The Importance of Being Inventive in a Post-Apocalyptic World

By Emily Goodwin

If you’ve read my Contagium Series, you know the main character, Orissa Penwell is a skilled and expertly trained marksman. Throughout the series you learn about her past and why she was trained with so many weapons (summary: raised by crazy, conspiracy theorist grandpa). Orissa is well versed with a wide variety of weapons, but has a few she favors, such as her Berretta M9 and Smith and Wesson 1911, compound bow, and an M4 she took off someone trying to kill her…it had a custom quad rail system. She couldn’t leave that behind.

But there have been several times when Orissa is without her trusty weapons and has had to improvise. Being flexible during the zom-poc can be the difference between life and death. Resources are not readily available and you have to make due with what you have.

My favorite improvised weapon scene comes from The Truth is Contagious, the last book in the Contagium Series. Orissa finds herself without any weapons and surrounded by the infected, in the “crazy and homicidal” stage.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a stone garden gnome being used as a doorstopper. Felicia disentangled herself from Megan. Camo was right behind her, so close I could feel his body heat. His eyes sparkled from getting his fill of fresh blood.

They stood there, staring at me. Felicia tipped her head, leering. I made the first move and jumped back, rolling to the floor. I grabbed the gnome, not expecting it to be heavy cast iron. Felicia raised her hands up, lips curled over teeth. She lunged at me. I was ready.

I swung the gnome, the pointy end of his hat colliding with her forehead. Blood sprayed, warm on my face. I tightened my grip on the gnome, bringing it back. I hit her again and she fell. I raised the gnome up again and smashed it on her as hard as I could.

Her body twitched. Parts of her brain were exposed from her cracked skull. Camo looked at Felicia, writhing on the ground dying of massive head trauma. He screamed, his breath rancid from the fresh blood. His hands flew up to his face before he leapt, unnaturally soaring through the air.

With a well-aimed blow, the gnome busted open his head. He fell, knocked out but not dead. I knelt down, ramming the cast iron base into his skull over and over until pink brain matter oozed onto the floor.

Panting, I stood. Blood dripped from my hands. I backed up, looking at the carnage. Then someone grabbed me. I flipped around. The old woman hissed. I pushed her shoulders and she stumbled back, hip cracking when she hit the floor.

Knowing she couldn’t get back up on her own, I flew back to Megan, frantically untying the cords.

“Can you stand?” I asked her once she was free.

She stared at me, blinking. “You killed them with a garden gnome.”

“Yeah.” I put my hand on her arm, ready to pull her up and flinched back. It was impossible to touch her without coming into contact with one of her open wounds.

“You…” She looked at the bodies. “Really? A gnome?”

I shrugged. “Come on, we gotta get out of here. I’m sure there are more.”

She grabbed onto me, struggling to her feet. I hooked my arm around her, supporting her weight.


If you act fast enough, anything can be used as a weapon. And if you’re anything like me, you like to play the “look around the room for weapons” game when you go pretty much anywhere. Hey—the zombie apocalypse is going to happen when we least expect it. Better be prepared no matter what, right?



Emily Goodwin is the author of the award winning Contagium Series published by Permuted Press as well as many independently published novels, including the internationally bestselling novel, STAY. Emily writes in a wide variety of genres, from horror to romance. She holds multiple degrees in psychology and nursing and has worked in mental health and general healthcare. Emily resides in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and German Shepherd named Vader. Along with writing, Emily enjoys riding her horse, designing and making costumes, and Cosplay.