From the author: Beauty tip essentials for the zombie apocalypse, or a short meditation on societal norms.
Before you leave the safety of our encampment to fight the zombies, make sure your eyelashes bat thick and full. Cover scars and lesions with foundation and powder, and apply gloss or lipstick liberally, but neatly. Do not cake on foundation too thickly. The inherent risks should be obvious. Use glitter sparingly, and try to avoid bedazzling prosthetics, jackets, faces, or weapons. Flashing attracts attention.
In between raids you may need to stop, adjust your hair, powder down your face and wipe away smudges; a compact mirror is essential on longer missions. Hair conditioner is in short supply now, of course, so if you come across malls, supermarkets or a convenience store, be sure to check the health and beauty aisles first. Hair salons are high priority targets, but avocados, olive oil and mayonnaise are acceptable substitutes to keep your hair lush and high luster, if products cannot be found.
Tooth whitener strips should be applied after eating heavily pigmented foods. If possible, avoid coffee and black tea; if you need caffeine, energy drinks and nicotine patches are preferable, but they may still cause bags under the eyes. Bottled water and Vita filtering systems are also priority supplies, as sallow cheeks and dry skin are among the first signs of infection.
Other hydration sources may carry the virus if not boiled.
Make sure that while you have a unified aesthetic in some way, no two members of your team are dressed too similarly; for example, only one person in the group at a time may don a bomber jacket or hat. If multiple members of the group are missing an eye, encourage one to use an eyepatch and another to either wear sunglasses or utilize a glass eye in a pleasant complimentary shade to the color of their biological eye. Safety in numbers may seem to be a tactically intelligent choice, but this is the logic of the enemy. Keep squads to five members maximum.
When at all possible, eschew a paramilitary look. Showing some shoulder or leg can be a classy choice for persons of any gender. If you are accessorizing a miniskirt, make sure stockings are at least over the knee and paired with a garter belt to avoid slippage and tangles. Should your leggings or tights develop runs, either discard them immediately or consider adopting an edgier look. Don’t overdo it. Some zombies have developed a keen sense for detecting subcultures.
Remember that the zombies are attracted to human scent; deodorant and perfume should be worn at all times. Similarly, you must avoid all sexual conduct in the field, whether intra- or inter-personal. Minor flirting is fine, so long as the exchange contains the requisite amount of sass. If you do not come up with quips handily under pressure, be sure to memorize a few before you leave. Manicures and pedicures are good team bonding activities.
If bandages are not available, rip white shirts up for bandages; white shirts dirty so quickly that you may carry them as supplies but never, ever don them as part of your uniform.
Sloppiness kills. If your wound heals in a aesthetically pleasing manner, embellish the scar. In a pinch, fastening a weapon such as an assault rifle or machete to a lost limb will at least ensure a minimum of practicality. In a best-case scenario, try to emboss the prosthetic with a meaningful but enigmatic symbol, or at least your name so that your squad mates know what happened to you when they find it.
If a member of your squad has been severely injured or has lost their nose, there is no hope of recovery. Be sure to place a tasteful assortment of flowers over their grave marker.
If you come across survivors, wipe down their faces with a damp cloth immediately, and apply correctly-toned makeup to cover any scars. When your medic administers the physical in a secure area, be sure they are accompanied, as this process can often make the infected violent or belligerent, particularly if they are under the delusions that obvious signs of infection such as severe facial acne, extreme body odor, matted hair, and ill-fitted clothing are in fact ordinary human traits.
If you discover a group of children, though they are more resistant to infection, try to only escort one child back to the encampment at a time; they’re noisy, have difficulty following instructions, and resist efforts to introduce and maintain the proper makeup protocols. Be sure the child has one, but no more than one, stuffed toy.
If you find teenagers, be sure to introduce them to each other and instruct them to act as close — but not too close — friends. Enmity within groups of survivors is easily sensed. Once inside, survivors will be quarantined for twenty-eight days before being released into society, or what passes for it these days, anyway.
Above all else, zombies are ugly. Your job is to represent the last hope of humanity among the thoughtless, ravenous hordes by being wholesome, clean, symmetrical, patient, and most of all, unique.
Good luck, recruits.
I can already see you’ll need it.
This story originally appeared in ZEAL.