I had never seen a zombie movie before college. Then I met Steph Cox ’09 and I was introduced to a frightening new concept: the zombiepocalypse. “Night of the Living Dead,” “Bog Creatures,” and “Dead and Breakfast” (paired with serious conversations about our relative ability to survive a zombie attack) fueled my imagination. Grinnell is in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa. Do we really have a chance?
I sought out these troubling conversations with Steph and fellow zombie/apocalypse enthusiast Mer Nechitilo ’09; their zombie knowledge and experience easily trumps mine. Now, I ponder the general defensive capabilities of various academic buildings far more than the application of literary theory. I’m an English major. Some key thoughts:
1. We have to realize that the zombiepocalypse is unpredictable. You can only make basic plans and preparations. The real key to survival rests on improvisation.
2. Only a few buildings on campus can properly serve as a defensive stronghold against any sort of invasion, especially from zombies:
Stuck on the third floor of ARH? Kiss your brain goodbye before the zombie consumes it.
The JRC? It’s ridiculously vulnerable. No matter how much that window in the dining hall costs, it cannot withstand the pure strength of determined zombies. Obviously, Cesar Pelli had ulterior motives.
It’s still a valuable resource, though. You can run through the Marketplace, pick up the rounded knives from the pizza station to use as a Bat’leth or a bladed boomerang. Just hope the Cheery Checkers haven’t already been zombified. They won’t let you leave.
Noyce is deceptive. True, the glut of maze-like hallways can allow you to lose a confused zombie/Humanities major without much difficulty. But zombies could mount a surprise attack from anywhere. You could sustain a successful defense in the greenhouse by barricading the stairwells, but you can still get to the third floor through the Science Library. Again, through the windows.
Noyce might prove effective as a weapons barracks thanks to the abundance of chemicals. Various caustic acids could delay the zombie onslaught, but other chemicals could cause mutations, making the situation far worse.
As for the best places to avoid imminent zombie attacks? Goodnow stands as the consensus leader (sample size: 3), followed by Quad. Goodnow has only one entrance and though it has vents to the basement, the vents are metal and difficult to remove, even for a human with regular motor control and a brain. Besides, there’s a tower. Towers are great. If towers weren’t great, castles wouldn’t have them.
Goodnow is also well-stocked with primitive weaponry: atlatls and axes, among other things.
Quad can be barricaded, since no zombie could climb through the windows, but you’d ultimately get overwhelmed. There’s just too much open space. And now that it no longer serves as a dining hall, you get no food and no weapons.
But where do you go from all this theorizing? After several hours of discussions and many sources, I have a basic plan. And you should trust me, since the internet says I have a 70 percent chance of surviving. Assuming I hear the news in my Haines second room, I would make my way to the JRC for the aforementioned giant knives and food supplies, assembling a crack team of zombie killers on the way.
Next, we’d cut though Noyce in the most direct way possible, and then make our way carefully to Goodnow, keeping the pizza knives ready to slice off a zombie head. The key here is to avoid sneak attacks but not to be so out in the open that you are easily surrounded.
Once safely inside, we’d barricade the single entrance to Goodnow and ensure that it is actually the only entrance. We’d arm ourselves with atlatls and axes and wait for the hordes. But leading an inexperienced and small force against a zombie invasion is not smart. You have to wait for your heroic final stand, killing zombies as they break through your defenses and pile through the door, blocking their own path. Godspeed.