Due to some catastrophic event, you are the last person on earth. You wake up and everybody is dead or gone. You are the only person left alive on the entire planet. What do you do?
I’ve always been quite fascinated by apocalyptic movies such as 28 Days or I am Legend. Even recent movies such as The Book of Eli hold a certain theoretical appeal. Now I’m not saying that I would like to actually experience something like this, I’m far too social a being to be able to live the rest of my life with little or no human contact. I find that the appeal lies in the theory of what I would do, how I would survive and what the world would be like. I’ve always thought I’d write a novel in the form of an autobiography of the last man left on earth and so over the years I’ve probably spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking about these things and structuring this story.
I don’t have time to write a whole book though, so I’ll lay out the more practical details here, purely as a mental exercise and I invite you all to add your thoughts.
The first few days
You’re freaked out, scared and wondering what the hell just happened. You’re probably going to spend the first few days or more wondering around in confusion trying to figure out what the hell just happened. You’ll mourn the loss of your friends and family and go through some pretty crazy emotions ranging from fear to rage and sadness. At this point it is critical that you don’t spend too much time in self pity. There are a few things that you really need to do and you need to be in the correct state of mind.
Assess your situation. Do you live near to some sort of chemical plant, power plant or other industry? Think about what could go wrong now that suddenly everybody is gone. A power plant could overheat and meltdown, a chemical plant could do the same and you might end up with a major toxic spill in your area. You need to think about these things almost immediately as your life may very well be in danger. You also need to think about how any such plants further away might very quickly pollute your water supply. If there’s a factory 100km upriver from you it might be only a few days until the water in that river is completely poisoned. Think about this and take appropriate action as quickly as possible. Appropriate action might include anything from collecting bottled water and stockpiling it or moving yourself and all your possessions to another city. I can’t tell you what to do as your situation is unknown, but you do need to think about this carefully and figure out what has to be done.
Arm yourself. You might be a peace loving hippy tree hugger, but you need to change your outlook and you need to change it quickly. You’re going to need to defend yourself as your country turns back into the wild frontier it was 500 years or more ago. Wild predators move back to the top of the food chain and you move down a few notches.
The quickest course of action is to visit either your local police station and find a way into their vault, or alternatively, visit a hunting shop and stock up on what you need. At a bare minimum, you need a self defence handgun or two, a hunting rifle, a shotgun and as much ammo as you can carry for these. Spend a little bit of time learning how to use all of these safely. Loading, firing, unloading, cleaning etc. Never go anywhere without at least one of these. While you’re at it, grab a decent knife and appropriate sharpening tool. Learn how to use these and keep that knife with you at all times.
On a practical note, you’ll live off preserved junk food and canned goods from local supermarkets. You will immediately notice the loss of basic services such as water and electricity as these will fail within hours to days. Electricity would probably go out within 24 hours as power plants either run out of fuel, automatically shut down or breakdown due to the lack of human intervention. As soon as the power is out your whole world changes. Water pumps fail, sanitation pumps fail, filtration systems go offline and quite possibly, depending on where you live automatic safety features shut down your power and water supply. There are quite literally hundreds of foods that you will never taste again. Depending on where you live, tropical fruits may be imported which means that those kiwi fruit that are just starting to rot in the supermarket fridge are probably the last kiwi fruit you will ever see in your life. Enjoy them while you can.
In the next installment we’ll take a look at housing and transport. We’ll probably revisit a number of the above items as needed too.