So the apocalypse has arrived. What’s your strategy? You don’t have one? Well, then you’re doomed.
Whichever cataclysm brought this hell upon you—robot uprising, a solar flare putting us back in the Dark Ages, zombies, or, most likely, a plain old runaway greenhouse effect—you might stand a chance if you have the right priorities and a bit of know-how. (Yes, I left out a post-nuclear world in which everything’s been irradiated; pretty much all of us would be toast in that scenario, either immediately or in the short run. If you’re feeling gracious, just give me that one. If you aren’t, well, nuts to you.)
In any of these scenarios, one would probably have the same basic priorities: food, water, shelter, and safety. You might also consider a few key, easy-to-carry “luxury” items as well, because the aforementioned are mere trifles next to sentimentalities that make life worth living. In my case, those items are my Hellboy short story collections (Odd Jobs, Odder Jobs, and Oddest Jobs), because even a survivor in a hellish wasteland has some down time.
Before you put it to me that this is not an optimal choice, consider that Hellboy is to me what Our Mutual Friend was to Desmond in Lost: I want those stories to be the last thing I read before going to the clearing at the end of the path.
But I digress—back to priorities. For fun, and since zombie apocalypses are all the rage these days (yawn), let’s go with that. Anyone’s first priority should probably be shelter. Or water. First on my list, though, would be food. Why? Because I live twenty-two miles from here:
This is none other than a Frito-Lay packaging and distribution facility; Corn Chips® out the wazoo! Those never-stale golden crisps will be worth their weight in gold after society’s collapse (assuming gold is still in fact valuable). Needless to say, this will be a much sought-after resource, and residents of the local town will no doubt be raiding the facility as well. Due to their close proximity to the plant, though, they may retain a false sense of security, and thus be slower to act. While I can’t rely on that scenario, it’s still my best bet as a source for plentiful and (practically) non-perishable foodstuffs.
As a side note, this facility may also serve as a shelter or “home base”. Personally, I’m less inclined to stick around a place that’s bound to have other, less-than-savory visitors. I’d just as soon hide a stash somewhere and then take all I can carry. But someone who possesses a knack for tinkering with industrial assembly-line equipment might make excellent use of the facility as a both a trap and a food-manufacturing center (can you say Soylent Green?). Of course, you will want to evaluate your own priorities and subsequent strategy based on your own circumstances. Moving on.
Now comes water. Here in Lafayette, Indiana, I live on the confluence of the Wabash, Tippecanoe and Eel Rivers, so fresh water is plentiful…it just doesn’t happen to be all that clean. Lucky for me, there will be no shortness of motivation to come up with a fix in short order (you know, to not die and all). Boiling water to kill microbes will do for most of us at first, but sooner rather than later you’ll have to try your hand at constructing any number of relatively simple filtration systems (google some?). These will not only provide a plentiful source of potable water, but a steady stream (pun alert) of currency for your own benefit once you own little slice of heaven has been established. Where will mine be, you ask?
Here: under the “Robot Bridge,” the graffitied underbelly of an overpass
next to the Wabash River on the north side of Lafayette, IN in an anonymous location. While erecting a shelter beneath an overpass may seem like a rookie mistake, this particular overpass will in fact be one of the safest places to hunker down in the event that zombies overrun society. It’s a little known fact, but robots and zombies are natural enemies. See internet for examples. If you aren’t as fortunate as I and can’t find some robot-covered structure near your home, you may want to consider building robot sculptures (aptly named, scarezombies) to surround your shelter. There is also the much less work-intensive route of making a convincing robot costume out of scavenged materials. While it may be hot, clunky and smelly, spending the rest of your days “beeping” and “booping” in your own personal oven still beats being dead.
Of course, there are essential measures to be taken even with the protection of a robot presence at home. The fact remains that other, living people will also be a danger, as will the elements. So while a plethora of robots may keep the shuffling hordes at bay, you’ll need to create a fortified and insulated structure to ensure your safety. My plan is to erect walls of old pallets, filling the spaces with garbage (the non-food kind) and putting up plywood or other flat materials around the outside. No matter what kind of shelter you find or build, try and scrounge up some chicken wire, fencing or barbed wire and/or dig a spike trench around the perimeter. Spiked trenches are the bee’s knees.
Even with all this preparation, the fact remains that your best bet is still to band up with a few folks that you trust—only don’t trust them! And certainly don’t share the location of any personal food or supply stashes you have (my Corn Chips are for me and only me). Those thieving thieves will surely betray you once you’ve given the milk away. After all, that lingering truth, “Hell is other people,” will be all the more truthy in the post-apocalyptic world. We’re all likely to be desperate for any kind of advantage we can get our hands on, so keep an eye open at all times. Good luck, and good roboting.
Map Image from Google Maps
Image of robot graffiti from Logan Garner