NOTE: This post originally appeared, like magic, on the digital home of none other than Jay Wilburn.
by Jack Wallen
Could you honestly survive the apocalypse?
I spend a good deal of my time dreaming up scenarios surrounded by post-apocalyptic death and destruction. It comes with the territory…being a writer of the dark fantastic that is zombie horror. Because of this, I get one particular question lobbed at me almost daily.
Could you survive the apocalypse?
It’s an easy assumption to make. My brain wraps itself around people surviving on a daily basis…so why wouldn’t it be an easy feat for me to survive the zombie horde, the chaos, the anarchy, and the redistribution of power that comes with the apocalypse. The short answer, out of nearly every author of the apocalypse, would be a resounding “yes”. Of course it would. We like to fancy ourselves experts in the field.
Yeah, you knew there’d be a big, glaring however.
Let me ask you a question. What happened the last time you lost power for more than twelve hours? Do you remember how hard it was to exist without air conditioning, wi-fi, television, and lights? What measures did you take to make yourself comfortable? Did you tough it out? Go the DIY route? Or did you find the nearest friend or hotel to shack up with?
It’s okay to admit weakness. This is something nearly every first world country suffers from. We have grown soft over the years. In fact, if you were to invent a time machine and teleport the population of the United States back to the settler days, we wouldn’t have made it. As a society we would have melted under the heat, froze in the cold, starved to death, died of infection…whined ourselves into oblivion. So the very idea that we would survive the apocalypse becomes quite iffy. Said “iffy” depends upon a number of factors.
- What time of year does it occur?
- How much preparation we’d have?
- Do we lose power?
- Will the internet remain up and running?
- Are there enough farmers to go around?
- Are we healthy when it occurs?
- What varying types of people are you with?
The answers to the above questions will carry serious significance to our survival. For example:
If the apocalypse hits in the winter, and we lose power…survival will be a serious challenge. If the time of year is spring, we’d at least have a chance to prepare a garden (hoping your store of food doesn’t vanish before those first crops appear). If the internet goes down, how do we communicate? If the power grid goes out, are we ready with solar power to keep things running? Even the questions beg other questions.
This is hard.
Not nearly as hard as survival.
Let’s make a game of it
For many, the idea of survival boils down to one simplistic idea: What do I have in the way of weapons. I am of the belief that weapons will not be the primary driving force behind survival in an apocalyptic situation. From my perspective, they who hold the information will be the strongest. Information has, for a very long time, been one of the single most powerful tools at our disposal. The apocalypse won’t change this. The intelligent will survive. Why? Because they’ll know:
- Where to go
- How to communicate
- How to locate necessities
- How to negotiate
- How to find answers
- How to ration
The list goes on and on.
Of course, this is not to say that weapons will become irrelevant. The intelligent will have to surround themselves with the strong for protection. In fact, I like to look at surviving the apocalypse in the same way I do surviving a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. A successful group should at least consist of:
- A fighter
- A healer
- A mage
- A hunter
- A thief
- A bard
That diversity of skills and talents will take a group a very long way. You surround yourself with nothing but fighters and you could very well lack the intelligence required to solve the many puzzles that will confront you. A group of nothing but intelligentsia will fall the first time they are attacked by a Brigand.
Or an angry chicken.
See how that works?
A many-headed beast
The idea of survival is a many-headed beast. It’s not just about how prepared, strong, smart, or nimble you are. The elements, your compatriots, your provisions, and even luck play a very large role in whether or not you will make it to the end.
Should the apocalypse comes, I do hope you’ll include me in your gang of survivors. What role would I play? My guess is Bard…which means I’ll be in the back of the group at all times, strumming my lute and writing refrains perfectly suited to immortalize our conquests.