I know most of the library acquisitions in the bunker have been to get us prepared for the coming conflagration, but as we suffer through the death throes of society, I can’t help but think of the need for some humour. Things will be grim. We need laughs.
Of course we need the collected Austen because:
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?
And in close quarters for long periods of time, we will need all the elegant snark we can get:
I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.
Barbara Pym is a must, too, though her sadly disappointed characters might also be a tad depressing at times. Dorothy Parker without question: mordant wit may be among our few escapes from the gloom. Gaskell‘s Cranford stories for quieter times, when you want to know the ladies have got your back. And Georgette Heyer for when you’ve just finished re-reading all the Austen and can’t bear another dull conversation about cleaning out the air vents.
Bunker Am Dram cannot survive without a production or two of Aphra Behn’s The Rover.
And I must say a special word for my much adored inspiration, the lovely Winifred Watson. If you’ve not read the novel behind the delightful Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day you are in for a treat.
Who are your favourite fun writers? I admit most of mine are, alas, beyond the veil. Got some more modern recommendations?
Katemandi here: I can’t say enough about pantries! For the end times you need food. Sure, you might be out hunting in the woods for some critters or foraging in the underbrush for mushrooms and other edibles, but stocking up your pantry ahead of the collapse is just good sense.
Of course you need food that will last a while. Perishables are useless! Think dry dry dry. You’ll be adding water of course in most cases, of course. If you don’t have water — well, honey, I got news for you: you won’t be surviving. So think powders, jerky, dried grains and nuts. Salt! In the medieval and ancient worlds, it was a precious as gold. Not just for flavour but for its preservative qualities.
Which brings me to another point: spices! You don’t have to belong to House Atreides to recognise the importance of spice! You’re going to be eating a lot of bland food that’s been reconstituted. You’ll be grateful for those spices. The good news is that spices keep for a long time if they’re completely dried and well sealed.
Speaking of sealing: have you learned canning yet? The techniques for storing delicious fruit in jams, jellies and preserves is not to be overlooked. You can even can meat, my friend Mary tells me (I got these snaps at her fabulous home at Universal Pathways). The skills are out there: learn them before you need them. You don’t want to poison your crew with poor pantry skills. Be safe, be delicious.
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.