TEotWaWKI Journal: Somebody That I Used to Know
I saw Johnny Kim today. His impeccable hair maintained even after death. How does he do that?
We were friends with enough touch points to keep in contact year round, but were never really that close.
His wife is hot. Is or was? I’m guessing past tense. We’re near his home. If they got him, they got her, and the kids, too, probably. (What about mine? Will I ever know?)
He wandered out there with only a few others. Should I have killed him? Is kill the right word? I don’t feel guilty. The world is certainly better off without Johnny and his crew.
I dropped out the tree in which I was enjoying my lunch, perfect array of branches that let me rest comfortably, and adjusted my bandana and goggles to guard against splatter. I aimed to sneak up behind Johnny, not out of fear, I’ve handled this number before, I just didn’t want to see his face when I did it.
I tripped him from behind. Not very sporting, I suppose. With a foot on his back, I took a golf swing with my axe. It is true, he did have a lot of brains. His mates turned when they heard. I took my time with them, practiced some new techniques.
Did I do you a favor, Johnny? Are you in a position to care? It’s not as bad as I should have thought. Still, would rather avoid meeting more I know. Knew.
TEotWaWKI TV Review: The Colony
Aired on the Discovery Channel
I was jonesing for more Walking Dead after I finished watching season 3. I couldn’t wait for season 4, so in desperation, I followed the “More like…” links and stumbled upon this TV show. It’s a reality series that aired before the outbreak. Each season confronted the participants with an end of the world scenario (unknown catastrophe in Season 1, disease in Season 2) and set them loose. I went in with very low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I’m shocked that I haven’t heard more about this and that it lasted only two seasons.
Before I set forth on a glowing review, let me get the negative out of the way:
Too many useful people on each team.
In season 1, the least useful person was the marine biologists and I’d still want her on my team. At least in season 2 they had a fashion model who was mostly useless. In real life, out of 10 people, you’d be doing good if 2 of them had useful skills and no more than 5 were dead weight.
The show glosses over the team formation stage.
I cannot blame the show for this, you have to have a good group to make for interesting TV. In real life, though, the team formation stage is the most critical. Many times teams fell apart or were dysfunctional. The bonding that happens (or not) on first contact is very important. I did like that they subjected the participants to sleep deprivation, hunger and other taxing situations before the show started.
I wish my TEotWaWKI experience was sponsored by Harbor Freight.
This is a Season 1 issue. It seamed like when they needed a tool, a Harbor Freight labelled crate containing the object just happened to be laying around. At least in the second season, they had to do some serious foraging to find their tools.
These are nitpicks. This show is informative, teaches many helpful skills and it was dramatic. Yes, I know this is a staged show and that the participants are truly not in danger (well maybe not, I read that season 3 has been postponed due to the death of a participant), but some of the emotional scenes ring true with me. Here’s why you should watch the show:
How to establish a fresh water supply
As Mr. Grylls showed us in his Man vs. Wild series, fresh water is a key ingredient to survival. Both seasons showed the participants initially struggling with this. Where do you find it? How do you get it back to the shelter? Once there, how do you make it safe to drink? The answer to that last question alone makes this show worthwhile.
How to generate electricity
To electrify or not was a source for debate throughout TEotWaWKI. The infrastructure needed even for a minimal flow of current mitigates against mobility. It doesn’t make sense if your shelter will be temporary and your mode of transportation is by foot or bike. Also, if you’re able to scrounge supplies and aren’t making things from scratch, your demand for juice won’t be as strong. When you do find yourself in a situation requiring a regular supply, though, both seasons demonstrate how you can create your own and store it.
How to work with butt-heads
Michael from Season 1 is a classic case. He is defensive and quick to see insult in just about everything you say. It would be tempting to give him the boot. But he has an array of skills that would be most useful. Suck it up and see what you can do to put those like him at ease.
These are just a few. They also cover food gathering, security and other useful tidbits. And let me reiterate the drama. From losing team members to the stress from hunger and sleep deprivation, this is good TV.
TEotWaWKI Movie Review: Ever Since the World Ended
Directed by Calum Grant and Joshua Atesh Litle
This is an independent movie about the survivors rebuilding life in the San Francisco area. It is a well-written and haunting story. While it posits a plague as the agent of TEotWaWKI, the lessons and outcomes are universal.
The Generational Gap
Every time someone else’s parent starts telling me about the past, they start crying. That’s bullshit. I don’t wanna hear your sob stories, I’ve been living with them. It’s almost like you adults are the kids now. They want it the way it was. I think it’s a bunch of fucking adults who are still strung out on the idea of what the world used to be. Personally, it’s over, if you ask me.
With each passing year, the percentage of people with no memory of Before increases. This is bound to have a serious impact on society. When the last of us are gone, the end of the world will be just another story in the history books.
Who’s going to give up their time to watch this guy?
Exile now seems to make sense, not like the vague concept it was Before. With so few people left, jail guard duty is a waste, a huge opportunity cost. The demand for the death penalty is stronger now.
No Leeway for Bad Luck
It seems more real than it ever did before, more vivid. Before in the world there was so much going on that you were bathed in noise and constant input. There are so few people left that when someone dies, they really die, the silence is that much more profound. But you’re used to it.
In this story, someone dies of an infected gunshot wound to the leg, mention is made of a burst appendix. The little shit can get you now. With so few of us left, each is a serious loss. This is why I have such misgivings about the death penalty.
TEotWaWKI Journal: Wreck on the Highway
Looking back through my journal of the time from outbreak through that first winter has been a difficult task. So much pain and misery. However, I remember this morning with a bit of fondness. I woke up from my first real sleep since the SHTF.
The buildings soak in the rays of the rising sun, reflecting back on my billboard perch across the road. The arches, the red-headed little girl and the ubiquitous source of caffeine. I hate the sameness of fast food architecture, but today it gives me comfort. The memory of my boys whooping it up at an indoor play place, the half eaten cheese burger instantly forgotten; the early mornings before work, when I’d be the only customer and could hear the staccato Spanish ricocheting from the kitchen.
Those buildings look like they’re ready to greet the day’s customers, but none will be coming. None who I can see, anyways. There are a few zombies moving about like pinballs unsure which way is down, but no one else. There certainly were, though, and not too long ago.
The cars tell the story, map the river bed of the highway that separates those buildings from me. Jammed together, some driven off to the side, run out of gas or vainly trying to bypass everyone else. They would have been smart to just stay put inside, locking the doors, hunkered down. Appears like most got out and hoofed it. Most, but not all. I see a few cars rocking, a zed caught inside, I’m sure. Well I won’t come a knocking.
Glad I wasn’t here to witness it. I’ve seen enough already. Could use a sausage, egg and cheese, though. Will have to settle for beef jerky and some raisins.
Trenton was a mess. I’m not far from Philly, which is probably worse.
How much longer until I get home?
Yucked by Star Wars
What in the hell does Star Wars have to do with food? Let me explain.
It is too easy to mock these movies. The acting is so wooden and the writing stilted that it’s not much of a challenge to pick it apart. But there’s got to be more to it than that. There are poorly made movies that I still enjoy despite their flaws. For the longest time I couldn’t put my finger on what was truly wrong with Star Wars.
Then it hit me while I was watching Stake Land. (This is actually a pretty good movie, I don’t mean to damn it by including it with Star Wars.) There’s a scene, very brief with no dialogue, only the sound track playing, in which we see the characters sharing a meal. It cemented their bonds and filled me with warm fuzzy feelings despite it being a world over run by zombie-like vampires. IT FELT GOOD! That’s what’s missing from Star Wars.
I can only recall two scenes in any of the six movies where you see someone eat. Once in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke visits Yoda in his hut. Though hungry, the young Jedi cannot seem to stomach the bowl of whatever Yoda served. Not very encouraging. The other instance is in The Return of the Jedi when Leia shares a candy bar with an Ewok. Close, but not enough.
Thing is, a good scene with food is not hard to do. In the first episode of the greatest TV show ever, Firefly, you just know that fresh fruit is hard to come by, and there’s Kaylee with a dearly bought strawberry, clearly enjoying it. Again, a short scene, but it conveys so much. This is what’s missing from Star Wars: the sensuousness of food and how it can bind characters together in a meaningful, believable way. If you can see characters letting down their hair, talking frankly while emphasizing a point with a chicken leg, you can believe that they just might take down a galactic empire. A jug of an Italian red table wine with that couldn’t hurt.
Literary Feasts: Eastern Inferno
The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front, 1941-43 by Hans Roth, Christine Alexander (editor) and Mason Kunz (editor)
When you’re very hungry, the simple things taste great. When you’re frequently hungry, such opportunities take on an almost religious significance, like this devotion to a piece of toast.
And now it is time for toasted bread. Our stove has reached the right temperature and now the pleasant ceremony of the soldier starts. We cut large slices of the dark bread and place it on a plate in the stove. The slices turn brown and crispy; the unforgettable smell of the bread fills the cramped space of the bunker. It is a smell which reminds us of long lost days, of the coziness and the pleasantness of the world. There are many ways to toast the bread, which permits you to distinguish the characteristics of the people in the bunker: the greedy person, the easy person, the unconcerned person, and apathetic person. The experienced toaster is patient, but will start dreaming when he stands at the stove and becomes distracted from the bitter reality, if only for a short time.
Much of the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was fought during the bitter Russian winters. Surviving in such conditions burns lots of calories, so you are constantly hungry. It didn’t help that usually when it was needed most, food was scarce. This reverence for the humble slice of bread is unsurprising.
The TEotWaWKI Journal
Found my journals that I kept starting right after the outbreak until things finally calmed down. It’s difficult to re-read this: so much misery, so many things I’d’ve done different. As I comb through this, I’ll post the interesting bits.
A TEotWaWKI Short Story: The Hungry Season
The old man cranes as far back as his stiff neck will allow to watch the V of geese fly north, honking all the way to the horizon. There are only a fews days a year like this, perfect for the hunt. Enough wind to bring the scent, not so much to cover the groans. It dipped below freezing last night, yet warmed up sufficiently to get the prey moving again.
He turns his attention back to the dog. No commands are needed as the man slowly walks into the forrest’s verge, the dog moving back and forth a little ways ahead. Deeper into the woods, the dog picks up a scent and stops. The prey comes stumbling out of the shadows, letting loose a throaty moan. Again, no commands as the dog leads the quarry obliquely across his line of sight. The old man raises his rifle and takes aim. Exhales. Slowly squeezes the trigger. A rose blooms square in the forehead. It’s a kill.
Only then does he allow himself to appreciate her long, blonde hair and blue eyes.
The building doesn’t have a sign, not like the old days when marketing was king. It’s a sturdy cube, probably a Mexican restaurant before the war since it looks vaguely like the Alamo.
The old man guides his truck to its usual spot in a gale of dust. The dog follows him inside.
“Got a fresh one this mornin’, Sheriff.” He signals the bartender.
“Crap!” Burns himself with spilt coffee. “I didn’t hear the alarm go out. Who do we have mobilized?”
“No one, it’s not an outbreak. Hey, Dan, what’s the special today?”
“Gotta make do with what we have, Bill. Baked some nice crusty bread to go with it, though.” He pulls two drafts, the first one in a bowl for the dog.
The lawman bangs his fist on the bar. “OK, time out, Colonel, I think a possible outbreak is far more important than your damned supper, sir.”
“Sorry, yes, I found her out at the end of Willis Ford Road. Scoured the woods, we found nothing.” In an aside, “Get me a bowl with lots of bread.” Louder, “I think it was just a case of bad luck. Look, I got her picture.”
“It, goddammit, Bill. Don’t humanize the thing, it’s hard enough putting them down without–” he glances at the phone, “Oh, fuck me, that’s Deena, LuAnn’s kid.” With head in hands, “I hate this job. She filed a missing persons report last night. I told her the girl probably ran off with her boyfriend.”
“Sheriff, I can have my wife break the news to LuAnn, they’re cousins.”
“No, no,” he sighs, “Thanks, Dan. I appreciate it, We’ll take care of it. Need to figure out how the kid got infected. Colonel, tell me you didn’t burn the body.”
“Nope, I alerted the ME to send some boys out to retrieve her. ” The old man’s thirst is great tonight, he quickly signals for a refill. “Myra said she’d give me a call once she’s had a look.”
Dan slides the steaming bowl, “If it’s not an outbreak, how in the hell did the girl get infected?”
“Good question,” the old man says through a mouthful of bread. “Perhaps she was hunting blackberries and stumbled on a twitcher.”
“I thought you said there’s nothing out there,” the Sheriff clearly irked.
Bill puts his spoon down, “Listen, I said I didn’t find anything. That doesn’t mean there ain’t something 10 years old out there, unable to move, just a pair of jaws in a bramble somewhere, waiting to snare passing flesh.”
His phone vibrates across the bar, rattling his fork. “Yes? OK, I’ll be there. Give me about 15 minutes.” He shovels 3 quick spoonfuls into his mouth. “The zed’s on the slab, ready for an examination. Care to come with me?”
The Sheriff mulls for a second, “This is still an Undead Control case, right?”
“Unless the ME brings something to light, it is.”
“Well, I’d like to help, but I better talk to LuAnn first.” The lawman returns to his coffee.
“Sure thing,” he leaves some bills on the bar and turns to head out.
“You coming back tonight? We’re going to tap our first batch of bourbon.”
“Count me in,” said the old man.
The woman is dressed as if for a trip to the moon. You can’t be too safe.
The old man sports only a face mask and that just to mask the stench. He doesn’t get too close, though.
“Well, she’s definitely a zombie.”
He recrosses his arms and arches an eyebrow.
“I know, I didn’t need to tell you that. Look here, though, this is where the infection started.” The doctor lifts up the right shoulder to show the back of the upper arm. “Chewed right down to the bone.”
“So it was a twitcher.”
“Yes. The DNA in the virus shows first generation. She got bit by an old one. Also, the nature of the wound indicates she was unconscious.”
The door bangs open, announcing the Sheriff’s entry.
“Nice shiner,” jabs the old man.
“LuAnn was understandably unhappy.”
The doctor looking up from her work, “Sheriff, not a good idea to be in here with an open wound.”
“I’ll just stay over here. What did I miss.”
“Not much beyond the obvious, I was just about to point out that this may be a case for you.” Both men edge closer.
“As I was saying, bruising around her neck is consistent with strangulation. There’s still some residual heat in her core. I’d guess time of infection was within 24 hours and reanimation within 6.”
“Never heard of a twitcher grabbing with its hands.”
“Well no, but another human, eh?” The Doctor lifts up the other arm to show additional bruising. “These are classic marks of an abuse victim. What do you know about this girl, Sheriff?”
“Only what LuAnn told me. She was none too happy with the boyfriend and quite frustrated that Deana couldn’t see through him.”
“So is that a positive ID?”
“Yes, I showed LuAnn the picture Bill took of her. Well, a part of it. This is definitely Deena Lynne Martin.”
The old man leans in, “So, doc, how do you see this playing out?”
“Well, this is just speculation until I can analyze additional material, but it appears she lost consciousness due to strangling and was thought to be dead. A vehicle would have been needed to cart her body out to those woods. It was pure dumb luck that she was dumped near a twitcher. It’s also clear that she had been killed, she would not have animated.” The doctor begins to clean up.
“I’d say we better find that boyfriend of hers, Sheriff.”
“We? You still in this even though it’s back in my jurisdiction?”
“I want to see this finished, that’s all.” The old man grabs his hat. “So where can we find him?”
“He’s vacated his place, packed up and gone according to the landlord. I’m guessing he’s heading west, to get lost in the mountains. I put the word out. We should hear something soon.” The law man nods towards the doctor. “Thanks, Myra.”
“No problem, just let me know if you find a crime scene.”
The patrol car growls to a stop next to the faded yellow arches, across the street from the motel. He watches as the well used pick-up truck pulls into a spot outside the front desk, as if to check in.
The old man is inside for just a minute or two. He tips his hat as he comes back out: Yup, the boyfriend is here. The Sheriff checks his piece one more time, then holsters it as he gets out.
He looks both ways before crossing, old habits die hard, and trots over. The old man has his eyes closed, breathing slowly and deeply. He’s been through this before, knows the routine and sticks with it.
As the Sheriff raises his hand to knock on the door, a six inch hole explodes out of its center, throwing him back several feet. And another one takes out the door knob, sending the old man scrambling to get away.
The sound of another round being shucked slips out of the room. The old man goes to a knee and readies. What remains of the door flies open and then disintegrates. The shotgun’s barrel leading the man taking his last steps.
The old man let the sip of the bourbon linger on his tongue. He stares at the glass, nods, then puts it back on the table.
“I didn’t want it to end this way,” says the old man, exhaling.
“What? That I survived?” The Sheriff winces as he signals the bartender for two more fingers.
“Of course not. I’ve resigned myself to being stuck with you for quite some time to come. I’d rather that the boy didn’t have to die.”
“You had no choice, besides, this is the best possible outcome,” responds the sheriff.
“How can you say that? There’s so few of us left that the loss of even a lowlife like him cannot be a good thing.” The old man takes another sip and savors it for a while.
“I doubt the boy would have been thinking the same thing had he been able to get a bead on you.”
The bourbon slides smoothly down his throat, tracing lines as it warms everything it touches. “I don’t doubt that at all.” The old man digs into the bowl of peanuts. “What in the hell were you thinking, just walking up to the door like that. Don’t you remember anything from your academy days?”
“You do realize I wasn’t a cop Before.”
“Fair enough. I wasn’t in the military Before, either.”
The silence stretches, but comfortably so, “Good thing that vest of yours didn’t have an expiration date.”
“Funny thing is, it did, about a year back.”
“That is funny.” The old man leans forward. “Well, here’s to Deena, rest in peace.”
The glasses clink.
FEMA Offers Zombie Preparedness Seminar
I recommend signing up: Zombie Awareness: Effective Practices in Promoting Disaster Preparedness
TEotWaWKI False Alert: LQP-79 Virus not cause of Miami Outbreak
This just in from SNOPES:
You may stand down.