Daniel placed the last cinderblock in the wall snugly and stepped back to survey what had been accomplished. All ground-level entrance had been solidly sealed with cinderblocks and mortar. "Let's see the zombies get through THAT!" he thought happily.
With just a little warning, secure protection against a zombie outbreak seemed shockingly easy. Bricks and mortar are not hard to come by, and zombies aren't exactly super-man. Combine this with a complete lack of problem-solving abilities and it's really no problem.
At the first news of the spreading zombie outbreak Daniel had taken his family and joined several others to hole up in the local Wal-Mart. With only a few entrances to begin with and just about everything you could dream of already stockpiled on the inside, it was the obvious choice. It had taken very little time to procure bricks and mortar to make the remaining entrances into solid walls themselves. Those inside would be able to get in and out should they find the need simply by accessing the roof and lowering ladders to get down. They would probably even find or make a rope ladder for easier raising/lowering of the entrance.
Daniel ascended to the roof to survey the situation in the surrounding area. Distant sirens could be heard wailing in several directions, but more immediately there was a constant blare of horns due to the jammed traffic on nearby roads. The occasional pedestrian would run by on foot in a mad panic.
Ladders would be lowered to fleeing refugees down below who weren't in so much of a panic that they didn't notice those waving from the roof of Wal-mart. As time went on and more people gave up on the snarled automobile traffic, foot traffic increased. Presently an argument arose among those on the roof about "how many people can we rescue? we can't save them all, we'll starve!" Tempers rose as those who couldn't dream of leaving people to fend for themselves below got in shouting matches with those who feared they'd be overrun with refugees.
"What if one of them is infected??" asked someone's wife with a gasp. There was a moment of silent contemplation and then the "save everyone" contingent silently relented and the ladders were drawn up for the last time.
The flood of refugees steadily increased to a veritable torrent. One by one those on the roof retreated back down into the store to avoid the pleading eyes of those they would not save. Daniel and the last few were about to go below when another man held up his hand "wait!" he said with an uncomfortable look on his face, "someone should stay up here"
"Why?" another man asked
"What if... they throw a ladder up on the side or something? Someone should, you know, be up here" he said, squirming a bit. It was clear who "they" was and it wasn't the zombies.
Daniel gratefully avoided ladder tipping duty and hastily retreated down below to check on his wife and kids.
Initially they had all dreaded the time when they'd hear the moaning of zombies surrounding their fortress, but something they weren't prepared for haunted them first. Cries of "Let us in!" and "please help us!" could be heard through the walls and drove the families as far from the walls as they could get. They all huddled in the shoe aisle near the centre of the store.
People took turns patrolling the walls making sure the newly erected walls were holding up. People were clearly banging on them on the far side. There had been no shortage of man-power and materials though so they'd been made several feet thick.
The sturdiness of the walls didn't stop the horrifying psychological impact though of the cries for help and fruitless banging on the walls. It sounded like there was quite the multitude out there now. Daniel tried not to even think about what it must be like having duty on the roof.
Suddenly there was an incredible crash and the wall in front of Daniel exploded into dust and shards of concrete. Daniel dove behind a shelf of cheap plastic trinkets to dodge the shrapnel. When he jumped to his feet in disbelief to see what could possibly have happened he beheld frantic mobs of terrified people streaming into the store from the gaping hole that had just been made by someone driving a truck through the wall.
As a lifeguard in high school I was taught that someone who thinks they are going to die will do absolutely anything to save themself, not the least of which would be to pull their would-be-rescuer to their death. I experienced this first-hand on several occasions when my rescue tube slipped from my arms or for whatever other reason failed to be between myself and my rescuee. They look at you with this look of terror in their eyes that you'll never forget, lunge at you like a waterborne zombie, and shove downwards on you with all their might.
In such cases I'd just go underwater and aim to re-emerge on the correct side of the rescue float, but one might not always have that option.
In contemplating the coming zombie apocalypse, as I'm fond of doing, it occured to me one day that really, zombies ARE very easy to avoid. Disappointingly easy in fact. Build something strong enough that one can't destroy it with their hands alone that takes at least an iota of brainpower to get around. BUT, fleeing refugees, that's another story entirely.
These frantic masses would be driven before the actual front line of the zombie outbreak like a shockwave of destruction, desperately overrunning anything defensible. Aside from their overwhelming numbers, add to the equation that they might be infected and thus liable to turn, and like a spark starting a wildfire, bring the infestation into the defended area. They would sow more destruction than the zombies themselves, and once entrenched defenders realized this, may actually be met with as much gunfire as the zombies themselves.
And thus, in the Coming Zombie Apocalypse the hordes of refugees will be looked upon as utter pariahs.
(Part of a continuing series on the upcoming zombie apocalypse)