By Alexandra Vallas ‘15
The first time we meet it is for C-rations, the Spartan rations that remain in Collins Dining Hall on the Claremont-McKenna Campus. A mutual—surviving—friend has arranged the meeting, which takes place in the shelter of a decrepit building on Harvey Mudd College. When he speaks—which happens rarely and
briefly, I come to find—he calls himself only ‘Z,’ like the ‘z’ in ‘zombie.’ I decide this is fitting.
He owns more than five guns, he tells me: two electric and the rest spring-loaded models. “Spring-loaded is better,” he says. “It’s quieter and more personal.” This makes sense to me. After all, anyone who’s spent even one day in the middle of the zombie apocalypse knows that noise is the last thing you want when flesh-hungry ex-humans are staggering after your sorry, living carcass. I write his words down in my notebook.
“But how do you conserve ammo most effectively?” I wonder. It turns out Z knows the ropes better than I had expected, because the answer comes quickly.
“Don’t shoot,” he replies, as if it is the most obvious fact—though in a way it is. Sometimes I find myself questioning how I’ve managed to survive at all; I credit most of this to my defensive strategy of never leaving my base.
“If you use a gun that’s one-shot spring-loaded, you’re not going to go around shooting—one shot and you’re done,” he continues. There is a faraway look in his eyes, one that makes me wonder who he has lost. Maybe he lost a close roommate to the virus or necromancy or whatever it is causing this zombie hell. I take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief that my cardinal rule, the Rule of Solitude and Antisocial Behavior, has served me so well in the course of the war.
In the vein of my previous questions, I turn the conversation toward shot accuracy, the best friend of efficient resource allocation. Thank goodness for that Macroeconomics course I took before the world ended—and we all thought we would never use what we learned in our classes for real world application!
But my question seems to puzzle Z, who responds straight to the point as I am starting to realize he does. “You aim at them,” he says slowly. “It doesn’t matter where you hit them.”
This response catches me off-guard. I was convinced up until that zombies were only vulnerable to headshots, but surely as grizzled a veteran as Z would know better than me. What can I say? If I were a character in a pre-apocalypse zombie movie, I would probably be the one that survived on sheer dumb luck. But I decide not to tell that to a certified badass like Z.
“So how do you survive?” I ask him. “What does it take, in this environment, to keep your extremities out of a zombie’s mouth every day?”
He thinks about that question for a long moment before answering.
“Cardio, double tap, check the back seat…” He shrugs. “Though honestly, people just live underground around here. To survive you stay in groups, so you have to be nice to people.”
‘Be nice to people’ gets added to my notes. I’m starting to get really into it, and I think Z can feel it too. We have a connection—we’re two survivors bonded by the trauma of our experiences. Maybe, just maybe, he would be on my team. All I have to do is prove that I, too, can be as strong and kickass as he is. I know my next question will take me to that level. So, mustering all my courage, I lean back as cool and nonchalantly as I can against the wall, wearing my devil-may-care attitude like a pair of really intense sunglasses in a very dark room.
“So, Z. Zed. Can I call you that? Good.” I never have been one to wait around for answers. “Say I want to perform a long-distance kill. What kind of gun do you most recommend for that range?”
He blinks, obviously surprised. Clearly I am more of a proactive killer than he thought. We should get jackets for our two-man wolf—
“A sniper rifle. They don’t make them for NERF guns, but that’s what I’d suggest.”
…NERF guns? When did we start talking about those?
The Scripps Voice wishes you all happy hunting and thick skin during the 5C HvZ game! Also thanks to ‘Z’, for providing the interview for this story.