Are you tired of the apocalypse?
Our collective death wish dominates pop culture sci-fi and fantasy. The depictions can be brilliant (George Miller, you magnificent bastard) but are most often meh.
We watch society fall. We follow the survivors through the aftermath. We absorb the allegories for our own behavior.
Rinse, repeat. It’s exhausting.
There is a solution. I could avoid all fiction that involves the end of the world, or at least reduce my intake. But I’m a sci-fi and fantasy geek; you might as well ask me to stop eating.
So I’ll just have to be exhausted, because I CANNOT ESCAPE IT.
A natural response to all the world-ending entertainment (I hope) is to imagine how one would handle the apocalypse. Everyone thinks about this stuff, right?
I often consider how I would deal with the end of the world. The conclusions aren’t pretty.
I don’t become a noble warrior. I don’t even become a killer with no morals and a will to survive. I’m more like a squashed bug on a windshield.
Live at a moderate pace and die young-ish, am I right?
Five reasons I would not survive the apocalypse:
1) TOO POLITE
Life has taught me that if I ask nicely, provide currency, and show some patience, society will give me food and shelter. It’s the only way I know, and stripping away civilization isn’t going to awaken a different personality in me.
I imagine something like this:
Walker happens upon a woman with a gun and a can of beans.
Walker: Hello, ma’am. Nice to meet you. I noticed you have bullets and food. I’m currently fresh out of both.
Walker: Well, you have no shoes. I’d be happy to trade mine for some beans and the means to defend myself.
Woman shoots Walker in face, takes shoes. Now has beans + bullets + shoes.
2) SHORT ATTENTION SPAN
The apocalypse will be brief moments of horrific violence and long periods of silent concentration. I expect to fail at both.
Skills needed: holding still while hunting for animals. Keeping a quiet watch for hostiles. The apocalypse survivor will have to excel at these on the regular.
The first time I try to focus on anything, my tech-warped brain will have me checking my dead phone ten times a minute. I doubt I’ll even look up to see the machete slicing down toward my skull.
3) EATING SPOILED FOOD
Without my daily dose of Allegra and Flonase, pollen will turn my nose into nothing more than a garnish for my face. Lacking the smell test, I’ll eat some rancid possum and keel over the next day.
4) SEEKING SHELTER
Characters in apocalypses tend to fare best when they hunker down and wait out the worst violence. Trouble comes when they search for some part of society that has managed to hold the line.
I know this, but I would make the same mistake. What if just over the next hill is a military base still in control? A barricaded town still hanging on? There must be help somewhere…
Ever notice how the characters on The Walking Dead have perfect eyesight? Even a year on from the apocalypse, they can shoot the eye out of a zombie at fifty yards.
I wear contacts. I have glasses as a backup. Without them, things get… complicated. If you were standing ten feet away, I might be able to guess your gender.
The contacts will run out within a few weeks. The glasses will break or be stolen. Once that happens, I’ll be as helpless as a blind mole rat. Even more so; blind mole rats are great at finding worms.
So there it is: my top five (of many possible) reasons I would not survive the apocalypse.
Survival time may depend on the type of collapse. A simple societal breakdown will kill me, but zombies would advance the timeline. Are they sprinters or lumberers? It makes a difference.
What about an alien invasion? Depends on the aliens’ temperament. Nuclear war? If I’m far enough away from a blast, maybe a few weeks. How about the singularity, followed by an AI war on humanity? Maybe they will ignore me if I lie still.
And these are just the obvious ones…
Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, was once asked by a fan what he would do in an actual zombie apocalypse. His semi-famous answer: “Kill myself and my family immediately.” He considers this preferable to living in the world he writes about.
How’s that for morbid? Didn’t mean to go so dark on you! Let’s cleanse our palates by picturing the epic party whales and dolphins would throw in our absence.
Sigh, that’s better.
How would you handle the end of the world? Just fine, you say? Do you have a bloodthirsty will to survive AND 20/20 vision? Did you build your bunker underground, or just convert an existing cave system?
I’d like to hear about it.
But only after I get Lasik.