I Will Survive (The Apocalypse)

Hi there! I think it’s time I answer the most important question facing our world: “Are we human? Or are we dancer?” Just kidding obviously that’s a rhetorical question. (Dancer duh.) But! Speaking of Human and The Killers, the real question: Would I survive a zombie apocalypse?  (Whether you want tutu admit it or not, that turned out to be a great segue.)

My sophomore year at UNC I took an American literature course in which we read, Zone One. Quick plot overview: A virus has turned everyone infected into flesh-eating zombies. Presently, events have stabilized and the rebuilding process has begun. The book follows “Mark Spitz” and his fellow “sweepers” (survivors) as they patrol NYC and eliminate zombies.

During one seminar our professor asked each of us how would you survive. When it got to my turn I answered, “I wouldn’t.” Let’s be real in a zombie-filled world some people would die. I imagine facing one would be a fight or flight situation. Well I have never been much of a scrapper, nor am I the fastest runner. Y’all know my glass is half full, but instead of going along with the rest of my classmates and delighting the delusion I’d survive I actually drank the kool-aid. My professor gave me one of those, “damn it kid, indulge me” looks for a moment but then said, “fair enough thanks for your honesty.”

Previously I would have said only two groups of people are certain to survive:

  1. Extreme couponers because they are stockpiled until the mad cows come home
  2. Professional make-up artists because they could use their skills to blend in

Everyone else’s fate is up in the air. Speaking of which, thanks to many plane, train, and bus rides my mind has had plenty of time to wander off into the realm of weird quandaries. This combined with a recent event has made me change my answer. Before I unleash my chain of thought, in the spirit of post-apocalypse survival, here is your pre-post survival guide:

Objective: In my usual rubber-band writing style (a round-about way of stretching things out) I am going to: 1. Tell a story 2. Let y’all know where in the world is Rita 3. Make it to the point

Mission, should you choose to accept: Follow me as I dictate or lead, y’all to the end.

On paper this sounds simple, but be warned. Dis course is filled with the occasional grammatical error, wild tangents, possible photo bombs, a few cliff hangers, and one hyper lynx ready to claw you further into the depths of madness. It can’t be fully proofened, but the writing on the wall could be spelled incorrectly. Nevertheless, as your captain oh captain, ready to conquer dead post society, I believe y’all are fit for the challenge.

If you find yourself lost, I mean really lost like up a computer screen without a scrollbar, you do have one get out quick option. Freedom from this literary labyrinth can be found in the upper right hand corner of your screen. Note: measure “x” should only be used in extreme circumstances, like you’ve been on your phone in the bathroom for so long people might start to wonder if you have irritable bowel syndrome.

Alright now that I’m done making shitty jokes, here we go.

“Rita why do you think you’d survive the virus and not be a zombie in the first place?”

I’m glad you asked. Little known Rita Serra fun fact that my college roommates will bitterly attest to: I have a super human immune system. During my four years in uni I never got sick once. Even sophomore year when we shared a storage unit sized suite, at one point all three of them were simultaneously sick. We are talking mono/ strep throat sick, and I didn’t so much as sniffle. Now that I’ve resolved that tissue, moving on.

Story time:

My time in South East Asia finally compassed and I directed myself back to Western Europe, specifically Brighton, England.

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No matter how far I roam, I always seem to find my way back around to this town

B-town: My home away from home. The place where a piece of my heart permanently resides. The hella rad square kilometers that’s home to my second alma mater, The University of Sussex.

Extra, extra read all about it! Live from Brighton it’s stop Number 4

I told the Brighton fam after I got my restorative dose of sea salt, London was calling at the top of the dial, which always gives me a smile.

Sidenote, I’ve realized in a post-apocalyptic world London is going to be the ultimate battle ground. What with it calling to the underworld and to the zombies of death. When the Warrin’ is Zevon better watch out for those werewolves of London!

After London the “plan” was to go to Shannon, Ireland where family friends happened to be visiting. I don’t know why I still call them plans. It’s more like I have a stack of mental notes I hope to copy and paste on the cusp of my current reality. When it’s getting down to the deadline, aka my hostel checkout date, those notes often get edited to the point of non-recognition. I finally looked up flights. After finagling with various airports and departure dates within the little wiggle room I had, I landed on one “in my budget.” I managed to find exactly one hostel I could have squeezed into my air quotes budget, but then the bubble burst. According to the internet, the bus from the airport to the hostel only ran once a week. I realize the internet is not the holy grail of information. However, I didn’t want to take the chance this was one of the times google was telling the truth. You see, my luck of the Irish is located somewhere over the rainbow. The last time I was in Ireland, thanks to an extreme case of fog, my flight was cancelled and I got stuck in Dublin for two days. As much as I was pining for a pint with familiar faces, any other means of getting from the airport would have been too expensive.

It’s easy to live on a shoestring budget when you are in a country that’s flip flop weather all year long, but now that I’m back on shivery European shores, I have to tighten the boot straps (literally.)

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Soaking up the sunshine in Koh Tao, Thailand

Not to be kept down long, as a backup option, I emailed some workaways across Euroland (that could cheaply be reached by megabus) and decided I’d play the waiting game. If I didn’t hear back in a few days, I’d play the Skyscanner “everwhere” game instead.

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“Play with New Rules” Taken in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 

Winner, winner a workaway in Tring, England asked if I could start in nearly a fortnight, so the question became, where do I bunker down for the nights until then? I planned (there I go again) to stay in London, but wouldn’t you know it was the darndest. One by one my feet led me to London Bridge station, hopped on a train, and in an hour they were making their way down the funky streets of Brighton back to my friend’s flat. (Flat = apartment)

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A bit of that Brighton street art flair for you

Okay, so my heart may have had a small say in the matter…

A major key to life is to have friends that always have your back. Luckily I have some that trust me with the key to their back door. I messaged my friend Lucie wondering if it would be cool if a certain vagabond stayed in their flat to write even though everyone would be gone for Easter break. In response I got a, “of course, you’re always welcome in Brighton!” It had been four months since I had so much as a room to myself, let alone (in) a whole house. Needless to say I was floored by the abundance of personal space. So there I was, on the verge of spending the night alone in a house for the second time in my entire life, but then at the last moment I was saved by the bell. My friend Elliot called to say, “hey heard you’re back, if you don’t want to spend the night in a flat all alone, you’re welcome to stay at mine. Most of my flat mates are out of town, so there are plenty of free rooms for you to stay in.” I rest my case, I have the greatest friends in the world. (Although I didn’t mind staying alone, this was probably for the best. The one time I did stay alone I woke up and decided, “today is the day I will get my nose pierced!” Believe me, Brighton has no shortage of piercing studios to enable my lack of impulse control. Five nights alone and I could have ended up with enough holes punched in my face to pass for Swiss cheese.)

I packed up the mini backpack and went to Elliot’s. The next day I went back to Lucie’s or “the office” to write and once again ended up staying at Elliot’s. Another day passed in the same fashion and I thought, “Hey I’m in a normal routine.” Then I realized: all of personal possessions, aka a carry on-sized backpack filled mostly with dirty clothes, are in a flat I don’t live in. I am sleeping in a different flat I don’t live in, in the bedroom of a person I have never met, and this is all taking place in a foreign country. My “normal” isn’t exactly typical, but then again my sense isn’t always common so I guess it’s fitting. Speaking of which…

Day three: Back to Lucie’s. I made some lunch, lollygagged about, and eventually took a shower. **Now remember I was under the impression everyone was going to be gone the whole time I was here.** The shower has one knob for on/off and another to control the temperature. Before stepping into the shower I noticed the temperature knob was all the way on cold. I thought, “That’s weird I swore I left it on hot, has someone been here? Eeh I’m probably just going crazy.” Take shower. When I went to step out I noticed the mat was soaking wet. Immediately I thought, “Okay either this mat has not dried at all in 24 hours or somebody has definitively been here.” Considering the lock on the sliding back door can be a bit finicky, I probably should have raised a red flag. Instead I raised my shoulders in a shrug and went about my business. Half an hour later I learned two of the boys who actually live here had been home the three hours I was there (and showered with the door open.)

“Really Rita and you think you’d survive a zombie apocalypse?” Yes, absolutely, but I would be the first to die in a classic horror film. I mean the blonde always does go first right?

To answer another question some might have, “Why would you shower with the door open if you thought someone may have been there?” Well you see the bathroom light is a bit of a psycho. It flickers on and off, leaving you in the pitch black during its sullen periods of darkness. Good thing I wasn’t staying at the Bates Motel… and that neither of the boys had to pee while I was showering.

As it turns out neither of them had any idea I had been in the house for multiple hours either.

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And ladies and gentlemen we have found who I will be costarring in that horror film with

TJ and Carlos were both actually completely cool upon finding out I had been squatting in their flat while they were gone. This is now the third time I’ve crashed here. The couch isn’t memory foam, but at this point I’d say it knows me quite well. We chatted and laughed at our shared unawareness then Carlos went to take a nap, TJ went to the store, and me? I packed the big bag and fully “moved” into Elliot’s, essentially disappearing for the next two days. They probably thought they had seen the last of me, but sure enough my shining face popped through the kitchen door a few days later.

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I don’t like to do anything half-assed unless it’s permanent living

As I was making my way to Elliot’s I thought about how TJ likes to give me grief claiming, “you can’t trust a backpacker.” I know it may seem like our kind is a family-sized box of corn flakes floating around the milky-way in our Earthly bowl. (Or bran flakes if you’ve only met those who lack my corny sense of humor.) However, like a deck of wild cards set down in the breeze, we are simply masters of going with the flow. And that is when I realized backpacking has giving me the tools and training to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Before backpacking my only line of defense would have been to win over the zombies with my astounding sense of humor, with my luck they probably prefer dead pan. But now…

How backpacking has enabled me to survive:

  • Go with the flow: Here one minute and gone the next, or gone before you even realized we were there. The element of elusiveness would be absolutely essential.
  • The backpack itself: I’ve become skilled at quickly walking long distances without fatigue while wearing a backpack weighing nearly 20 pounds. If ever on the run, I won’t be caught dead at the back of the pack.
  • The art of packing: Just call me Van Go because I know the exact order to pack all my belongings to make them functionally fit every time, thus I could make a quick getaway with all the necessities.
  • The cover of darkness: You know that scene in The Departed when Matty D has to send a text without looking at his phone in his pocket? Same… sort of, I can reach into any pocket of my bag and pull out the exact item I need without sight. This would come in handy when hiding out because turning on a light could give you away in a flash.
  • Less is more: I’ve learned how little you actually need to survive on a daily basis.
  • I already smell dead: Depending on how long it’s been since I did laundry, which is normally less often than not, there is a good chance a zombie would take one whiff and think I was already one of them.
  • Not much TV time: I have never seen The Walking Dead, Zombieland, 28 Days Later, you name it. (You might say I’m living under a rock, but actually that would probably a good place to hide!) If the zombies were once human, you’ve got to think some of them probably would have watched The Walking Dead so they know how survivors will try to combat them. The best offense is a good defense, but the best way to combat a wild card is really on the fence.
  • “Fight or flight?” I’ve gotten good at flight. Since October I have taken fourteen flights. Trust me I will have my shoes, jacket, belt, iPad, and plethora of rings in the bin before you’ve taken off your right shoe. The unprepared will be left behind.

So there you have it folks.

Better yet, forget everything I just said. After one round of proof reading I realized I’m such a kook a zombie would probably be too fearful to eat me. It wouldn’t want to risk contracting a strand of crazy beyond what it already had. They’d be cryin’, “what’s in your heeeeaaad, in your head? Hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou. We must be mistaken.”

I cranberriely believe I almost made it through this whole post without quoting Zombie.

The takeaways:

  • I was in Brighton now I’m in Tring (or am I?) I admit this is about the only solid piece of information in this post, but why say something in eight words when you can say it in 2,715?
  • Everyone should go to Brighton
  • If you hear a noise when you’re home alone don’t go straight into panic mode. It could just be a backpacker… unless you’ve never met one, then you should definitely call the cops.

TBV Travel Tips

  1. Busses are a fabulously cheap way to travel across Europe if you can’t find a flight in your price range.
  2. If you are living life on the whim (or the lam) the “Skyscanner everywhere game” is a fun way to travel to far out locations at a low price. Go to skyscanner.com, select the airport you want to fly from, and in the “to” box click “everywhere.” Skyscanner will give you a list of countries with the starting price of flights to various cities.
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