Posted in Monday Mayhem

Alien Invasion: Survival Plan

Many alien invasion movies have the extraterrestrials coming to earth, raping the land of its resources, then leaving. Sometimes, we are the resource, which soon triggers a cat-and-mouse game humans would rather forget. Need I mention War of the Worlds and what the aliens did to our planet in that movie?

War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds

For this week’s Monday Mayhem post, let’s have a look at survival techniques when facing off against aliens. Let’s also concentrate a few moments on what we can do to thwart a possible invasion from our planetary neighbors.

Before I go on, let’s get something out of the way first. I’ve always been reluctant to use the term “we” in any of my posts. In fact, I try to avoid using it as much as possible. Some folks say it denotes inclusivity in order to place leadership in the midst of the people. In my mind, however, it has always set the speaker above the listener by way of privileged knowledge sharing. It also gives the impression the speaker is in a better position of distributing said knowledge than the listener—therefore, not making them equal in status, but privileged. So, it’s with some reservations I use the term “we” today, not because I feel privileged to lord it over you, but because, just like you, I’m part of the human race and wouldn’t know what else to call us. Besides, there’s no way I’d like for you to become equal to my insanity when I write these posts about zombies and aliens. That would be sick.

Aliens
Aliens

All right, what can we do to survive an alien invasion? Unlike zombies where we can shoot them in the head and it’s all over and done with, aliens require a new set of rules.

For instance, some aliens will hunt us with heat-seeking scanners, much like in the movie Predator. And we all know what happened there. Hadn’t it been for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character thinking of a brilliant plan, like the rest of his team, the creature would have also skinned and hung him from a tree upside down.

Some aliens will bleed acid, making killing them a virtual impossible task. I cite the movie Aliens and how in one scene, blood sprayed all over a soldier while attempting to shoot the ravaging beast. Not a pleasant sight, I might add.

Some aliens will eat us if we’re not careful. For this example, I call upon Men in Black where an alien bug ate Tommy Lee Jones’ character. Lucky for him he had a way out.

So you see, aliens come in different varieties. How on earth—pun fully intended—are we to defend ourselves? How would we be able to survive? Like I said, with zombies it’s pretty easy—one shot to the head and they’re over and done with. What about aliens? How would we do it?

Here’s my survival plan. Bear in mind, this is totally unscientific. I came up with this while shaving. If it’s a bit uneven, then you’ll know why.

Ready? Here it is…

  • Run!

Simple, right? Would you have expected anything less than a concise plan from me? I don’t think so. The point of the matter is if aliens try to invade our world, we’d be dead. In an effort to eradicate them from our planet, I soon wouldn’t doubt a nuclear strategy being in the cards. Running north seems like a good idea, I’d say. Away in the woods where defending ourselves against bears would be easier than from organ-probing monsters.

Then again, maybe it’s all for naught.

Maybe, just maybe—they’ll come in peace.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What would you recommend as another survival technique?

Posted in Freedom Friday

The Habit

Summer’s the perfect time for relaxation. It doesn’t matter if it’s outside in the park or the backyard. There’s always something to learn when easing into a lawn chair and allowing the mind to drift into a different direction.

Trees in our neighborhood
Trees in our neighborhood

I’m writing this Freedom Friday post with the sun in my eyes and the wind in my hair. Once you finish reading it, you’ll know what I mean.

The other day, my wife took me to our backyard and showed me something I hadn’t noticed before. I thought I’d seen everything in my life, but she once again astounded me. A tree, of no certain type, was growing underneath our deck to sprout its leaves through one of the cracks in the floorboards. Like I said, I’d never seen anything like this before and since then it has given me time to pause and reflect.

For a tree to grow under our deck like that, it had to have a seed. Our backyard has a generous helping of vegetation to have produced such a seed. We live in farm country where the woods are mature and the forests are alive. I’ve always been thankful not to live in a neighborhood where everything is flat and brown. The trees abutting our fences soar between sixty to seventy feet into the sky. The tree in the front of our house also towers to a grand sixty-plus feet. Again, I’m thankful I don’t have to look at a scrawny twig when I wake up in the mornings.

Anyway, back to what I was talking about—the seed. That seed had to fly through the air, in between the floorboards and sink below the soil to germinate. Given that under the deck is cool and dark, the seed also needed sunlight, which I might add, could only come from the crack from whence it came. Let’s not forget, it also needed water to nourish it. Again, I’m assuming the crack provided that nourishment.

Tree in our backyard
Tree in our backyard

So, you see, the odds of that seed ever making it as a tree were so against it. Yet, it grew!

Of course, me being the guy who owns the deck, had a problem on my hands. How do I get rid of it? I mean, I appreciated knowing of its resilience, but I just couldn’t have the thing grow and splitting apart my nice deck.

First, I tore apart the lattice under the deck to find the roots. This involved removing nails and producing a whole lotta sweat on a hot summer day. Second, once I found its roots, I had to chip away at it, since it had embedded itself against the foundation post and grew into a knotted mess. Last, when it proved too time consuming to pull at it with ordinary tools, I had to whip out my chainsaw.

You knew this was coming, right? Zombie writer. Tree. Chainsaw. C’mon, you didn’t think I’d pass up an opportunity to use my favorite weapon—I mean tool. To make a long story short, the tree’s gone, left in a yard waste bag by the side of the road.

But there is a moral to this story. I hope you can sit through a minute or so of philosophy.

Just like the seed of a tree, a good habit can grow to become a majestic wonder. It can sprout from within, take root and dominate a person’s life leading to create beautiful music, build a strong home or anything as routine as slipping on a pair of socks. A bad habit can lead to destructive friendships, poor judgment and all sorts of nasty ticks. Whatever the habit is, good or bad, it all starts with a seed.

In the case of the tree under my deck, looking at it from the surface, the tree seemed to be a perfect example of beating all odds to reach the sunlight. Had I left it growing, it would have destroyed the deck. In other words, what sometimes seems too good to be true may be just that. I know I’m speaking in riddles, but this message is for those who have ears. The other part of the equation is the seed grew out of the darkness, which we don’t notice until it’s too late. By that time, it would have already made a mess of things before its branches saw the light of day. Remember, I ultimately had to use a chainsaw to destroy its roots.

To make it even more confusing as to what I’m saying, if the roots set deep enough, habits tend to be hard to break. It’s better replacing a bad habit with a good one than to try to fight it alone.

Okay, enough of the deep talk. Let’s go back out there and enjoy summer!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What do you think? Is this subject too deep for summer?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Ryan Stone

I have something to say about a woman who doesn’t break down during the time most trying in her life. To see her at her worst and wonder how she’ll ever survive. To know in all that she’s accountable for, she will try her best—no matter what. It’s one thing when a woman says she can fight, but it’s another seeing it done without her ever having to speak the words.

Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone
Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone

Women Who Wow Wednesday proudly presents Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), the force behind the movie Gravity.

If you’ve seen the film, then you’ll know what I mean when I say Ryan Stone in Gravity lays it all on the line to become a true hero. How else can I describe her other than someone who relies on her ability to endure in order to stay alive?

Ryan Stone reminds me of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) from the feature Cast Away. In that film, Chuck crashes on a deserted island with little to live on and a willingness to sacrifice with the aim to live another day. Stranded, he does what he can to make it through storms, rain, famine, and the undisputed wall of challenge.

Much like Chuck, Ryan has her work cut out for her. As the lone survivor to a space catastrophe, she bucks the wave of destruction headed her way to push forward and live. One hit after another her determination gives her the optimism she needs to carry onward without complaining. If one challenge doesn’t spark defeat, another waits in the wings for her to recover just enough to hit her again.

Gravity's Ryan Stone
Gravity’s Ryan Stone

The film is a case study of a woman’s resilience to go beyond herself so as she can attain the highest form of praise available—to live. That fortitude within herself is what makes the movie so jarring. Multiple viewings provide the moviegoer a front seat to Ryan’s point of view as the protagonist with a penchant to last against unsurmountable odds.

The best part about Ryan Stone’s character is that no matter how bad it gets, she manages to pull herself from the devastation and fight back. Her character is such that she doesn’t recognize defeat, even during her lowest point. She doesn’t gripe. She doesn’t complain. She has her moment, but then she works through it to become stronger. That strength makes her a survivor.

This is not a review. This is my homage to a character filled with hope. May that hope inspire those who need it the most.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Have you seen Gravity? What did you think of Ryan Stone?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Selena

No one messes with Selena. No one. At first glance, she doesn’t say much. Her beautiful looks do not betray her enthusiastic will to survive. Not until the infected crash through a safe house does she show her true colors. With a machete in hand, she kills her best friend after seeing his arm bleeding from a bite wound. She would do it again in a heartbeat.

Naomie Harris
Naomie Harris

Adding to Women Who Wow Wednesday is Selena, the 28 Days Later character that shows no qualms in dispensing justice against the infected.

The story begins in a primate lab where scientists are experimenting with chimpanzees, infecting them with a virus called Rage. Animal rights activists overtake the lab’s security and quickly proceed to free the subjects of the experiments. Unbeknownst to any of them, they unleash the deadly virus on Great Britain, leaving the island in tatters from the devastating effects.

When Jim meets Selena (Naomie Harris), she and her fellow fighter, Mark, take him in as one of their own. Jim came from a hospital nearby, the sole survivor from the medical facility. The first thing Jim witnesses is Selena’s willingness to kill in order to remain alive. He can’t understand what drives her to want to destroy everything around her. Within days, he discovers her unyielding determination to survive—even if it means killing everyone around her that exhibits symptoms of the Rage virus.

Naomie Harris in 28 Days Later
Naomie Harris in 28 Days Later

Other characteristics set Selena apart from the rest of the survivors. She sees things as black and white. Do this, get killed. Do that, live. You get bitten, you die. Simple as that. Her definition of living is surviving. The infected are fast. The infected are strong. Nothing she will do can replace her life that was. But she can certainly ensure her safety by keeping her wits about her.

That is, until we see her eyes light up when passing a grocery store with the other survivors in the car. They go shopping. The first thing she advises everyone to do is to not take anything that needs to be cooked, which prompts Jim to say, “I think I can eat that raw.” Of course, Selena has her own weakness. “If I never see another chocolate bar again, it’ll be too soon. Not counting Terry’s Chocolate Orange!”

As tough as Selena appears, she also has a soft heart. Embracing the sight of horses running free on the moors warms her face with a smile that stretches from ear to ear. Talking with Jim, she states, “You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music ever again. You’ll never read a book that hasn’t already been written or see a film that hasn’t already been shot.” Huh, Selena—the softie.

Inasmuch as Selena sleeps with a machete in her hand, she’s very much a woman. Nonetheless, nothing will deter her to outlive the infected. She has life built in to her makeup.

Always cautious, always ready for a battle, Selena is a powerhouse fighter ready to take on anything that may get in her way.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you remember Selena from 28 Days Later? What did you think of her?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Apocalypse: Assumptions

What if everything we’ve read about the zombie apocalypse is true? What if there is a dreaded undead virus that will render the dead as living corpses, what then? What about all those movies about survival in the end times? Does this mean it would be wise for us to heed their advice and treat everyone as an enemy? As part of my Monday Mayhem series, let’s explore zombie apocalypse assumptions and determine if we really do have a chance or not.

Do we have a chance?
Do we have a chance?

Let’s assume a zombie apocalypse is possible. That somewhere in this finite world we call earth, there’s a virus capable of turning ordinary humans into raging monsters bent on sucking the life out of humanity.

Let’s assume a science experiment can and will go horribly wrong. Or a culture exists in the nether-reaches of some forest somewhere that can raise the dead in some mysterious incantation meant to bring loved ones back from the grave with absolute terrible consequences.

Let’s assume those initial victims (patient zeroes, first fruits, etc.) begin to wreak havoc with society. That the whole thing might occur in a deserted place or a populated city somewhere, which then spreads from animal to human, human to human, curse to human, all in a wave of terror that sweeps civilization as we know it today to bring a catastrophic onslaught of destruction on everything we know and love.

Will we survive?
Will we survive?

Let’s assume measures we’ve taken to protect ourselves from the cataclysmic event fails. Our water supply dwindles, our food disappears, our homes become unlivable, and our culture vanishes before our very eyes, what then? After all, all it takes is one bite, one drop of blood, one secretion of saliva to spread the condition to someone else. Who’s to say we’ll be safe?

Let’s assume the government has an exit strategy in place for all those deemed valuable to bringing about the replenishment of humanity in a new society. Will it survive? What if the rebuilding process involves creating a walled city strong enough to protect the last of us from harm’s way? What if the city has checkpoints in place, guards at every corner, cameras to monitor residents, daily and weekly spot checks to ensure no one—absolutely no one—poses a threat to the rest of society. What then, will we be safe?

And let us assume we do have a chance at survival. That we do end up fostering the new birth of the ideal society. That we will lead those less resilient on a quest to bring about the change we so much desired before the zombie apocalypse occurred. Will we manage?

If society has taught us anything, it’s Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. No amount of planning will change the inevitable outcome we will experience at the hands of zombies. We may run, we may hide, and we may believe we’re safe behind walls of stone fashioned to keep the undead at bay, but if it’s going to happen, it will happen. Nothing can prevent it. It’s a law of nature to deceive ourselves into believing we can survive.

Then again, maybe it’s all fiction and we can laugh at those who believe otherwise. Just a thought.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think? Can a zombie apocalypse occur? What are our chances at survival?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

How Far Would You Go?

How far would you go if it meant preventing the death of a loved one? Would you go beyond everything taught as wrong in order to save your family? Would you do wrong? In an attempt to answer these questions, this edition of Monday Mayhem explores humanity’s moral weakness during an apocalyptic event.

Biohazard
Biohazard

When things go well, humans tend to enjoy the spoils of their labor in relative peace and security thinking no one or anything could possibly disrupt their harmony. But throw in a crisis of biological proportions and the average person runs into the streets terrified their life as they know it is over.

The first thing to happen during a disaster of this kind is a run up on cash. Folks try to get as much of it as they can. But the old adage “cash is king” will not work when humanity is on the cusp of a new paradigm. It will all be about bartering and sharing. Even if folks head to the grocery store in an attempt to outwit their neighbor hoarding the last bit of the foodstuffs, they will have to do more than search, beg, and borrow. Guaranteed the neighbors have weapons. Guaranteed they wouldn’t be afraid to use them.

The question is, how far would you go?

Once society breaks down and the last morsels of food disappear, it will be up to the survivors to make due with what remains. And if the biological catastrophe involves a change in a large percentage of the population’s eating habits, there will be far more to fear than starvation. A new enemy will have emerged to either unite the survivors or tear them apart. An enemy so brutal and carnal, the survivors would have to do anything and everything to avoid them in order to remain alive.

Again, how far would you go?

Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach

A simple bath in clean water may take weeks. A warm bed with covers and sheets may take months. The joy of listening to any of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos or any music for that matter may never happen again. The simplicities in life, the things we take for granted, a quick walk through the woods, a chat on the phone, an email, reading a letter, a caress, taking a bus, riding on a train, walking a dog, smelling a flower, sitting on the veranda watching the rain fall, a hug, the taste of vanilla, a dance, a play, a movie, the joy of writing, talking, humming, a kiss—may disappear forever.

How far would you go?