Lisa Bick’s zombie apocalypse novel Ashes will be released in just a few short weeks (September 6) and I can’t wait:
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.
For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.
Sounds awesome, right? A cross between The Signal and 28 Days Later. It’s on my must-read list, right next to Colson Whitehead’s Zone One.
I’ve got an insatiable appetite for human flesh zombie novels, comics and movies. I watch all of the movies, from Italian giallo and low budget screamers to big budget blockbusters, and I’ve got a stack of zombie books next to my bed that’s taller than your average tombstone. When you’ve been exposed to this much zombie mayhem, you begin to notice some things. Certain characters pop up again and again. Maybe their names or genders change, but under the blood-spattered clothes, they’re all playing the same roles.
Here are the Eleven people you meet in the zombie apocalypse:
1. The Survivor:
“I only have to outrun one of you.”
The Survivor went through hell to make it to safety in one piece, and will leave behind anyone who might slow them down. The Survivor is the first one to suggest putting a bullet between the eyes of The Bitten.
Example: Naomi Harris, Selena Kyle, 28 Days Later (2002)
2. The Bitten:
“I don’t feel so good.”
She might be timid and slow, or over confident and sloppy. Either way she’s been bitten. A zombie took a hunk out of her arm or leg, and now she’s on the fast track to zombiedom. She might hide her wound, argue, beg or plead, hoping against hope that she’ll prove the exception to the rule. She never is.
Example: Inna Korobkina, Luda, Dawn of the Dead (2004)
3. The Humanitarian:
“Those are people, damn you!’
He’s not going to let The Survivor shoot The Bitten or, at least, not without a fight. He might even argue that no one should be killing the zombies. Maybe there’s a cure! Sometimes, The Humanitarian becomes The Martyr or The Bitten. Sometimes both.
Example: Ana, Dawn of the Dead (2004)
4. The Martyr:
“Leave me behind. I’ll try to buy you some time.”
The Martyr realizes her destiny in an act of ultimate sacrifice. Maybe she was bitten, or perhaps she’s atoning for some past sin. Either way, she’ll stay behind with a pistol and hold off the zombie hordes long enough for her friends to get away.
Example: Ken Foree, Peter, Dawn of the Dead (1978)
5. The Authoritarian:
“Drop your weapons. I’m in charge here, and we’re doing things my way.”
The Authoritarian isn’t happy merely surviving. He wants to be in control, and is more than happy to feed dissenters to the zombie hordes.
Example: Joseph Pilato, Captain Rhodes, Day of the Dead (1985)
6. The Prophet:
“These are the Final Days. God has spoken.”
The Prophet sees the zombie apocalypse as a Biblical judgment. Sooner or later, she’ll want to bring His Judgement directly to the survivors. When that time comes, the gates go up and the dead come in.
Example: Stephen King, radio evangelist, Dawn of the Dead (2004)
7. The Bandit:
The Bandit was probably a bad guy before the zombies came and now he’s really cut loose. He’ll spend his days raping and pillaging, at least until he slips up and gets eaten alive. It can’t come soon enough.
Example: Tom Savini, Motorcycle Raider, Dawn of the Dead (1978)
8. The Hotshot:
“Bull’s eye, baby.”
The Hotshot has one special skill: she’s a bad-ass driver, or a crack shot with her rifle. As long as she stays calm she’s in top form. The minute she gets cocky, she slips up and people get hurt.
Example: David Emge, Roger, Dawn of the Dead (1978)
9. The Mad Scientist:
“The presence of live prey stimulates a most unusual behavior mechanism. Come closer. I’ll demonstrate it for you.”
He means well, but sooner or later, The Mad Scientist is going to get someone killed. He’s the guy in the basement dissecting ghouls, or training them. If you’re not lucky, you’ll end up in one of his experiments, too.
Example: Richard Liberty, Dr. “Frankenstein” Logan, Day of the Dead (1985)
10. The Suicidal:
“This is it: humanity’s closing act. It’s better this way.”
Maybe she lost her children to the zombies. Perhaps she’s just screwed up in the head. Either way, she wants to die and isn’t too particular about who she takes with her. She’s the one that turns on the time bomb and waits to tell the survivors when there’s only thirty seconds on the clock. Barring that, she’ll be happy to guide the zombies in, using herself as bait.
Example: Anthony Dileo as Private Miguel Salazar, Day of the Dead (1985)
11. The Victim:
“Mommy said there was no such thing as monsters.”
He’s a child, lovable grandpa or faithful boyfriend. Maybe he’s traumatized, or just can’t adapt to the demands of the zombie apocalypse. In any case, he’s marked for death. The Victim might as well be covered in A-1 Steak Sauce and holding a sign that says “zombies eat free”.
Example: Judith O’Dea, Night of the Living Dead (1968)