Survival skills

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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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.

 

Essential Author Survival Kit Item

Here’s the thing, all of us creative types, we just don’t know how the hell to stop. It’s a reflex, a comfort blanket, an obsession, a drive, a best friend, worst enemy, love/hate, do it or die essential and, you know what? Even in the event of a cataclysmic world breakdown, that instinct is unlikely to take a powder and run for the hills. You’re going to have a LOT to say.
So how do we go about planning a practical, workable solution to this unavoidable instinct that won’t add a whole bundle of unnecessary crap to your survival bag? Not only that, but this extra piece of kit kind of has to be manual, because there’s no guarantee anything electric is going to work ever again.
Here then is an essential item a scribbler of any stripe is going to need to tuck away into the survival bag:



A metal pen – yes, you heard me, a METAL pen. This puppy will write on anything, under any conditions, even under water! Yes, you heard me… under water! I think I’m in love. It’s apparently got endless ink, but I’m a practical sort and my instinct says to buy two or more; because two pens are better than one, and more pens are even better than two, every writer knows that.

And watch this epic video of its full awesome powers here:

Now, you may want to grab yourself some paper for this puppy but, like I said, it’ll write on anything and we write to be read, us writing obsessives. In an apocalypse I suspect book sales will go down with civilisation, but those left will hopefully read the words we scrawl upon the walls of abandoned buildings, cracked paving stones, and the smoking hulks of cars.
Keep your creativity, your passion for writing the world, never let it die, and leave behind some evidence of your experience for those who come after those who survived. And also smile with smug satisfaction that they will, rather like we do when observing the Mayans, have no idea whatsoever how the hell we managed it!

Going Back for Jonesy

You all know Jonesy right? The ships cat in Alien? Ellen Ripley defies all sense of personal survival, sacrificing time and manoeuvrability to go back for the cat. Taking a pure survivalist view on this, it’s stupid. Seriously who risks their life for a mog? Ripley is facing impregnation by face hugger and death by chestbuster or a straight death by slathering monster by going back, but she does, she even puts the carrier down to do stuff, then goes back and picks it up again. It’s nuts. It’s suicide! It’s not what you do in a life or death, time is of the essence situation.

Except it is really isn’t it. We’ve all seen pictures of people in the floods carrying pets above their heads through the flood water, people trying to go back in to burning houses to rescue the family pooch and how many of us feel it’s an entirely appropriate use of the fire services time and resources to rescue cats from trees (clue, I do, totally). This is in the job description for british fire fighters ‘rescuing people and animals from disasters such as fires, floods, or terrorist attacks’. Seriously, terrorist attacks, never mind the children, get the damn cat!

It’s been on my mind for a long time… why does Ripley go back for Jonesy? Why is it that all my anxiety about a break in or my having an accident is based around what if the cats get hurt, or don’t get fed. How long can they cope if I don’t come home? Will my neighbour with a key call in if I’m missing? When I was ill recently my fever had me awake at three am worrying about whether there was an escape route for them if I actually did have a zombie virus and turned in the house. If I’d had a jigsaw (the tool not the puzzle) I think I’d have woken again on the kitchen floor with a hole in the bottom of the door.

So why do we do it? Well Dana sums it up nicely in Plague Town, if you want to live forget the pet, if you want to live with yourself, go back for the cat.

Our humanity is tied up in how we treat the people and things dependant on us for our well being and really, what is the point of surviving the apocalypse if we forget what it means to be human?

The Ultimate Fantasy Weapon

Taking a break from the ANOS (apocalypses not otherwise specified) I thought I’d take a moment to showcase what would come top of my list of ‘desirable but not necessarily real weaponry’.

Ladies (and of course gentlemen) I present to you: The Chainsaw Katana



This is the ultimate weapon of choice for the discerning zombie slayer. It has everything a slayer might need – a high-powered, many toothed electric chainsaw and the cutting ability and reach of the elegantly deadly katana.

This picture is from a brilliant and insane apocalyptic Japanese movie called HellDriver. I leave you with its superb and rather mind boggling trailer. This may be the bloodiest, most bizarre movie I have ever seen.


In other words I highly recommend it.

Think Pink

Despite it being a tad annoying that the automatic ‘girl’ version of anything means painting it pink, or, god help us, adding decorative flowers, there are some items in your survival kit that you can get away with having prettied up. Like guns. Doesn’t matter what colour they are, no one is going to accuse you of being less than a hard-ass if you’re pointing one at them.

If you want to go subtle, there’s plenty of small pink guns on the market -

This one is easy to conceal with just enough pink to accent it without being overwhelming. Especially useful if you’re off on a night out in zombie-town as you can stash it in your handbag but still be ready to do violence if the hoards try anything funny.

Anything in hot pink is always a fun addition to your weapons cache and this has a certain kind of disco-diva vibe to it. Another one good for a night out but can be worn openly as it’ll finish off your dancing outfit perfectly.

For extra awesome-sauce, check out this Walther P22 – James Bond wishes he had something this sexy to take out the bad guys with. There’s digital style patterning in khaki and pink which makes it a bit more subtle than the above but still very funky.

Sometimes you need something that’ll let you shoot over distance, so here’s just the thing, with handy telescopic accessories. You can snipe the zombie hoards from the safety of a gun perch while still being safe in the knowledge that you’re bringing a little much-needed glamour to the post-apocalypse.

For heavier shooting action there’s the AK47, though the pale pink is a bit wishy-washy so we’d prefer a shade of pink with a bit more pizazz.

And then there’s Hello Kitty. More specifically, the Hello Kitty assault rifle which no self-respecting post-apoc princess should be without. Again, could do with being in a slightly funkier shade of pink but it’s a fun piece of kit and if nothing else, you won’t be accused of toting boring weaponry.

And if pink guns aren’t enough for you, there’s a host of other pinkified combat equipment out there – just avoid anything that comes in pink camo, because the only place the camo part will work in will be the girls’ section of your local toy store and how often are you going to need to hide out there?

Though having said that, just because they’re all trying to kill you, doesn’t mean you can’t be practical and glam at the same time, and a little pink camo will go perfectly with your new weapons so you can kick ass and splatter brains in style and who doesn’t want that?

Battleaxebunny out.

ANOS – Apocalypses Not Otherwise Specified – No1: SLUGS

You know about your zombies… your outbreaks and viral attacks… your nuclear wars… but what about the ANOS.

Oh yes… the ANOS

Apocalypse Not Otherwise Specified.

In this series of posts I am going to outline possible ANOS scenarios. The horrifying ends that writers and film makers have imagined for us that haven’t quite made it into the annuls of ‘apocalypses we not only celebrate but actively plan for’ but yet have a creeping level of possibility in them that perhaps warrants a re-think of their ANOS status.

This week I bring you that shell-less terror Hutson unleashed upon the world within the pages of the same-named book (and the subsequent movie adaption) and that starred in one of the scariest, most freaky 80s brat pack movies ever, the horrifying ‘Society’. I bring you – SLUGS

Because, let’s face it, there’s a very real possibility that these slimy, malignant creatures could be deprived of their natural food sources and find themselves jonesin’ for a little nibble of long pig. Or, having mutated, they could already have taken human form and be walking amongst us even now, picking us off one by one.

Chances are, if that happens, people won’t be prepared for it. I mean, not many folk like slugs but it’s a sure thing no one looks at a slug and thinks ‘potential predator of the human race’. But it could happen… it could. And in the event that it does, here are a few tips that may save you from becoming a human-sized slug feast.


• Always carry salt in your hand bag or man bag – slugs don’t like the salt, it makes them buuuuurn

• Pack a taser – get those puppies wet and it’s a sure fire humansVSslugs win when the electricity hits the slime

• Wear large boots. In the event of salt supplies running low or your taser failing to work due to lack of water, these will enable you to stamp your way to freedom

• Don’t chuck raw meat down sewers or drains… seriously… it’ll only encourage them

• Invited to a party by creepy folk who’ve never spoken to you before? RUN. You’re the hors d’oeuvres AND the party trick (be afraid)

• Ever meet anyone who seems to have a fetish for scoffing hair also RUN. Chances are it’s a human slug fiend wanting to munch on your tender flesh

Last but not least – trust no slug. They might look innocent and vegetarian right now but, hiding beneath that mucus-slicked flesh, a killer is waiting to emerge…

Preparing Your Children

by Katemandi, Last Girl on Earth

If you rely on standardized exams to prepare your children for the apocalypse, you will find your tots will not cope well with the demands of the post-apocalyptic world. Here is a training film that will better prepare them for the realities. Get your conch out and sharpen that spear.

Plants vs Zombies: Training for the Apocalypse

by GClarkHellery

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?

So there you have it. I’m sure that there are other games out there that will teach you other survival tips but for me, I love my plants. Now, where did I put my Grave Buster?

Visitors since 03/11/11

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