June 19, 2020
You know when you’re in, like, middle school? And people are already asking if you want kids someday…
Well, maybe you don’t. At the time I’m writing this, it’s been the apocalypse for seven years and schools aren’t much of a thing anymore. If you’re reading my journal and schools are a thing again, that’s a great sign. Go us! If not, let me enlighten you.
Back when people like me were forced to receive an education, a good half of it was just adults asking us how we wanted to be adults. Or telling us how we should be adults. Or telling us how we couldn’t be adults. Ironically, kids were always a big topic. It was weird and sorta inappropriate and there was no way any of us could possibly give a real answer, but it did make us think.
Personally, I never thought I wanted kids. I had too many cousins and unrealistic dreams. No time for children. Once plant monsters started wiping out humanity it felt like any chance of starting a nice wee family was out the window anyway. Then I met Alex, and we were happy. As happy as we could be in a heavily guarded military Quarantine Zone.
Two peas in a pod, until the pod collapsed.
The QZ in Buffalo is no more. People had enough, and they tried revolting. Most of them are dead now. Their coup didn’t work, but it was noisy, and it distracted FEDRA agents long enough for a few curious infected to make their way past the walls. Alex and I saw it coming. We used his underground smuggling routes to escape unharmed, and honestly, we thought we were home free. On to overgrown pastures. We were in for a surprise.
There was a little one in the tunnels. Her cries were so loud. This is a survival guide, and truthfully, I should be telling you to move past crying children for the sake of your own life. But she looked so lost. Little blonde hairs shaking over the tears. We couldn’t leave her. Now she’s ours.
It’s been over a year, and I love her more than anything. Turns out I was right about being clueless in middle school. I am a kid person. We lost our pod, but we gained another pea.
Our little Sweet Pea.
And now that I have a family to protect, I’ve decided it’s time to bring back “Apocalypse 101”. We don’t have a QZ to protect us anymore. It’s just us, the infected, and a whole lotta land to traverse. No handouts. No rations. Nobody else holding the weapons for us. That means supplies, and knowing which ones to carry, are essential. If you don’t know what you need to make it, you won’t make it. Simple as that.
So, here it goes. I’d tell you to take notes, but you’re holding a journal, so that would be redundant.
Rule #27, Only Carry What You Need
A lot of surviving the apocalypse is sorta just doing really depressing arts and crafts. Most of what you need to make it out of sticky situations, you won’t find already intact. You’ll have to settle for grabbing parts and pieces, and learning how to put them together. That requires scavenging and braving unknown spaces. Looking for appliance hotspots like abandoned houses, grocery stores, pharmacies, and, depending on what you’re looking for, even the occasional toy shop.
By the time the QZ fell, Buffalo was pretty much entirely infected. Runners, Stalkers, and Clickers – oh my! We had to tip-toe everywhere we went. We crouched behind desks, shelving units, cars, trucks, and trees. Just to get out of the city. That was difficult, especially with Sweet Pea, but we did it. On the way, we gathered a pretty good sense of what was worth holding onto.
You can’t weigh yourself down too much. You never know when you’ll have to start sprinting, or when you’ll have to pull somebody across a flooded basement on a makeshift raft. (Sweet Pea can’t swim. It’s adorable when she asks for a push, but eventually, we’ll have to fix that). That means you probably shouldn’t grow attached to anything that won’t fit in a backpack or a strap on your shoulder. To simplify that, I’ll sum it all up in one rule.
Only carry what you need.
Food is obvious. Canned food is easy and usually still safe. Water, too. But I’m not here to break down the obvious. I’m more interested in pointing out things you might not be thinking about. For example,
- Bricks & Bottles – It sounds silly, but you should never be without something that can make a little noise and cause blunt-force trauma. As we’ve already covered, infected are nasty beasts, but if you’re resourceful enough you can use items like bricks and bottles to fend them off. If you’re hiding, and they’re coming too close for comfort, you can toss one to the side and lure those dumb-dumbs away. You can also bash them over the head and hope for the best. That goes for people, too.
- Binding – You will end up needing to bind objects together way more often than you anticipate. Whether it’s duct tape, sports wrap, or rope, you can use binding materials as a means of piecing together stuff for you – health kits – as well as stuff for others – Molotov cocktails. We’ll get to the specifics of weapons later, but if you’ve managed to strap a baseball bat, pipe, or wooden plank on the side of your pack (also great things to have!), you can use binds to strap sharp objects or sturdy reinforcements to them and give yourself a minor upgrade.
- Blades – When you think of blades, the first thing that may come to mind is stabbing people with them. If that’s the case, I hope I don’t see you in the apocalypse. Because, believe it or not, they have some other cool uses too. Collecting nails, manual shears, or jars of tacks will allow you to keep items held together even tighter than you could with binds. Also, yeah, you can use them to make nail and smoke bombs. And shivs. And put them on the end of a baseball bat for a bit of added punch.
- Cannisters – Cannisters hold things, so they’re useful. Duh! They’re also the perfect base item to make trap mines and stun bombs. Go figure.
- Alcohol – The average bottle of rubbing alcohol contains 99% isopropyl, and a full bottle of liquor is usually at least 40% alcohol. Those are really great numbers for lighting stuff on fire. You can use alcohol to craft those aforementioned Molotov cocktails, or you can use them for those handy dandy health kits. It’s great for clearing out infections*. If you’ve had a bad day, you can also use the liquor to blow off some steam. Getting drunk in unsafe places is not recommended, it could get you killed. That being said, whiskey is my favorite.
- Rags – Collecting materials like cloth is good for wiping away the dirt of everyday life and synching up wounds. Also, they light on fire. Love fire. Great for – (can you guess?) – Molotov cocktails.
- Sugar – Did you know that sugar is a key ingredient in smoke bombs? Well, it is! Not just a sweet treat for kids. Though, we do keep it away from Sweet Pea. That’s one kid who doesn’t need it.
- Explosives – Self-explanatory, but maybe not something at the forefront of your brain before reading this list. There’s a shocking amount of explosive powder and flammable fertilizer lying around cities and small towns. You’ll require these items if you wanna turn any of the previously mentioned bomb-positive supplies into, well – bombs.
Okay, moving on to the part you’re all waiting anxiously for…
Rule #27, Continued… Weapons!
It sucks, but weapons are a vital part of survival in the apocalypse. Everything out there wants to kill you and your loved ones, and you need a way to fight back. I count myself lucky I learned how to shoot on the QZ wall. I was able to teach Alex pretty quickly, and one day, we’ll have to teach Sweet Pea.
Unfortunately, I can’t teach you how to fire a gun, but I can teach you what guns you should have and what their best uses are. In my list of supplies, I mentioned it was useful to carry pipes and baseball bats as melee weapons. That stands. They might break after a few swings, but they’ll do more damage in two hits than your fists could do in twenty. I also mentioned shivs and knives. A knife will stick with you and is something you should never be without. Keep it in your boot, if you have to. A shiv is just as effective but isn’t worth much after a single use.
You might remember I discussed an array of bombs earlier. Admittedly, those are kinda fun when you’re using them on infected. As a personal treat, we’ll start with those, and then we’ll move to firearms.
- Smoke Bomb – The least deadly of the explosive devices. A smoke bomb will do damage up close, but its main function is camouflage. If you’re being attacked and you feel overwhelmed, set one off to confuse the heck out of the bad guys and scram.
- Nail Bomb – This one is devastating. It does the work of your typical bomb, blowing bodies to smithereens, but it’s got a real reach to it. When it goes off, it’ll shoot nails everywhere in the blast radius, tearing through flesh and giving your opponent a very small chance of staying alive.
- Molotov Cocktail – Fire! I stated in a previous journal entry that flames are wildly effective against infected. Of course, they work well on humans too. These are harder to make, but if you manage to find all the supplies needed to craft one, keep them. A well-placed Molotov will get you out of any jam.
- Trap Mine – Sorta like the nail bomb, but trickier. If you’re skilled enough to put one of these bad boys together, you can place it strategically around your area and lure enemies into it. Once they cross the trip, it’s off to never neverland.
NOTE: All bombs can be used strategically. Throw a bottle, get your opponents where you want them, and then BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE. Just make sure you’re not in the line of fire. Alex worries I enjoy this too much but, hey, something’s gotta keep you entertained in a post-RuPaul world. (I wonder if RuPaul is still out there?)
- Pistols – The most common form of gun you’ll find lying in drawers and safes are pistols. In terms of guns people carry on them, pistols are up there. They fit in bags, purses, pouches, etc. A revolver is what you’ll see the most of, and that works fine. In military zones, you may also chance upon a semi-automatic. More bullets, and bodies, dropping in less time. These guns kill basically all people and Runners in a few shots but aren’t ideal against armored enemies. For the heavier grunts, you’ll want something like the “El Diablo”. It has a scope, and it’s powerful. Armor piercing. Fewer shots, more bang for your buck.
- Shotguns – I know I said we’d avoid the obvious, but this one is fairly obvious. Shotguns do massive amounts of damage, but they’re only useful in close proximity. Not a lot of range. Don’t rely on them unless you’re comfortable looking death in the eye.
- Snipers – Similar to shotguns, these are really only practical in specific situations. If you’re pinned on a roof and see one lying around, it’s perfect. Usually, you’ll know to grab one after you kill someone else who was just using it. The only time they’re good in a quick-time event is Bloaters. Snipers are great at hurting Bloaters.
- Rifles – These come in two main forms – bolt-action, and assault. The former is primarily for armored enemies and the latter for large groups. Powerful precision shots, or mowing down the worst of the worst.
- Flamethrower – More fire! Same usage as the Molotov cocktail, just a little more controlled and with a longer reach. Very heavy, I wouldn’t recommend carrying this for longer than is absolutely needed.
- Bow – Alex is great with one of these. I hope he teaches Sweet Pea how to use one someday. Perfect for hunting (rifles are too), so they have a practical use other than just defense, and extremely quiet. If you’re good with one of these, never let it go. They supply food and death from above, and you can use them without alerting anyone to your presence. Ideal for the end of days.
I hope this list keeps you and your loved ones alive. It’s helped me, Alex, and Sweet Pea so far. I’m not religious, but I’ve been praying lately. Praying that what I’m doing here keeps families intact. Mine, especially. I haven’t had a family since, uh, since I lost contact in 2013. It feels so strange to have people I want to protect again. It gives me purpose. I hope you have purpose, too.
*(I should note it doesn’t work on the kind of infection that turns you into a mold zombie. If you contract that, you should just have someone put you down…)