Survival When the Stars are Right
My good friend Gabriel at poliadic.com has charged me with writing a worst-case scenario blog dealing with one of my favorite subjects – the coming of the Ancient Ones, the hideous, alien horrors who transcend the confines of mere space and time. When the stars are right, they shall descend upon our world in a maelstrom of terror. We know them to be unspeakably evil things who have little care for the human race – beings that seem to respond to scientific as well as occult influences, but to varying degrees and only within specific parameters.
Gabriel’s general essays concerning things such as stockpiling food, salt, weapons, and basic wilderness survival are great beginning areas to work with. In any apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic situation, these basics are generally indispensable. However, I feel a few additional elements should be highlighted, considering the desperate survivalist nature of an Ancient One incursion.
Speed Training and Parkour.
Mobility is a prime requisite of all combat. There is a reason boxing, kickboxing, Kung Fu, MMA, Judo and many other martial arts practitioners incorporate a considerable amount of running into their workouts, and that is to stress both cardio-vascular endurance and mobility. Achilles, the legendary warrior of the Iliad, was known not as the strongest of the Achaeans, but as the fastest runner.
In addition, the ability to scale and bypass objects with ease gives one a major tactical advantage. Re-watch movies like Rumble in the Bronx and District B13 and note that, even though wonderfully choreographed, just how many of the fights were “won” by dodging and avoiding danger by capitalizing on the nearby terrain rather than direct attack. When it comes to the bloodthirsty creatures of the Cthulhu mythos, many of the horrors one might encounter will be larger and far stronger than you, so the ability to avoid savage bites and flailing tentacles is clutch. Therefore, I suggest a regular regimen of running (preferably cross-country, and incorporating sprints) and parkour-style obstacle training. Conveniently, there appear to be a plethora of 5K mud runs springing up everywhere these days, so it should be relatively easy to accomplish this. You never know just what kind of terrain you might find yourself traversing when being pursued by a hungry pack of ghouls.
Observational Training and Faithful Animal Companions
It is not surprising to anyone, really, that the advent of texting, smart phones, and social media sites has created a general dearth of spatial awareness for the average human. A simple jaunt down the sidewalk on a typical day might find you bumping into one person after another who didn’t bother looking up from their Twitter feed to notice another domesticated simian within close proximity.
Come the rise of the Ancient Ones, however, remaining alert shall become a top priority. Evil creatures used to surviving in the depths of the abyss can be rather stealthy buggers. Therefore, “constant vigilance” should become one’s survival mantra. Do you often look up? Do you check behind the door when you enter a room? Do you pay regular attention to the position of objects within your living space? If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, its time to start working on tightening up your observational methods. Start by looking at a room for 60 seconds and then closing your eyes. How much of the room can you reconstruct with your eyes closed? Can you recall the exact location of the desk or chair? Perhaps the lean of the water bamboo? How much beer did you leave in the glass on the table? This and similar exercises, though seemingly arbitrary, might prevent you from being devoured by a hidden and hungry abomination lurking in your apartment.
Come the rise of the Great Old Ones, it might also be prudent to have a loyal pet nearby. Animals have senses that put human ones to shame, and many have been known to despise the twisted creatures of the Mythos. Cats have been known to attack moon-beasts en masse, and dogs tend to become enraged when smelling the twisted progeny of Yog Sothoth. Granted, larger beasts might find your faithful critter to be little more than a tasty snack, but it would be quite an honorable sacrifice were Fluffy to die so you might live.
Marksmanship and Bullet Construction
Though not all of the evil denizens one encounters will be corporeal, those monstrosities able to be described as “having flesh” will be best dealt with from a distance. In this respect, marksmanship should be drilled constantly. Certain creatures can run and/or fly at ridiculous speeds, so you’ll want to make certain the first few shots you fire drop the creature in question, else reloading might not be in the cards. One should also concentrate on practicing with high-caliber ammunition to ensure maximum stopping power and damage.
You should also remember that there will be an inherent scarcity of available ammunition in a post-apocalyptic society. Therefore, if a hideout is constructed and properly concealed, it would be best to include a bullet press, a few kilos of properly stored black powder, and thousands of loadable shells. If you can’t loot the ammo stores of the recently deceased, you can always make your own.
In addition, it would be wise to train with other ranged weapon styles – bows and arrows, crossbows, throwing axes, spears and hatchets. These weapons have the advantages of stealth and silence, and training with them improves hand-eye coordination considerably while simultaneously strengthening various muscle groups.
Occult Knowledge and Care
Many of the indescribable horrors rising from the sea or walking between dimensions are incorporeal, yet subject to the manipulations of certain mystical and occult formulae. Thus, it behooves the aspiring survivalist to learn much about occult practices from various disciplines, specifically of the banishing and protection variety. Protective circles, sigils, and glyphs will help to ward off the malignant shades that stalk the shadows between worlds, and banishings can be employed to send them back to their places of origin should they find a way to materialize in our dimension.
Now, you should be warned. Certain spellbooks that do not concentrate on banishing and protection tend to be not only unsavory, but prone to infecting the mind of the reader. Paranoid delusions, schizophrenia, and suicidal tendencies often result from reading such grotesque tomes. Sometimes, however, one has no choice but to delve deep into the depraved grimoires in order to find a necessary banishing or counter-spell. If you ever find yourself in such a predicament, proceed with utmost care. It would certainly be a waste if you carefully survived for months only to later snuff yourself after reading a particularly maddening section of Unaussprechlichen Kulten.
Improvised Explosives, Incendiaries, and Sterilization
Some of the cyclopean monsters you encounter will be far too large to be properly affected by bullets, spears, or other such weapons. This does not mean that they are invincible, mind you, but merely call for a heavier hand. Thus, knowledge of improvised explosives will be indispensable in the strange aeons to come. A few pounds of chemical fertilizer and some random household accoutrements might be your only chance of taking out the shambling shoggoth terrorizing your small survivor village. Therefore, you’d better know how to turn said ingredients into a big badda-boom, else what’s left of you might be coming out the wrong end of an Elder Thing’s favorite shape-shifting pet.
Also, though many things might be able to regenerate a lacerated pseudopod, it is exceedingly difficult for anything to regenerate incendiary damage. Thus, Molotov cocktails should be readily available. Any base camp should involve a still for creating high-octane liquor from the most basic of ingredients. (Note: It is imperative that said still should be kept very far away from the previously mentioned store of black powder.) These liquors can then be used in both explosive and basic incendiary construction, and can also be a source of invaluable antiseptics. Bacterial infection, tetanus, gangrene and other such malignancies are serious concerns for the would-be survivalist. The all-too-common scrapes, scratches, cuts, and bite wounds typically inflicted by a nasty fight or flight through degenerated urban wasteland can quickly turn toxic if left untreated. However, pouring something 100 proof or higher into an offending wound might effectively sterilize the situation. .
Slashing and Edged Weapons
Your last ditch effort will be melee combat. You don’t ever want to find yourself in this stage of the game if you can help it, but if forced into a corner by an enraged mi-go, you are going to want a blade on you, and preferably something with reach. Blades are being stressed over bludgeoning weapons because many Lovecraftian nasties tend to lack a skeletal structure at all, and seem far more like cephalopodic invertebrates or sentient fungi, so breaking their bones may not be as effective as cutting them up into tiny pieces. Therefore, training with broadswords, sabers, kindjals, katanas, bastard swords, wakazashis, axes, hatchets, glaives, machetes, bowie knives, and anything else you can get your hands on will be very necessary. Japanese Kendo and Budo dojos, SCA or LHA Fencing and Heavy List academies, and Filipino Arnis/Escrima/Kali schools are easily found, and probably not far from you. Weapons skills learned at these places just might give you the necessary edge (pun intended) to eke out a victory over a hungry eldritch foe.
Survival when the stars are right is not entirely hopeless. It’s just mostly hopeless. You might be able to live like a nomad for a time subsisting off the land, or perhaps construct an easily defensible bunker out in the sticks, but ultimately, the Ancient Ones shall come. I can only hope that these meager suggestions might provide you all with a fighting chance against the indescribable terrors that await mankind.