So You're In The (Cinematic) Post-Apocalypse: A Survivor's Survival Guide

You made it! Welcome to your new life!

Not only did you survive the bombs and calamitous climate change, you've taken the most important step in your post-apocalyptic life by picking up this guide. This shows that you have the STRENGTH and DETERMINATION to make it in this new world.

"But why go on?" you may question. "Why live when my mother/father/brother/sister/daughter/son/cousin/dog/cat/ferret is/are already dead?"

No. You can do this. Do you really want to let the mutants/marauders/hyper-intelligent apes win? Aren't you the least bit curious about who you could be in this brave new world?

See this as an incredible opportunity and you can have a life just as enriched and enlightened as it was when you still had electricity and running water!

Just commit these seven simple truths to memory and you'll be enjoying your new life to the best of your ability.

Radioactive Dreams

Radioactive Dreams

SURVIVAL TRUTH 1: The Post-Apocalypse is Not the Pre-Apocalypse

Many people expect life to go on more or less as it was, just with an easier commute home, but that's just not possible. The first thing you'll have to do is get your bearings. Were you left inside an underground vault with your best friend by your parents? It's time to grow up, stock up, and drive on out of there. Grab your shoes, because swing dancing might be in your future.

Or perhaps back in the day you were a high school teacher and can't imagine another life? Sorry, but it's over. It's time to board up your house because you have no idea what's out there and all that matters now is the survival of you and your family. Kindness? Generosity? Those are traits for another age, and the sooner you remove them from yourself the longer you'll live.

Are you alone in a hospital with no-one in sight? Some horribly disease has claimed mankind during your coma, so grab a hazmat suit and get out of there. Only you can know the true scope of your ruined world, so self-assessment and self-management are the keys to success. A true survivor accepts responsibility for his or her life. Think later – for now, it's time to access that lizard part of your brain and run, especially since your foes might actually be man-sized lizards.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

SURVIVAL TRUTH 2: Eliminating the "This Isn't The World I Knew And Loved" Syndrome

Now that you're on your way, it's time to discern what kind of post-apocalypse you're facing. Is there still danger of radiation from the nuclear bombs or irradiated animals? Has the human race been reduced to zombies or zombie-like feral creatures? Let's go over some of the major threats you're likely to face!

The Undead/Mutants. If they're slow and dumb, find a few other survivors and hole up somewhere with a lot of food and running water. Houses are okay, indoor malls are better, and underground bunkers are the best, until your new society inevitably succumbs to in-fighting and the creatures get in. It's a good idea to have a few slower friends so that when things fall apart you can get away from the horde. Practice your headshots!

If they're fast or intelligent zombies, enjoy the last few hours of your life, because there's no way you're getting away from seven and half billion of them.

Aliens: Did a interplanetary race regard your world with envious eyes, and slowly (and surely) draw their plans against it? Oops! First thing to do here is calm down and stay out of sight – it's likely that they will be taken out by the plethora of diseases your filthy fellow inhabitants are carrying or by their own short-sighted plans that didn't take into consideration the fact that the Earth is two-thirds water. Once they're dead, just start cleaning up the corpses and rebuilding. Their technology is now yours!

If they've already taken over the world while you were either sleeping or watching TV, perhaps just join up with them? Most of the time, alien races just want to impart knowledge and it wouldn't be smart for some psychopath with glasses or bar-hopping hooligans to ruin it for everyone.

Science/Technology: Did man overstep his bounds and try to play God? Those robots may not be alive in a traditional sense, but they have souls, damn it. It was wrong of you to try and enslave them but now the tables have turned, haven't they? You should sit and think about what you've done while you live out the rest of your life as a battery, or in a cave somewhere. If that's not possible, you better hope that someone has invented time travel so that you can go back and fix your mistakes. You done goofed, humanity!

Cthulhu: Did crazed cultists finally achieve the impossible and summon the Great Old One? Did the great Cthulhu rise up from his eternal slumber and show himself to the world? The solution here is simple, gaze upon It and know the unknowable before being consumed! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

Sole Survivor: Are you the only person left on the Earth? This could be a boon! Your greatest danger has already been eliminated and now your choice is either to join the new ruling species as a lackey or find your local library and ensure that your glasses stay intact. Without anyone to fight off for supplies, you can live for years and years! On the flip side, if this calamity has killed off everyone else of your gender, you better be watching out for the opposite sex, because they're going to be using you for breeding purposes. Stay away from them lest they put a bomb in your privates and force you into a battle against frog-men. (Monkey friends can aid you in this situation.)

Sentient Apes: Don't be silly. That could never happen.

It Comes at Night

It Comes at Night

SURVIVAL TRUTH 3: Arming Yourself is the Key to Success

No matter which of these situations you are faced with, an arsenal is your best friend. Whether you'll have to ward off other survivors, fight giant monsters inside robots, or even carry around a book with forbidden knowledge, you'll need a weapon.

Guns are great, but they require bullets and make a lot of noise. If you're going for a melee weapon, consider if you need a blunt or bladed one. A machete may be useful for lopping off the neck of a zombie, but it's going to get dull very fast. A blunt instrument might serve your purposes better, but you should always have a knife on you, lest you need to take over a runaway train.

And don't neglect the importance of protecting your skin! Whether it's from bites of the infected or the light of a comet, it's a good idea to cover up with whatever armor you can attain.

Vehicles can also be useful, although they require gas, which becomes another issue. The safety, speed, and carry capacity of a car or larger vehicle may sometimes be worth the struggle. If most of the population was decimated quickly, perhaps in a rapture incident, cars will still be full of gasoline just waiting for you to siphon. Just do it before night falls.

A Boy And His Dog

A Boy And His Dog

SURVIVAL TRUTH 4: Success is About Choices and Sacrifices

A major transition has come your way and you need to make new, difficult decisions that will affect the rest of your life. You may have joined up with a gang of cannibals, but why get down about it?

Perhaps it is finally time to let the weaker friends and family members succumb to natural selection. Do you want an asthmatic drawing all the nearby bandits with his breathing? Isn't that son of yours looking a little slow as you travel this long road? Sometimes, we are weighed down by other people and remember, your survival is the only thing that matters.

Sure, there's always the possibility that you will find your true love in the wastelands or, better yet, a dog that talks to you psychically with a voice that sounds remarkably like Don Johnson. Your choice of companions will aid you on your way, but don't feel bad about cutting them loose if need be. They would do the same.

But what if you end up a captive of some wasteland gang? Sometimes we are forced to do things against our will, but they turn out to be intrinsically rewarding. Kill your captors and take over the gang for your own! Only you can bring about positive change in your life.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

SURVIVAL TRUTH 5: The Post-Apocalypse Prepares You For An Exciting Future

Have you ever thought about becoming President? What about the King of Lost Vegas, or even the Duke of New York, A #1? Anything is possible in your exciting new self! You may have been a nobody but remember, you are still alive. Every nobody has a chance to be somebody. Remember where you are, because death is listening!

Remember the three "P"'s! By being Punctual and Prepared to inflict Pain, you can exert your dominance over weaker people and eventually make them do all the hard work for you. A leader is only as good as her or his lackeys, so make sure to surround yourself with hard working types who are encouraging and also working hard to make something of themselves. (but not too much of themselves, unless you have to kill them too! Ha ha!)

Just remember, you are responsible for your crew. If a rogue Imperator steals your breeding women it's up to you. Others can assist you ,but you should be self-motivated and handle things yourself, and not drag anyone else into a family squabble.

Hell Comes To Frogtown

Hell Comes to Frogtown

SURVIVAL TRUTH 6: The World is a Vibrant, Culinary Delight

One little-known benefit to the end of the world is that the world of food is at your fingertips, as your food sometimes literally might be fingertips. (Have you ever considered the taste of human flesh? You're about to!)

Anything that was poo-pooed by chefs as too toxic or visually displeasing is now a succulent feast. In a world where you never know where your next meal come from, there's no such thing as "rotten". Your goal is to fill that stomach with whatever (or whoever) you can! Who cares if the expiration date was years ago if it still has calories?

Chances are that you've escaped to the woods by now, which are just teeming with animal life. Make sure a river or lake is nearby and you'll be set. If you've gone the opposite way and ended up on the ocean, you will have to recycle your own water. If you luck out and are actually a mutant with gills, you'll have access to all the many-headed creatures of the sea, as well.

You may want to start preparing for later by planting your own food, as hard as that may be.

If the the sun been obscured by radioactive clouds, it may be difficult to grow crops, particularly if goblins and fairies have returned to the world and have started a magical war. It can also be difficult to grow crops if they have the capability of eating you, even if you are the only person who still has sight.

The Matrix

The Matrix

SURVIVAL TRUTH 7:  The Autotelic Experience is Everything

The word "Autotelic" is an adjective that describes when an activity has a purpose in itself, and it's important for you to consider everything this way.

Don't look too far into the future! An optimal experience is the end goal. Your quality of life will hinge completely on how you can enjoy the work you do, whether that's simply to bunker down at a remote farm or lead a revolt against the robots that have taken over humanity. If you aren't enjoying yourself while killing for survival or food, you'll never enjoy yourself. Take pleasures in the small things and don't worry about all that you've lost. If anything, think about all the billions of people that have died and laugh, because you were the one who made it this far!

In other words, enjoy the journey and not the destination, because you may never reach that destination anyway. Remember, change demands action. Follow these rules and we know you can survive weeks or even months in this horrific future! The rest is up to you.

Day of the Triffids

Day of the Triffids

Additional Research

The following documents were used to assemble this guide:

War of the Worlds (1953)

The Day of the Triffids (1962)

La Jetée (1962)

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The Planet of the Apes (1968)

The Time Machine (1960)

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Omega Man (1971)

Wizards (1977)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

The Day After (1983)

Radioactive Dreams (1985)

Day of the Dead (1985)

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

Escape From New York (1981)

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Night of the Comet (1984)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Waterworld (1995)

12 Monkeys (1995)

The Matrix (1999)

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Signs (2002)

Y The Last Man (Comic, 2002)

The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

War of the Worlds (2005)

I Am Legend (2007)

The Book of Eli (2010)

Pacific Rim (2013)

Snowpiercer (2013)

The World's End (2013)

Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

It Comes At Night (2017)