Had fun with all the zombie jokes, did you? Well, the undead . . . stuff . . . has now hit the proverbial fan one way or the other and you’ve decided to get with the program. Welcome to the new reality. Don’t worry, if you’re not planning on getting tough, it’ll be a short ride. Bloody, but short.
Cultivate an Attitude of Survival
To paraphrase a cool little wrinkled dude with a light saber, “Live or live not. There is no try.” If you don’t have an attitude of survival already, get yourself in the game — now.
I’ll always try to talk to both the before and the after crowd.
If you’re reading this in advance of the coming apocalypse, I have good news — you’ll probably make it once the world heads south. Preparation is everything. You still have time. Not much. But some.
If you’re hunkered down in some trashed bookstore peering at the page with a flashlight, turn that damn thing off, stuff this book in your backpack, and get the hell out of there!
Stopping to read in an unsecured location in the middle of an apocalypse is not a great idea. It’s a wonder you’ve lived this long. I’ll help you, but first, get some place safe — and be quiet doing it!
First Things First. They’re Not Human!
If you’re one of those bleeding heart types, you need to get over that sentimental streak pretty damn fast unless you want to bleed for real — and then spend the rest of your undead life shambling around with your new zombie scout den buddies.
I don’t care if that zombie standing in front of you does look like your grandma. Heck, I don’t care if she IS your Grandma — she is not human. Don’t try to talk to her. Don’t try to feed her. Don’t try to domesticate her. Put. Her. Down.
Two reasons. One, you’ll live another day and two, even if she isn’t human now, she was once. Have a little respect. When you kill a zombie, you’re putting a former human out of his or her misery. Consider it your good deed for the day and hope to the high heavens someone will do the same for you if it ever comes to that.
Why Are You Still Alive?
That’s a really good question, and I don’t mean, “what are you doing right to not get ripped to shreds.” I mean, “why are you bothering to stay alive?”
People who make it have goals. What are you hanging around for? What’s your long-term strategy?
Again, if the apocalypse hasn’t happened, congrats. You’re putting some thought into why you’re taking up space on the planet. That’s more than most people do.
I gotta tell you, on any given day I look at a lot of my fellow humans and think, “Wow, that’s oxygen we’re never gonna get back in the atmosphere.”
Let’s consider your raison d’etre, buddy. That’s French for, “Why am I fricking bothering?”
You want to cure the zombies and save the world.
If your previous job was the head of the CDC, then go for it. Hell, if that’s the case, you’re hold up in Atlanta with enough food, water, and power to watch all the rest of us get chomped up for kibbles and bits. Knock yourself out.
If you were flipping fries at Mickey D’s? You’ve been reading too many comic books. Oh, excuse me. “Graphic novels.” Whatever. You need a new goal. Now.
You’re trying to get back to your family.
I’m not giving you grief about that one, brother. Having somebody else to live for is a big reason to stay in the game. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. If you think your wife or your husband or your kids are still out there, then move freaking heaven and earth to find them.
You want to build a safe haven for yourself.
Okay, you can go all lone wolf Unibomber after the apocalypse and I get that. I’m guessing you’ve already seen people looting stores and running each other down in the streets. If you have any sense, you headed the other direction fast.
One of the first things you absolutely have to do when this all breaks is get away from people, but then, when things calm down a little? Find yourself some people.
You can’t go it all by yourself forever. First off, you have to sleep sometimes. Second, you’ll go bonkers after awhile if all you do every day is kill people who just don’t get it that they’re already dead.
Remember that movie with Tom Hanks on the island where he talked to the volleyball for two hours? At the very least, get yourself a volleyball. Yeah, some of us are introverts and spend more time alone than other people, but under normal circumstances a trip to 7-Eleven at least reminds you that you’re not the last living person on the planet.
You want to find a new way to live.
That one right there will work for you. Old normal is gone, new normal is here. Make it work.
Real survivors are flexible. Man, you better have Plans A through G already figured out and turn on a dime when you need Plan H.
Do NOT get locked into one way of doing anything.
Keep your cool no matter what hits the fan. You can fall apart later. In the moment, keep your head and keep thinking.
That right, I’m saying it again and I’ll keep saying it. The ability to think is the greatest tool at your disposal. You can. They can’t.
Be curious. Be creative. Look at everything around you with new eyes. Everything’s a potential tool. It doesn’t matter what it used to do for you, what can it do NOW? You know that idea of re-purposing old stuff? You’re basically in a position to re-purpose the whole world.
And totally keep your sense of humor. You know the Gun Owner’s Prayer? The last line reads, “Let NOT my last thought be, if I only had a gun, and Lord if today is truly the day that you call me home, let me die in a pile of empty brass.”
Me? I think it should read, “Let me die laughing in a pile of empty brass.” You can’t take this stuff too seriously. Come on, admit it, you watched The Walking Dead. Best line ever? Herschel after the fall of the farm in season two.
“Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something different in mind.”
This stuff is just freaking priceless.
Why is This Happening to Me?
Oh for God’s sake. Do we really need to waste time on the “why me” bullshit?
Fine. Chances are good nobody really knows why the apocalypse is upon us. There are some major things to think about though if you just insist on trying to figure it out — especially if you’re one of those, “there has to be a way to put it all back like it was” types.
Back in August 2010, Sarah Boseley, the health editor for The Guardian wrote an article called “Are You Ready for a World Without Antibiotics?” and pretty much nailed it in my opinion:
“The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out. Once, scientists hailed the end of infectious diseases. Now, the post-antibiotic apocalypse is within sight.”
How many times didn’t you finish that prescription because you were feeling better? Well hang your head in shame now. You helped engineer the super bugs and one of them went all zombie on our collective butts.
All it took was just one sick person getting on an airplane and forget about quarantining squat. If you still have time, go pick up a cheerful little tome by Matthew Stein called When Disaster Strikes:
“. . . with bacteria developing antibiotic resistance faster than we can develop new medicines, and viruses’ ability to ‘gene swap’ genetic material between deadly diseases with low infection rates . . . highly infectious diseases . . . it is only a matter of time before the roulette wheel of natural genetic selection and mutation deals humanity a crippling blow.”
Yeah, baby. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas . . . until the roulette balls jumps out of the wheel. So, I think that’s what happened. Mutant resurrection flu virus from hell. Now, can we get practical again?
Where Are You Now?
If you’re still bummed, and okay, granted, this does kinda suck, work on the “why you are” and “why did this happen” and get that all figured out for yourself. Trust me, you’ll have more than enough time to contemplate the meaning of life – assuming you manage to actually stay alive.
For right now, let’s talk about the where you are. Sitting in your recliner knocking back a cold Sam Adams on a perfectly normal day? Cool. You’re golden for now.
Apocalypse in progress? If you’re in a city, take what you need and bug the hell out. Get into the countryside as fast as you can. You’ll up your lifespan the minute you cross the city limits.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to get supplies at a mall or a trashed grocery store — at least not during the initial panic. Those places will be great to scavenge in the future when the bulk of your fellow humans have turned into Zeta Zeta Zeta sorority pledges.
(Get it? Zeta. Zombie. The “z” thing. Oh come on. I said you can’t take this shit too seriously. Lighten up. You’re not dead yet . . . I hope.)
In the opening days, even weeks of the apocalypse, people will flock to stores and fight like rabid dogs for the last package of ramen. Stay. Away.
If you have to try to get into a store, think Mom and Pop joints on the edge of town, and scope the place out carefully. Civilization frays really fast when people are scared out of their minds. Living humans are just as dangerous to you as dead ones during those first waves of sheer panic. They’re not thinking about anybody but themselves.
If the apocalypse is impending, start making plans for where will you go when it hits. As you’re reading this book and learning about strategy, fortifications, and storing supplies, figure out where you can stockpile your stuff and how you’ll get there when the time comes.
Right now, let’s just start small.