of personal space. You never hear one zombie say to another zombie, “Pardon me, but it would appear that your flesh is rotting away, and I must tell you that I find your rancid breath and horrible odour absolutely repulsive dear boy.” No, given the proper motivation they’ll pack in on top of each other like sardines in a can.

Which is just perfect for what you’re going to do.

So light ’em up and watch ’em burn. You might need a little gasoline to get the party started, but chances are once the flames catch they’ll spread fast.

And since they’re zombies it’s not like they’re going to run away. They’re going to press in closer as their friends in the front row get fried.

The flames will spread from one zombie to the next, until you’ll have a whole sea of dead things moving amongst themselves calling out for your flesh even as their own is burning away.

Sit back and watch the world burn. And pat yourself on the back. You’ve just taken out more zombies in one week than you could have hoped to kill one at a time in years.

6. Rinse Lather Repeat.

There’s a lot of zombies out there, so you’re going to have to do this more than once. If you manage not to get yourself burned alive on the first attempt the second one will be easier. You’ll know your obstacles and challenges ahead of time.

Killing zombies is just like anything else. To get really good at it, it takes practice, practice, practice.

Addendum:

I appreciate all of you who joined me for this little feature on my blog. I hope that you found it both informative and entertaining.

Next week, on Tuesday, I’ve got a big thing happening. I’ll be releasing my novella called, A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw on the Kindle electronic marketplace (Yes, it is the same title as one of my short stories. The short story inspired the novella). The story is about a dog who is left behind during the zombie apocalypse and his struggle to survive the horror of the dead-things.

It’s different from anything else I’ve ever heard of in the zombie-survival genre and I hope all of you will at least check it out.

Fingers crossed and counting down the days, this is Albert Berg, writer and freelance zombie survival consultant, signing off.

Zombie Tuesday: the Apocalypse Diet Plan

The zombies are there. The world is overrun by the reanimated dead, walking corpses obsessed with consuming living flesh. Civilization is in ruins.

This is widely considered to be a Bad Thing.

But hey! There’s always a bright, side right? You know that twenty or thirty pounds you’ve been trying to lose for years? You’ve done all the diets, and you’ve bought all the clothes hanging devices er…I mean exercise machines, but no luck.

Well today is your lucky day. You’re going to learn how to lose weight the zombie way. By the time we’re done you’ll be nothing more than a canvass of skin and wiry muscle stretched over harsh protruding bones. Just what you’ve always wanted!

In all seriousness though, finding food during the apocalypse is going to be an all-important endeavor. You’re going to have to struggle to scrape together the barest of essentials, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the corpses that think you would make an excellent meal.

“No problem,” you say. “With most of the population wiped out I’ll be able to loot grocery stores for canned food for years.”

Well, yes and no. Canned food is a fine staple to start with but even canned goods won’t last forever. Most have expiration dates between three to five years in the future.

Three to five years seems like a long time, and in some ways, it is. But Zombie Tuesdays are about long term survival strategies. It’s fine to rely on canned goods to start with, but you need to have the future in mind at all times. When that food supply finally runs out you’re going to need to have a reliable source of food that will last indefinitely. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

First, hunting. Odds are good the zombies will have killed slow-moving livestock like cattle, but animals like deer listen hard and move fast. It’s unlikely that they’ll be wiped out by lumbering moaning zombies. Of course that means they’ll be hard for you to kill too.

And if you do kill them there’s the problem of preserving the meat. Drying it won’t work because you’ll have to leave it sitting in one place for a long period and the zombies will likely find it before you can get back to it. Your best option is to salt the meat. Salting draws the moisture out of the cells and helps to preserve the meat for long periods of time. In the days before refrigeration was widely available it was the only way to preserve dead meat.

But hunting alone won’t sustain you. Remember what momma said: “Eat your veggies.”

You can forage for plant life to eat. I recommend you get a book called How to Stay Alive in the Woods. It has all kinds of information about what kinds of plants are good to eat as well as tons of other useful survival information. It’s a valuable addition to any zombie survival kit.

But if you’re serious about this survival thing, you should think about growing your own food.

Gardening won’t be simple in a world overrun by zombies. You always have to remember the first principle we discussed. Keep moving. But you can stop long enough to plant some vegetables along strategic points along your migration route. The best part is you can probably find several abandoned houses with gardens already established. Start there. Keep them fertilized and watered as best you can.

And speaking of water…

Remember how you used to laugh about how ridiculous bottled water was and how stupid it was to pay so much for something you get out of the tap essentially for free? Yeah, well the shoe’s on the other foot now isn’t it?

Bottled water may be the only source of clean water the post-apocalyptic world has. Odds are good you’ll be able to scavenge plenty of it from stores and homes, and it’s not like water’s going to go bad, but if you find your supply running low remember to be cautious. Water in rivers and streams is not clean, no matter how clear it looks. It’s infested with all kinds of nasty microbes and other things that want to eat your stomach from the inside.

A few drops of bleach per gallon of water should do the trick. Or if you’re a coffee person and you have the time and means, boiling is another great way to kill all those little creepy-crawlies.

The bottom line is that survival is the name of the game, and there’s more out there to be worried about then just zombies. Keep yourself fed and hydrated. Try to stay healthy. Remember, dying from malnutrition or drinking germ infested water is still dying.

The fate of a new civilization rests on your shoulders. Don’t screw it up.

Zombies, Chainsaws, and Your Friendly Neighborhood Editor

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed I’ve been talking a lot about zombies lately. If you’re not a regular reader of this blog, um…what’s your problem? Get with the program, man.

You may have asked yourself, “Why is it that Albert has chosen this time to bombard us with pointless facts about fictional monsters?”

To which I say, “Pointless? POINTLESS!? You won’t think its very pointless when they’re ripping your guts out now will you?! Of all the ungrateful…”

No, wait. Sorry, got a little carried away there.

What I actually meant to say was that I am working on putting the finishing touches on an upcoming novella called, “A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw,” a story about a dog who faces the zombie apocalypse. I’m hoping to attract readers to the site who might have an interest in that kind of thing. (If you think the title sounds a little familiar, you’re not going crazy; the story was originally conceived as a shorter work which is available here for anyone who’s interested.)

I’ve been working on this thing for a while, first writing, then editing and polishing. And finally that moment came when…I had to let it out. I had to let someone else read it.

And not just anyone else, but someone who was going to look at my story and try to find something wrong with it. Someone who would rip it to shreds with a red pen. Someone who would attack its weak points and slash at anything that didn’t quite work. Someone who was going to take a chainsaw and carve up my precious baby in a spray of blood and shredded flesh.

In other words, an editor.

It wasn’t easy letting go. But I knew it had to be done. So I gritted my teeth, repeated Chuck Wendig’s “Do Better, Suck Less” mantra to myself twenty times, and hit that send button.

And then I realized I had forgotten to, you know, actually attach the document to the email, so I had to go through the whole process again.

When I finally got my story back…I was afraid open it. What awful things must this person have said about my work? But finally I did manage to take just a little peek. And then, maybe another page, and another and another, and…

Before I knew it I had blown through every page of that manuscript, checking changes and reading notes.

And let me tell you something. It was fun.

See, I had been spending all this time thinking that reading those edits would be a horrible experience. I thought for sure that those changes would be a blow to my ego. Because really, none of us like to be criticized. None of us like to hear, “This passage right here just doesn’t work.”

But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t all have to be negative. Not if you approach it the right way; not if you have the right editor.

In fact there’s something almost magical about looking at a change and thinking Yes! That does work better that way! Ha!

You need that extra pair of eyes. Someone who knows what to look for.

It’s not because you’re a horrible writer.

It’s because you’re way too close. Even after you’ve let it sit for months. Even after you’ve gone over and over it yourself until you’ve started to become nauseated by your own words.

It can be better.

So let go of that fear. Stop worrying about your ego. It isn’t important anyway.

What’s important is the story. In the end, it’s the only thing that matters.

Zombie Tuesday: The Evils of Overkill

Good news! Through grit, determination, and a whole lot of dumb luck, you have managed to survive the first wave of the zombie apocalypse.

You are now alive in a world filled with the rotting corpses of your deceased loved ones, who all want to eat you. Food is in short supply. Civilization is in turmoil. Oh, and you can’t play video games anymore so that’s a bummer. You’re sure you don’t want to just lay down and die? No? Okay then, onward and forward.

In last week’s post we talked about the dangers of digging in. No matter how strong your fortress, or how high your walls, eventually staying in one spot will get you killed.

Today’s precept for zombie survival: Overkill is Overrated.

Regardless of TVTropes‘s opinion on the subject, overkill is dangerous and downright stupid during the zombie apocalypse. This is another thing the movies get wrong all the time. Our heroes are almost always brandishing shotguns and high-powered sniper rifles which they use to splatter the brains of the undead all over the big screen.

Um, right…couple of questions here? First of all, you do realize that thing is heavy right? It’s bad enough that you have to keep moving like…forever, but you really want seven pounds of wood and metal hanging off of your shoulder for the rest of your life?

“But Albert,” you say “Seven pounds doesn’t sound all that bad.”

I’m sorry, but I assumed you might also be carrying food or water. You know, important stuff. But if all you’ve got is the gun, then by all means, lug it on through the wasteland.

Except it isn’t going to do you much good. Why? Because ammo ain’t gonna be in easy supply pardner. We’re talking about the zombie apocalypse here. You think all the other yahoos just laid down quietly and let themselves be bitten? Heck no! They were firing off every round they had into them golldurn zombies. Which means odds are good you’re not going to just find cases of 30.06 shells or 12 gauge buckshot lying around for the taking.

And lets say you do find a few rounds here and there. What good are they going to do you? The undead are massing in the millions. How much good do you think that box of twenty rounds is going to do you?

And that’s not even mentioning the sound. But sure, go ahead. Satisfy your manly urge to blow that stinking corpse’s head into smithereens. Just know that you’re ringing the dinner bell for all his friends.

Okay. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath.

There are a couple of good solutions.

First, get yourself a .22, preferably a handgun, something you can stick in your pocket.

Why a .22?

Firstly, because that’s all you need. Think about it. We’re talking about killing dead people here. Of course, there is the slight inconvenience that they’re still up and walking around, but still…dead people. Dead bone decays just as fast as dead flesh. It’s not going to take a lot to punch through those skulls.

Second, there’s bound to be a lot more ammunition for it. Most shotgun shells are sold in boxes of fifteen. Most rifle ammo comes in boxes of twenty. Pistol ammo, boxes of fifty or a hundred. But .22 shells? Those suckers come in boxes of five-hundred or more. And they’re tiny. You can easily fit upwards of a hundred in your pocket.

The the coup de gras? They’re quiet. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have to be careful, but the sound produced by a .22 is nothing compared to what you’re going to get from a shotgun.

But even the .22 is problematic. Because eventually you’re still going to run out of ammo. Ultimately anything that requires a renewable fuel source that isn’t naturally occurring is going to drag you down. So what do you do?

You say hello…to my little friend.

You wanna kill zombies? You really wanna kill all the zombies? I mean, that’s the plan isn’t it? Because, ultimately this is about more than just your survival. It’s about the survival of the human race. Well, you’re gonna have to go melee on those suckers, zombie killing the old-fashioned way, up close and friendly, one customer at a time.

An axe, a baseball bat, a well placed brick: almost anything will do. But the weapon pictured above is my personal favourite. It’s a two-handed machete with a light-weight synthetic handle and a super sharp cold steel blade. It’s sort of a cross between an axe and a machete.

I’ve personally held one in my hands, and it’s nothing short of beautiful. This sucker will cut through anything: wood, metal, your sister’s big toe. Anything. It’ll take a zombie’s head clean off in one swipe, and as long as you don’t try to take on too many of them at once it should be more than adequate to protect you from the undead.

So put down your shotguns and your sniper rifles. Let go of that grenade launcher. I know it makes you look cool, but let’s face it, there’s no one left to be impressed. You need to get the job done cleanest, safest, most efficient way possible.

Do the smart thing. Eschew overkill. Embrace effectiveness.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll make it through alive.

Join the Zombies, Get a Brain.

This?

This is the big thing?

This is the second coming of zombie horror? I don’t think so.

I just finished watching the final episode of AMC’s widely acclaimed TV series, The Walking Dead, and I have to say I was…underwhelmed. It’s not that the show was exactly bad. It was even brilliant in places. But by the time I got to the end there was just so much wrong.

[Spoiler Warning Thingy]

The main bone I have to pick is with the final episode, TS-19 in which the group of survivors retreat to the CDC and meet the last scientist left alive there.

Why is he the last guy left?

Because in the face of the zombie apocalypse everyone else, either ran away or committed suicide.

Really? You really expect me to believe that people are that pathetically weak? I mean sure, there are bound to be some people who can’t take the pressure, but we’re talking about a group of people who have been entrusted with the task of finding a cure for a world that is slipping into madness, and all but one of them just say, “Meh, screw it. I’m going home. Life’s not worth living”?

No.

No, no, no, no, no.

Suspension of belief only goes so far, and I refuse to believe that people as a whole are that pathetic. Do the writers of the show realize what humankind has been through? We’ve survived plagues, and famines and wars, all kinds of atrocities from within and without, and we’re still kicking.

We are not weak. We are not quitters. We are not sitting around waiting for some hardship to give us an excuse to give up.

Again, I’m sure that certain individuals might crack under the strain, but a whole enclave of intelligent people who have been charged with a mission not only to save themselves, but to save the world, their countries, their families? All of them gave up?

No. That is not how people work. In fact I found the whole notion so outlandish, I was seriously expecting a subplot where it turned out that the one remaining scientist had actually killed them all.

And then, then at the culmination of the episode, the single remaining scientist reveals to the survivors that they’re locked in with him, and that the entire building will undergo an explosive decontamination cycle that will destroy them all in a matter of seconds (This is a really, really stupid and inefficient way to prevent some kind of contamination, but we’ll just chalk that up to movie logic). He reasons it would be better for them to die this way, than to face the certainty of being devoured by the zombie hoards.

It makes sense for all of about five seconds. And then you remember that three episodes previous we met the Vatos, a group of young men stationed in the center of the zombie outbreak who are running a nursing home. And that’s not counting any number of other minor characters who are ostensibly still out in world the surviving perfectly well, thank you very much.

Civilization may be gone, but the entire human race? There’s plenty of them still out there and kicking. Plenty of people who didn’t give up.

I know, I know. It’s just a show. It doesn’t really matter. And I probably shouldn’t even be wasting your time with this But hey, it’s Saturday, which means I get to talk about whatever, and this has just really been bugging me.

Plot holes I can handle. Out of character moments I can deal with. But when you give an out of character moment to the entire human race, that’s when you’ve crossed the line.

%99 of our existence as a species has been marked by endless poverty, hardships and death. From the modern perspective most of the history of mankind was the apocalypse. No electricity, no running water, uncertain food supply. For millenia people survived day to day in conditions that most of us would find utterly horrific. And yet somehow they did survive.

And if, God forbid, humankind should ever have to return to fighting and clawing for our very existence for whatever reason we will survive still.

So there. I got it out of my system. On Monday, we will recommence with our regularly scheduled rant-free broadcast.

Same zombie time. Same zombie station.