The Road, the End of the World etc. etc.

Recently, Lady C put me in a jam. Not as much as covering my naked body in it, but seriously pushing modern paperback literature down my throat. I met Lady C at the bookstore after work one day ‘couple of months back, and because they had an 3 for the price of 2 offer I had to pick a book. "Pick a book," she said in her loveliest of voices. When women are generous, they make men happy. Or pay through the nose for some 80-piece dinner set which formerly belonged to a couple in their late 80s.

"I’m not sure," I said, "I don’t much read the borgeouis literature of the commons. You are what you eat, sort of thing."
She looked at me begrudgedly. "Did I ask you to pick a book? No. I told you to. So Get On With It."
I looked across the Classics but I already had a copy of each, currently buried in our cellar but nevertheless. I looked at the News section, but it was all murder mysteries, which is not exactly my cup of tea. I don’t like their angle. I much prefer reading it from the murderer’s point of view than the victim’s..

So I glanced across the English section. There were two books by Hunter S. Thompson, which are really great, but I’d read both of them. Then a lot of romance and vampire shit, and I asked C if we should just buy the whole aisle and forward 1 copy to the mysterious mr. S each year, birthday presents covered for the next 8-12 years.. But Lady C said no. I had to get something for me, that I was going to read. That’s when I saw the newly imported The Road by Cormac McCarthy that I had read about over @ Cinema strikes back.

I knew it was special and post-apocalyptic, and I’ve always been fascinated with the post-apocalysm and survivalism themes. Reminds me of summers with my grandmother. So I picked it off the shelf and home we went. But Lady C had to read it before me, to approve the rating or the like. It actually wasn’t until a train journey to Kristiansand when my brother and Lady C were snoring along with the rest of the cabin while I, crazed from dried-powdered coffee, picked it up and started to read. And let me tell you, it’s actually worth your while.

The Road happens in a post-apocalyptic setting, where some unknown event has scorched the earth for all life, and picks up the story some 10 years after the catastrophe when only remnants of the human race remain. Animals and birds are mostly extinct (and/or eaten), the grass and the trees are dying and ash covers everything. Intermittently there are large forest fires spurred by lightning. The book encapsulates the nothingness in that world very good through its repetations of scenery, ash upon ash, and its complete lack of the busy-ness of life. There is no time because there is nothing happening, no infrastructure, no transportation and no policing governmental force. Not to forget the meaningless (or truthfully meaningful) conversations..

I found myself constantly in a state of romantic nostalgia as I read it, and it took a while for me to recognize just why. Though most probably not the author’s intent, he has accurately described the growing up and living in Northern Norway..

So when we had the chance we phoned up Kornelius who got us a couple of tickets so we could watch the adapted version on the big silver screen. It was surprisingly good, with only a few annoying errors (some on account of the difficult sceneries but others to sort of round the tale off where it shouldn’t have — the audience is not stupid and does not need to know everything, quite the contrary) but I wouldn’t recommend it as One to Watch UNLESS you have read the book. I can only think the story must be quite poor without knowing the details not explicitly acted out. Also, the damn kid is too smart and or smug for my liking.

Is it a classic as the most positive remarks by [unknwon reviewers] said on the cover? Not really. It’s one of those less-known classics, perhaps. It lacks actually dealing with any of the subject content its contextual subtheme is flirting with implicitly, and explicitly through Papa’s thinking. Anyway, that’s my $0.02..

The Road, as interpreted by Jesus

Fast forward to a couple of days back and THERE’S A VOLCANIC ERUPTION in Iceland! W00t w00t! Disclaimer: Nobody died, it’s allowed to be enthusiastic. Think about the children.

Ash prognosis (NTB)Because this is sort of like apocalysm-light for Europe. Consider the ash clouds. And living in Norway we’re pretty close to the action, and so our planes have been grounded the last two days, ‘causing traffic jams and full trains all around Scandinavia. The prime minister is currently in New York, having fled from Iceland at the last minute through Madrid in Spain! It’s almost like a scandal save a sexy viking mistress. And before running he was observed as "running the country from the Reykjavik airport with his new iPad" to quote one big newspaper. I’m not voting for him again. Fuck Apple.

Nobody knows what’s gonna happen just now. The last eruption from the same volcano was between 1821-1824 and the clouds lasted for two goddamn years. Not to mention there’s a neighbouring volcano who’s period is synchronized with the former. Heck, even the damn crater looks like something from a horror movie:

Iceland volcano crater (NTB)

As if that wasn’t enough, NASA recently found and started drilling into a big lake inside the drifting ice of Antarctica that hasn’t been touched by man ever, and they found complex organisms… Sounds like the initial plot for a scary movie.

But this opens up a whole range of possibilities with regards to my recently revivied interest in post-apocalyptic survival. Ever since I read The Road I’ve been meaning to stockpile canned food at my grandmother’s cabin, which is quite remote and hidden in the forest down south. Long term sufferers of may have seen the photos from my one week seclusion. I didn’t see a human being for a week. It makes you a bit weird, I can tell you. So if you’re going to survive some cataclysmic event, make sure to survive it with somebody else. And bring a deck of cards for Christ’s sake, you can’t have sex all the time, as it draws a lot of energy from both parties (and potentially makes a lot of noise). The alternative being just fuck it all go mad and have fun… Anyways!

The cabin is quite a stretch from Oslo, and if we have to walk (to avoid dangerous other people) it will take a while. So we’re gonna have to ready here in the capital as well.

Lady C and I recently had this discussion an entire evening; in case of Zombie Attack – what do we do? First thing you want to do is be prepared. I spent half an hour surveying the strategic pros and cons of our building.

The building we live in

It has a steep wall on the backside (not pictured) but you can gain entry to the general area and backyard from both sides of the building. There is an old horse gate but that doesn’t help much against a horde of brain eaters. No, we would have to stay inside until further plans are developed. Good thing is we have a great view of the street on both sides of the buildings, the walls between apartments are 30cm (ca 12 inches) brick walls that stand against open fire and sledgehammers, and no windows on the sides that are accessible or big enough for a grown person. Little, scary girls from hell are another matter, but they can materialize anywhere and so if you’ve got one of those you’re fucked..

There is the possibility of climbing the ivy up the wall though, but I doubt it supports much weight. In any case, it can be set afire if the situation calls for it.

Once having checked out the interior we realized we have two major advantages: We live on the second floor and you can’t jump or climb in any of our windows. This is not the case for our neighbours downstairs, but I had already thought of this as I drew up the schematics for a barricade in the staircase. This leaves 4 survival flats and 2 infected/deceased. Sorry about that.

The second major advantage is that because we are building our home DIY style at the moment, we have a lot of materials and heavy-duty tools at our disposal. Want some cement? Mobile circle saw? Can you spell w-e-a-p-o-n-r-y?

Lady C, with her cunning little ways, then realized that thanks to the new tenants beside and above WHO HAVE BABIES, we will have to share our precious little water with their being a priority case. Women and children first principle. "Right well, that just sucks!" she exclaimed, "fuck the babies." Instead, we could use the crying babies as decoy for when the day we escape the building and head to one of the cars parked outside. That’s thinking ahead, and also why I love her.

I also thought about where I would rather not be going, and considered Oslo City, a shopping mall down by the central station. You would not be going there because everybody else are. It is a big building, has zombie-proof security, and quite a lot of food items and entertainment systems for those long post-apocalyptic evenings. But if you put a lot of humans in one place during a time like this what do you end up with? A meat locker. Attracting all kinds of unwanted attention. Besides, there is no telling zombies from the general population of junkies down there. They can hide in plain view..

So if you move in groups, move in small groups. And STAY AWAY from public transportation. Whether your adversary is zombification or an anger-enhancing virus you would not want to be anywhere near an Oslo city bus, especially not during rush hours. Sometimes when I get on the bus from work I have to stand right up and down, hands to my sides because it’s so overfilled. You can barely move and people can’t get off where they’re supposed to. When you reach the exit you’re two stops beyond your destination. I can only imagine what it would be like standing at the front and just watching the zombification spread from an infected in the back. Remember that THERE ARE hammers to crush the windows and get out of the bus attached to the windows themselves, but they may be hard to reach through all the panicking people..

And stay away from the subway entirely. Do you really want to be down there (even with a group of people) when the power goes down? Didn’t think so. Anyway, that’s how I think the virus will spread throughout the city from wherever its source may be. Lady C scoffed at my thinking regarding public transportation. "Of course we won’t be going by bus, what the hell are you thinking?! No, we’re gonna need a car. A fast but strong car. An SUV of sorts. My father recently bought one." Then she grinned.

We decided that although stayin’ alive is all disco-cool, it’s even better having some long-term goals for when the end of the world comes around. And where there’s people there are dangerous turn of events you will never keep under control. You’d want to get away from the city.

Many people don’t know this, but Norway is largely unpopulated, and so we argued back and forth about just where to go because our choices are rather endless. I presented my grandmother’s cabin as a solution, but Lady C felt it had more cons than pros. First off, it doesn’t have a supply of fresh water. There is a water well that I drank from for about a week, but it relies on rainfall and water seeping in from the ground around it. There’s no natural spring or running water. Then of course, it’s a damn scary place to be. Add monsters and you’ve got yourself a nightmare. (Been there, done that.) Lastly, she felt it wasn’t isolated enough. With a keen eyesight you can actually spot the roof from the nearby farms down in the valley. Good point.

"No," she continued, "We’ll have to go somewhere remote, where the surroundings are less revealing and the chances of people passing by are scarce". She suggested her father’s cabin. And it does have certain attractive elements you can’t easily argue against. First off, it’s not in the forest as my grandmother’s cabin, but rather standing on the treeline on a mountain. That means less accessibility and less potentially brain-seeking traffic. Though if you have seen Norwegian splatter flick Dead Snow you know zombies don’t care about crossing mountains through the snow for a little snack. Second, it is very secluded and you won’t know there’s a cabin there unless you follow a side-road to its end and by then we know you’re coming. Third, it has a large supply of diesel, electricity and radio equipment. Not to mention 56k modem internet connection for blogging. Remember to use a proxy, never underestimate the intelligence of your opponent. Four, there are firearms and other weaponry present. This is really a plus because there are generally very few firearms in Norway. The only negative aspect of the cabin proposal is that it’s a one-way-in one-way-out kind of situation. If you expect to go there by car and leave by car also, there’s only one way down from there. No getaway, no backdoor.

"But that’s what the SUV is for," C said. "Just step on the gas and four-wheel your way through those fuckers!"

Alright. Calm down.

Then the natural followup question: who are we travelling with?
We narrowed it down to a selected few, based on personality or skills or a combination of the two. Naturally, I would be going. Lady C wouldn’t have it any other way. The tacit presupposition implies that she’s coming as well. And there was much rejoicing. We’re driving the SUV alone, because the back is filled with canned goods and cans of diesel. And SPAM.

From there it was rather random who we’d pick, as the cabin up there can house some 15 persons.. I couldn’t really see going with any of my co-workers. I just work there. Let the academics fight for themselves. Besides, I had already deemed my workplace a pretty good place to stay it out (1st-3rd floor) because there’s a constant supply of running water right outside the door (a fire hydrant with a terrible, steady leak which can easily be re-routed to the inside of the building), in addition to being an old, trustworthy brick building with a great vantage point. Also, it’s right next to a church if you need burial services or new candles.

But I’d pick my brother Koew first. He’s a younger version of me, has a quick-wit and can drive a car. And Kornelius of course. Even though we won’t be able to use any free tickets to the cinema, he’s alot more versatile than he looks! FYI he looks like a world-weary poseur from the late 19th century. But he’s a strong worker and can play the guitar (also good for burial services).

Sigg3 and Kornelius
Sigg3 and Kornelius some umpteen years ago..

Then C suggested the mysterious mr. S "for general entertainment", and I whole-heartedly agreed. When you’re on the run from infected zombies, you might as well be travelling with an emo vampire turned student of history. As I said before, you must not lose faith, and entertainment and diversion are really important in that regard. In addition the good man can speak, read and not the least understand Latin; which is great if we should stumble upon some ancient tombs with cursed inscriptions or the like.

And C’s sister Vixen of course. Like my Lady C she is a nurse, and redundancy in that department isn’t stupid it all. But she’ll be travelling with Koew, Kornelius and the mysterious mr. S naturally. I don’t need two women going on about Pride and Prejudice or the fantastic face of Mr. Thornton in North & South when I’m driving through man-eating whores raised from the dead. Need to keep my concentration. Also, she can knit scarfs.
Lastly, I’d bring a dog for its keen sense of smell. Of course it takes some space and will have to eat of our food but so does the mysterious mr. S… or any other in our group for that matter.

But our journey doesn’t end there. Not unless we’re cornered and can’t fight them off for some reason. No. The mountain cabin is only a first natural waypoint. Because if you really want to run away from people whatsoever there’s no contestant better than the North of Norway. The European highway E6 is in truth just like McCormac’s description of The Road, even less populated. Chances are zombies will starve to death before even reaching you. And if they do you can probably see them long way acoming because there’s nothing else moving in a mile’s radius.

We’d go see my other grandmother, who lives close to the Russian border. There are some fourteen people living in her town today, and everyone travelling are just on their way through. There’s fresh water and plenty of reindeer to hunt, not to mention fish in the sea. But it’s a good thing we stop by the cabin first, because we’re gonna need a heckload of diesel just getting there..

There are no spoilers in this text because I carefully avoided them. But let me just add, summing up, that there are NO ZOMBIES in The Road whatsoever. It’s not that kind of book. There are no one on Iceland either for that matter. It’s not just that kind of country. But only as far as we know..

What would you do? Where would you go, and would you travel alone or who with? Please let us know in the comments. Be prepared. And remember this: you are what you eat. If you eat people, you’re a zombie. Just target practice to Lady C and me.

4 thoughts on “The Road, the End of the World etc. etc.

  1. This was a looong post!

    “The Road” sounds interesting, thought I must admit I’m not really into post-apocalyptic stuff. On the other hand, I like dystopia works.

    Your comments on the book are interesting… I mean: growing up and living in Northern Norway?!!? C’mon, it can’t be THAT bad, now can it???

  2. Hey, it’s the great outdoors!

    People from all over the world travel to Northern Norway just to have a look at it. And safely go home again in good time.

    But for some, it is their home..!

  3. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but my husband would love to visit Norway, even the Northern Norway you described in such… colorful words. Needless to say, he thinks you’re exaggerating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.