You wake up in the hospital: desolate. It smells like a nursing home, loneliness hits you like a brick dropped from a crumbling building.

You do your best to stand up, but your legs and back are too stiff, you collapse. The growls you thought you heard make a transition from imagination to reality in a sudden flash of fear, and now it’s real. A glance out the window uncovers your worst nightmare- zombies. A rattling on your door causes you to understand the awful truth: you’re surrounded. The door cracks and moans in protest, your heart does the same. With a deep breath you make a decision- out the window it is.

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Swift utilization of the IV stand has the glass shattered, and not a moment too soon. The undead -rotting and pestilent- file towards you as you convince your legs to jump. The fall wasn’t so bad as the dead sprint to shelter afterwards, where you realize that not only should you have been a little more honest about your workout regimen, but also that zombies have quite the appetite. Legs wobbling, lungs bursting, you fling the door of the house open and slam it shut in the same second. You find your way to the basement, locking doors and windows, breathing spastically along the way.

Once there, you fling yourself on the couch and take what seems like your first relaxed breath in years. You can only bring yourself to think- “What next?” The zombie apocalypse is a hypothetical situation that has obsessed the minds of society for years. In every telling of a zombie apocalypse, things are far from pretty. People are torn to shreds, eaten, eviscerated and murdered. The hordes of the undead are taking over, and they are as ruthless as they are numerous.

In the event of this scenario the problem is clear: zombies are eating people. To find a silver lining in this situation is more than improbable; nobody should be able to find an ounce of goodness in an event of this magnitude and terror. The carnage and agony is even worse than what you’ll in a DMV. In this kind of apocalypse- men, women, children, the elderly, are all affected as they are forced to battle and evade the angry horde of undead monsters intent on destroying everything they know and care about. In dramatic cases, people are forced to watch the ones they love become these monsters, which only adds to the inherent nastiness.

While the zombie apocalypse may simply be a hypothetical situation, words in a novel, makeup and acting on screen, the concept is something substantial. The zombie apocalypse, whether you’re choosing fight, flight, or otherwise, is something that will always be in the hearts and minds of human beings. One way people would seem to deal with the zombie apocalypse is to follow one of their primordial instincts- run like you’ve stolen something. The method to this tactic is simple. You find somewhere safe to hide, hole yourself up, acquire some resources, then pray that something, anything, will get rid of the zombie menace.

If they find you, you pick up what you can and run away, presumably screaming for your mother as you move along. This idea seems solid and plausible, but there is a hole in that basket. While zombies aren’t necessarily the fastest, (they possess the agility of a sleepy puppy), they will never give up. They chase and chase and chase and chase and chase and..

.brains… When they get tired of chasing you, they continue to chase you.

So when the time comes that you’re running away from a zombie and right into another group of zombies, you trip over that inconvenient log, or your legs give out (and the zombie’s don’t), you’ll wish you had thought of a different plan. Simply running away from this nightmare, the apocalypse, will never work. It’s too all-consuming and powerful, running away won’t get the job done. The zombies will catch you. Another method to surviving the zombie apocalypse is to follow the opposite instinct- to fight as if somebody liked all of your girlfriend’s pictures on Facebook. It’s quite simple, you acquire some weapons, find a safe place, and defend it to your last breath. You’ll find yourself blasting, slashing, and hacking away at these zombies like it’s your job- this isn’t for the faint of heart. This may seem like a good plan, to sit around and pick off zombies until some miracle gets rid of them all, but it isn’t necessarily going to be the thing that’ll save your life. Zombies do not have the highest IQ, nor much control of their body, so while fighting them may be easy, it’s important to remember that ammo runs out, weapons break, and bodies wear down.

You can fight, and you can fight hard, but you can’t fight forever. So when you’re cornered in your basement, holding a broom and dustpan as dozens of hungry zombies waltz in, or when your gun jams as the undead decide to join you for dinner, you’ll be thinking through hundreds of scenarios in which you could have avoided this. Being bull headed and fighting dead guys may knock down the zombie population a bit, but it would be wise to keep your personal population in the utmost of your interest. Fighting may seem noble, but it isn’t the way to go. The zombies will beat you. There is one other way to survive the zombie apocalypse, and while it is likely the most difficult, it is the only one that will hold true and keep you alive in the end.

To survive the zombie apocalypse, you need to be able to harness your primordial instincts and abilities, you need to run like the wind and fight like a monster, you need to be smart as a whip and confident in every decision you make. Only through mixing it up in this fashion can you survive. There is one more aspect of being a human that you’ll need to embrace to make it through the whole ordeal, however. A human being needs to believe in something other than his or her self. Whether it’s a divine being or simply the work of nature, you need to believe that everything will be just fine. Where there’s hell, there’s heaven.

You’ll probably find yourself running as fast as you can one moment, and hitting some dead dude with a chair in another. The ultimate rule in a zombie apocalypse, just as it is in real life, is that you need to count on everything being just fine in the end. If you run when you should, fight when you can, and let the forces of nature and faith decay or destroy these monsters in the meantime, the only problem you’ll have in the end is that everybody will think you’re awesome, and they’ll be building statues of your stunning apocalypse body after civilization rises again. Being smart, strong, fast, and having a strong belief that there will be an end to the madness is the way to survive the apocalypse. The zombies won’t stand a chance.

The zombie apocalypse may be hypothetical, it may simply be an idea or story, but it means something to people. It’s a big question about life; it should go on personality tests. It asks us what we’d do in such a terrible incident; it makes us wonder if we even have the ability to survive it. Probably we’ll never have to find out firsthand, on account of the fact that the closest the human race has gotten to a zombie apocalypse is Black Friday, but the sentiment is the same. You may try and run away, but you’ll likely find yourself in a literal dead end.

Fighting will only make a meal of you. The only way to really survive is to be the strongest you can in every aspect of your being, and to believe fervently that everything will be just fine. You get up from that couch in the basement, shake the fear from your body, and with a deep breath, convince yourself that you are going to make it out of this alive. You stretch out the soreness in your legs and back, and you’re ready to take on the world, apocalypse or not.