Surviving

I always had an interest in what I now know to be called survivalism. Maybe it was a yearning to be independent, or a desire to be ready for the life struggle that lay ahead. In my childhood fantasies I was stranded alone on a desert island, or maybe in a jungle. Or perhaps I was the lone survivor after a huge natural disaster, a nuclear war, an alien invasion, or a zombie apocalypse (in that version I was obviously well tooled up with guns and stuff).

As I got older, and especially after I read Emergency by Neil Strauss, I began to realize that there didn’t have to be an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse. Anything that knocks out the main power grid for longer than a few days would bring about the end of the world as we know it pretty damn quickly.

What would we do without an electricity supply?

When I was a kid I was a cub scout, and especially enjoyed rummaging around in forests and lighting fires. Tying all those knots was a pain in the ass, though. I also joined army cadets, which was a bit of a waste of time. When I was a teenager I put together a ‘survival kit,’ consisting of a fishing line and hooks, matches, razor blade, some chocolate and several Oxo cubes. I must have liked Oxo cubes at the time. I remember having a phase where I would make hot drinks out of them. As a bonus, they also fit neatly into my tin.

After seeing the film Rambo: First Blood Part II I persuaded my parents by me one of those ‘Rambo’ knives with a serrated edge and a compass on the handle. They were dubious at first because I didn’t have a good track record with knives. Once I cut my finger open with an old Gurkha Kukri I found in a junk shop. Another time I thought it might be a good idea to try cutting through the wire of my bedroom lamp with a penknife. Big mistake.

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Anyway, the best thing about my ‘Rambo’ knife was that the handle was hollow, and contained a mini survival kit. Oh, joy! It wasn’t as good as my little tobacco tin, though. For a start there were no Oxo cubes.

My interest in… er… not dying… continued into adulthood. I fell in love with martial arts and have accumulated a small collection of cool knives and other weapons, such as an extendible baton, a knuckle duster and some nun chucks, which I keep in the name of self defence. I live and work in China most of the year, where most of these things are still illegal but readily available. And cheap. I know a girl who keeps a Taser gun in a drawer next to her bed. In a world where there are more guns than people, being able to look after yourself and the people you love is not a crime.

If I lived in America I’m pretty sure I’d own a gun. Or several. But thankfully I have not yet arrived at the stage where I move to the mountains to farm beans and live in a log cabin waiting for the end of the world.

Anyway, my point is this…

There is no point.

If there was an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse (which, in my opinion, are among the most entertaining and attractive End of the World scenarios) any attempt at ‘surviving’ would be futile. You would just be prolonging the inevitable. We would be all be doomed whatever measures we took. Even if we managed to escape the bloodthirsty hordes we would die of starvation as soon as whatever we looted from ASDA ran out.

Of course, by that token you could argue that simply being alive is prolonging the inevitable, death awaits us all. But that’s a bit defeatist. We owe it to ourselves, the people who love us, and the human race as a whole, to fight for survival.

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About cmsaunders

I am a writer. I write. My dark fiction has appeared in Asphalt Jungle, Raw Nerve, Roadworks, Dark Valentine, Screams of Terror, Shallow Graves, Fantastic Horror, Unbroken Water and several anthologies. My first book, Into the Dragon's Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales was published in 2003, and I have also worked extensively in the freelance journalism industry, contributing features to numerous international publications including Fortean Times, Bizarre, Urban Ink, Loaded, Record Collector, Maxim, Nuts, and a regular column to the Western Mail newspaper. I lived in China for over five years where I taught English during my search for enlightenment, before moving back to the UK in January 2013 to work for a men's lifestyle magazine. I was senior writer on Forever Sports magazine and associate editor at Coach magazine, before leaving to chance my arm in the world of pro freelance. In recent times I have devoted more time to dark fiction, my latest offerings being the contemporary ghost story Sker House and No Man's Land: Horror in the Trenches. I am represented by Media Bitch Literary Agency and drink far too much coffee. View all posts by cmsaunders

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