Lately I’ve been enjoying reading apocalypse literature – The Passage, The Girl With all the Gifts, The Fifth Wave. I love being swept along on an adventure in a new world where the characters struggle for survival and discover strengths they never realised they had. Also they get to fight off zombies/vampires/aliens.
And there’s always a good zombie/vampire/alien (usually a half “infected” child) present to make us question what it truly means to be human. The protagonist will team up with this character, fighting side by side against the bad zombies/vampires/aliens and paramilitary pockets of humans who have gone too far. Usually at the end of a trilogy of such books, victory for our heroes will ensue and they settle down to enjoy life in a brave new world which has none of the problematic trappings of our own. In some cases, as in The Girl With all the Gifts, the only survivors are the half-infected children, a new kind of humanity who we hope will do a better job than we did.
As I said, I’ve been reading a lot of these books lately. This, combined with a few camping trips, has sparked my interest in a post-apocalyptic, survivalist society. Or at least my interest in writing a book on that theme.
I already have an early scene worked out – a previously romcom-watching, wine-by-the-bottle-drinking, office-working woman has fled the dangerous city. It’s infested with zombies/vampires/aliens, don’t forget. For the first time in her life she’s alone, and starving. She camps out in an abandoned farm and comes across a lamb. Within one second of spotting the animal, her thoughts move from seeing it as a cute thing to gush over to seeing it as a source of food she’ll need to kill. That one second is the shift; the world and the people living in it will never be the same again.
There’s adventure in things never being the same again, a universe of possibilities. The monotony and mundanity of the old life (our life) will cease. No more getting up early to go to a job you’d rather not do, no more paying taxes, no more being stuck in traffic and no more feeling anxious because you haven’t achieved all you feel you should. What really matters will become so clear it’ll almost blind you. But when you emerge from the daze, into a simplified life, you’ll be happier. And even with those zombies/vampires/aliens chasing you, maybe you’ll be freer.