Thoughts on post apocalypse

I was without internet for about three days, and I have to admit that’s pretty much how I felt.

Since I don’t spend too much time on social media (okay, okay, I hardly ever spend any), what annoyed me the most was that I couldn’t save my work on the cloud. And the fact that I couldn’t do any research for my work. Also, the fact I couldn’t reach out to other authors who write post apocalyptic horror, like The Darkening and arrange some cross promotions (you can find more about my book here, by the way).

However, it got me thinking as to how would our civilisation react to a scenario where the internet no longer worked. I tried to come up with a chain of events that could happen, and the reaction it would take from us to either carry on from where we stopped or start anew.

To carry on from where we stopped it would mean that we would have access to an alternative technology that already exists but has yet to be used (probably because of a more reliable, like the internet), and that the means to spread it to every country are also there and have not been affected by the collapse of the internet.

To start anew means that we’re talking about a possible post-apocalyptic case, the current civilisation has collapsed, and that it’s up to those who remain to create something new with what it would be available to them at the time. Availability here also includes knowledge and the means to pass it on to future generations.

Naturally, this led me to ponder on our dependency on technology to do even the most basic things (like talking to each other, for instance). I’m one of those who believe that if we were to experience an apocalyptic event that brought the end of every kind of advanced technology we currently have, not many of us would be able to pick up the pieces and carry on living in stone age conditions. Just imagine what our lives would be like without running water and electricity at our disposal. Without being able to properly heat our houses. The networks for electricity distribution and the water supply rely on the internet. Probably not the same as the one you and I use, but one that could be affected just the same. In an apocalyptic scenario, these are the first that would collapse. Then of course, there’s the banking system one has to consider, but I think lack of water and electricity would cause more chaos than the fall of the banks.

And of course, our medicine. We have a pill for nearly everything these days, and hardly ever do we rely on our own immune systems to do the job they were meant to do. I’m not a biologist, but I think this may have potentially weakened us. Just think of how many unseen things are in a glass of non purified water that runs from our taps. The word dysentery keeps popping into my mind.

I have no doubt that we would be able to scavenge from what was left and make do for a while, but what would happen after we ran out of things to scavenge and had to make new ones? Let’s say you need a new pan to cook your fish. How easy is it nowadays for you as a consumer to acquire a pan, and how easy is it to manufacture one these days? They probably come out of an assembly line by the thousands in record time (just guessing here, obviously). Would it be as easy if you had to mine the mineral, separate the impurities, melt it, mold it/shape it, then distribute it? How many of us here know how to do any of these things? The process is the same in both cases, but I believe that although our technology has made us the dominant species on Earth, our dependency on it and the ease it brings to our every day lives, has also become an obstacle and a hindering factor. And then one has to take into account the complexity in creating things, which is why we have specialised and trained people for almost everything. However, high level of knowledge in a field, means people know just the one field. Survival, requires more than one though.

What do you think would happen if one day the internet were to stop working completely? What would the chain of events be after that?

One step at a time

It’s been a little while, right? I apologise for that. 2018 was a year full of ups and downs, with things happening at an alarmingly fast pace. So much so that at times it was hard for me to keep up. Those of you who know me in person, know that I like things to happen slowly over time. But such is life; it rarely does our bidding. Which is probably why I write fiction, I guess. Anything can happen there.

Though I’m not a big fan of new year resolutions (in other words, I don’t like them at all), this year I decided to stick to at least one that I feel is extremely important to me: reduce my stress levels considerably and, in doing so, enjoy writing once again. Between publishing my début novel, The Darkening, dealing with family-related health issues, trying to learn new skills (anyone willing to teach a Photoshop newbie like me some things in record time?), and other things that life often throws our way, I neglected a lot of things that I shouldn’t have, but most importantly, I drifted away from much of social life.

So what are this year’s plans? First of all, acquire the necessary funds to publish book 1 of my upcoming cyberpunk trilogy, then publish said book. I have decided to worry about funding books 2 and 3 after book 1 has gone live. The reason for that is in part that I have not yet written books 2 and 3. Chances are that all three books will be funded, in part or full, through crowdfunding, assuming the campaigns are successful.

As for other plans… drum roll please…

I have started drafting book 2. I believe I have a solid story, as well as strong and interesting set of characters.

After that, I’ll start outlining book 3… for the sixth time (!!), since nothing seems to be good enough. Again, I’ll worry about that in due time.

10 things you’ll need to survive the apocalypse

It’s been a month since my debut post-apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening, hit the electronic and physical shelves (you can check it out here and here), and I’ve been looking into things that one should do to survive an apocalyptic event. Now, a few months back, I wrote a list with the 10 post apocalyptic scenarios most possible to happen. Inspired from these, I thought I should come up with a list of things one should do to be prepared for such an event.

Please note, though I have written a post apocalyptic novel, that does not mean I am a prepper, or that I have done or tried any of the following things. So don’t take my word for any of these. You see, I’m more like this:

Keep in mind that everything depends on the type of the apocalypse you’ll be dealing with, however, there are a few things that will prove helpful no matter what the scenario is. With the following list, I tried to take into account as many different scenarios as possible.

1. A satchel or backpack

Imagine this: something catastrophic happened a couple of days ago on the other side of the planet. The effects spread rapidly and are not too far away from where you live. Others have seen it too and are acting accordingly.

The local infrastructure is already ruined because… panic, and from whatever the effects of the apocalypse may be. You’re going to have to leave, but you should take some items with you. No, grocery store bags are not ideal for something like this. You need something to carry your gear, and it had better be something that will last you a long time. Bug out bags, as they’re often called, are lightweight and can carry provisions and items that you will need for the first couple of days. Some of them come pre-stocked with items like water purification tablets and other useful items. Make sure you keep it somewhere handy, and that its provisions have not expired.

2. Knife

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. Skin your food, hunt, or defend yourself out there. In an apocalyptic scenario, you’re not going to be the only survivor (hopefully). However, usually, when things get really ugly and resources necessary for survival become too scarce, people tend to look after themselves. Survival instincts and desperation kicks in. What you have and I don’t, I can try taking it from you. So make sure you keep your knife sharp.

3. Stormproof matches

I don’t know about you, but I suck at lighting fires. And I don’t mean trying to light a fire out there in the wilderness (Chris and the wild don’t mix together, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post). I’m talking about trying to get a fire going in a fireplace. If you’re like me, and for some reason you have yet to master evolutionary basics, like getting a fire going in a warm, summer day for a barbecue, imagine how much harder it will be to light a fire when it’s raining outside your shelter, you’re miserable, cold, and drenched to the bone from hunting the foul beast of Caerbannog in the rain.

Your hands are shaking. You strike the match, and just as it lights up, a gust of wind puts it out. Meanwhile, you’re still freezing, and you’re also one match shorter than before. Still no fire. Bet now you wish you had bought stormproof matches, huh?

4. Flint and steel

Eventually your stormproof matches will run out. Then what? Well, time to go old school. Flint and steel. I’ll leave the pros do the talking for this one, so watch the videos and mimic them.

If you want to know more about how to start a fire, you can check this site out. Please don’t do it in the middle of forests or in your homes, m’kay? This knowledge should only be used in case of emergency.

5. Flashlight

We take electricity for granted nowadays. Just over a century and a half ago, in some places, the streets at night were dark, and unless the sky was clear and the moon big enough to shine, you couldn’t see where you were going. Modern power grid requires constant monitoring and maintenance, so if an apocalyptic situation occurs and civilisation collapses around you, the power will be one of the first things to go. And if the scenario forces you to leave the city (assuming you live in one), you’re going to have to see where you’re going in order to avoid falling and breaking a bone. Make sure you have plenty of batteries with you, but bear in mind that they won’t last you forever. For that you may want to consider a solar-powered flashlight.

6. A compass

– Does it need batteries?
– No.
– Good. Will it save my life?
– Yes.
– Approved!

Seriously, if you have to travel and you’re miles away from any roads, or even if you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, a compass will save your life, provided you know the relative location of wherever it is you wish to go to with respect to your current general location (in other words, “I’m in Pennsylvania and I want to go to Florida. Florida is south of where I am now”). The only chance a compass will fail you, is if you fail yourself and mistake north for south, or if something happens to the Earth’s magnetic poles. Of course in the case of the Earth’s magnetic poles disappearing, going in the wrong direction would be the least of your worries…

7. First aid kit

Regardless of the apocalyptic scenario, if you’re one of the survivors, your primary objective is to keep yourself safe. Yes, our bodies can cope with a lot of things, but would you be willing to test your limits during an apocalypse? Potentially, even a scrape from a rusty piece of metal can be fatal, so do make sure you have a handy first aid kit with you. And keep it safe. Even if you’re Superman in disguise and viruses and diseases run away from you in terror, you can always use it to barter for something you don’t have. Not that I advise you to trade away your medical supplies.

8. Hard Currency

Speaking of bartering, remember the time when banks and politicians created money out of nothing and gave us all thin plastic cards that supposedly represented equal value to hard currency, like gold? Now let’s imagine a situation where the world’s banking system has collapsed. Power and telecommunications are also no more, so no internet or electricity. And you need food and water. Lucky you, there’s a store across the street with a couple of walking mountains-for-guards keeping an eye on things, that still has some food. Of course prices will be inflated, but who cares? You have your mighty plastic card! Gold or platinum coloured!

When was the last time you tried trading plastic strips (with fancy colours) for food or water or anything valuable? Mine was in kindergarten or maybe early elementary years. So, do consider grabbing and holding onto some hard currency. Gold, silver, jewels. Things you can actually barter with. Depending on the crisis at hand, food, water, or antibiotics may be even more precious than gold and silver. While we’re looking at alternative forms of currency, and if the apocalypse allows it, consider seeds from plants that bear fruits. Preferably not from genetically modified plants, since seeds from most of these cannot grow after a couple of harvests.

9. Warm and sturdy clothes

Imagine surviving whatever apocalypse befell the world, only to succumb to a cold or hypothermia. That would really suck. So, the next time you go to a shopping spree to buy the latest awesome and fashionable clothes, you may want to consider adding something less fashionable but more durable and warm.

 

Honourable mention

10. Guns

Yeah, that also goes without saying, however, how long will it be practical for? Assuming the apocalypse at hand is here to stay for the foreseeable future, how many bullets will you be able to carry around? And how much weight will that add to your backpack? What will you do with the gun once you have no more bullets? Throw it at the enemy? Maybe, if it’s heavy and reliable.

And there you have it, folks. Now, I tried my best to take something grim that potentially could scare a lot of people, and turn it into an enjoyable read. A lot of people take the end of the world seriously. Even if the end never comes during our lifetime, it’s always best to be prepared, right?

The hour of The Darkening is approaching

You’ve been following this blog for a while, and in a way it’s almost as if we’ve known each other for as long. And yet, most of you have never heard the sound of my voice. Or my accent. Ever. Hmm…

It also occurred to me that I haven’t shared the cover of my novel with you either, have I? A few weeks ago, I made a quick video where I was unboxing the proof copy of The Darkening.

There’s a video on Youtube where you can find out what I sound like AND get a glimpse of the cover for my post-apocalyptic horror novel, The Darkening. That’s two birds with one stone, right?

Enjoy!

Surviving the apocalypse – a cooking stove

It’s amazing what a writer can discover while researching for a book. Writing a post-apocalyptic story for the past few years made me look into the whole survival thing. Now, I’m not much of a survivalist myself. In fact, I’m such a city slicker, that I feel I’m in an alien and hostile environment even if I’m left in a park. You know, one of those big parks, with lots of trees and flying critters buzzing all around me. Chances are, after a couple of minutes there, you’ll probably see me running half crazy, arms flailing, and screaming in utter panic.

True story, by the way, on more than one occasion, but let’s not get into that right now, shall we? Moving on…

Even though I’m not too fond of nature (I think the right word is incompatible), I couldn’t help but timidly start researching things about survival in the wilderness (like a park). After all, you never know when an apocalyptic event will occur with you as one of the survivors. And yes, this includes a zombie apocalypse. You’ll still need to eat during a zombie apocalypse, wouldn’t you?

One of the first things I came across was a video that showed how to create a stove to cook food. Of course, that implies you already know how to capture your food, how to overcome any mental barriers you may have about killing your food (preferably before your food kills you – always a good idea to do things in that order), how to prepare your food for cooking, and other various important things for survival.

Now obviously I haven’t tried this at home, so in the case of an apocalypse, I can’t guarantee it won’t turn the world’s or humanity’s leftovers into cinders,

but it may be something that could help you survive. And yes, why not, have a party with your friends in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (word of advice: your plus one should NOT be muttering “brains” all the time and should NOT be part of the mindless horde. Nobody likes a party pooper). If you do want to try this, be mindful of any harmful and/or toxic substances that may or may not migrate to your food from the makeshift stove. On the other hand, if a zombie apocalypse occurs or fiery mushrooms of doom burn the atmosphere, toxic substances from your makeshift stove may be the least of your worries.

If only John Piscus, the main character in my debut novel, The Darkening, knew this… man, oh man!