“When Zombies Attack”

When Zombies Attack”

#MindOfMarlar is written by Darren Marlar, host of Weird Darkness

Hellooooo, Monday.

From “The Night of the Living Dead” to “Shawn of the Dead”, zombie apocalypses (Apocalypsi? Apocalypsees?)… anyway, they have long been a beloved theme in science fiction and horror. But what if a zombie takeover actually happened in real life? I’m not referring to how you feel on Monday morning after a long holiday weekend – we all feel dead to the world on that day (and some of us look it) – I mean really, truly being attacked by undead corpses. Well, researchers at Aalto University in Finland decided to explore this question – because apparently they have way too much money in Finland and wanted to find something to blow it on.

I will return and I will be a million.” — Eva Peron (Who knew she’d return to make a million zombies?!)

Imagine the scenario: a lone zombie appears in Helsinki… possibly deceased Argentinian First Lady Eva Peron who died during the 1952 Olympics taking place there. (Hey, if we’re going to be chased by a zombie, why not make it one of notoriety and charm?) According to the study, Helsinki would have a mere seven hours to quarantine or eliminate Eva and her bitten-and-now-undead hoard before the entire country is overrun.

Yep. Seven hours. That’s not even enough time to go looting before you’d have to stop and run for your life. What’s the fun in having a “28 Days Later” scenario if you only have 28-minutes to get all of your illegal shoplifting done? Seven hours from one undead nibble from Eva… to total annihilation.

The researchers’ simulations revealed that a zombie plague would spread faster than the Summer cicadas of 2024. How do you simulate a zombie spread though? What facts and figures do you plug into your computer model about an undead outbreak – seeing as no such thing has ever happened outside of pop culture and media? How do you know your scientific-wild-buttocks-guesses are even remotely close to accurate?

Don’t know.  No idea.

So their super-sophisticated computer zombie model took into account the movement of regular living people within and between cities. Professor Lauri Viitasaari admitted though that there were some significant hurdles. Aside from the “no data available” problem that I just mentioned, they had to figure out the likelihood of a living human being winning a fight with a non-living human being. You can’t exactly binge watch “The Walking Dead” and treat it like a documentary on how to address the approach of your decaying neighbor, Chuck who has a nasty case of the zombo-flu. The professor noted, “We’re walking blind here, because real data on such questions is severely limited.”

Ya don’t say. I don’t know that I would’ve used the words “walking blind” though – that’s going to increase your chances of being zombified after being used as Puppy Chow.

Dang it, Harold! I told you to turn left the intersection! Why don’t you ever listen to me?! Harold… are you listening? HAROLD!!!

For the sake of demonstration though, let’s pretend these people know what they’re doing. According to them, if a zombie outbreak started in Helsinki, the entire city would be crawling with the undead in just seven hours. Possibly sooner if it takes place during the annual Wife Carrying World Championships, because it’s hard to run very fast with that loudmouth ball-and-chain on your back. That’s a real sport by the way. Wife carrying. It’s pretty big in Helsinki. Come to think of it, they should’ve used that to estimate the speed zombies could walk. It’d probably be pretty accurate.

Professor Pauliina Ilmonen, who led the study, was kinda shocked by how fast the spread was predicted to be, saying, “It made me think about moral issues like the rights of individuals versus the rights of a population.” Good question, Prof – do you save the doofus who insists on keeping his zombie uncle Bugsy in the guest room because, you know… he’s family…or do you prioritize the population of the world and send in the SWAT team with a can of Raid to kill Bugsy dead? Dead again. Is that un-undead? Re-dead? Anti-undead? You know, we need to come up with a term for that. I’m open to suggestions.

Fortunately, nobody believes this zombie thing is really on the horizon anytime soon, and the project is mostly light-hearted; the researchers say it does offer some serious insights into containing future disease outbreaks though.  Have they thought about making us all wear masks, stand at least six feet apart, and stay indoors for fifteen days to slow the spread of this Coronavirus Type Z? That might work.

You might think that’s pretty small-minded of me to suggest and joke about.  Well, the joke’s on you – with my small mind, I have less brains for the zombies to crave!  Take that, you overeducated over-vaccinated numbskulls!  Oh… and they did keep me in mind with this study, labeling me as one of the “zombie deniers”, ignoring the warnings, furthering the impact and spread of the zombidemic. (I just made up that word – “zombidemic” – feel free to use it.)

“We’re gathered here to vote on how best TO SERVE MAN.”

They say the model could be adapted for other scenarios as well. (Shopping malls, perhaps? Rural farmhouses? Amusement parks?  Congress in session? Never mind – most of them at their age are just this side of dead already – and they don’t have any brains for the zombies to crave either.).

Whether it’s a virus, a rumor, or even disinformation spreading like a stomach bug in a daycare center, the zombie simulation is supposed to help us understand the dynamics of rapid contagion in all its forms.

Aww… c’mon. I’m tiny – I only need a little bite!

So, the next time you find yourself with a suspicious bite mark, remember: you’ve got seven hours before all hell breaks loose. Maybe stock up the bunker now, just in case. The cicadas might just be how the zombie virus will spread.

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