John Harpsicord*), a follower of this blog, asked: “What about the name of this blog dude! Survive the Apocalypse – I can’t find any apocalyptic content and no survival tips. WTF is that all about? Confused, John.”
Well John, you do have a point. Let me try to explain why this blog may be ALL about surviving the apocalypse.
Once the apocalypse strikes – which may happen earlier than you think, through a deadly combination of global warming, over-population and some completely inept political leaders (so sad !) – there is very little that we can do.
In my novels Two Journeys and Fields of Fire, this shocking situation is caused by a global epidemic. Luckily, humanity has gone a long time without a major pandemic. But outbreaks of viruses such as SARS, corona or influenza (e.g. H2N2 or the Asian Flu H3N2; or bird flu) have occurred repeatedly in the last twenty years or so.
In my books, I try to show a different path than what some so-called “preppers” or the “prepper movement” appear to advocate. If catastrophe strikes, keeping the higher ground morally shows that we are human. Stocking up on emergency food, baseball bats, pepper spray and guns may sound like a sound strategy, but in reality you won’t know what has hit you, once the post-apocalypse arrives.
For me, the best survival strategy is… enjoy life while you can! Take life with a grain of salt and a lot of humor, because none of us know how long we or good ol’ Earth will be around.
The apocalypse does make for some great reading though – just think about the zombie hype a few years back. This is also reflected in my adventure novels (curious ? Look here at www.clemenssuter.com/books). You will find a lot of information about these books on this blog, which is another explanation for the name of this site.
And finally: aren’t we all, in one way or another, surviving our own personal apocalypse each and every day? Life can be tough as shit; and most confusingly, it is also absolutely beautiful. That’s what I try to bring across in my work and in the title of this blog: the negative of the Apocalypse and the beauty of Survival – they are like Yin and Yang. Life is complex and unpredictable: there are no easy explanations.
*) name (slightly) changed
Survive the apocalypse with appropriate headwear. Life is a contradiction and can be confusing as hell, so better enjoy it while you can (Photo by Charles Deluvio)
Great news for all fans of my post-apocalyptic / adventure novels TWO JOURNEYS and FIELDS OF FIRE: the first raw version of the third installment in this trilogy was finished today, at 91,634 words. Now comes the hard part: refining the text, finetuning the storyline and… editing, editing, editing!
Below a sample for the impatient – but caution: this is unedited text.
I had been asleep for a few hours, when Vora shook me. “Alan. I’m not feeling well, not well at all.”
She looked terrible, and she was hot with fever. I gave her some water and a few tablets to lower her temperature. “Go back to bed, I will look after you. If I’m not here when you wake up, I will be looking for medication. You will feel better in the morning.”
I lighted a candle and sat in a chair close by, dogs at my feet, and pretended to read a journal. My mind wasn’t with the text at all, as this unexpected complication took me by surprise. People did get sick, but I wondered what had struck her. I retraced our steps and activities but couldn’t immediately think of anything that might have caused this unless she had been wounded during the skirmishes in Denver. Or had one the soldiers been a carrier for an infection and had that been passed on to her?
After a restless night, dawn arrived, a blood-red sun slowly rising above the horizon. I had stolen away and wandered through the empty halls. I had located a store with some medical supplies; the stuff that travelers had needed; ibuprofen, aspirin, cough medicine, antiseptic solutions, plasters; nothing truly useful, but I took all of it along.
Vora was still asleep, her fever slightly better. She woke up about an hour later.
“How are you doing?”
She shook her head: “Tired mostly. Exhausted. This is a bastard.”
She felt her body. “Not really. Alan – I’m sorry, I…”
I put my finger to my lips. “Hush! I don’t want to hear it. Let’s get you going again, then we’ll talk about next steps. I will have to examine you, whether you have any damage.”
I helped her get out of bed and together we managed to take off her trousers. I lifted her shirt. She had some bruises and scratches, a few looked slightly more serious. I checked her feet and her hands for wounds. I cleaned every scratch with alcohol.
“What do you see?” She could only speak in a whisper.
“Nothing conspicuous. These wounds should all quickly heal, none of them should cause a fever, but you never know… Just rest now, and I will do some thinking. Did anybody do anything to you… anything that I should know about? That could have infected you?” She shook her head. “No, nothing that I can think off.”
In a clean t-shirt and loose leggings, her face and hands cleaned with some water and alcohol, and after a bite of food, she looked a bit better. “Stay in bed and relax.”
I left the lounge. I cursed when I was out of hearing. I needed Vora to get me across the ocean, to fly that plane for me… us. Without her support I would be lost. I needed to get her fit as fit as possible and as quickly as possible.
At the information desk in the arrival area, behind customs, I found details about the immediate surrounding area. Mostly commercial offerings, like hotels, restaurants, and shuttle services; nonetheless I also found a useful map: a university hospital was located nearby, may ten blocks away.
Vora had to be moved. A hospital would provide medicine, equipment, information…
Not much later, I located an ambulance parked underneath the terminal. The engine worked. I pulled out the stretcher and the dogs and I walked back to the lounge.
Vora was awake, but I wasn’t happy with the way she looked. She hadn’t improved one bit, that was clear. I transferred our gear to the ambulance, and then I tied her onto the stretcher, to which she objected halfheartedly. In her position I would have objected too, but I didn’t want her to break a hip should she fall off.
We went to the ambulance, I loaded her and the three dogs in the back, and off we went. For a second, I was tempted to switch on the siren, but decided against it, for obvious reasons; I didn’t want to attract any downers.
I drove up to the entrance of the emergency unit, unloaded the stretcher with Vora, and found a room where I could put her in. I put the stretcher down to a few inches off the ground. “Everything OK?”
She didn’t answer.
Like it? Get a copy of TWO JOURNEYS on your Apple device, and start out with part one of the trilogy.
In a previous post I provided details about the new novel that I am working on: REBOUNCE is the preliminary name of this book and the third and final book in the TWO JOURNEYS trilogy (get a copy of the first two books, for instance on your iPhone / iPad). I am now at 45,000 words, 55,000 to go.
The hero Alan, as tough as nails… combining unrelenting courage, adaptability, compassion and inventiveness – pre-conditions essential to survive in a devastated, post-pandemic world.
Danger lurks around every corner, and not just from humans. To illustrate the man’s resilience: here’s a short sample from the unedited manuscript. DON’T try this at home.
Stay tuned for more.
Part of Chapter 7
Lewis’ eyes explored my face. “What happened to your eye?”
Usually, people ignore the black patch that covers my left eye, they just stare at it curiously, too embarrassed to ask.
“A guy with a knife attacked me.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
I shrugged. “He’s too. I shot him.”
Lewis’ eyebrows went up, a combination of respect and shock. I usually tell anyone who asks me this story. Why not make the best out of the loss of an eye? In addition, the true story was so embarrassingly weird, that nobody ever believed it.
I had at one point made the foolish decision to take a motorbike for a ride. In the absence of humans and pesticides, insects had returned in large numbers and as the engine accelerated onto an unspoiled stretch of highway, I hit into a cloud of fat hornets. One had landed in my eye and stung me multiple times. I fell off the bike and barely made it back to base. The next day, my left eye swelled up beyond recognition. I dragged myself to a drugstore where I camped for a few days, trying out any useful medication or antibiotic that I could find. It was no use; without any help, I suddenly had to decide between dying or operating on myself; the left side of my face was swollen like a red balloon, and the eyeball was gray and obviously invested by an aggressive, unbeatable bug. I pulled a stretcher into a backroom, mounted lights and a mirror above it, and prepared an infusion with a cocktail of salt, painkillers and antibiotics. Lying on my back, I anesthetized half of my face. The next hour was the most horrible in my entire life. On some level, even my wife’s death was by comparison a walk in the park. In my dreams, especially after a heavy meal, I sometimes still see the scalpel approaching my eye. The first incision was excruciating. I shortly passed out from pain and the obnoxious smell of puss and blood that ran down my face. I screamed in horror and shook my head like a wild man. After many minutes I regained some control, and feeling slightly better, I turned my head back to look at my reflection in the mirror. With my gloved hand I opened my half-closed eyelids. The eye itself was gone, the socket a gaping hole, with some ugly bits of tissue and the stump of the nerve in the back. With trembling hands, I rinsed the wound and patched it up with bandages and disinfectant that I had prepared earlier. Then I fainted. It took me six weeks to recuperate.
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Arguably, Tokyo is the most populated cityin the world, with 36 million inhabitants during the day and 22 million at night. It is impressive how this city runs so smoothly with that many inhabitants. What would happen if it would come to a sudden standstill? The opening chapters of TWO JOURNEYS (my 2011 CORONA PANDEMIC novel) describe just that.
Below some pictures that I took in Tokyo during past visits and that inspired me to place my post apocalyptic work in this mega city.
Highrises in Tokyo. The sheer bulk of these buildings is overwhelming.
Alan, the hero of Two Journeys visits Tokyo around Christmas time.
Should an epidemic of the proportions described in Two Journeys strike, the lights (above) would extinguish rapidly, the trains such as the one below (famously overfilled) would halt.
Originally I had planned an art exhibit of my work for June, and the organization of this live event was already initiated back in January, together with three other artists. But then the pandemic struck, and it became quite obvious that a live, on-site event was out of the question.
Luckily, through my previous job in business, I have experience in organizing remote events, so the decision to turn this “viral disaster” into a “virtual exhibit” was a relatively easy step to take. In the end, I managed to hand over a surprisingly high number of paintings and books through this approach. Perhaps you are interested in doing something similar, so let me share some tips and tricks on how to make this work.
Set the theme. I called my virtual event “the fundraiser against Corona” as my objective was to donate any proceeds to the WHO corona fund. This was the red tread through all communication.
Choose the timeframe. I took the month of May as the running time for the event.
Connect to your audience, I have a e-mail list with many subscribers, and emailing was centerpiece to the campaign. You can’t overwhelm people with continuous emails, so I designed just three emails: one for April with the general announcement, one for half of May, and a final closing email announcing that the event was almost over, with a final call to action.
Use a website as the central information resource. The link to that website should be simple so that it can be typed in by hand or communicated during a conversation, e.g. over the phone. Here’s mine: www.clemenssuter.com/papa.
Use all channels available. Not all people receive information through the same channel, as it turned out some customers heard about this campaign through Instagram, others through LinkedIn, and others through email. I pushed out the campaign through my website, email, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, tumblr, two sites on Facebook, YouTube… and a few others that I have in the meantime forgotten about ;-) Naturally you can also use any other way: even written letters or postcards.
Use a single, simple and unique hashtag across all social media. Check out my tag #cps_d2c. That hashtag allows all participants to find your work in their personal favorite channel, and it connects all channels.
Post and communicate continuously. Make sure to provide some piece of news every day, across many of the channels. Indicate which day it is: “today is the tenth day of the fundraiser” or “only five more days left for the fundraiser”. As an example, I shared details of a painting each day, or posted about one of my books every couple of days.
Use video. I made short movies that I posted on YouTube, telling why I was running the campaign. Even three weeks in, not all of the people that I had addressed understood what this was about, so you must keep on reiterating your goal. Vlogs are a great way to supplement blogs.
Talk about successes. If you sell your work, tell the audience about this right away. Also mention if you have successfully shipped a painting, or when it has arrived at the buyer. People will want to know that you can deliver. Also provide some guarantee that you will take the picture back if the buyer doesn’t like it. Naturally some buyers will want to look at the art too; so I organized live visits (in line with corona limitations).
Join forces with other artists. Actually, this is a call to action for YOU, if you create high quality art and literature. Imagine such a campaign with a number of artists, each with their own channels! That would lead to an impressive multiplication. If this approach interests you, contact me.
Exciting news about my new book. In case you have been wondering why I have written only few blogposts over the last months… first, I was very busy with my fundraisers, which managed to raise more than 2500€ for charity through my paintings and books. Then, I was giving several interviews to newspapers about my books, which took up some time time. And next to that I am now working on my FOURTH NOVEL… which will be the final book in the TWO JOURNEYS Trilogy – the grand finale!
TWO JOURNEYS (2010), and the second novel in this series FIELDS OF FIRE (2015) deal with the aftermath of a corona pandemic; these are high-rated post-apocalyptic adventure novels. The third and final installment has the provisional title NIGHT OF SORROWS, and I hope it will hit the (e)book stores before the end of 2021. Research has been taking up considerable time; I had to study the geography of the areas where the novel is situated, spanning two continents, as well as new technological developments – the Internet-of-Things/IoT, Artificial Intelligence, space travel, robotics and more. In 2010, TWO JOURNEYS made a predication about the danger of pandemics and especially corona. My new novel tackles the risk of artificial intelligence for mankind… I don’t want to give away too much at this stage, also as the plot is still developing – let’s see where it may ultimately end.
Currently I am at 25,000 words, so at a about a quarter. I am cranking out 10,000 words a week, probably 2 months more of writing, then re-writing, and then it’s off to the editor. If you would like to pre-read the manuscript, or if you are an editor, feel free to contact me :-) For all those of you that can’t wait until the book is available, below is the first chapter & prologue. Mind, it still has to go through several rounds of editing, this is the raw initialtext. Comments welcome!
Here we go… strap on your seatbelt.
Night of Sorrows / Prologue
First draft. Copyright Clemens P. Suter 2021
Every beginning has its challenges. Every ending too, but at least good endings happen quickly. I stare at the paper in front of me, the handwriting contrasting black against white. A tear, which must have fallen out of my remaining eye, has deformed a written word, like a lens enlarging a crucial yet long forgotten detail. Five pages finished. If I continue writing at this speed, I will have died long before I reach the end.
Over the years I often toyed with the idea of writing down my story, which is exciting by any man’s standards. But there were numerous reasons not to do so. For one, my life left little time for scholarly work. More cynically: an author needs an audience, and is there any audience left? Who will ever read my notes?
The darkness surrounds me like a cloak, only disturbed by the flickering of the candle. I adjust the blanket around my shoulders. A fire roars in the woodburner, but it doesn’t help against the cold. Outside, a snowstorm tears at the walls of the cabin. I tilt my head to listen for sounds. It is deep in the night, early morning almost, hardly the time for any creature to be about. Did I hear something, a distant shout? I chose this hide-out on purpose, far away from any predator’s path. My many years of experience always keep me on full alert; I’ve had too many unhappy encounters with four- or two-legged hunters. I look at the dogs at my feet, but they seem unalarmed. I shrug off any fear and try to retrace the thoughts that passed through my head a few moments ago. Why did I survive so long, while so many died? All my friends and most of my enemies – long gone. The hand that holds the pen is gnarled and covered with the spots of age. I have lost weight and muscle and the hair on my scalp. My back is stooped, my joints hurt in the morning. But I am still here, going like an old clock.
The pandemic devoured humanity, the fallout sterilized the planet: but neither managed to kill me. Was I chosen? Or was I punished? I never was a religious or superstitious man, and deep inside I know that no miracle or lucky star is needed to explain my survival: it is just freak coincidence. I am like the single bacterium that has picked up resistance against an antibiotic, the last tree that remains standing after a forest fire.
For a few moments, my thoughts continue to wander, until they uncomfortably home in on the events of that singular winter, so many years ago. They always do. With all the drama of my past life, those events stick out like a sore thumb, impossible to ignore, blotting out many other memories of my eventful life.
I stand up from my chair, shrugging the blanket from my shoulders and the bad thoughts from my mind. The dogs raise their heads towards me, their eyes gleaming in the dark. Although I feel the need to write down my story, in the hope of expelling the bad taste that it leaves in my mouth, I cannot continue.
Restlessly I pace the cabin. I tilt my head to listen. Finally, I remove the bar open the door. The storm is astonishingly strong, and snow immediately sweeps in. I feel the sting of the cold as the air hits my face. Visibility is low; at the most a few meters. I cannot even sense the valley that lies in front of the cabin. The flame of the candle is blown out, and in the semi-darkness, I see how the papers from my desk are blown out of the cabin and into the white landscape. I laugh madly. The dogs cower close to my legs, tails between their legs. Together we stare into the darkness.
I listen. The wind blows loudly, but I am now convinced that I can hear a sound, far off, irregular and organic. Something is moving out there, something or someone is shouting. Friend or foe, I cannot tell. I grab for the rifle that stands against the wall and I check that is it is loaded.
I remain in the doorframe. Closing the door and putting the bar back on isn’t an option; it never is. The enemy doesn’t rest, they never give up the chase. They continuously circle, pounce, bite and kill without mercy. Likewise, friends are unceasingly in need of help, faltering and hopeless, they lose themselves in the darkness of the night. Fear or compassion; I’m forced to confront any obstacle, to handle any challenge, swiftly and if need be mercilessly.
I slip into my coat and I put on my moth-eaten woolhat and gloves. I stuff a torch into my pocket. The wind picks up speed. The darkness is now complete; no sign of a rising sun, stars nor moon.
The snow stings in my eyes as we step from the door into the wild white vortex, gun raised, dogs barking. I feel how my teeth bare themselves in a menacing grin. No matter how old I get, no matter how much these old bones hurt, by everything holy and unholy, throw it at me, life.
First, I was contacted by Göran Hansson from Sweden, who expressed his enthusiasm for the Union in a direct comment beneath the blogpost. Göran emphasized the tremendous achievements that the EU has made; in the areas of peace and prosperity, but he also expressed frustration at how indifferent fellow Europeans sometimes are towards the EU. In his posts (link above) Göran is also a vocal proponent of the Europe of Regions, which I find a thrilling idea. In my reply to Göran, I expressed my believe that his efforts (as an example) are crucial to drive the discussion about the EU forward:
The EU is not just about voting every four years and, from the sidelines, watch the thing develop. We need more people to talk and exchange ideas about the EU.
And this must be done NOW: in the UK, democrats waited too long to start this conversation and left the playing field to the populists… and now the lower and middle class can feed the bill of the referendum disaster.
You are the EU. The EU is what you make out of it.
In my original blogpost (which I also cross-posted to several EU groups on facebook, e.g. #EUsolidarity Now), I compared the EU to the USA. Several readers pointed out that this is not valid, as the USA was founded by emigrants that could start a brand new state, whereas the EU is a federation of states, each with unique cultural traditions and independent histories. I agree with that view. In fact, I believe that one of the major strengths of the EU is its diversity. However, the original point that I wanted to make is that many people are critical of the EU, because the EU makes decisions that seem to be the result of a malfunctioning EU – but which are not, on closer inspection. I want to illustrate this with a few examples.
During the Corona crisis, many nations within the EU closed their borders (by the way, the Schengen agreement which allows free travel within the EU is just celebrating its 35th birthday). Within 24 hours I received an email from a friend in the US, asking whether this was “The End Of The EU?” Interestingly, the borders between individual states in the USA cannot be closed that easily; I would venture that this may actually have increased the momentum of the pandemic (China, on the other hand, had no issue with closing down the Wuhan region – no questions asked in a dictatorship). But what few people know is that on the other side of the spectrum, the border between Bavaria and Baden-Würrtemberg in Germany was de facto also closed – and although some local residents (or “pandemic deniers”) may have disagreed with that decision, nobody would consider for a second that Germany was falling apart or that Germany was failing as a nation. I truly believe that putting free travel on hold along the national borders partiallyand temporarily was the right decision to slow the spread of the virus. Note: my two sons and I live in three separate European countries, and visiting each other was thus not possible (by the way, we can easily live in three separate countries as a direct result of the many advantages that the EU provides.There is no need for visas, or other unnecessary bureaucracy bullshit – now who said that the EU was overtly bureaucratic?).
There was also a call that the pandemic response should have been an EU-wide- and not a national-response, e.g. the same social distancing rules in Italy, Spain, Estland or Ireland. But why, I wonder, is this a must-have? The EU has a size of 4,233,255.3 km2 and an estimated total population of 447 million! Regions within this huge area are going to be affected in different ways by a pandemic. Again, even within Germany, individual Bundesländer (~states) had individual pandemic guidelines.
Several commentators on my original blogpost agreed that calling the EU a fascist state (as the Kansas City taxi driver did) was way over the top. Sure, as one person pointed out:
it is crucial that a federal Europe must have a sound balance in power distribution; otherwise the fascism argument will continue, or the EU may be incapable of making decisions.
The role of the parliament must be strengthened (and not just in the Brexit negotiations with the UK). But people should also know how to use phrases such as Fascism, which is a clearly defined term and should not be used in a inflationary manner (as, for that matter, socialism, which many Trump voters do not seem to be able to grasp the meaning of).