Authors: Ron Foster
Doing The Apocalypse Shuffle
© 2015 by Ron Foster
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
My dear coconspirator Pat Lambert
Start The Dance
This sure wasn’t any vacation that Farley was going on, but to his way of thinking it felt just like one. A pleasurable one at that! So far this mostly fun day spent with fellow survivors had been pretty good. This evening was probably the closest thing to a real vacation that he would ever experience in this grimy grid down world. New friends and new hopes in the form of a vacant lake cabin for his use welcomed him. The day for him didn’t start out this way though; no, it hadn’t started out for him very well at all.
Farley had got up early this morning on the far side of the lake after a fitful night’s sleep. He rose just as the sun came up and his waking moments had been filled with angst, dread and remorse. He knew that most of these bad feelings and thoughts that were weighing heavy on his over stressed mind stemmed from his apprehensions and emotions about his bleak and uncertain future as a lowly “Bugged Out of the City” survivor. It wasn’t just the disaster that had him down in the dumps; it was also the problems aplenty that he had somehow managed to find for himself on his way down here. It was not death that bothered him so much, but the dying which could be terrible. A few close calls and one major altercation had pretty much set him on edge already and speculating about what he might need to duck or dodge today in order to survive needled at his resolve.
A few days earlier Farley had been forced to leave his home for good, never to return. This decision was brought on because of the many dangers of societal breakdown and mayhem in the city. When he cranked up his van early one auspicious morning to leave this putrid hell hole, he had just the thoughts of plain escapism survival and moving his preps on his mind. He had not even considered or thought much about, let alone done any planning for being inadvertently and hazardously broke down on the side of a side of a back road all alone, out of gas and out of luck, but it had happened. Now he had managed to overcome the gas problem, well partially anyway. He had just enough hard won fuel now to move himself and his goods another 60 miles further on maybe and he had rejoiced at being mobile once more. However he still found himself struggling with the notion that he seemed to be taking the road to “anywhere” just as long as it led him away from the dangers of where he had been formerly staying.
Well “the road to anywhere” wasn’t exactly quite a true or an accurate statement to be making. He had originally had in mind an actual specifically defined place that he had deliberated on to bug out to. However, he had not arrived yet because he had relied on bad memory and directions had gotten him confused and turned around by detours and road blockages and unfortunately run out of gas much earlier than he had planned on early in this adventure. The worst part about all this that put the icing on the cake was that he still basically had no way of knowing that he even had himself a home to call his own and move into whenever, or if ever, he managed to finally find his way to his ill defined and partially forgotten destination.
You see, Farley kind of undertook this little get out of the city crazy mission with not much more than a poke and a wishful hope to accomplish bugging out to the lake with all his supplies and himself intact. That geographic area he had once visited on vacation seemed like the best choice to get to for his immanent survival so not much else planning wise was considered by him of outcomes, other than his overwhelming desire to leave a bunch of crazy starving folks in the city far behind.
That he needed to leave right then and not wait any longer to go somewhere far away and safer was evident because the city and the society that had once lived in it had pretty much hung on to the precipice of remaining civility about as long as it could. With wanton and vicious violence beginning to become even more prevalently brutal, uncontrolled fires began raging here and there more frequently in the suburbs. It wasn’t a choice of holding out and bugging in anymore, now he had to leave. The city that remained smoldering behind him was nothing more than a place of misery, sickness, brutality, destruction, terror, starvation and death.
He had figured wisely and rightly so that there was no other choice for him but to choose to go down the preppers highway of calculated or misguided hopes and find new digs for himself and his preps because to stay in the city meant for him to die a burning or sudden violent death. He didn’t need to see the whole staircase to be encouraged to take the first step. He only wanted to be at least two steps out the backdoor before death started knocking at his front door.
He had no doubts in his mind that “bugging out” for most people was nothing more than a suicide mission and that undertaking such a road trip only worked as an inevitable delay to their ultimate and untimely demise.
For far too many preppers thinking of undertaking such foolishness, they didn’t realize these trips to unsettled areas would only result in them being racked with despair, fatigue and disappointment and would buy them little time. Death by starvation is slow. Death by foolishness or bad judgment can arrange for you to meet your maker much sooner.
There were many people in this world who had learned these lessons the hard way and for most of the unprepared civilian majority there was only death to look forward to.
Not very many people will consider that these emotions that you might feel in a bugged out situation could affect your survivability sharply. All too often these emotions can eventually turn into an all encompassing feeling of hopelessness for some, they find themselves wanting to give up or say to themselves ‘is this effort worth it’ or question themselves if they are up for the task.
People with alleged stronger psyches might also find themselves trying to contain unwarranted rages that sought to misguide them, they may harm themselves or others by lack of patience or by lashing out at the problem instead of calmly assessing a situation. All these thing need to be considered. Vigilantism will occur and many will forget this old adage.
“Hunger makes a thief of any man.” Pearl S. Buck
However for himself he held out a lot of hope to enjoy a much better fate. He considered that for him with a bit of luck, maybe some divine intervention and his own studious application of a vast array of hard won survival wisdom and skills along with the preps he had access to, that his chances of living out his days much longer than most of the humanity he had left far behind were pretty good. He damn sure didn’t want to be around when the cannibals he suspected must exist these days started starving. No, he had hauled ass out and never looked back.
There were now more dead people in the city than the living and those numbers were steadily increasing in the countryside as the grim reaper and the savage remnants of civilization collided. The functioning and adaptable living had been getting rarer and scarcer for weeks now and those still hanging on were getting meaner and more desperate and despicable by the day. To be a true survivor, knowing change is the only constant, you must be adaptable to survive. Women tried to sell their bodies, gangs formed and warred, children and pets went missing, rape, brutality and murder was the order of the day.
Food was more than scarce, it was unobtainable. There was nobody left to trade with, only other people to die with. Death doesn't bargain, death is when the monsters or marauders get at you. Death wasn’t going to get next to him so easy though, not without a fight and not without a long sweaty run for the money he had decided a long time ago.
Farley had prepared for various disasters and practiced his preparedness skills to escape and evade death as best he could and for as long as he could for quite some time now. Matter of fact, you might want to say that he had kind of dedicated a pretty big part of his life to just that premise of surviving, both before, during and now he believed forever, after the solar storm that had taken the electrical grid down.
Farley was what you would call a dyed in the wool prepper; he had been an old prepper both in spirit and in practice long before the term or vernacular was ever coined or became popular. He had prepared himself mentally for the challenges he expected if a long duration calamity occurred and he had also invested his meager resources to buying physical and tangible resources to help him overcome adversity.
He had accumulated and experimented with various kinds of bug out bags and all the gear he now had stowed in his van as both a hobby as well as an edge to surviving the apocalypse that he evidently foresaw a reasonable chance of happening. He had managed to put together for himself over the years a decent food storage plan and when it came to whosy-what’s it survival gear he had lots of it.
He laughed to himself about his childhood memories of how the corny old timey cartoons he had grown up with once showed that a bug out bag for that depression era for travelers who were down on their luck back then had resembled a Hobo’s stick with a bandana of goods tied to one end of it. What was supposed to be carried about in one of those handkerchiefs anyway?
Then as his mind moved on, he also considered the fanciful black and white mental pictures of all those western movies that he had watched glued to the TV set, of saddle bags, cowboy hats, six guns and repeater rifles along with a bedroll carried on the back of every horse going west of the Pecos for the riders to overcome Indians and outlaws as they set out on adventures. Those were simpler times and it was easier to tell the bad guys from the good guys as well as you got a lesson in discerning what was right from wrong by the color of their hats. Male heroes that were bigger than life, great actresses of compassion, wit and fortitude.
The occasional big screen film reference or classic book allusion sometimes came to his mind of the great mountain men who helped settle and explore this country. Stories about the groups of Hudson Bay Fur trappers and the gold miners heading north in 1886 further expanded his whimsical imagination of setting off to the forests and mountains with nothing more than maybe a pack mule full of supplies and an odd character of questionable repute to share the adventure with.
Maybe they had thought to bring along on their journey a buckboard or a sturdy wooden wagon with them to bring back a bounty of gold and riches they had found come spring time when they could travel after the snow melted. A Conestoga wagon would have been even better; ah, the rolling land ships of the Great Plains and the western pioneers! Farley wished he had a set up like that, a canvas covered old time RV, all provisioned with food and tools along with a team of strong horses to pull it! Hell yeah! That sounded great about right now! Damn sure would be more civilized to be heading off to the great unknown with a group of dedicated 1800’s people sharing goods and dangers in the wilds of America than trying to navigate the same spaces alone in a modern 21
century post apocalyptic world.
Oh, those sure were indeed some memorable and glorious times of watching historical legends and Hollywood hype conditioned for the silver screen, he knew. Tales that screenwriters produced then were mostly meant to be just for Saturday matinee entertainment and followed censorship that ignored the hard living and dying facts of the rewritten text books of the times. Farley knew most of the information of this spaghetti western era of filmmaking was inaccurate but these memories had formed his childhood and fired up his boyhood imagination.
So did, without a doubt, the ever encroaching current realities of true survival hunting and trapping he needed to be remembering now. The adolescent pleasures of fishing and camping in the woods were blurry but sparked a grin thinking about where it was a daily occurrence for young boys and lots of young girls to go entertain themselves in the woods happily all day long living out and performing for themselves the imaginary adventures of every Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone Walt Disney film or TV show ever made.
What a lot of those movies didn’t teach preppers or kids about then or now was that frontiersmen depended more on their survival skills than their guns to feed themselves. No amount of purchased gear can insure you survive, only knowledge.
As a youth if you were lucky, you learned rather quickly in the Deep South just what worked for wood lore or fishing knowledge and what didn’t. Could be if you forgot that something only worked in Hollywood movies or somewhere in your own over active imagination you managed to survive without any major trauma. In Farley’s day this meant that hopefully nature or some kindly old Uncle would take you under his wing and like it or not was often around to take you aside and straighten you out if you were lucky enough. Could be you learned because you had been wisely listening to advice from those that had done and did or you found yourself heeding signs and warnings from natural events to avoid pitfalls. Didn’t matter, you learned somehow.
You survived and hopefully didn’t wear any scars from the experience of living life and avoiding the dangers of the woods and didn’t mind passing it along to younger brothers and sisters.