Sep 20 2010 5:00pm Zombie Readiness

The staff has survived Zombie Week, but how well would we do against a zombie invasion here at HQ? Well, we got inventive, looked around for stuff that we could set on fire, and now we feel ready to take on undead of all  kinds—we’ll be bashing in heads with T-squares in a Lemonhead-fueled rage when the zombies come to town!


I think my office will do fairly well when the zombieocalypse hits publishing. Clearly my best defense is to simply lay still like a flounder and hope they don’t see me. But if I have to fight...

Spray mount: sticky and flamable.

Spray snow is “attention: ce contenant peut exploser s’il est chuffe.” Says so right on the label. And it doubles as a communication device:



Bestine, also flammable. And so toxic it can give cancer to the undead.

...and now even I’m wondering how my office became such a toxic waste dump.

Lots of #11 xacto blades.....but I’m really hoping not to get close enough to use them.

My darts are cheap-ass and falling apart but I’m not be above running upstairs and stealing the 15th floor’s better darts.

With no disrescpect meant, anyone who has carried a Chesley Award knows that it weighs more than a large dog and can easily brain living and dead alike.

Heavy artbooks to drop on heads?

Going out into the lobby...This fire hose will be helpfull in beating the zombies down our single chimney-like stairwell.

And when the Flatiron falls and we need to book, I have my Xootr getaway scooter.

And.....oh yeah, did I mention the katana?



Hm. Okay: since we don’t really have any smokers on the staff, and I never got into the whole Girl Scout thing, I think fire is going to be a problem. Unless somebody’s been secretly stockpiling lighters somewhere, the best I can do under threat of imminent zombie attack is pray that some latent pyrokinetic abilities kick in, allowing me to go all Carrie on the undead hordes.

Other than that vague hope, I have to admit that I don’t have very many handy survival tools in my office, unless the zombies are easily distracted by Star Wars Pez dispensers and xkcd comics. The hulking Conan statue next to my monitor is pretty heavily armed, but he’s more of a mascot than a potential weapon, unfortunately.

On the other hand, I have a humongous box of Lemonheads, not to mention a pretty impressive supply of unused soy sauce packets taking up a drawer in my desk. So I guess my plan would be to grab a jug of water, a few good books, and my food supply and head up to the roof of the Flatiron (which can only be reached by a narrow metal ladder—it’s a pretty convenient choke point, assuming the zombies can even figure out how to make it to the roof in the first place). I’m not sure how long I can survive on Lemon-Soy-Head Disaster Soup, but at least I’d be enjoying an amazing view of Manhattan while it lasts…


I am utterly doomed should zombies swarm the Flatiron Building. Megan and I share a working space, but in terms of desk clutter we are opposites. I have small orderly inboxes and a minimum number of books whereas she has a pile of stuff so massive and intricate that it has attained self-awareness. [Hey. I need all that. -M]

I have nothing to draw from for my own defense, basically. My bag is of no help, unless zombies are really, really scared of iPod shuffles, paperbacks, and allergy medicine.

I really need to win more awards/hoard more ARCs. This is the most offensive weapon on my desk.

They’re in for such a pincering!


There are plenty of smokers in the building, so between lighter fluid and the chem lab that is Irene’s office (and all the, um, paper sitting around), we probably have enough accelerants to get a good blaze going in the lone stairwell. The defense of the Flatiron is all about, as Bridget said, choke points; we have to we take out the stairwell and disable the elevators by shoving office chairs in the doors (it’s doubtful that the zombies will be able to use elevators, but you never know what residual memories of office work will remain). After we all make it up onto the roof, we can coat the iron ladder with peanut butter to stop them coming up. While they’re trying, we can drop awards on their heads, or coat them in spray-mount and drop a burning twist of paper down. And there are so many Flatiron employees with a jar of organic peanut butter and a spoon stashed in a desk-drawer that a) it’s a little depressing and b) we should have enough left over to snack on after we’re done with the ladder.

And then we just need to use Wite-Out to write “HELP. You will NEED publishing professionals to rebuild the world!” on the roof and wait for a helicopter to come get us.


Liz is totally set.


Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution, like valor’s minion Patrick carves him out a passage....

...but all’s too weak...!

Pictures from the forthcoming account of the apocalypse, They Came For the Hugo Winners.

Squiggly zombie collage from these photos, released under Creative Commons licenses for modification and commercial use.

This article is part of Zombie Week: ‹ previous | index | next ›
Matthew R. Bradley
1. Matthew R. Bradley
Irene, did you know that Greg Cox name-checked you---favorably, natch---in his essay for The Twilight and Other Zones (formerly known as The Richard Matheson Companion)? Now I can envision where those great covers are born! As a former Flatiron denizen via SMP, my recollection of its primitive yet historic hydraulic elevators is such that even if the zombies were able to master them, the undead would pose little threat from that route...
David Goldfarb
2. David_Goldfarb
So, Patrick, were you quoting Macbeth or V For Vendetta?
Matthew R. Bradley
3. T. Nielsen Hayden
Pfffft. The stairs are rated nonflammable. Turn off the sprinkler system and disable the elevators. Build a berm of flammable materials on two sequential stair landings and the stairs in between. Soak with accelerant. Set on fire. Station one or two intrepid employees with mops and brooms (you can take turns) to shove back any zombies that try to force their way through the flaming barrier. Periodically toss slush manuscripts into the fire so it doesn't run out of fuel. If you missed any zombies on the floors above the barrier, tip them down the center of the stairwell -- it's an unbroken fall all the way down to the second floor. (Oh, and remember to station sentries at outer windows in case some zombie firemen remember how to use their long ladders.)

There now. You have saved yourselves and the rest of the tenants by taking advantage of the Flatiron's real natural chokepoint: its single continuous unenclosed central staircase. You know -- the one that's going to act like a giant chimney if the building ever has a real fire.
John Massey
5. subwoofer
All that stuff and no heavy ordnance?


Ursula L
6. Ursula
Hmm... Bridget said there was a lack of smokers on staff, while Megan said there were plenty of smokers in the building.  The question is, can smokers in the building but not on the Tor staff be relied upon to follow the leadership of our intrepid heroes in the event of zombie apocalypse?  Or would they just be laughing at the paranoid geeks until it was too late?  

Can non-Tor Flatiron workers be bribed (with ARCs?) to coordinate anti-zombie civil defense?  
Matthew R. Bradley
7. WoT Fan!!
lmao!!! funny. =D
Matthew R. Bradley
8. Madeleine E. Robins
Tor really needs a large supply of Nerf-firearms. Not that they'd do any real harm, but the zombies will be briefly confounded by the weaponness of it all, and by the time they realize that they have not been splattered by the projectiles flying at them, Tor Employees will have run. Also: in down time Nerf firefights in the halls are a good way of letting off editorial steam.
Irene Gallo
10. Irene
Ursula....are you trying to incite a Tor/non-Ror rivalry!? We are so much scrappier than the rest of Macmillan.

Madeleine - You remind me! Sales has an entire arms station of nerf weapons. They are well hidden...but I know where they are...Excellent.

janetl: and I'll be behind Liz...she's got the reach.
Wayne Wilson
11. stylusmobilus
@Madeline E. Robins

I'm given to understand that you can soak the Nerf ammo and freeze them to give more power on impact. Don't know if it will be enough to knock out a zombie. Tor can borrow mine- I have two Vulcans, a Longshot, a Recon (which I am really disappointed with), two Rapid Fires, two Mavericks and one of those small pull back ones (Nite Finders?) Why?

Because I got eight kids. Think I'm worried about zombies? Not likely, they wouldn't come within cooee of my shack.

BTW, love that office.
Matthew R. Bradley
12. Bill Stewart
The katana and all the fire stuff are good, and I'd always assumed that Patrick's Hugo used a *real* rocket that could be fired at the zombies? My nephew, who has far more experience killing zombies than I do, assures me that if you don't have a katana, golf clubs and baseball bats are the next best things.

Personally, since I work in an Underground Laboratory, I expect to be on the side that's generating zombies, not the side that's defending against them... Wait! How does your website know to insist on verifying that I'm human?
Matthew R. Bradley
13. Jacque (cavyherd)
But what does Jim Macdonald say about zombiecolypse preparations, is what I want to know?

Meanwhile, soak the Nerf projectiles in accelerant, light, and let fly. Best zombie defense EVAR.

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