An invisible eldritch entity has enveloped the entirety of modern planet Earth. As a result of this, any human who dies becomes a zombie. This is not spread by bites or anything like that, death of any kind will result in the creation of a rage-like zombie. Shortly after this entity began its assault on Earth, all human beings around the planet felt what is referred to as "the pulse". For roughly 1 minute, every human collapsed into a sort of trance due to the entity touching their soul. Most people recovered from the trance just fine, but the very elderly and sick (basically people already close to death) immediately died and turned into zombies.

My question is: what time of the year and day would be most devastating for this apocalypse to start in?

Some extra info:

  1. This evil entity can not be seen, felt, or identified in anyway. The only proof anyone has as to the origins of it is "the pulse' that was felt worldwide.
  2. The old and unhealthy dying is only after the pulse. Once that is through, anyone who dies, healthy or not, will turn.
  3. The story takes place in the United States
  4. During "the pulse" people fell where they were and became unresponsive. People that were driving crashed, those that were swimming drowned, planes crashed since the pilot was unresponsive, etc.
  5. The entity's effect on humanity is permanent for the foreseeable future.
  6. Once turned into zombies, victims become stronger and faster than they were while alive. Paraplegics and other ill individuals heal.
  • $\begingroup$ What happens to healthy people who happen to be asleep? $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 26, 2022 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 They awaken and immediately after go into the pulse trance. $\endgroup$
    – forgotenm
    Mar 26, 2022 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ You should clarify if you want the death and destruction at your setting (the U.S.) or globally (per the answer below) $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2022 at 10:28

5 Answers 5


You want the pulse to hit at about 01:00 UTC, or about 18:00 in Los Angeles (since this is a USA-based story). Just in time for their evening rush hour.

However, it's not because of rush hour. That's just a happy coincidence.

According to this article the most likely time of day for the sick and elderly to succumb is just before lunchtime. So the pulse should harvest in mid-morning (before that death peak) to maximize the number of zombies.

The largest number of humans on Earth in one time zone are in UTC+8:00, with an estimated population of 1.7 billion or roughly 24% of all humans. It includes all of China. UTC+05:30 has the second-highest population with India and 1.4 billion.

So you want the pulse to hit at about 09:00 Beijing time, which is 01:00 UTC...and happens to be 18:00 in Los Angeles.

  • $\begingroup$ It appears the entity encompasses the entire Earth: "entity has enveloped the entirety of modern planet Earth" (em. mine). So, there's no need to place this in LA. That also undermines some of the value of timing this to CA's timezone. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Mar 26, 2022 at 4:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tom uh, did you read the last two paragraphs of that 5-paragraph answer? $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2022 at 11:19

You want as many people to turn into zombies as possible. Other answers have focussed on this meaning as many people die as possible, but there is another state us humans achieve very easily that may make them more susceptable to your "pulse": that is being drunk and\or high.

Being drunk effectively throws a person into an 'unhealthy' state where their risk of heart attack, making dumb decisions and a dozen other things all increase. So when is the perfect date\time where worldwide many people will be drunk or high? Curiously, the western world synchronizes on a two day festival: Christmas (and also perhaps New Year). So on December 25th at 11:59 the pulse goes out. In some timezones people are sleeping off their previous nights party, in other timezones people are just getting started, Either way you have a lot of people not-quite-at-their-best.

As a bonus, humans like to let off fireworks at our celebrations. If someone notices the zombies, and pulls out a shotgun, there is the chance that gunshots would be mistaken for more festive explosions. So by picking Christmas not only do you increase the number of effectively-sick, but you may also go undetected longer, be forgotten about in the morning etc. etc.

Once turned into zombies, victims become stronger and faster than they were while alive. Paraplegics and other ill individuals heal.

Are you sure your evil entity is actually evil? Seems like he did a bunch of good if he's literally healed all the old, infirm and paralyzed and made normal people stronger. Sounds like you would almost want to be a zombie!

  • $\begingroup$ Also setting this at Christmas will maximize the chance of a film studio buying your script with intention of a Christmas release. I envision rage zombie mayhem accompanied by a speed metal cover of "White Christmas." $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Mar 26, 2022 at 18:47

Since there is no bite-spreading, and only weakened people turn, damage is very limited.

Battle capacity of old and ill people is not great, so their damage could be mostly ignored.

Lack of transmission also rules out night or other sneaky option, like fog or other bad weather.

Most casualties in this scenario could be achieved with only the transition itself. But not through direct damage - ill people dont drive or control a plane for the most part. Most damage I can imagine is through panic. When instantly lots of people see the event and have no time to spread the load on public infrastructure across a longer time. In particular very deadly could be places with mass gatherings and very narrow exits. In particular football fields - nowhere else you can find as many people, as tightly packed, with as much craze in them, with as few exits, as in sports events.

So, my answer is a football championship, daytime, middle of the match. Proper panic will kill more people than zombies would.


The best time to wipe out the most people would be at night, preferably after a large majority of people are already sleeping. The pulse would probably wake them up, but this is good. People are disoriented after they awake suddenly, leading to more deaths. And sleep-deprived people are more likely to make poor decisions and respond slower. Timing would depend on where your entity wants to strike the hardest, if it wants to strike somewhere harder than other places.


The day before Thanksgiving

Probably the greatest opportunity you have to kill healthy people with the pulse is when people are traveling.

It's common knowledge that the single greatest travel-day of the year (in the US) is Thanksgiving Day. That is when you will find the most people driving, walking, and probably even flying: on their way to someone else's place to celebrate.

I don't know if there is a specific time that will be more or less effective, because every family's Thanksgiving schedule is different, and you're covering at least 4 timezones (more, if you care about Hawaii, Alaska, and/or other US territory).

But generally, it's all over by dinner, so do it in the first half of the day.

Your question is a little ambiguous: you say the entity encloses the entire planet, and you ask for "the most devastating" without narrowing that criterion to the US, which means it's probably better to target the travel habits of any of the more-populous countries on Earth (e.g. China or India). But then you say the story is set in the US. So it's not clear if you are hoping for the greatest destruction in the US (as the environment in which the narrative unfolds), or if you just want the biggest global catastrophe (as part of the backdrop).


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