What Hurricane Sandy taught us about the Urban Apocalypse – Part 2

(Mark Segar – Reuters)

It was unsettling how things changed. From the safety of social feeds, we watched as photoshopped spoofs and Michael Bay rip-offs paled before the quiet aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Smouldering burns scarred into whiteboard neighbourhoods. A suburban block turned to some vast waste dump. A seafront bar dragged across a bay, a boat perched on railroad tracks. More than the Boxing Day Tsunami, this felt uncomfortably close to home.

We may be incredulous of the naive expectations of the massive storm; or the religious leader who blamed Sandy on New York State’s acceptance of gay marriage. Yet, what lay in front of us was a solid lesson in where the future may lead for many cities across the globe.

In Part One of What Hurricane Sandy taught us about the urban apocalypse, we looked at Corporate Sponsorship, Disaster Parasites, and the not-so sweet smell of the apocalypse.

Past the cut, in Part Two, we’ll be looking at the comfort of petty theft, how hipsters decorate their fallout digs, and why it’s not over til it’s over…


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What Hurricane Sandy taught us about the Urban Apocalypse – Part 1

(Spencer Platt – Getty Images)

It was unsettling how things changed. From the safety of social feeds, we watched as photoshopped spoofs and Michael Bay rip-offs paled before the quiet aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Smouldering burns scarred into whiteboard neighbourhoods. A suburban block turned to some vast waste dump. A seafront bar dragged across a bay, a boat perched on railroad tracks. More than the Boxing Day Tsunami, this felt uncomfortably close to home.

We may be incredulous of the naive expectations of the massive storm; or the religious leader who blamed Sandy on New York State’s acceptance of gay marriage. Yet, what lay in front of us was a solid lesson in where the future may lead for many cities across the globe. Past the cut, here’s the first of a two part blog on what Hurricane Sandy taught us about surviving the urban apocalypse.
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How to Survive Life in a Survival Shelter

Here’s the situation: The end is nigh, and you’ve been fortunate enough to be given space in a shelter. You’ve gone into the underground fortress, the doors have been bolted, and the whole thing has been sealed. Outside, storms rain fire upon the land and the seas are boiling, but inside the shelter, you and 899 strangers are able to wait out the blasts, snug as bugs in rugs.

Wait a second. Eight hundred and ninety-nine strangers? Living in 135,000 square feet? Jebus, that’s only 150 square feet for each of us… you can’t even take a city bus without getting frustrated at the smelly old man sitting too close to you, and the woman with the screeching baby, and the drunk teenager vomiting in the back seat. Crap! How long are you stuck in here?!?!


Okay, so a few ground rules will have to be established. Plus, it’ll be hard to repopulate the planet if, upon release, you can’t get away from everyone fast enough and no one want to speak to each other again. So, here are a few:

Suggestions for Surviving the Shelter Experience

  • Farting in closed spaces is now normal, considering everywhere you go is a closed space. Get used to the smell, especially after bean night.
  • The ugly carpet is only going to look uglier as time passes, but once you go insane, you won’t care about the decor, so that’s something to look forward to.
  • The people who live in the room next to you? The ones who are coping with stress through copious amounts of copulation, even though only a curtain separates you? When they reach orgasm, I bet they’d love to hear you scream along. That’d be fun!
  • Get a few people together and start an amateur dramatic society, then act out your favourite scenes from thematically-relevant movies like ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Road Warrior’, ’28 Days Later’ or ‘Armageddon’. Shake it up by making them musicals.
  • It’s okay to pick your nose and eat it, but don’t expect any kisses.
  • Water will be strictly rationed so showers are no longer an option, but it’s easier to stomach the stench of body odour if everyone pretends its the newest fragrance from Gucci.
  • Only flush toilet paper down the toilets. Please please please remember this rule, now more than ever.
  • That woman with the annoying hyena laugh? The one you hear late at night, echoing through the halls? I hate to break it to you, but that’s actually you. Doesn’t the carpet look beguiling tonight?

    If you watch the swirling patterns long enough, they start to look like a map to a magical land of pixies. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy….


Shoot to kill and can ’em up!

Viking victim photo by Katemandi

by The Shloo

Shoot to kill and can ‘em up.

That’s it in a nutshell. There are few philosophies smarter because when the world’s getting its apocalypse on you have few other choices. Best you get your head round that from the get-go.

I started shooting when I was eight years old. Air rifles mainly, but by ten I was shit-hot with a bow and arrow. Mum always said they’d make the best weapon anyway – when the bullets run out, who’s going to be making new ones? Arrows, on the other hand, are relatively easy to make. I can shape a bow out of a piece of willow  – or pretty much any tree with enough bend in it  – in less than three minutes. A clutch of arrows will take me another five, tops. Robin Hood would weep at the skill in my fingers.

And I never miss.

Our bunker’s pretty sweet. There’s a room full of bunk beds that are more comfortable than they look, a pretty well-equipped kitchen, a library, a bathroom, a canning room – my Mum’s mantra is ‘waste not want not’ – and a big communal living area. Dad and Zeke worked hard and it paid off. Speaking of Zeke, my brother and I were both trained in and for almost anything you can imagine: hand-to-hand combat, gas attacks, nuclear fallout, weapon making, foraging, first aid – you name it, we went over it. Sewing’s my weak point, truth be told, but at least I’ve stopped sewing stuff to my jeans and Mum says I sew a pretty strong stitch. That’s what matters.

Of course, I’ve not had what you might call a normal life.

Hardly a surprise, is it? Survivalists? Maybe, but we call ourselves “sensible” – what else would you call those not blind to the inevitable? I was picked on sometimes at school, but after the suspension – and the scrum half’s snapped wrist (thanks Dad, for those self-defence drills) – I was left alone. I didn’t go to dances, never been for a sleepover, never even sat with anyone else for lunch. I didn’t get to do any of that ‘normal’ stuff. Getting attached to people only makes it harder in the long run. It would have made me sad once (I’ve got hormones and hopes just like anyone else), but you’ve got to focus on what’s important.

To hell with normal anyway!

Is it normal to sit and wait for Johnny Mutant to come eat your brains? To wait while the nuclear fallout burns through your guts and your brain spills out the bottom of your spine? To pretend there’s hope, that someone out there’s coming to save you? They’re not, y’know. If you don’t want to end up a splatter-fest of ex-human, then you’d better get wise.

There’s no time for frills and fancy, there’s only one prize and that’s life – or at the very least dying on your own terms. I’m old enough to know that. The future is about survival. It’s all it’s ever about. I wised up to that the day I heard Dad telling Zeke that me and Mum were the weak link, that we were the ones who would most likely slow them down and that if he needed to get rid of us, he wouldn’t hesitate. I didn’t understand. I was a good learner, better than Zeke who was a lazy crumb. I was better with a bow and arrow and I could climb a tree in half the time he could. Just because he could dig earth for longer, I was the dead weight? Like digging a hole and carrying heavy stuff makes the difference when the chips are down? As far as I could see, the difference that marked us out in Dad’s mind was that I was a girl and Zeke was a boy – his boy. I was eleven years old and from that day on I hated my Dad, hated him for marking me out as mattering less because I’m a girl, for seeing me as an albatross and not an asset. It was also the day I decided one thing –

I wasn’t going to be left behind. You shouldn’t be either.

Ironic really that Dad was the first to get bit. I had to shoot him; Zeke froze like he’d learned nothing all those years. Typical. So I shot my Dad in the head and then when Zeke got violent a couple of months later – the isolation got to him bad – and went all frothing-at-the-mouth crazy, I shot him too. If he hadn’t tried for the door I wouldn’t have had to do it. We don’t know what’s out there. Still, at least his death won’t be in vain. Mum can pickle anything and what’s left goes in the cans.

So that was the last of our bullets. Mum and me? We won’t need them, we’re prepared.



    Visit The Shloo on Facebook or drop by her blog.


Know Your Idols #12 – Major Eden Sinclair

by battleaxebunny

Major Eden Sinclair is the Department of Domestic Security officer who gets picked to lead a team of soldiers and medical researchers on a desperate mission into the Scottish wastelands. Given what an unrelenting hard-ass she is, it’s no surprise that she’s the one that survives when everyone else falls to the axes and arrows of outrageous misfortune.

What’s her deal?
Welcome to the Scottish Apocalypse! In the world of Doomsday, Scotland has been walled off and quarantined after a lethal virus outbreak. As a child, Eden was one of the last to be evacuated and has since grown up to be a seriously ass-kicking soldier with a cybernetic eye she can pop out whenever she needs to see around corners or record incriminating video.

After London gets hit with the virus, she heads up the team who get sent to Scotland to search out survivors and the doctor who was working on a cure. But while she’s dedicated to her mission, she’s also got her own personal agenda – wanting to search out the home she barely remembers to reconnect with her long lost childhood.

But nothing in life is ever simple – there’s the small matter of Canaris, the power behind the English throne, who wants to use the new virus outbreak to his advantage; and then there’s the crazed Glaswegian cannibals and the mad scientist with his castle of medieval cosplay thugs to deal with. Luckily she’s good at multi-tasking.

Doomsday movie (2008)

She Says:
‘There’s something you don’t see every day.’
‘Same shit, different era.’
‘I’ll tell you what I’ve lost, I’ve lost my bloody mind.’
‘If you’re hungry, have a piece of your friend.’

She’s tough, resourceful, stony under pressure, lethal in combat and adept at improvising weapons from broken gadgetry. Utterly ruthless, she’ll keep her mind firmly fixed on her target and once the job is done thinks far enough ahead to prepare for future trouble (for example, getting the support of a small army of mad Scottish bastards just in case her enemies are stupid enough to go after her again.)
When the apocalypse hits, you definitely want Eden Sinclair on your side.

battleaxebunny out.

Getting Around #2 – By Road

by battleaxebunny

For the most part, travelling by road will be both the easiest and most convenient option for your post-apocalyptic travel. If you can’t walk, you can roll, or ride or have someone else pull you along and, here, more than anywhere else, is where the right accessories will save you and your survival crew. Load your vehicle up with weapons, reinforce any windows with wire mesh, think about installing spikes and chains and decide in advance what it is you want to pimp your ride for. Speed is always a useful option but some situations need something with a little heft to charge through obstacles. With large survival groups a convoy of different vehicle types is recommended to give you greater adaptability to your environment and more options for escape when things go wrong.

Cars: One of the most popular options. Despite all evidence to the contrary, petrol can always be found somewhere, so always stock up on extra cans and be sure to take advantage of any traffic jams by siphoning necessary fuel from the other vehicles. Petrol also makes a useful trade good with other travellers but be sure to watch out for petrol bandits. An impressive looking weapon or stern glare will help with this.

Avoid push-starts when the weather’s bad (particularly when there’s a bank of nerve-gas fog with government controlled clean up squads wielding flamethrowers).
Don’t become too attached to a vehicle. If caught between gridlock and a herd of slow moving zombies, the best option is to ditch the car and run for the nearest working vehicle to the open road. As a bonus, use your abandoned car to your advantage by setting it to blow up when your pursuers get close.

Motorbikes: Whether it’s the standard road beast or the custom made vamp-priest model, bikes have the advantages of speed and manoeuvrability – because who wants to be stuck in traffic when there’s raving hoards of zombies, vampires or plague infected bastards chasing you.
And if speed and fancy moves won’t get you out of trouble, then your motorbike makes the perfect weapon for throwing at Lickers or oncoming trains of hostiles.

Bicycles: Plenty of manoeuvrability although not as fast as your other options. Handy for long trips as there is no danger of running out of fuel but limited to how much luggage you can take. (Although, as with any packing project, a little creativity will get you a long way.)

Bus, trucks & camper vans: Useful for transporting large amounts of people so you can travel with plenty of zombie-fodder. Er, friends. I meant friends. Just remember that large vehicles tend to become a death trap when killer crows come into play. They’re also slower and tricky to manoeuvre so reinforce the windows with metal mesh, gun turrets, spikes and any other heavy weaponry you can get your hands on.
And most importantly, know your exits and don’t let any children (or clumsy adults) near anything that isn’t firmly nailed to a surface in case they attract attention at the wrong time.

Trains: Whether electrical or steam, make sure you have ample time to get it started, and be aware of all onboard items in case you need to kill a stowaway.

Military Vehicles: Always an asset as they already come with the protection of increased armour and weaponry. Just be sure that your vehicle of choice has an engine in before you try and claim it or you’ll risk the embarrassment of being munched on by the raving hoards.

Skateboards & rollerskates: Not so good long distance but great for short range manoeuvrability in urban environments. What you lack in speed you’ll make up for with neat tricks that get rid of any pursuing nasties.

Horses: Some people like them. (Despite the lack of brake pedals or stereo system.) Perfect if your travels take you around rural environments and they have the benefit of fuelling themselves, leaving you more room for other luggage. Just don’t make the mistake of taking one that’s infected or secretly a fairy shapeshifter.

Ley Lines, ghost roads, spirit tracks and gateways: Speaking of fairies, rare as they are, a fairy wrought apocalypse will bring with it the added benefit of a reawakening of assorted Old Ways. Know your folklore and you’ll have an advantage when it comes to spotting the options available to you. If in doubt, look for standing stones and circles – if there’s not a gateway to another world, there will, at least, be access to one of the hidden roads. Useful for instant travel between access points just be sure to travel prepared for a fight as many exits are in remote places and will be natural attractions for fae hostiles.

Happy trails!

battleaxebunny out