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Zombie Acacalypse based on kids forced to survive on their own

Crumbly Writer

Another story idea I think deserves to be fleshed out, is a zombie apocalypse told from the viewpoint of kids left on their own to fend off the zombie hordes--obvious parallels to kids forced to grow up in a world with child predators and absent or addicted parents.

There's been a recent spring of post-apocalyptic stories told from women's perspectives--which I applaud--but this seems like another vital story begging to be written. However, I don't feel that I'm qualified to write it, as it seems more of a female-centric effort (what are kids capable of at specific ages and how are they impacted by the lack of adult supervision).

Anyone want to give it a try?

Not_a_ID

Kids are capable of a lot of things. What they lack is size, which impacts their strength, and experience which impacts their sense of perspective. Throw adolescence into the mix and the hormonal fluctuations they experience in that phase doesn't help them stay on an even path.

The experience side does go further, but less than many would like to claim, while also more than can initially be assessed. Education and opportunities come into play there, someone growing up on a "working farm/ranch" is likely to have a lengthy list of practical skills and knowledge by their tweens that a lot of urbanites and suburbanites may never acquire.

A lot of it will come to the proverbial hand of cards the child is given, and what kind of options the child is presented with. Most children will choose play every time. Some children will be presented with work & education options as play, and view it as such. While some others will be in a hurry to grow up, and eschew the play options in that light.

But going back to the working farm example, there are other kids who won't always be given a choice regarding play. They're going to experience work from early on, be it in a physical sense, or in an academic sense(parents convinced their child is a genius, or otherwise pushing them into every academic or "learning opportunity" they can find).

bluerazz26

I agree this would make a great read seeing some teenagers feeling invicible we all did stupid things as teens which make the best stories but then theres the crushing reality of the situation the mental breakdowns the stress and the back stabbing and the drama it would be so good

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@bluerazz26

By having a group of kids of different ages, you could have a nice mix of experiences, maturity and physical capabilities, while also presenting various levels of naivité. By mixing farm, city and suburban kids--say a small church weekend trip to the big city--you'd also have various outlooks to bounce off each other.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

Or (sub)urban kids at a nature/"unplug" camp, putting them near a farm community, or with the camp boasting some "local" volunteers/assistants.

Not_a_ID

@bluerazz26

I agree this would make a great read seeing some teenagers feeling invicible we all did stupid things as teens which make the best stories but then theres the crushing reality of the situation the mental breakdowns the stress and the back stabbing and the drama it would be so good


Lord of the Flies with Zombies doesn't quite sound too interesting to me, although I'm sure others would jump on it.

bluerazz26

@Not_a_ID

I mostly meant the lack of fear young people they have a thing for thinking thier the main hero in a story how everthing revolves around them you know the that wont ever happen to me thought or i would never be that unlucky and my favorite i could do that just give me a liitle bit of time
To cut it short young people tend to be egocentric
And why is there never a cult in these zonbie apocalypses

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

Lord of the Flies with Zombies doesn't quite sound too interesting to me, although I'm sure others would jump on it.

What make "Lord of the Flies" compelling, and what ultimately dated it so severely, was the way the kids formed their own political structure which reflected the 50s U.S. society at the time. A more modern story wouldn't fall into the same pitfalls. Nowadays, we have all of our own pitfalls. In fact, there are now so many guidelines and rules for zombie apocalyptic stories that I'm afraid many of them are written on autopilot, rather than putting real thought into them. The emphasis is on the day-to-day struggle, rather than how the events occur or how the groups organize.

@bluerazz

I mostly meant the lack of fear young people they have a thing for thinking thier the main hero in a story how everthing revolves around them you know the that wont ever happen to me thought or i would never be that unlucky and my favorite i could do that just give me a liitle bit of time

Youngsters 'lack of fear' is easily countered by their first encounter with an undead horde. Nothing quite convinces people that they aren't invulnerable than watching your friends being slaughtered and there's nothing you (or they) can do about it.

@Not an Id

Or (sub)urban kids at a nature/"unplug" camp, putting them near a farm community, or with the camp boasting some "local" volunteers/assistants.

I don't think the location is so essential as the mix of backgrounds/ages is. The location is often what drives the story, so I suspect most authors will want to pick the meatiest locations. Simply having the kids traveling to a camp, only to be waylaid mid-route, should be enough to supply a divergent cast capable of covering each other. And of course, the more outrageous (and usually minority characters) are usually the first to be offed in most zombie flicks.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

The emphasis is on the day-to-day struggle, rather than how the events occur or how the groups organize.


In my opinion, that is where the emphasis should be in the early stages for any apocalyptic / post apocalyptic story. Groups beyond family/clan or small tribal groups centered on an alpha/leader type character will not form before day to day survival is relatively secure.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

In my opinion, that is where the emphasis should be in the early stages for any apocalyptic / post apocalyptic story. Groups beyond family/clan or small tribal groups centered on an alpha/leader type character will not form before day to day survival is relatively secure.

That's why I like introducing a mix of characters early on. I've always liked forming such groups early, so the survivors have the resources to aid others and pull in new recruits. In the case of the kids, they'd have the skills resources while also being reluctant to trust the adults who--without controls--might be likely to abuse anyone they take in. In that case, they'd likely only accept other kids, or single women who've run away from other groups.

Again, another interesting dynamic to play with and another conflict over the course of the story.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That's why I like introducing a mix of characters early on. I've always liked forming such groups early


In my opinion, the formation of any large (beyond a couple of dozen people) or complex group structures in the early aftermath of an apocalyptic event is completely unrealistic. It won't, it can't happen until people feel secure about living through tomorrow.

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

It seems to me that there are existing organizations where survivors would be able to trust each other and form groups larger than a couple of dozen people. Examples might be Boy Scouts, members of a particular church, kids who go to the same school or belong to the same sports league. Maybe just people who played bridge together once in a while. Small towns would be much more cohesive than random residents of Cleveland or Tacoma. The six degrees of separation effect might make making large groups difficult, but once you get to one or two degrees of separation, its easier to get people who need to to trust each other.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

In my opinion, the formation of any large (beyond a couple of dozen people) or complex group structures in the early aftermath of an apocalyptic event is completely unrealistic. It won't, it can't happen until people feel secure about living through tomorrow.

That's not what I was suggesting. In a few of my stories, the story starts with random encounters, and as events unfold, the draw others into their universe. Some die, but a certain core group survives, which then provides the support to attract new members. A 'core of strength' which others are drawn to, such as David's access to electricity and medical supplies in my "Great Death" series.

In the case of kids, it would be a group of other kids who are just as likely to protect other kids, but who wouldn't pose the threat a group of unregulated adult men might pose. After all, the entire premise of the apocalyptic stories is that all the rules of society get thrown to the winds and readers get to see what life without structure offers (usually uniformly bad).

Richard's idea sounds good, but then you've got to deal with a group of kids trying to reach a (to them) remote group without knowing whether they've survived or not, where I was imagining starting with a coherent group who'd have the necessary skills to grow over time. Five or six kids to start would be plenty, or you could start with a few kids who find themselves in the same position when things turn south, who later become the essential core group other come to rely on.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

It seems to me that there are existing organizations where survivors would be able to trust each other and form groups larger than a couple of dozen people. Examples might be Boy Scouts, members of a particular church, kids who go to the same school


Richard has a point there. If you start with a bunch of scouts on a regional or state jamboree or other multi-troop activity. Same could be said for any large school or church camp, or a summer holiday camp. Sure you start with a few adults, but only a few. If a camp and a number of adults are in town getting supplies you'd have a very low ratio of adults. Also, with the scout camp start you'd have a large group used to working together and living in camping conditions.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Also, with the scout camp start you'd have a large group used to working together and living in camping conditions.


And the first time there isn't enough food to go around, there will be fights and the group will break up without a very strong leader. The larger the group, the stronger and or more violent the leader will have to be to keep the group together.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

And the first time there isn't enough food to go around, there will be fights and the group will break up without a very strong leader. The larger the group, the stronger and or more violent the leader will have to be to keep the group together.


IIRC, there are behavioural studies out there suggesting the "optimum tribe size" is around 30 people. Larger groupings of comparable clusters of people can get into hundreds without too much trouble, but after that things start to degrade on an interpersonal level. ("The other" member of the group starts to be more strongly pursued/believed in. Which is where the witch hunts, and other such crazy stuff usually starts cropping up(racial issues, etc))

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

IIRC, there are behavioural studies out there suggesting the "optimum tribe size" is around 30 people.


I rather doubt even thirty is workable under conditions where people are struggling to survive in not just preindustrial but preagricultural conditions with a modern skill set.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

Depending on what qualifies as struggling to survive, about 30 is an army infantry platoon, three squads of ten men plus a platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and maybe a radioman/driver for the platoon leader. Not always up to full strength, but combat experience has driven decisions on unit size.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Depending on what qualifies as struggling to survive


Not knowing where your next meal will come from or when. living on the edge of starvation, not for a few days, or even a few weeks, but for months with no end in sight because you lack the necessary skills to survive without modern infrastructure.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@richardshagrin


Depending on what qualifies as struggling to survive, about 30 is an army infantry platoon, three squads of ten men plus a platoon leader, platoon sergeant, and maybe a radioman/driver for the platoon leader. Not always up to full strength, but combat experience has driven decisions on unit size.


And that amount is a largely unworkable number in fiction--even for an author who includes hundreds of characters in his stories.

Ideally, a core group of characters will range from 5 (best) to 10 (weaker), otherwise readers will continually be scratching their heads, wondering who is who--especially if a posting takes longer than a week. Even though I posted twice a week, my fans would typically reread the previous chapter so they could remember what was happening from one chapter to the next. Adding that many characters make a story unmanageable.

@DS

Not knowing where your next meal will come from or when. living on the edge of starvation, not for a few days, or even a few weeks, but for months with no end in sight because you lack the necessary skills to survive without modern infrastructure.

A basic premise of most PA stories (zombie apocalypses included), is that there's a wide variety of leftover food in stores, people homes and warehouses that's simply there for the taking. Thus scrounging for meals isn't as tough as if the kids were dumped in the middle of an isolated forest.

Generally, survivors in most stories move from the security of one house they can defend to another, minimizing the amount of time they remain in the open.

Also, one of my pet-peeves about PA stories is that they fly in the face of most real-life experiences. According to the collected wisdom of most PA stories, civilization collapses within days without the constant rule of the government. But in most widespread disasters, where the government is unable to reach anyone for weeks or even longer, most people pull together, helping each other rather than fighting tooth and nail. Thus the entire premise of most of these stories falls apart. They are not reality-based stories, but pure fantasy about how essential the rule of law is to human society. If a government collapses, another steps into it's place. In most places where this principal fails, it's because the government refuses to back off once it's lost control, becoming worse than the people working to upset them.

Still, PA stories are fun, no matter how ridiculous they are, so I think I 'll keep reading them.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


According to the collected wisdom of most PA stories, civilization collapses within days without the constant rule of the government.


Not just without government, without government, the electric grid, running water and/or gas(household natural gas, not gasoline). Remove any one and most modern civilizations can cope for several weeks. Remove two at the same time and you've got two or three weeks tops before things start to get ugly.

Lose all of them at the same time and you have days before civilization collapses.

You can last weeks without food (it takes a week for starvation to even set in) however, you will die in three days without water.

You have hundreds of thousands of people in a major urban area and suddenly, you have no lights, no heat, no A/C, no way to cook food, and no water. Sure, you can scavenge stores for food, but fresh meats and vegetables will be useless in days, a week on the outside.

All you have is dry and canned goods. That isn't a very balanced diet. But you are in the middle of a concrete jungle, what do you do when the water stops flowing. Where do you piss and shit? How do you get water that is safe to drink? How do you cope with the issue of hundreds of thousands of rotting corpses?

Take any major modern city. Magically remove government, electricity, natural gas, and tap water without doing any other damage, no disease, no casualty causing catastrophe. 50-80 percent of the population will be dead in three days, just from dehydration.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

Dehydration. There a liquids other than tap water that will stave off death longer than three days. There is enough to get by for a day or three stored in most toilet tanks. If you don't flush. Lots of people drink bottled water and most soda pop will stave off dehydration. Juice and various canned fruits provide liquids. Not to go full bore into water sports, but urine can be recycled if the alternative is death. There are places where it rains and that moisture can be captured for drinking. I am not saying loss of water on demand from plumbing won't be a problem, but authors can plan on their major characters surviving more than three days.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

There a liquids other than tap water that will stave off death longer than three days.


True, but I rather doubt civilization will survive people being reduced to such measures.

Few people would have enough bottled water or other bottled/canned beverages on hand for more than a day or two, a week at the outside. For that matter, I rather doubt that there would be enough in stores in a large city to keep the entire population for more than a few days.

Multiple groups of people trying to loot the same store for bottled water and a deadly fight breaks out over the last case.

My point isn't that people can't survive, but that civilization wouldn't survive when people are reduced to that.

aripeone

Try Bird Song,no zombies

Crumbly Writer

@aripeone

Try Bird Song,no zombies

Thanks. I'll check it out.

docholladay

@aripeone

Try Bird Song,no zombies


A very good story as I recall. Well worth reading again, thanks for the reminder.

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