My plan, backup plan and backup backup plan for a zombie outbreak

Assuming that I was home alone and that my first warning of the zombie outbreak would be witnessing the bloated corpses of my fellow man walking down the street… The first thing I would do is immediately run downstairs to grab Dad’s shotgun, as well as any other guns and ammo the family had. I would move around the houses for as long as I felt was safe and gather up as many survivors as I could, as well as their weapons. Flesh-and-blood humans will be a precious resource for the final step. If I found none, I would proceed anyway and hope to god our col-de-sac was just unlucky.

We would then make our way either cars or to the backyard levee, depending on how overrun the col-de-sac is. Either way, we would immediately make for the nearest superstore and find one that isn’t ovverun by zombies. In my area that means Costco, HEB, wal-mart, Sam’s Club (the Sam’s Club is right by Wal-Mart). If we were able to find and secure any of the buildings, we would have a plentiful source of supplies, weapons and food. Our raggedy band would establish a perimeter around the building, assuming we weren’t meeting up with other survivors who had done so already.

Unfortunately there is the possibility that I will be alone and all of the areas I could go to for supplies will be overrun. Fortunately for me, I live near a prison (one of the only times I feel like I can say that with a straight face). I could also do this if it turned out that we didn’t have enough survivors to defend outselves.

When the prisoners discover that the world is overrun by zombies, I imagine they’ll have enough brains to realize that the prison is the best place for them to be: it’s designed to keep people from freely going in and out, has plenty of weapons and the people you find there will range from physically buff to psychotic. (Thank you to my brother for the prison idea) With that (and an agreement to bring supplies to the prison) we’ll have a forward base of operations.

Next comes the gruesome part. We will have to check everyone in whichever area we end up in for zombie bites, and spend several days checking to make sure no one is infected. If anyone appears to be infected, we isolate them immediately. If they turn, we kill them.

My favorite part is what comes next: we go on the hunt. After a week, or after we go about halfway through our (rationed) food supplies (whichever comes first) it’ll be unreasonable to assume that help is coming (if help does come, it renders the following moot, naturally) So instead, we go on the attack. During the day, we’ll send out hunting parties to kill zombies, find survivors, etc etc. The groups will be large enough to defend themselves reasonably well from a group of zombies, but small enough to move quickly so they can be back by night fall. If we don’t have enough ammo for this to be viable, the hunting parties will instead attempt to establish contact with any other survivors (posted signs and such) and attempt to rebuild a small civilization or regain contact with the outside world.

Anything past that, I’d need a specific example.

Logic is just like bone… well, sort of.

One of the problems with regularly watching critics trying to make you laugh such as Linkara or Nostalgia Critic is that you gain a very keen eye for breaks in logic. Now, you may ask why this is a problem. After all, if something in the story doesn’t make sense, it can bring the reader out of the experience. If you find such a break, it should be modified a bit so that the event does make some sense, and the reader can move on. And to an extent, this is true.

The problem is that sometimes logic breaks are necessary for a story. There are a ton of examples in almost every genre out there, but since I’m trying to illustrate a point, let’s look at the James Bond series. How many times has Bond been caught and completely at the villain’s mercy? And how many times has he been left alone for the sharks to eat him or for a laser to slice him in two or something ridiculous like that? And how many times could the villain have just shot Bond in the head and been done with it? Of course, we all know that this is the case because Bond is the main character and has to live, so we ignore it and put up with it. After all, it gives us a tense(ish?) sequence where Bond has to find his way out of the trap, foil the villain’s plots and make sexual innuendo with women that really would be young enough to be his grandaughter if it’s the same Bond every single movie.

Now, there are logic breaks like that in every story out there, especially if you only look at that single story as presented. For example, I friggen LOVE the original Star Wars trilogy (and liked Phantom Menace, if only because it still managed to be entertaining). Here’s a rather famous example of such a logic break: the reason the Death Star didn’t just blow up the Yavin gas giant to get at the Rebel base isn’t really explained in the actual movie. I mean, not only do you get the gas giant out of the way for a clear shot, it’s likely that the moon you just blew up will be thrown out of orbit, which will kill anyone on the planet.

(The actual reason is that the death star needed to charge for… i think a full hour? it was measured in hours, i know that… per shot).

The giant robots that are physically impossible, the shot doesn’t kill but leaves you in that near-death-but-somehow-still-alive state, the music that someone starts on-screen that stays clear no matter where on the planet they go… stories are full of breaks in logic like that.

That’s why story logic is just like bone: it’s meant to take hits, to bend and bruise. So long as one’s suspension of disbelief doesn’t break like a compound fracture, there’s nothing wrong with a few hits.

An open intervention letter to Doctor Who

Dear Doctor Who,

We need to talk.

I’m writing this now because the 50th anniversary is behind us, and we’ve begun the Doctor’s twelfth incarnation. The show is now free to start fresh and go in a new direction with this doctor, and I wish I could say I was thoroughly excited to see this. But… I’m not. I’m really not. More than anything, I’m just tired of watching you, thinking you’ll get better.

I first noticed some of the problems you were having in Asylum of the Daleks, but when I look back, I can see them going back all the way through Moffat’s run on the series. No, I’m not going to spend this letter bashing Moffat – that’s been done often enough on the internet, and Moffat is a good writer. I want to talk about some more systemic problems that run throughout the entire series. Now, I haven’t watched classic who, so this is purely the experience of someone new to the show.

My first actual episode of Doctor Who was the 11th hour, which was recommended to me since it was Matt Smith’s first episode (at the time he was a new doctor), and almost instantly I loved this series. I had looked up some wiki pages and stuff, seen some clips, gotten some general background on the series, but this was my first exposure to an actual episode. I loved Matt Smith’s Doctor with his whimsical behavior, unbridled confidence and sheer brilliance in equal measure. I loved that the episode changed direction at least twice in it’s run (three or four times, really, but who’s counting?) which kept me surprised and on my toes. I loved that it was funny, serious, dramatic, even scary when it had to be. And this continued when I watched the series onward.

When I hit a hiatus, I went back to the ninth doctor and started watching from there. Still loved it (though Rose’s constant presence in the series started to tick me off by the time we got to her THIRD comeback) but something about the villians in the series gave me pause. While their stories were often stupid and nonsensical, there was something about them I liked much more than the villians portrayed in the Moffat era. Exhibit A: The Daleks.

‘Dalek’ is one of the best episodes of New Who in my humble opinion, and anyone who’s seen it can tell you why. The modern update to the iconic monster in this story is incredible and horrifying in equal measure. It’s not easy to make a sliding trash can with a plunger on it scary, but this thing goes on an unstoppable rampage and murders so many so quickly and takes so little damage you can’t help but be intimidated. MrTardisReviews said it best, I think: “This is the Chuck Norris of Daleks.” And this wasn’t the last time they would show up, either. Throughout the RTD era, the Daleks were present at least once a season. And every time, their relationship with the Doctor – the one who wiped out their entire species, and whose species they tried to wipe out – is handled perfectly. They’re used repeatedly throughout the series – some say too much. Despite that, however, their presence always felt significant and important.

That last bit is something that really gets me. See, this is an aspect of the series that the Russel T. Davies era had in spades. While the Doctor is the main character (hence the title) the villains are just as important, if not moreso, in the same vein as Batman. Say what you like about the actual stories, but not once do I recall thinking ‘Why are the daleks even here?!’ or ‘Why is this a cybermen story?’ Not once do I remember an episode where the villains were completely unutilized.

And then we had Asylum of the Daleks. Hey kids, guess what this episode needed more of? THE FRIGGEN DALEKS! The idea of the human-sleeper-agent-daleks was admittedly a pretty cool update to the monsters, but the Daleks are only there at the beginning and end of the episode. And no, I don’t mean that they’re physically gone, I mean that they have no real presence in the story. The focus is entirely on Clara, the Doctor and Amy/Rory’s relationship. Imagine, if you will, a story where Darth Vader showed up only to give a brief bit of exposition at the end, when the story is titled ‘Vader’s Choice’ or something that implies Vader is an actual focus for the story.

This isn’t the first time a villian’s utilization has been poor either. The Cybermen story (whose name escapes me at the moment) that occurs right before 11 goes off to die at Lake Silencio, for instance. The Cybermen’s presence is almost negligible. There’s such little substance to them, I am honestly surprised this story even needed to be told. Sure, I didn’t hate the episode, but the Cybermen are so poorly utilized it actually shocked me. The story of the Daleks in WW2 London (i’m really bad with episode names, sorry) had a conclusion that I thought could probably have worked better as a Cybermen story.

You should never be able to think that about a story with villains as iconic as the Cybermen and Daleks.

The Weeping Angels, however, are by far the most egregious example. The Weeping Angels have had 3 stories which actually focus on them (and really only 1 was great all the way through) but appear in 6 or 7. Once as an illusion, granted, but why did they need to be the illusion in question? Or in the snow in the most recent christmas special?

Second, continuity. Moffat loves to play fast and loose with continuity, and sometimes that’s okay. Doctor Who’s version of A Christmas Carol (I really need to start looking these names up) is pretty good in my humble opinion, and it’s only even possible because of how loosely it plays with how time travel in Doctor Who is supposed to work. In other cases, however, the retcons become so blatant and pointless I have to wonder what the point of even trying to follow the story is if everything in it can be changed on a whim. The example I’m about to show you ties into the third point, however: the mystery box.

So, Clara. The impossible girl that dies twice in front of the Doctor’s eyes. Then he meets her again in modern times. We find out over the course of his time with her that the reason he’s met her twice is because she steps into his unravelled time stream/grave (not really clear on what exactly that was) at Trenzalore, a grave made for him there after his final battle. So, what’s wrong with this you ask? The Doctor lives when he goes to the aforementioned battle of Trenzalore. So his grave can’t be there. And before that, it was a fixed point that he would die at Lake Silencio. Except he lived through that. (this one, the audience actually got to see both times) The entire series is full of retcons and changes like that that utterly remove any tension. Everything is going to be alright, everything’s fine, no reprecussions for anything.

As for the mystery box… Moffat likes to put mystery boxes inside mystery boxes. You learn there’s a mystery, find the answer to the mystery, as well as a new mystery. Thing is, the new mysteries start to contradict the old ones. Okay. So Silence will fall when the Pandorica opens? Holy shit the universe just vanished, that’s-… Oh wait, the Silence are aliens invading the earth that have been manipulating us for millenia to get a speacsuit, what do they need it for?… oh wait, no, they’re a church run by humans (then why did they do millennia of manipulation?) that are waging war on the doctor… Now they’re a rogue sect within that church…

That’s one example, but it’s hardly the only one.

And then there’s the blockbuster format. I’ll be blunt: It’s not working. Doing one big episode just doesn’t work for every story. Some need to be longer than the 45 minutes or so allotted for each episode. So many stories since you began this format have just felt underdeveloped and in serious need of expansion. Sure, some work great for a single episode, but to do so for all your episodes… well, there’s a reason we have different size shirts: some need bigger, some need smaller.

Look, I love Doctor Who. But you’re really messed up right now, and you need help. This new series is a chance for you to start clean. Make it count, please. I’ll be here for ya.

-A concerned fan

PS. Sorry if this feels a little rambly. I think I got incoherent at the end there.

The most psychotic letter ever

Dear Detective Thatcher,

I write in response to your request for more information regarding the incident at Central Park on Monday the 12th of May, in which I called an ambulance in response to both spousal abuse and stab wounds. As you are no doubt aware, the victims were not married, several of the wounds were clearly animal inflicted and both recieved no less than 12 stab wounds before the police arrived. I do apologize – I’m afraid I underestimated their endurance and the zeal of Killer.

At approixmately 7:22am on the day in question, I was on my morning jog with my dog, Killer. The voices had told me that today was a good day to carry my Ka-Bar short fighting knife (the roughly 5in blade you found as the assault weapon) and I didn’t really question them. At that time, I noticed a couple having a heated argument on a bench. As I passed, the female (Miss Jones) proceeded to punch her boyfriend, screaming about how he was a “lieing sack of shit.” His response was to roar about how she was “the most hypocritical whore [he had] ever seen.” The two began to punch and kick at each other, clearly enraged.

Naturally I assumed they were about to have sex in the park. As you know, such displays are illegal to perform in public, so I pulled out my phone and called the police, ready to report public sex and six stab wounds. As the phone began to ring, I noticed that while the two were punching each other like madmen, their clothes remained on, so I changed my assumption from ‘public sex’ to ‘spousal abuse’. You have the call on record, so I won’t go into how that went.

When I hung up the couple noticed me for the first time. I hurried while I still had the element of surprise and stabbed the woman in the stomach, as she seemed to me to be the instigator of the brawl. As she fell and heaved I then stabbed her legs in order to ensure she would not leave before the police arrived.

Mr.Wilson, on the other hand, knew I was coming at that point and proceeded to tackle me to the ground. I maintained my grip on my knife, however, so I was able to stab him in the ribcage. Unfortunately, this is when I recieved my most grevious facial injury as his response was to punch me. Naturally I sliced his face up as well. Eye for an eye and all that.

Killer, sadly, had chosen to renact the torture I performed on him as a puppy to Miss Jones. I apologize to her for the inconvenience of the torn skin and infected bites and will gladly cover her hospital bills for both, as well as properly punish Killer by allowing her to bite and tear his skin.

I then stabbed Mr.Wilsons’ legs so he could not leave either (I am nothing if not an equal opportunist), and waited for the police to arrive. The officers you sent to the scene appeared to be rookies, as one of them hurled and the other proceeded to scream that I was a maniac. Honestly: a maniac! Do you not teach your officers how to deal with civilians?

My apologies, sir, I mean no disrespect, it simply strikes me as odd they would know so little about proper police conduct.

Anyway, I believe that accounts for all of their injuries.

Have a nice day,
Sarkhan Manson
PS. It’s possible the legal name change hasn’t gone through yet. If so, please be aware that Charles Blonde was my birth name.

Just to be perfectly clear this is a work of fiction. I did not actually stab anybody. If there is a Detective Thatcher, I have never met him.

Prompt: Describe each of the three main settings of your novel in 15 words (or less) each.

Hodra
Jungle-covered nightworld, heated by volcanic activity and a thick atmosphere. Extremely dark.

Zodia
Largely flat planet with harsh wilderness. Cities of sharp steel, glass and lightning.

Aurora Wood
Forest of crystalline trees filled with spirits. Glows brightly with many colors.