Apocalyptic Courtesy

September 1st, 2009 by Potato

“It sure was nice of everyone to pull over so they could drive through all the wreckage.”

“That’s just apocalyptic courtesy.”

Just so you don’t forget, here are some main points of courtesy that you should follow in the event of the apocalypse (whether that’s zombies, plague, nuclear holocaust, or sentient machine overlords).

  1. Pull your car over. Should you find yourself on the highway or otherwise commuting when the end of days comes — and if there is any kind of advanced notice, this is likely as would-be survivors flee the cities — be sure to pull your car over to the side of the road. Emergency crews and plucky, hardened survivors alike will need to scream between rows of wrecked cars as fast as possible, and if your vehicle is still rusting away in the centre of the lane, then nobody is going to be happy.
  2. Lock the doors, but leave the key. Nobody fleeing from zombies wants to have to sleep in a tree, so do the kind thing and give them access to your house or flat by leaving the key in an obvious place, such as above the doorframe or beneath the welcome mat. Be sure to lock up however, as mindless hordes may find their way inside, turning your potential end-of-days-inn into a nightmarish trap. Even moderately intelligent fiends will have trouble working the locks, let alone finding the key. And that’s assuming the zombies haven’t eaten their own hands out of boredom. Intelligent hunter-killer robots, aliens, werewolves, and vampires (who are not otherwise forbidden from entering homes uninvited) won’t be stopped by such a ploy, but then, they won’t find an easily smashed or vapourized locked door much of a barrier either. Round doorknobs are best able to foil the maldextrous, including zombies and velociraptors, but can also trip up survivors coated in sticky blood or who are losing hand grip due to cold or spreading paralysis. And please, don’t be clever with the fingerprint readers or retina-scanners — even in the absence of the apocalypse, someone always figures out a way around those, and it often isn’t pretty (and when it is pretty, it’s nearly trivially easy, like stealing your wine glass).
  3. Leave the gun, loaded. In nearly all end-of-the-world scenarios, survivors will need guns to battle zombies, demons, giant irradiated ants, aliens, terminators, or rival bands of insane, hungry raiders. So do the polite thing and pick yourself up a gun, even if it’s just a humble shotgun, and leave it in an obvious, easy-to-reach place, such as above the front door or over the fireplace mantle. The more ammo the better, but at the very least leave it fully loaded: the horrors that await are not always patient.
  4. Stock some food. My mom learned this at an early age, since growing up on PEI you could never be too sure when a snowstorm or zombie cow invasion would strike, and how many days you’d be trapped for when it happened. My mom’s rule-of-thumb is to keep enough canned or dried food on hand to last each normal member of the household 8 months (I’ve never heard of the plows taking quite that long to clear the roads, even on PEI, but maybe things were different then). This might not be enough food should the sun be blotted from the sky and crops fail, but the important point is that it will last long enough that whoever sets up a temporary fortress in your house will probably have to move because the hordes have found them, and not because they ran out of a local supply of food. More selfishly, that’s probably enough food to let you hole up and wait for the fools that only stocked 6 months worth of food to start eating each other, significantly thinning the competition for resources before you have to resort to scavenging yourself.
  5. Post clear warning signs for haunted, cursed, or otherwise dangerous areas. If your vacation retreat just happens to lie overtop a fissure to hell, be sure to make a large warning sign to that effect, and post it at all entrances to your property. You would feel really bad if trespassing, fornicating teenagers accidentally let a drop of blood (or eww, other bodily fluids) touch the unholy ground and free the evil contained within. They would likewise be super-pissed if they were reading through your private journal later to find that you knew about it all along, which could leave you open to serious legal liability should any remnants of civilization remain.
  6. Fire. Fire is almost always a bonus, whether as a source of heat and light for survivors to cook by and tell stories, or to throw at relatively flammable plagues of insects or zombies. Always keep multiple sets of lighters and/or matches handy, as well as fuel. Wood is always a popular choice for a stationary fire, but something liquid or an aerosol will be needed if you find yourself in need of giving fire away, like a pretty orange present. Be careful though! You don’t want to accidentally drop a Molotov cocktail and burn down your only refuge against the darkness.
  7. Books. You may be amazed at the amount of data you can put on a hard drive, and you might love the interaction of a blog, but when the power’s gone, and an EMP has killed all the electronics, nothing beats a good book. You can do yourself and those that might take up residence in your house a huge favour by creating a small library of your own — books on how to serve man, make gunpowder from stuff you might find around the house, and how to rebuild society from the ground up will be in particular demand, as will first aid guides and human-alien translation dictionaries. It never hurts to have too many: those you don’t read you can always burn!
  8. A Shovel. We survived the dinosaurs by being small and living underground, and damnit, that’s the same strategy that will see us through the dragons and/or machine empires too. If you can build your existing house with several sub-surface levels, that’s probably the preferred solution, as you may also be able to pre-arrange for electricity and clean water with the right kind of infrastructure. Failing that, it’s always handy to keep a few shovels around. Be sure to call the gas company and mark out any nearby buried mains in advance, as they’re unlikely to answer the phone when the apocalypse comes. Even if you don’t take to subterranean life, the ability to dig holes is always handy for burying corpses, hiding treasure, and planting mines.
  9. Die a good death.Let’s face facts, folks: assuming the end times are not too horrific, we all want to be rugged survivalists. But by its very definition, the apocalypse is going to kill most of us off, one way or another. The odds overwhelmingly suggest that you are going to be one of the ones to die in the first massive wave signaling the end of human civilization. In the event of nuclear fire, natural disasters, or an alien invasion, it isn’t likely that you’ll have much say in how you find your death, nor is it likely to matter much. But if a plague of zombies strikes, do be sure to find a way to die without joining the ranks of the undead. Trust me, the last thing your friends want to do is bash in your brains and set your corpse on fire so you won’t eat them. I can’t say I’d follow my own advice if faced with the situation, but if you find yourself captured by killer robots, don’t spend the last few miserable weeks of your existence slaving away in their factories building more killer robots to finish off humanity — find a quicker, nobler death. Nobody, but nobody, wants to wake up moments before their own death to find they’ve been cocooned and an alien monstrosity is eating them from the inside out. Three words: self-destruct device. A switch you can activate with your tongue and a small amount of explosives either in your pockets or surgically implanted can give you the merciful death you’re probably moaning for right now without even knowing it, and also take a few of those sumbitches down with you.
  10. Stay sane. Seeing everyone and everything you ever loved vanish in a cloud of smoke or puddle of green ooze is extremely traumatizing, and it’s bound to play on the psyches of even the most grounded people. It’s ok if you go a little off the rails — some crying and screaming is par for the course. However, a group of people all losing their shit at once is never a pretty thing, and trust me, human sacrifice never makes it all better. While painting cryptic, taunting messages on the walls with your own blood (or ugh, other bodily fluids) can help relieve cabin fever when going outside means certain death, it’s not going to help the fragile psyches of the survivors that come across your decrepit lair. Even if the cake really is a lie.
  11. Alcohol ain’t for drinkin. I’m just saying, alcohol is far too valuable as a disinfectant and flammable liquid to go just drinking your cares away in the first few nights after the apocalypse arrives. Pip up there lad, it’s only the end of the world! A hard night of boozing won’t change the fact, and you could deprive yourself of dozens of good homemade bombs in the process! That goes doubly for those of you that will, of course, perish — the survivors care little for your temporary numbness, and your selfish attitude might cost them the war, whatever it happens to be against!

These are all points of common apocalyptic courtesy, but not many people are aware of them — after all, you really only ever get to live through one apocalypse. Even if you don’t survive, which is likely, you owe it to the remnants of humanity to make their job repopulating the planet as easy as possible.

Along with these rules are the common-sense ways to avoid the apocalypse in the first place, such as not building labs that study highly infectious alien zombie agents near (which includes under!) large population centres. It’s always important to have failsafes and backups: for instance, why not build two world-saving asteroid-smashing rockets? Or heck, ten — consider it an economic stimulus! Avoid single points of failure, especially where such a failure could destroy the world. Think: if your demon prison is powered by the moon, what’s your backup in the event of an eclipse? If only one man knows the call-back codes to your nuclear bombers that are already in the air, what happens if he has a stroke or goes totally batshit loco? If your invincible army of unstoppable sentient and ill-tempered robots only have one weak spot on their backs, why not do everyone a favour and paint it bright orange or make it flash?


3 Responses to “Apocalyptic Courtesy”

  1. wayfare Says:

    OMG you are so frightening. Self-destruct device?? With a switch you can activate with your tongue??? My love, you cut yourself with a butter knife making Rice Krispy squares. There’s no way you can be trusted with a tongue-activated detonation device.

  2. Potato Says:

    When the Swarm arrives and wants to put a liver-eating larvae in your chest cavity, talk to me then about who can and can’t be trusted with a self-destruct device.

  3. Netbug Says:

    I’m glad you got your paper published so you can now get back to writing important things like this.