Monday, September 24, 2012

The Myths of Holy Symbols

It is widely known by even the most uninformed that holy symbols have power to repel vampires. Unfortunately Hollywood and poorly researched sources have spread a few falsehoods that has lead more than one person to their doom while thinking they were properly prepared.

This is the first post in a series which will deal with myths and piecing out the truths contained within.

Crosses will repel vampires and certain undead.

A cross itself has no special powers to repel the undead, this is one of the most dangerous myths spread by Hollywood. You can't just put two pieces of wood together perpendicularly and expect to ward off the fiercest predators of the night. A crucifix on the other hand is a very powerful tool that can be used by the faithful for protection.

The difference between the two is that a crucifix is the embodiment of Christ's sacrifice. It has a depiction of the martyred son of god while a cross is just two lines running across each other at a ninety degree angle.

Now with that said, a blessed cross, one made of pure wood and properly sanctified will work in the place of a crucifix, however it depends mostly on the faith of the wielder.

Anyone can use a cross/crucifix.

This is true in theory, any person can use a holy symbol to repel a vampire. However the efficacy of the repelling relies on the faith of the person. A Muslim will have no more luck with a crucifix than they would with a a Star of David.

While the metaphysics are not fully understood, the truer an individual's faith the more effective the implements they wield. It must also be the right implement that is used. To this end a hunter must be at peace with themselves and have accepted a belief structure.

In the 1999 film The Mummy, Beni is threatened by the undead and attempts to use many of them to protect himself.

Beni has no real faith and is only saved by his usefulness of knowing a language allowing the Mummy to enslave him. Attempting to use holy symbols en-mass with no real belief in them will 99% of the time result in death and not a fist full of treasure.

A Crucifix will only work on a Christian vampire.

This myth takes a truth and twists it slightly. Many vampires still hold true to their own religious beliefs even after death. However immortality disconnects the majority of Blood suckers from their spiritual connection over time. Interviews with the vampires and studies by psychologists have found that after a few decades of their own ageless splendor and hunting those the very people they were once a part of leads the vampires to change their own morality and belief system to preserve their psyche.

Therefore a younger vampire is more likely to retain their religious beliefs than an older one. As a vampire ages they increase in strength and holy symbols, while still being able to repel and protect, will not have nearly the spectacular effect that they will on a younger brood.

In the field it is the age of the vampire and the belief of the wielder that determines how well a symbol works. A Christian wielding a Crucifix will have as much effect on a Muslim Vampire as they would a Buddhist Vampire as they would a Christian Vampire. Once more we must stress that it is the person and their faith that repels and not just the holy symbol.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Hunter's Mindset: Fear

 The most successful hunters are not the strongest, fastest, or smartest, and while none of these things can hurt a hunter the most useful tool we have is our mindset. A hunter's mindset is what keeps him alive and working.

The hunter must accept that he will probably not live to see a ripe old age as long as he remains a hunter. The creatures that lurk in the shadows are all deadly foes that have preyed on humanity since we ventured from our caves with crude flint to do battle. Some have learned to hunt and survive over a hundred human lifetimes. Some such as Dracula have taken the lives of countless vampire and monster hunters and still remain*.

Fear has a very healthy place within the hunter's mind. Fear sharpens the hunter, it releases chemicals that sharpen his aim, speed his reflexes, and strengthens his arm. This extra boost is what allows the hunter that final push to get the deed done. If a slayer feels no fear then it is only because they do not care about their own life. While not necessarily suicidal these individuals may take incredible risks that will endanger civilians or their team.

To this extent the highest chance of survival lies not in being fearless, but in controlling ones fear and channeling it into productive means.

Who fights with monsters, likes to see that he is not a monster. And if you look long into an abyss, the abyss can also look into you.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Of all the cliched phrases that ring true to the hunter this one is the most accurate. The sights that an individual will see take their toll on the psyche. Nietzsche's encounters with the preternatural have been documented by hunters of the day, such as his encounter with a wolf strap** user, this partially explains his rejection of atomism and his works on perspectivism.

Many hunters go beyond pragmatism believing that the ends will justify the means and that as long as they fight monsters then everything is allowable. More than one hunter has tried to justify the butchering of innocents or sacrificing their comrades to slay a beast. There are many zealots in the ranks of monster slayers who view themselves as pure no matter what crimes they commit. By this a hunter must learn to accept the opinion of those they trust as a moral compass.

*There is some debate over whether Dracula is actually a title, claimed name, or something that is passed on as reports of his demise using every known method have been repeated yet within a decade there is always another reported Dracula.

** A monstrous instrument by which a person can turn themselves into a werewolf at will. The technique for handling a wolf strap and its user will be covered in a later post.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dealing with a Zombie Bite

Even the finest of hunters will make mistakes, from the rankest amateur to the hardiest professional, if their lucky they will be able to learn from their mistakes. Proper hunter protocols should always be employed when approaching any infectious or venomous creature. Examples of these include werewolves, vampires, lamias, and viral zombies.

For this post we will be addressing the viral zombie. It is hard to differentiate sometimes between those zombies created with magic or drugs from those created with a reanimation viruses. We will address the difference between these types of zombies in a later post. For a VZombie such as those seen in the popular documentaries Dawn of The Dead or World War Z, their bite is fatal although not instantaneously so.

The manner of dealing with a zombie bite will depend on the severity of the injury. From the moment of the bite a countdown clock starts ticking. Upon death the infected will return with an insatiable hunger for human flesh and no mental ability to control this hunger. At this point in time the individual’s soul has fled the body and all that remains is to make the corpse rest.

Step by Step Guide:

There is no hard and fast rule to how long it will take an individual to turn. 

Step 1: Don’t Panic.
Everyone including the victim should remain calm and not jump to conclusions. For the victim panicking will only increase blood flow and spread the virus faster. Cherish every moment of life remaining.

Step 2: Establish the fact that the person has in fact been bitten.
More than one victim has been put down because their friends and colleagues were too zealous and didn’t have the proper mindset to check. Many hunters wear leather, Kevlar, and other protection that will prevent a zombie from actually breaking a person’s skin. The procedure for this is to have at least two people pull back clothing to expose bare skin, wash away any blood and dirt and check for bite marks.

Step 3: Check that the zombies are in fact viral zombies
This might be a hard question to answer, refer to the later post (when available) on differentiating zombies in the field. Sometimes this is easier to establish than others, i.e. if you are in a medical laboratory, secret bunker, or in a full blown apocalypse. If the zombies are not Vzombies then clean the wound as zombie mouths are absolutely filthy and soldier on. If signs point towards Vzombies proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Determine time remaining
This is generally a rough guess at best an infection can take anywhere from minutes to days to claim its host depending on the location of the wound, virulence of the infection, and immune system of the victim. A bite to the arm can take hours, a bite to the neck minutes, etc.

Step 5: Treat the victim accordingly
An infected individual can still serve a variety of uses depending on the situation; bait, a distraction, and many more uses can be served by the soon to be walking dead. If they can still carry and use a weapon then they serve as excellent point men as there is nothing left to lose. Should the rest of the team need to extricate from a situation the infected will make a great rear guard.

WARNING: Do not attempt to execute or terminate the victim before they have come to terms with their predicament. This can lead to retaliation and an escalation of injuries, it is best to allow them the time needed to get what affairs they can in order before the end.

Step 6: Wait and monitor
If there is no suicidal position or use for the infected then allow them to continue as before if it will not put others at risk. They will grow weaker and sicker as the infection takes root. Should they stumble and fall, do not attempt to assist them. Speak to them in calm tones and try to get a response. However respect must still be shown while the individual is still alive and cognizant, this is an excellent opportunity for goodbyes.

Step 7: Terminate
It is recommended that the task of terminating your friend/family member/team mate be left to no less than three individuals. Emotions and misplaced feelings can lead to a person firing high or not being able to bring peace to the corpse. Studies show that the more guns are pointed at the recently deceased the more likely hood of a shot finding the mark.

Holy Ammunition LLC sells a device called the Z Preventer, a halter monitor connected to a small shaped charge attached to the base of the skull. The halter monitor will detect when the heartbeat has ceased, the Preventer produces little more than a quiet pop and separates the brain from the spine, causes great trauma to the brain while only causing a relatively small and clean wound. If body recovery is possible this will also allow an open casket funeral.

 If a Z Preventer is available hook the individual up with the failsafe. Then a team can be assured that the individual will be dealt with at the proper time without any additional burden of guilt or human foibles getting in the way. The low level of noise is also much less likely to attract any other creatures that are in the area as compared to a series of gunshots.

If these seven simple steps are followed it will allow a group to deal with the tragedy of a zombie bite with as little suffering as possible.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Proper Staking Technique

While removing the heart, severing the head, and burning the remains is by far the safest and only true way of getting rid of a vampire. The easiest way to prevent them from causing problems is to drive a wooden stake through their heart.

The most popular method of this is to position the stake over the heart and hammer it in. Thanks to movies and popular culture this is by far the most tried method by hunters. While it is an effective technique it is not an ideal one for all circumstances.

There are two problems with this method, the first is the rib cage.

The Rib cage is a strong shield of bone that protects the vital organs. This makes the direct method much more difficult as any stake has to be pushed through the ribs. The strength of the rib cage is why a mallet or hammer is used by most hunters. There are very few humans who have the physical strength to shove a proper sized stake through the chest with only their bare hands. This poses problems for combat situations as it requires a hunter to have an object in both hands and be able to use them in coordination.

The other problem is that while ideal for any bloodsucker still in their coffin or one which is properly restrained, it is hard to accomplish when these monsters are moving. While we at Holy Ammunition encourage all hunters not to engage in hand to hand combat with creatures that are faster and stronger than humans, we do recognize that in some situations it is unavoidable.

If a mallet or hammer are unavailable then the following technique will give a hunter the best chance of surviving the encounter and ending the unlife of the vampire.

Plunging the stake in just below the sternum and angling it upwards means that the hunter only has to push through the abdominal muscles, organs, and soft tissue. This technique is very messy, depending on when the creature last fed as it causes a lot of tearing through organs, most notably the gallbladder, bowels, and liver.

It should be noted that the stake needed for this technique should be longer than that used for a standard staking, approximately eighteen inches in length instead of the standard twelve. This allows the hunter to not need to put their hand inside the monster's chest itself, although in case of emergency any hunter squeamish enough to be put off by digging through some undead intestines should call it a day while they still can. By using this technique it allows a hunter to use a single hand and only have to carry a solitary slender implement.

Whichever technique a hunter uses always be sure to follow standard protocol and ensure that the stake is firmly embedded in the heart. Please remember that staking will merely incapacitate and not kill some vampires.