Wasteland Survival

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…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvJvHqhPeBc&w=400&h=225]

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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.


Music for the Apocalypse #28: Run With Us, Lisa Lougheed

by Apocalypse Womble

This one could almost be the theme song for GGSA:

When darkness falls
Leaving shadows in the night
Don’t be afraid
Wipe that fear from your eyes
If a desperate love
Keeps on driving you wrong
Don’t be afraid
You’re not alone

You can run with us
We’ve got everything you need
Run with us
We are free
Come with us
I see passion in your eyes
Run with us

For those who may not recognise this, ‘Run With Us’ is the theme song from The Raccoons, a particularly awesome 80s kids TV show. I adored it as a child. It captures perfectly the free spirit and sense of camaraderie that is necessary for wilderness survival, be it in the Canadian forests, or in the blasted landscape of a post apocalypse setting. The song exudes a sense of escape and freedom from civilisation, and at the same time the feeling of being welcomed into a group, of being told that you are valued and have something to contribute. In other words it is exactly tailored to capture the imagination both of children and apocalypse nerds like thee and me.
And, because I can’t resist, here is also maybe one of the most awesome fanvid mash-ups of all time: the Seventh Doctor and Ace with ‘Run With Us’.

You can run with us
We’ve got everything you need
Run with us
We are free…

 – Apocalypse Womble out.

Handbook for the Apocalypse: Riddley Walker

by Katemandi, Last Girl on Earth

Apocalyptic fans the world over mourned this week: Russell Hoban has left us to our fates on this earth. Wordy wordy wordsmith Will Self has called Hoban his hero and called Riddley Walker “perhaps the post-nuclear-apocalypse novel sans pareil” and it is an epithet well-earned.

Told in the fractured post-nuclear apocalyptic English of a twelve year old just reaching his rite of passage, the novel offers an indelible image of the blighted world to come and demonstrates the importance of keeping your Punch and Judy puppets close to hand.

In its pages you will find optimum tips for surviving the apocalyptic future, making coal, hunting wildlife with a spear, exploring the archeology of the past world and of course, the undying importance of storytelling as the way we make sense of even the most destructive world.

Trubba not and watch out for the arga warga.

The Zombie Safe-House

posted by Daystar

Here at GGSA, we’re always happy to see that others are planning their apocalypse survival strategy.
After all, if it’s just us left after the Big A goes down, our social calendar is going to take a serious hit.
So we were very pleased indeed to see the results of the 2011 “Zombie Safe House” competition announced recently.
We’ve already looked at fallout shelters here, but if you’re looking for something a little less nuclear, you simply can’t beat a mobile zombie-shelter.
We’ll be putting in our order later today – as soon as we can decide on whether we want it in practical camo, or fabulous fuschia….
Choices, choices.
No-one ever said surviving the zompocalypse would be easy….
—Daystar out—

Beginners Guide to Wasteland Survival #2: First Steps Outside

So you’ve decided that you’re sick of all the home ‘comforts’ and that its time to leave your Fallout Shelter and go out into the big bad world, a risky proposition but one you could well reap the benefits from IF you’re careful.

So what do you need to consider and plan for before you step outside several hundred years after the apocalypse occurred? Sure you could simply assume that other survivors have already built a fantastical civilisation who will welcome you with open arms as long lost cousins, or maybe you think it’s going to be an empty paradise. If you believe either of those two options then you are deluded. In fact if anyone thinks these two options are viable you should give them a good slap to knock them out of it. Its going to be dangerous out there and it’s going to be better for everyone if you plan for a worst case scenario.

For starters lets just begin with the environment. You have spent your life inside, surrounded by walls, in rooms that are lit with artificial light, you know everyone by name, who’s sleeping with who, who hates who etc etc. (If you’re leaving because you’re sick of all the politics then I have bad news for you, any human society you found will be the same, you’re just going to have to accept that and learn to deal with it.) Sure you’ve probably seen pictures of what its like outside, heard the tales passed down, about this mythical object called the sun, and fanciful places where you can see for miles.

No matter what the outside is like, whether its waste land and skies still full of dust or green grass and blue skies, its going to be a huge shock to your system. (I’m working on the assumption here that you have a way of knowing what time it is outside. Hopefully your shelter was built with an atomic clock and you’ve kept the same sleeping and waking pattern as you would have done if you lived outside. If you don’t know the time and you first step out when its dark, then it is perhaps advisable to wait until it’s light. This way you will be able to see what the nearby vicinity is like, you really don’t want to go bumbling around into things in the dark.

It is advisable to explore the surrounding area to your shelter’s entrance, especially make note of any major land marks. It is important that you know where you live!

However there are a few things we need to cover here before you leap off into the unknown.

Firstly the Sun, the giant burning ball of fire in the sky, no don’t look at it, you might blind yourself, or at least certainly damage your eyesight. Now the Sun gives off radiation, this radiation burns our skin and you have lived your entire life inside. Advice? Cover up. Long sleeves, hat. We had a thing called sun tan lotion once, cream we rubbed on to help protect us from the Sun, you won’t have that. Trust me when I say sun burn is nasty, sun burnt skin is incredibly painful, and you really won’t want to even have clothes pressing against the skin (this means it will be hard to carry around all that gear you’re going to need in the wilderness). Sun burnt skin eventually leads to the skin peeling, which fascinating though it is is not worth the hassle. To much Sun can lead to skin cancer, although if you’re emerging from what was a nuclear apocalypse it’s likely that most things are irradiated to some extent so really you’re probably screwed anyway. (Or maybe you do have something equivalent to what is used in Fallout: e.g. Rad-X, which prevents you from absorbing as much radiation or Radaway, which does what it says on the tin.)

Another thing you need to be aware of is that out here, in the big bad world, the temperature isn’t going to be regulated. The nights can potentially get quite cold the days very hot. Dress accordingly! This is especially important as while covering up to avoid sun burn is good, cover up too much when it’s hot and don’t drink enough then you could well get sun stroke, which can make it seem as if you have a fever and really knock you out of it. Also as it gets cold you will want to wrap up, layers are important here, and its particularly important to cover your extremities. Cold toes and fingers are unpleasant and it could, if its cold enough lead to frost bite, which you really don’t want.

So before you venture too far from home you might want to get a feel for what the local weather is like.

Beginners Guide to Wasteland Survival #1: The Fallout Shelter

So you’ve survived the apocalypse (probably nuclear or a giant meteor) by living in a fallout shelter. Or to be more accurate some ancestor of yours was lucky enough to be one of those selected to go live in one just before the apocalypse struck, and the next few generations have simply hidden out here until it was ‘safe’ to come out again.

The question is, is it safe? Lets weigh the options here.
You’re several generations down the line from the original inhabitants of the shelter, so this obviously means the fallout shelter has done its job and is working. You’ve clearly got some kind of working power supply. In fact this is probably nuclear, what else is going to last that long? Except perhaps for geothermal, but that does limit the number of shelters. You can’t have solar panels because for one the world is liable to be covered by a giant dust cloud, they won’t gather much power, and may well get buried beneath various detritus anyway (do you really want to have to send people outside to potentially clear these things? Especially if its a nuclear apocalypse!) Also they’re kind of obvious, other people/zombies (assuming anyone survives) could well find them and then you’re in trouble cause now they know there’s something near by.
You’ve got hydroponics to get you’re 5 a day. Meat might be awkward, cows, sheep they take up space. So perhaps you’re breeding rats. Or perhaps recycling waste products into ‘meat’ or is it just fake meat? (Soy perhaps.) Who knows. Who cares. You’ve got food.
You’ve also got water, maybe the shelter was built near an underground water source and you have some kind of water purifier. The water purifier here is essential, especially if its a nuclear apocalypse, do you really want to be drinking irradiated water?! Either that’ll kill everyone off slowly or people will start to mutate. Or again is it being recycled out of waste products. (Yes I know it sounds disgusting, but you’re surviving aren’t you?)
Also the structure of your fallout shelter is sound. It’s been built far away from any pesky fault lines, it’s a solid underground bunker that is also appropriately lined to protect against any nuclear radiation. It doesn’t leak, so no chance you’re going to all drown horribly in some flash flood, nor is there damp, so there’s no mould growing to make people sick. The air is properly ventilated, and the temperature is never too hot nor too cold.
And of course it’s big enough to house the number of people required to make sure you aren’t all now completely inbred. Or maybe you all are now? But you’ve survived I guess, and isn’t that what counts?
Finally the government in question didn’t originally decide that fallout shelters would be the perfect place to experiment on people. You’re shelter wasn’t set up to open ‘early’ in the nuclear apocalypse (like say a few years into it so that you all get affected by radiation and crap.) Nor did they try and affect your food supplies in weird and wonderful ways to see how you’d mutate, or perhaps pipe strange music in at all times of the day to slowly drive everyone to madness. No crazy rules about how you HAVE to sacrifice someone every so often in order to keep your shelter safe. Or maybe they did and you’re one of the lucky ones whose ancestors were housed in a control shelter where everything was set up properly.
So to sum up, you have food, water, shelter, you’re not inbred and you’re not insane, life should be pretty good right? You’re safe here. Outside, well you have no idea what the world outside is like. (What, is someone suggesting that you could have camera’s outside your home base? Or perhaps a link to the satellite system? The first one could well draw attention to yourself, seriously do you want some kind of super smart zombie(s)/gangs of humans finding your shelter? Also who’s been maintaining those satellites eh?) Whatever the situation is you probably have no clue as to what its like outside. So why on earth do you want to leave?
Could it possibly because you’re going to be stuck in the same giant concrete box for the rest of your life? At some point someone (maybe it’s you) is going to argue that it’s time to venture back out into the outside world. After 100, 200,300 etc years some of the horrors of the apocalypse will hopefully have died down. Less radiation, less dust etc. Its human nature to want to explore the unknown.
Still it’s going to be dangerous out there, and there are a lot of things you need to consider before you brazenly step outside. Things you need to do to protect your home and yourself, we shall look at those in part 2.