If you've been following the news, you may have heard that Nostradamus predicted a zombie apocalypse on February 21st, 2021. Admittedly, this theory is based on some pretty loose interpretations. Most of which come from Twitter users still hungover on leftover eggnog. However, given how 2020 turned out to be a giant bucket of moist armpits, it wouldn't be all that surprising if 2021 decided to one-up its predecessor.
The good news is that if the dead do rise to attack the living a few weeks from now, our current global pandemic probably won't seem any worse than a bathroom sink full of an unwanted houseguest's stray hair and dried toothpaste discards, in comparison.
About a year ago, my then five-year old daughter Lewyn semi-accidentally stuck one of her legs in between the wooden rungs of our staircase. This was only one of many exotic domestic incidents involving my youngest child, most of which are way too cringe-worthy to retell on a public forum. I've probably already been flagged by the FBI for some of my author-related web searches. There's no need for me to roll out the red carpet for them by sharing those stories.
Up until my own recent trampocalypse (check out my previous newsletter HERE if you want to catch up), I assumed there was only one klutzy person in our household. But thinking back to the amount of times I've bashed my head into a lamp, slammed my toes into table legs, or exploded whatever chair I happened to be sitting on, I now realize that when it comes to my accident-prone daughter, maybe the apple didn't fall that far from the tree.
My daughter and I both fell from the apple tree. Or maybe it's the tree that fell on us. Either way, this probably explains why I buy my band-aids at Costco.
On that particular day, Lewyn wedged her knee into the bannister so tightly that she couldn't pull it out. I stared at her, simultaneously bemused and horrified, trying to come up with a solution that MacGyver or Elon Musk would've approved of.
Pour olive oil all over her leg then use an improvised battering ram to jam her knee back? Cover her leg with my Kevlar motorcycle jeans and saw through the banister? Infest the house with carpenter ants and sit idly by while they work their way upstairs over several months?
You know you consume too much Netflix when all of your mental troubleshooting involves dramatic plot twists and potential law enforcement intervention.
Most of my ideas seemed mildly dangerous or unnecessarily time-consuming, so I did what most sensible, safety-oriented dads would do. I put on my most desperate, panic-stricken tone and hollered to my wife to come solve the problem for me. In life, sometimes the easiest solution is the best solution.
While we both waited for a more mature, composed rescuer than myself to show up, Lewyn stopped screaming and settled into an awkward, miserable squat. She gave a weary, beyond-her-years sigh, looked at me and said "Well, I guess this is my life now."
To this day, whenever something unfortunate happens in our family, my wife and I exchange a look, and inevitably, somebody quotes Lewyn.
A flat tire? "Well, I guess this my life now."
An overcooked piece of salmon? "Well, I guess this is my life now."
A nearby nuclear meltdown which spreads giant, mutated monsters across the planet? "Well, I guess this is my life now."
Try it sometime. You won't believe how liberating it is to just give up and accept defeat. Immediate resignation in the face of adversity may be the solution to most of the world's problems. If every human being on Earth capitulates at the same time, we may finally be able to get rid every single piece of "Keep Calm and Carry On" merch. That's a fair trade-off in my book.
(Yes, my wonderful wife extracted Lewyn from the bannister without destroying the staircase or Lewyn's lower body. The only thing damaged in the process was a percentage of my fleeting self-worth.)
So what's my point in retelling this story?
Well, I've been trying to apply the "I guess this is my life now" philosophy to my current hobbled condition. I've been on crutches for over a month now, unable to put any weight on my injured right knee. My surgeon says that it's going to be another nine to twelve months until I get surgery, then another three or four months of rehab. In the meantime, I probably won't be doing much physical exercise, work-related travel, or ninja flying sidekicks.
I guess this is my life now.
And if Nostradamus was right and the zombies do come for us on February 21st, well shucks. I'll just swap out one of my crutches for a machete or a baseball bat, shuffle out into the street, stare down the incoming undead horde and smile. I'll accept it, no matter how it plays out... because I guess this is my life now.
And yeah, I might get torn to pieces. But at least I'll have been consistent.
What about you? Do you have a life philosophy? A motto, moral code, knock-knock joke or maxim you try to live by? Let me know - I read all my replies! If I can get wiser by following a five-year-old's life lesson, who knows what I'll accomplish after digesting all of yours?
One of the side-effects of a pandemic Christmas is that my kids have been home all the time, for a much longer stretch than normal. And as much as I love my children, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't fantasized about signing them up as junior monks at the nearby monastery, where monks have to take a vow of silence for the duration of their stay.
It's not a terrible idea. The monks here make fantastic cheese, and great apple cider to boot. If my kids could regularly contribute cheese and apple cider to our household, I'd probably be a much more patient father.
I'd probably also gain 100 kilos of pure cheese and cider weight in about three months. Given how I'm newly hobbled and couch-bound, now may not be the best time in my life to start packing on the pounds.
Come to think of it, if I ever dropped off my kids at the monastery, it would take about three hours for the monks' vows to shatter like dropped popsicles. There's just no way to silently order a screaming six-year-old to stop jumping off of a ceremonial altar into an impromptu blanket fort made from freshly-laundered monk robes.
If there's one thing that parenting teaches you, it's that one's effectiveness as a disciplinarian can only be measured by the resonance of one's vocal cords. Even then, it's an inexact science.
Christmas also meant that my uninterrupted keyboard time petered down to frantic 8-minute sprints whenever my kids were distracted by candy canes, Youtube videos, or new toys they could immediately lose and/or break. So most of this time was spent wrapping up the edit on Zillionaire - Zombie Apocalypse Survival for the Rich & Famous. The draft is now in the hands of our Beta readers, God save their souls.
One of Zillionaire's chapters is titled Zombat 101: Zombie combat tips for beginners for when there's nobody there to save your A$$. I'm inserting an small excerpt of that chapter at the end of this post, just for kicks. Please keep in mind that this book is an over-the-top, ridiculous satire. If you try to implement any of our terrible advice during an actual zombie apocalypse, you won't last very long.
(SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE EXCERPT)
If I weren't so incapacitated by my catastrophic inability to rebound from a pathetic little trampoline jump, one of my resolutions this year would have been to get in better shape. Now that that's no longer an option, my resolution will be to ensure others keep their own resolutions. Instead of working on my abdominals, I'll be the resolution police for the next 12 months. Although I may lose a few friendships along the way, I'll definitely have the most well-sculpted wagging finger in the Northern Hemisphere.
If regular exercise had stayed on my menu, I would have probably revisited Zombies, Run! - a zombie-apocalypse-themed fitness app I used to love playing while running or biking. If this sounds weird and/or interesting, check it out. It's pretty much free, and it really helps to take the edge off of cardiovascular exercise. There's nothing like running from the undead to turn you into a health nut.
Also, maybe because I'm so locked in to my immediate indoor environment these days, I've been keenly interested in virtual reality games. My brother recently acquired an Oculus Quest 2, and I'm seething with repressed sibling envy. Also, there are a bunch of cool VR zombie games I'd love to try, like the Walking Dead: Sinners & Saints game. I feel like murdering some realistic, virtual reality zombies may be just the kind of pandemic lockdown therapy I need right now. I wonder if there's a way I could write off VR zombie games as a medical or author research expense...
I'd also love to view this amazing first-person POV zombie parkour scene with a VR headset. It may not actually count as cardio, but maybe if I trick my brain into thinking I'm really being chased by zombies, my heart will still get a workout. Check it out here:
ZOMBIE / POST-APOCALYPTIC READS
Every now and then, it's fun to read end-of-the-world stories even when they don't feature zombies. Take a look at author TL Payne's popular post-apocalyptic EMP novel No Way Out, Book 1 of her Fall of Houston series. I haven't had a chance to read this series yet, but I'm hoping to get around to it this year. If you read it, let me know what you think!
There are two big freebie book promos happening right now, both of which feature lots of horror, post-apocalyptic and zombie stories. My novella Dom of the Dead is also featured in both of the promos below. If you want some free stories to read, check them both out!
My Spooky New Year
New Year, New Apocalypse
Thanks for reading everybody. Here's looking forward to a great 2021. Unless Nostradamus was right about the zombies, in which case... well, it was nice knowing you.
ZILLIONAIRE - ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SURVIVAL FOR THE RICH & FAMOUS
Zombat 101: Zombie combat tips for beginners for when there's nobody there to save your A$$ (EXCERPT)
ZOMBAT OPTION 1: GUNS
Your preferred means of destroying an undead opponent's brain should be sheer brutal firepower. So grab the biggest, shiniest, scariest-looking gun you can get your hands on. Ideally something gold plated with your name embossed on it.
Now start popping away.
Shotgun, rifle, automatic pistol, machine gun, bazooka, flamethrower, whatever. Just point and shoot. It's easy! There should be some sort of sight at the end of the barrel - line that sucker up with the zombie's head, then press that trigger button thingy.
Zappo! One less zombie to deal with.
Then move on to the next zombie, blam blam blam, you get the idea.
No need to worry about friendly fire, ammo depletion, bullet velocity/trajectory, hearing loss, delayed discharge (lol), recoil or jams. That's just fake news that gun manufacturers spin to get you to buy overpriced accessories, like hypoallergenic crotch holsters, safety manuals, paper targets and tactical bi-pods.
Bi-pods! Can you believe they won't even give you a third leg to make them into tripods? It's all just a giant scam.
So don't overthink this, okay? Go to town. Shoot to your stony heart's content.
Firearm safety schools, mustachioed survivalist authors and law enforcement agencies make it seem like there's a butt-load of hand-eye coordination, training, discipline, muscle memory and technique involved in tactical firearm combat.
Boy, are they ever wrong!
I've watched tons of Hollywood films and Netflix TV shows while researching this book, and have come to the considered conclusion that shooting stuff is SUPER easy. Don't waste your time practicing. Technique is for destitute losers who can only get laid with relatives. Trust me. Just get your hands on a bunch of crazy expensive guns, buy dump trucks full of ammo, and when the dead come, make-believe you're John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lionel Richie. Rapid-finger that trigger just like you'd expect a blind date you ordered on Uber to twiddle your taint, if you have one. Survival ensured!
Oh, wait... what if you do somehow run out of bullets? What if the gun jams? What if the pistol gets uncomfortably heavy, or doesn't color-coordinate with your scarf?
Well, then. As unlikely as any of those scenarios are, if any of those one-in-a-gazillion glitches ever occur... it'll be time to play Conan.
ZOMBAT OPTION 2: BLADED/PIERCING WEAPONS
Most zombie combat martial experts I tracked down on Craigslist advised me to use traditional go-to's like ninja swords, machetes, spears or Bowie knives.
I urge you to reconsider.
These instruments of death are also instruments of accidental self-stabbing and impalement. The last thing you want is to be swinging a Viking ax around, cut a zombie in half, then end up embedding the infected blade into your calf.
There aren't any emojis with sad-enough faces for that scenario.
So my advice is to steer clear from the over-hyped, mass-adopted sharp weapons most other survivors prefer. Instead, focus on blades and spikes that will:
A) single you out as a trend-setter.
B) be unlikely to break skin. Especially yours.
Carry a couple of dull-bladed solid gold butter knives, one on each hip, and perhaps a backup marmalade-spreader in your purse. They should have rounded tips, and no serrations. Basically, they're the same knives you would use to smear Nepalese duck testicle preserves on your run-of-the-mill sesame and gold flake bagel.
When a zombie comes at you, whip out your cutlery. Distract the undead by sensually waving your knives around in front of their faces, almost as if you were conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, but way sexier. I bet you the zombie will pause their attack, bemused by your grace and rhythm.
This is when you pounce like a jaguar (the wild cat, not the car), and stab your butter knives into the zombie's soulless eyes.
Ahhhh. Push it. Push it real good.
There's a decent chance you'll reach the brain, in which case you should swish the blades around in the orbits a bit to make sure the damage is significant. And given how dull the edges of your knives are, if your aim is off, at least you won't be in any danger of giving yourself an accidental ricochet nick to the jugular.
Same goes for spiked weapons.
Forget arrows, javelins, or morning-stars.
Instead, go for a good high-heeled shoe, a mummified dolphin penis or a titanium airplane key. These luxury combat staples should provide you with the perfect combination of self-safety and lethality during Zombat.
Plus, think about how great you'll look fighting off the dead wielding nothing more than a sequined pair of alligator-leather Manolo Blahniks.