Friday, April 15, 2011

My Weapon of Choice - Brains

So, yes, I spent years fencing. I was okay. I'm stage combat trained and certified. That means I'm qualified to pretend to beat the crap out of you with either rapier and dagger, quarterstaff, my bare hands or a broadsword. I'm married to a former police officer, so I am familiar with guns to the point that I know which end gets pointed at the bad. Strange fact: I'm right handed, but I lead with my left eye - so I shoot left handed and I fight quarterstaff left handed. This drove my stage combat instructor nuts.

But let's be honest. Come the zombie apocalypse, if survival is predicated on sheer physical fighting prowess, I'm zombie chow. If, however, the oncoming hordes of undead are, in fact, mindless - I'd have a pretty good shot at getting out alive because I'm in possession of the one weapon the zombies lack: brains. (Though notably, I'm not interested in them as a snack food.)

Weapons - the guns, knives, bombs, martial arts, and so forth are tools. Monkeys use tools. So do crows. The real advantage comes from an ability to think, to plan, to make rapid-fire decisions under pressure, to adapt to changing circumstances and to come up with creative ways to use old information and objects in new ways. This is a fancy way of saying that if you're a creative thinker, everything is a potential weapon. It's funny. Put a tool like a gun in someone's hand in a high pressure situation, and a primitive part of the brain seems to take over. It's as if our ancestors were wired to respect the caveman carrying the biggest stick. You and I can argue the point of which weapon is most dangerous, but from a societal standpoint, guns equal big sticks. Most people holding a gun in hand and pointing that gun at someone else with intent to harm seem to feel like they're in the position of greatest power, right?

Remeber Micheal J. Fox in one of the Back the Future movies? Old west, a shoot out at high noon, one he knew perfectly well he couldn't survive, much less win? How did he win it, then? By thinking. No. I won't remind you what he did.

Surely you remember that short story you had to read in high school? The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. You DID read that didn't you? I thought every high schooler in the USA had to read that thing. Good story. Creepy. And a perfect illustration for my point. The summary:
Sanger Rainsford falls from his boat while on expedition in the Amazon. Unable to catch the boat, he swims to an island. He finds a palatial chateau inhabited by the owner, General Zaroff, and his servant Ivan. The General, a big-game hunter, has heard of Rainsford from his book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet. After inviting him to dinner, General Zaroff tells Rainsford of how he became bored with hunting because it no longer challenged him. Thus, Zaroff says, he decided to live on an island where he could capture shipwrecked sailors to send them into the jungle supplied with food, a knife, and hunting clothes to be his quarry. After a three-hour head start, he would follow them to hunt them. If the captives eluded him, Ivan, and a pack of hunting dogs for three days, General Zaroff would let the man go, but no one had eluded him that long thus far. Rainsford is now his prey.

Rainsford, armed with nothing more than an inadequate blade, has to turn the tables on the man with the guns and the hunting hounds. His only advantage is his ability to think. He has to act one way (like the prey) and think another (like a predator) if he's going to survive. He has to adapt, plan, think his way to the end of the story. Won't tell you how that one ends, either.

So, yeah. My weapon of choice is between my ears. Sure. Some days, it's a blunt instrument incapable fo cutting through anything at all. Like the day I picked up the glass of water from beside the sink so I could swallow my vitamins. It wasn't until I took a big swig that I remembered that was the water that had been used to soak dirty silverware...

On those days, I confess, I still have a secret fondness for the quarterstaff. (This should lead to a YouTube video that refuses to embed properly...)


  1. Oh yes, I remember that story! It freaked me out, but it made me think.

    Great post!

  2. Bwwwaaaaiiiinnns...

    We never had to read that book (I will add it to my TBR), but I do recall a spate of movies and TV eps that borrowed the premise.

    I wonder if mass hysteria and mob-mentality would rob the "living" population of victory during the Zombie Apocalypse. Sure, it would sort lemmings from leaders in a viral cleaning of the gene-pool. How many of us would be Rainsford? I must go off and ponder this, Pinky.

  3. ~shakes head at the state of KAK's education~

    It drives me nuts how, in Zombie movies and stories, the sheer mass of dumb hunger always overwhelms. I think more of us would be Rainsford than the fiction implies.

  4. I dunno. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I'd like to think that humans would muster up the self-reliance to survive. But I'm pretty doubtful.

    Brock Sampson from the Venture Brothers, will probably make it, though. But I don't think that Bear Grylls from Survivorman will. There's only so much pee that one man can drink.

  5. I think that the stupidity of humans in groups in a situation of mass hysteria should never be underestimated. This point is proven, daily. After this week of blog posts, I think that when the Zombie Apocalypse hits, I'll be hiding behind my Word Whore Sisters. You all are amazing.