The Last of Us: Apocalypse 101 – Rule #1, Cities Are Bad

December 27th, 2013

-Iggy Bigby

I never really liked living in a city. Too many people. Too many germs. Too many people with germs.

I guess I was right to be worried. People are already calling it “Outbreak Day”, which is kind of dumb. Why does history always give it’s biggest moments the silliest names? So self-serious. “The Plantdemic” was right there. Anyway, there’s a good chance writing this won’t matter. By the time anyone else gets their hands on it, “Outbreak Day” will either be in every history book or history books won’t exist.

I’m not really sure what’s happening, but it doesn’t feel good. It feels really bad, actually. It started with a few nerve-wracking headlines and flashing news tickers. But it was always so easy to ignore. I mean, who really pays attention to the news? None of it seems to matter until it’s changing your life. Then, oh boy, does it matter.

Alright, here it goes. The truth. Or at least what I’m pretty sure is the truth. Picture me clearing my throat here, for dramatic effect –

Most people are dead. The ones that aren’t are suffering.

That being said, momma didn’t raise no quitter. So, for the sake of my own sanity, and maybe yours, I’m putting together this little guide to surviving the apocalypse. “THE APOCALYPSE“, I can’t hardly believe it. Is this really the apocalypse? I don’t know. I’m just not really sure how long I’m gonna make it, and if I can’t make it, I hope someone else finds this and makes it themselves. Although, if I don’t make it, maybe this survival guide isn’t really worth reading? Fingers crossed.

Rule #1, Cities Are Bad

Spending my entire life surrounded by fields felt like a curse until it wasn’t. I grew up in New York, but not the part you’re thinking of. I’m from Western New York, where there’s room to roam. A couple years ago, when it was time to pick a college, I went with the University of Buffalo. Close to home, but far enough to feel independent. I had some friends ahead of me who already lived there. Plenty of things to do. It was safe. It made sense. It was densely populated.

I was supposed to graduate from college this semester. A big celebration. Years of hard work. I was only on campus for about a month before I noticed the chaos on every screen.


Remember when you learned about the Cordyceps fungus in high school? Of course, you don’t. It never happened. Literally, not a single person cared about Cordyceps, unless they loved ants. That, like the name “Outbreak Day”, was pretty stupid. Its whole thing is getting on the brain and growing until it takes over. Should have been a red flag. For the longest time, it only infected insects. Turned them into zombies, made their corpses move on their own. A fun YouTube video, at most.

Then, at some point this year (2013 if you’re keeping track)*, Cordyceps managed to evolve. It spread through contaminated food, like the worst case of salmonella you’ve ever had. It started infecting people, making them act all funny. They became violent and mindless. Tearing people apart. I’m not sure if they’ve been eating anyone, but I wouldn’t rule it out. The “Infected”, or whatever we end up calling them, are pretty hard to reason with.

On the morning of September 26th, this is what The Buffalo News had to say:

The Food and Drug Administration’s investigation of crops potentially tainted with mold continues across the country. Initial lists distributed to vendors nationwide warned against crops imported from South America, but now the scope has extended to include Central America and Mexico. Several companies have already voluntarily recalled their food products from the shelves.

Buffalo News

By nightfall, Channel 4 was claiming a 300% increase in area hospital admittance. By the next day, there weren’t many normal people left. There was a lot of screaming. Crashes and bangs. Fire. Tears. There’s always snow in Buffalo. I’ll never forget realizing the white flakes outside my window were ash.

I remember it all so clearly. I was supposed to get an apartment off-campus with a few friends, but that fell apart last minute. I was in the dorms. So compact. Every footstep felt like it was coming for me. Pure anxiety. If one person was infected, an entire hall was infected. Nowhere was safe. Nothing made sense. It was densely populated.

I was lucky enough to live on the second floor and fled out the window. Short drop, didn’t hurt. I could hear them screeching and banging on my door. Wood broke as I hit the ground. I ran until I couldn’t anymore. I’ve been held up in an abandoned wing of the school ever since. Looks like one of the janitors was doomsday prepping in his closet. Glad it worked out for one of us.

I haven’t seen my family since they dropped me off on campus. Cell service isn’t a thing anymore, so I have no idea if they’re alive. If they’re thinking about me, wondering the same thing. Downtown is too full of – whatever those are – to make an escape. I think I’m all alone at the moment, though sometimes I think I hear shuffling at night. I don’t sleep much.

Enough with the sad stuff, though.

I’ve decided the first session of “Apocalypse 101” is about cities. They’re bad. Don’t go to them. Don’t go anywhere with a lot of bodies. If you have supplies to survive in open spaces, stay where you are. If you found this note in the city of Buffalo, get the hell out. More people means a higher infection rate, and a much lower chance of you keeping your human brain.

Even what I’m doing right now isn’t sustainable. I need to be somewhere I can move, and I need a volleyball I can draw eyes on. Living by yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Good news, though. There’s a radio in here, and it just started picking up a military frequency. Only a little unsettling. Looks like they might be showing up soon, making UB a “Quarantine Zone”. Maybe I won’t have to keep this up very long after all…

(*I do intend to keep track)

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