By Charlie Gill
If you’re reading this, it means we were successful. It means you have a chance not to suffer the fate that befell most of the city that fateful March 2011.
We’re not sure where it started, really. Aaron said it was at the American Apparel—he’s sure there was something even deader than usual behind the eyes of the employees. Said he got close enough to smell them, that there was no tobacco on their breath that day. If they hadn’t been smoking, he was sure, they must have already been dead. Then again, Aaron went crazy.
Either way, it spread fast. At 20th and Market, a falafel cart was overturned—and it wasn’t the platter or the sandwich they were after. In South Philly, the streets ran redder than any tomato product could explain. Windows were smashed all up and down Broad with no Phillies victory to account for the frenzy.
A few of us understood what was happening. We stocked up, fled the urban center and made it here to Manayunk, where we’ve holed up in Spectrum Scientifics trying to send this dispatch into the past so maybe a few more can make it.
Manayunk is safe, for now. The undead here have no more interest in this shop than they had when they were alive. If you make it, though, steer clear of the bars. That scene has only improved a little since the apocalypse came.
Keep in touch
If you’re in a group, you’re going to get separated from time to time and you don’t have the luxury of planning ahead. To take advantage of what you’ve got to keep in communication—your Iphone, your ham radio, your GPS, whatever—you’re going to need to keep it powered up. There’s no signal these days, of course, but it took at least a week for the grid to fail—a precious week that can be used to find your loved ones. A compact solar charger will give you enough juice for the necessaries without tethering you to a single place. Trust me, going green never saved your ass so hard.
Buying: Voltaic Fuse Compact Solar Charger, $129
Where: Big Green Earth, 1650 Market St. biggreenearthstore.com
Be deadly if possible, but silent no matter what
Yeah, you’ll need a weapon, but not as much as you’ll need to be quiet. For the first few hours we heard shots, but they didn’t last. The noise drew the staggering horde—I guess, in a way, the guns of others saved our lives. We were smarter, packing firepower without the noise. A traditional bow will be most cost-effective if you’re early enough to buy, but like I said, if you’re already in the shit, go for ease of use with a crossbow—no one will miss it, and you’ll miss less with it.
Buying: Warrior 54” Bow, $99
Looting: Legend HD 175 Red Dot Package, $450
Where: B&A Archery Shop, 7169 State Rd. archeryoutfitters.net
You need a way to get around fast, and you need to be able to take your mode of transportation with you even through tight spaces and over and under obstacles. A folding bike fits the bill—sturdy and fast enough to get you around the city on the back roads, compact enough to carry when you need to duck into hiding. If you’re getting this far enough ahead of time to buy, go for the KHS Latte. If it’s already begun, you may as well loot something sturdier and nicer. Take a Dahon.
Buying: KHS Latte, $329.99
Looting: Dahon Speed TR, $999.99
Where: Jay’s Pedal Power, 512 E. Girard Ave. jayspedalpower.com
See them before they see you
Know where the wind is coming from, and know where they’re coming from. If you can spot them before they see, hear or smell you, you have a better shot at keeping your skull pudding intact. Some basic binoculars will give your party a huge advantage, though if the economy’s already gone brain-based you may as well help yourself to something with night-vision capabilities—PECO’s not going to keep pumping juice into the streetlights forever.
Buying: Mini Scout 7x18 Compact Binoculars, $39
Looting: NexGen 24mm 2.3x Night Vision Binocular, $449
Where: Spectrum Scientifics, 4403 Main St., Manayunk. spectrum-scientifics.com
Always have fire
Reliable lighters are more valuable than diamonds these days—you can use fire to cook, to attack, to defend, to do a hundred other odd jobs, and few are prepared to pull that Boy Scout business with the sticks and the string. A good dual-flame lighter with a soft flame and a butane torch will do you right, and if you invest in a good one and some extra fluid you won’t keep having to scramble to a gas station every time you want to cook or set up a burnscreen. It will save your life. And while you’re down at S.J., you may as well pick up a couple good smokes, too—it’ll kill you eventually, but who’s still worried about eventually?
Buying: Vector Dupla, $33.75
Where: S.J. Cigar Co., 524 S. 3rd St. sjcigars.com
Prepare for the jerk who will inevitably lose his mind
We should have seen it coming with Aaron, and the fact that we didn’t cost us. If it’s a bite the signs will be obvious, and you need to dispatch the infected with a broadhead before they start thinking of the rest of you as al dente. If it’s just stress breaking them, well, they might recover, but don’t get caught unaware. Keep restraints on hand so you can put the crazy on lockdown when you need to. Oh, but go furry. They’re still human beings, for Christmas’ sake.
Buying: Fur Handcuffs, $16.50
Where: The Velvet Lily, 1040 N. 2nd St. thevelvetlily.com
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace