A pale-faced, shambling apparition knocks on your door - and you answer happily, thinking another Halloween trick-or-treater has come in search of boiled sweets and chocolates.
Instead, a living corpse leaps forward and rips your throat out, before devouring your family alive.
Zombie apocalypse is a scenario explored in a new Haynes manual - offering zombie-killing tips, along with general tips on how to survive as society disintegrates, and the dead take over. In true Haynes Manual style, it has detailed diagrams on how to kill zombies and construct shelters.
“What better time for them to rear their ugly heads than at Halloween when they might just be mistaken for well-dressed Halloween trick or treaters?,” says Sean T Page, author of the Haynes Zombie Survival Manual.
Page spent five days living in a Cold War bunker to simulate the breakdown of society after a zombie outbreak - and warns that plague will spread “exponentially.”
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In the wake of TV shows such as The Walking Dead, there has been a huge amount of serious and semi-serious advice on how to survive zombie outbreaks.
World War Z author Max Brooks wrote a Zombie Survival Guide - and Bristol City Council and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control have offered serious guides on what to do in the (unlikely) event of a zombie plague.
“As a general rule, zombies will never cry 'trick or treat' - and they will never ask for sweets,” says Page. “Real zombies have a tell-tale look; a vacant and distant gaze, deathly colourless skin and a slow, stumbling walk.
Last year, Amazon offered a page of “zombie survival” gear - including duct tape, fire-retardant clothing and bulletproof vests.
Page says, though, that the apocalypse we might face in Britain would differ from films such as World War Z - in Britain, we don’t have guns. The only way to kill a zombie - at least according to the Haynes manual (with helpful diagram) is to destroy at least 80% of its brain.
“Firearms are rare in Britain, so you’ll be looking for a solid and dependable clubbing weapon, something which will serve you well as you bash your way through the zombie masses – enter the trusty cricket bat or tyre iron,” says Page.
“Once the outbreak starts, the number of zombies will expand at an exponential rate and the hordes of the dead will soon dwarf the living. This will mean the collapse of civilisation.Think home fortification and defence."
"You’ll need a 90 day survival plan covering everything from stocks of food to a “bug out bag” so if you’re caught away from home you can survive - include essentials for 48 hours and a weapon such as an ice pick.”
British councils have advised equipping yourself with a stun gun, handcuffs and a protection suit. There are no official Government plans in place - whereas in America, the Centre for Disease Control says they would “would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak” if ‘zombies did start roaming the streets’.
America’s Centre for Disease Control director Dr Ali Khan notes: "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack."
“Things are going to get crazy as the police and army are overwhelmed by sheer numbers of the dead,” says Page.
“Expect looters and armed gangs roving the street for victims. As society collapses and all vestiges of civilisation disintegrate, the population will be replaced by groups of violent cannibals, crazed loners and power-hungry lunatics.”
Haynes’ manuals began as ultra-detailed guides to car repair just after the war - but the publications have recently found success with guides to more out-there vehicles such as Klingon spacecraft and UFOs.
“If you’re already paranoid about the end of the world, this book will make you feel a whole lot worse but it’s all stuff you need to know if you’re going to survive!” says Page.
The book offers advice on how to attack zombies, how to build traps, and how to survive long-term when societies break down. “It works just as well for an alien invasion, or for a breakdown in society caused by government cutbacks,” says Page.
A bigger question, perhaps, is why people are so obsessed with the living dead - from governments to publishers to retailers.
World War Z author Max Brooks says that the current “plague” of zombie films, games and shows reflects many real fears.
“Since 2001, people have been scared. There’s been some really scary stuff that’s been happening — 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, anthrax letters, D.C. sniper, global warming, global financial meltdown, bird flu, swine flu, SARS. I think people really feel like the system’s breaking down.”
Sean T Page is the author ofZombie Survival Manual (Haynes Publishing) available now. www.haynes.co.uk/zombie