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.
You don’t hear a lot about the fae these days – there’s no trooping rades to worry about, the standard protections of horseshoes over the door and rowan in the garden are more or less abandoned and any mention of the word fairy brings up visions of Tinkerbell and other scantily clad moppets. The fae only exist in fiction, or as spirit helpers to various new agers, and are easily dismissed by the mass populous as foolish fancies. And that’s exactly what they want you to think.
Trapped long ago in one of the many otherworlds touching ours, all they need is one break in the wall then they’ll be back to take over the Earth and we’ll all be in trouble. If they’re not kidnapping you, they’ll be cursing you with strange things, unleashing plagues, swapping your children with changelings or just killing you for kicks and giggles (and the chance to dip their heads in your blood).
Know Your Enemy:
Elves – the posh ones. Usually tall with a figure that would make a model weep, best identified by their pointy ears and a superiority complex bigger than Jupiter. Will claim to be above human affairs but will meddle anyway. Tend to be the top of the fae food chain so any alliances you may make with other fae will falter if the elves interfere. May seem friendly, what with the obsessive gift giving, but be warned, that’s how they get you – doesn’t matter if it’s a nice piece of fruit when you’re hungry, or some nifty looking trinket, once they’ve got an excuse to put you in their debt, you’re done for. Decline politely and never try to outsmart them as they have a grasp of loopholes and small print that puts any lawyer to shame.
Fairies – the famous ones. Found in both forests and urban environments – these are the ones that look like scantily clad moppets with wings. May look cute but are known to be vindictive and will definitely bite. Have a tendency to form attachments to humans and then do violence to any poor sod that takes away their human’s interest. On the plus side, they’re small enough to swat when they get annoying.
Pixies, known in some parts as Pictsies – best exemplified by the Nac Mac Feegle. Primary activities are drinking, fighting and stealing. Known to swarm their prey and will quite happily take down targets many times larger than them. If you hear a collection of voices bellowing their war cry of ‘Crivens!’ run fast. You won’t be able to out run them but you might get points for the effort.
Goblins – the short ugly ones that do the child stealing. The urban goblins build their towns around their king’s castle, usually with a tricksy maze surrounding it. These ones are not the brightest bulbs in the box but with proper direction will get the job done and legend has it that their king has a thing for music and tight trousers. The rural goblins tend to be a tad nastier – can be found lurking in hidden caves in the mountains and are prone to spouting bad poetry when they want to taunt any travellers they happen to have trapped. These ones think you look good enough to eat and will tell you at great length just how they’re going to cook to you.
Trolls – the big ugly ones that will accidentally on purpose squash you. Like their rural goblin cousins, they are both overly fond of going into extreme detail about your role in their next meal and have a fondness for hidden caves, as exposure to direct sunlight turns them to stone (and they need somewhere to store all the loot they nick off their victims’ bodies). That said, if you can keep them distracted until sun up, you can claim their loot and make a profit out of the encounter.
Elementals – back in days of yore, when the fae ran rampart, a wide variety of elementally inclined fae could be found lurking in perfectly innocent items of landscape. Trees conceal dryads, every body of water is teeming with nymphs, kelpie, mermaids and other beasties waiting to drag you in and drown you; there’s sylphs in the air and salamanders in fire and none of them want to invite you over for tea and cakes…
Fae are territorial by nature and take trespass very seriously. Not that they need much of an excuse to mess you up, mind, but if you can stay out of the areas they count as particularly special, you might live a few more seconds than the idiots who go skipping up the wrong hill or dancing around the wrong stone.
Fairy rings are clearly marked by circles of visible mushrooms or toadstools, or rings of darker grass (and rumours that this latter is an effect caused by harmless fungus is just propaganda designed to get you into the danger zone…). Rings can either mark gateways into fae territory or popular party zones for the feral little buggers, or they can simply trap any unwary traveller who happens to step into them. Mark them as something to be avoided at all costs and you should be fine.
Stone circles, bronze-age earthworks and iron-age hill forts are also known haunts of the fae, especially around Midsummer Eve, so time your tourist trips carefully or you’ll end up laden with curses, taken as prisoner or splatted across the landscape.
Know Your Weapons
Luckily they have allergies. Salt, iron, holy water, bell ringing, holy symbols and holy names all work as deterrents. Four leaf clovers can be used to break fairy glamours and St John’s Wort, red verbena and rowan are known to counter fairy spells.
If you think you can convert the fae to your side or just want to sweeten them up so they don’t bother you so much, then try putting out offerings of milk or food – rumour has it that the Chicago variant of urban fairy are especially susceptible to gifts of pizza (possibly they’ve been hanging out too much with the turtle apocalypse threats in New York).
And if nothing else, you can use their factionalism against them. A little well placed propaganda of your own will get them nicely distracted with a fae civil war and if they don’t manage to destroy each other, they’ll at least deplete the ranks enough for the human resistance to swoop in and finish the job.
*Fairy poster (c) Lars Elling Lunde
Just because the archaeologists keep managing to put down the armies of the undead, doesn’t mean the world’s been saved – one of these days the mummies will triumph and then it’s march-of-the-undead, dust-of-the-ages and rotting bandages all over the place.
Bad news: once you’ve got an infestation of mummies you’re looking at a relentless hoard of killing machines that can scale most surfaces and adapt to most injuries. Any attempts to slow them down by chopping off limbs will result in those limbs reanimating and coming after you so decapitation is best although a grenade down the throat has also proven to be effective.
But killing each mummy in the hoard will be time consuming so what you really need is a mass solution – luckily there’s The Book of Amun-Ra which will give you all the spells you need to control the armies of the undead. Made of solid gold, most treasure hunters worth their salt will know something about it – look for it under the statue of Horus in Hamunuptra if the site is still intact, otherwise look for any reincarnated royal mistress who’s sending minions out to dig the sands. Once you’ve recovered the book you’ll need the key to unlock it and a good knowledge of Egyptian Hieroglyphics or you might accidentally end up summoning more mummies.
Once the mummy hoards have been dealt with, you should turn your attention to the leader because as long as he’s walking around he’ll be looking to raise more mummies, steal armies of undead minions from forgotten Gods, unleash a few plagues and generally do whatever he (and it’s usually a he) can do to keep himself in the evil overlord hotseat.
Unfortunately he’s a little harder to kill than his mummified minions. You’ll need a spell to take away his immortality, which can also be found in the Book of Amun-Ra (a handy thing to keep in any post-apocalyptic library) – but if you don’t have the fabled book in your possession you’ll need to make use of his weaknesses to turn away his attacks while you yell at your resident tomb raider to hurry up and get the big gold tome.
As distractions go, pretty women seem to be quite effective. Specifically, pretty women who bear a vague resemblance to his long lost love. As weapons go, this one cuts both ways as he’s just as likely to decide to use your plucky bait as a sacrifice to reincarnate the aforementioned ancient girlfriend. Nobody wants that.
So your best bet is to throw a cat at him. Legend has it that the cat was the eternal enemy of the mummy, legend also has it that the Egyptians knew this and worshipped their feline overlords accordingly but be careful as you don’t want to swap the mummypocalypse for a cutepocalypse.
With luck and some killer combat moves you will eventually get all the pieces in place to cast the de-immortalising spell and once you’ve whammied him, a quick blade to heart will finish him off nicely. Just watch what happens to the remains because that long dead girlfriend we mentioned? Just as likely to reincarnate and try and bring him back so we’d advise you burn the body, scatter the ashes in multiple very-hard-to-reach places and give the local ancestral guardians your mobile number so they know who to call if things start looking a bit hinky…
The problem with Big Business accidentally losing track of all its toxic waste is that sooner or later it’s going to seep into places and mutate otherwise harmless animals into killer mutants set on taking over the world. Oh they’ll try and claim otherwise, but we know the truth. The Turtles are out to get us so it’s time to get prepared for the Turtle Apocalypse!
The enemy prefers sewers and is most known for lurking under New York. A cunning choice given that local legend suggests that it is in fact alligators who stalk the tunnels under the Big Apple. Local legend lies, or, at the very least, has been deliberately misinformed as the Turtles have killed any alligators or other vaguely predator (and, indeed, non-predator) life form to stray near their territory.
But don’t think avoiding New York will keep you safe. London has legends of feral pigs in the sewers, Paris has a crocodile, the ancient Romans had an octopus and you definitely want to be avoiding the sewers in Derry, Maine as the stories on that one are too many and varied for anyone’s sanity. Some may take this as proof that the sewers are mutating a variety of new and dangerous life forms but we know that it’s really just cover stories for a worldwide network of killer Turtles waiting for the right moment to attack.
Know Your Enemy
Despite professing to be ninjas, they are not the subtlest of creatures and can often be found brawling in the open, usually with their own pet reporter in attendance. They have been known to wield Katana, sai, nunchaku or a bō staff, which, combined with their tendency to show off means a quick draw with a gun is your best bet.
They’re not the brightest of creatures either and are highly susceptible to traps – we recommend pizza if you want to lure them out. Pizza is Turtle crack. If you’re all out of pizza then get your hands on a giant talking rat as they seem to have something of a fetish for this mutant species. Something to do with father issues from what we understand.
They are also highly effective in the use of propaganda and keep a pet reporter specifically for the task of spinning accounts of their mass-murdering exploits. They even have a recruitment song:
Ok, yes, they may have wiped out a few evil-ninjas, local criminals and alien invaders but that was just them taking out the competition as they don’t play well with others. Actually, most of the time they don’t even play well amongst themselves which gives you an extra tactical advantage if you can make your strike when they’re on one of their breaks. Go in quick, avoid any temptation to taunt them and take no prisoners.
And if you’re not scared yet, remember this: they’re also partially responsible for the Ninja Rap.
Truly they must be stopped…
Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a total ‘Plants vs Zombies’ addict. I love my little peashooters and wallnuts as well as the array of different zombies who constantly attack my home in search of brains. Brilliant in its simplicity, players need to be strategic in their placement of the different plants and choose wisely. For example, you wouldn’t choose night plants while fighting on the roof. But what else can we learn from Plants vs Zombies to help ensure we are apocalypse prepared?
- Diversify your weaponry. No one plant can defeat the zombies on it’s own and combination weapons make for more deadly mow-down, so you can freeze the zombie hoards with an Ice-shroom while cutting them down to size with a Threepeater. The same applies during the apocalypse: diversify your weaponry so that if you run out of bullets, you can keep shooting using a crossbow or get in close with a sword.
- Know and protect your power source. The Sunflowers and Sun-shrooms give you points to buy plants and need to be protected. During the apocalypse your power source is your life source, without it you’re dead so make sure it’s safe at all times.
- Set traps which provide a warning and slow down the attacking werewolves while you’re doing other things, such as the Potato Mine or Spikeweeds. Minutes matter and those extra few moments when the killer robots are trying to untangle themselves from your net trap might be enough for you to escape.
- Always have a backup plan. If the zombies eat all your plants, your last line of defence is a row of lawn mowers which slices them down. However, as with all last-ditch defence plans, it can only be used once and when it’s gone it’s gone so if your final defence is activated, either refortify quickly or escape.
- Know pros and cons of each weapon. Chompers are great at eating zombies whole but take time to digest their meal which leaves them vulnerable, while Scardy-shrooms cause a lot of damage, but go into hiding when an enemy is near. No weapon is perfect and all have their limitations. Knowing these and using these to your advantage ensures you are using your available weapons to the peak of their performance, which will increase your chances of survival.
- Know your enemy and attack accordingly. As with most games, Plants vs Zombies begins easily, but becomes progressively more difficult with more challenging attackers. Bucket-head zombies have added protection which makes them harder to kill while dancing zombies always travel with back-up dancers. In order to kill them, you need different plants. In the same way you wouldn’t kill a robot using a silver bullet as you would a werewolf, know your enemy and use appropriate methods for attacking them.
- Takes time to re-energise. In Plants vs Zombies, once you’ve planted, that plant will need a certain amount of time to ‘recharge’ before it can be planted again. Even during the apocalypse a girl needs a little time to recharge herself so she’s feeling ready to take on the world so take some time out and give yourself that mani-pedi you’ve been promising yourself.
- Marigolds are planted which can earn you money as they pop out coins during the game and during the apocalypse you can always make a bit of extra money or whatever passes for currency at that time.
- Make sure you have a great theme tune. Once you’ve completed the game, the plants and zombies come together to get down to some funky tunes and really isn’t that what every girl needs after a long day of slaughtering rabid cows?
by Katemandi, Last Girl on Earth
My esteemed colleague MadNad cast the werewolf as an unrelenting enemy of any girl’s survival of the apocalypse. I think this ancient prejudice must be countered with firm evidence. Just as their animal counterparts have been hunted nigh on to extinction in many areas, the werewolf too has faced unwarranted fear because of ancient propaganda. In the interest of historical accuracy and improved general relations, I hope to sweep away centuries of misunderstanding and enmity.
This has nothing to do with my being in love with a werewolf: that’s just coincidence!
There is abundant evidence of the positive traits of werewolves. Down through the ages have demonstrated their very human side: which is to say that some are good and some are bad, but as a group they are no worse than the humans they begin life as. For every Stubbe Peter, there is an elegant and noble Bisclavret.
Not only are werewolves not your enemy, but they can make a brilliant addition to your post-apocalyptic survival team — you just need to take sensible precautions around the full moon. How will the werewolf help your team?
1) Superb strength and agility
2) Teeth ripping action
3) Tracking abilities
4) Element of surprise
5) Extrasensory capabilities
6) Warm fur/high body temperature
Befriend the wolf: you won’t regret it. But you might want to be careful about wearing that red hood…
In wolf form, they can easily rip any vampire or zombie, limb from limb. If you discover a werewolf in your community, and they are not rogue, try making friends with him/her by baking some kibble flavoured cookies – you want this guy/girl on your side, as they could be a valuable asset or team mate.