Survival Plan or Cyanide Pill: Which would you choose?

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

The main thing going on currently is the Somewhere in the Shadows giveaway which is going for 14 more days.  This is a pretty good one.  The top winner will receive all books from all of the contributing authors for Somewhere in the Shadows.  It’s a Rafflecopter giveaway, which means you can get multiple entries for various reasons (i.e.- following the authors on Twitter, tweeting about the contest, following their blogs, etc…)

To enter the giveaway, click here

To read my foreword and a brief review of Somewhere in the Shadows, click here.

But without further ado…

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague the other day.

Actually, it was my wife and I who were having the conversation with a fellow faculty member at lunch when the topic of the end of the world came up.  Yeah, it was a weird lunch, and I’m not sure how we ended up on that topic.  I think it was when my wife asked the history teacher if it was just our current state of the world that seemed so polarized, or if mankind had cycled through this type of mentality like it cycled through so many other things.

castleTowerOr maybe it was when the history teacher mentioned the planned community known as The Citadel in Idaho.  For a simple description of what this community (read: “compound”) will be about, there is a banner at the top of their website saying “Get an Assault Rifle before it’s too late.”

Or maybe it was when I said that I had to go through pretty regular “media blackouts” because the news always seemed so bleak… as opposed to my wife who goes into withdrawals if she doesn’t get her NPR fix at least twice a week.  At this point, my wife said that she did, however, wish she hadn’t watched the documentary “Surviving Progress” which basically said that whenever a civilization had hit the apex we appear to be at, there was no chance for recovery of that civilization.

Now I know that based on my past few posts it seems that I perhaps unnecessarily dwell on this topic (even after we’ve passed our 12/21/12 expiration date), but it’s fascinating to me (and given the popularity of shows such as “The Walking Dead,” I’m clearly not alone), but the comments made by the history teacher at this point in our conversation added a whole new dimension to my fascination.

cyanideHe informed us that he would give the world about two weeks of chaos (be it via a financial collapse a la Fight Club or Y2K, or a zombie apocalypse) and if it didn’t get better, he wanted out.  He said that he thought having a cyanide pill on hand would probably be a good idea.


And he came up with this on his own.  He doesn’t like horror movies, so he hasn’t seen “The Walking Dead,” where I was first really exposed to the idea of people not wanting to survive.  Most other books, movies and television shows of apocalyptic story lines stick pretty close to the assumption that all of us would be taken over by our basic survival instinct, even when things seemed hopeless.  And I guess I’ve always bought into that idea as far as I would be concerned as well.

He even acknowledged the fact that we have this basic instinct.  But he wouldn’t follow it.  “I mean, what would you do with all of your time?” he asked, half-joking but also obviously serious.

A reasonable question.  Well, I wouldn’t have to go to work, for one, I said.  So what else do I do when I’m not working?  Naturally the conversation turned toward survival, and the fact that most of our time would probably be spent finding and/or growing our food.  My wife said we would have to relocate somewhere warmer.  This apocalypse was sounding better and better.

“Yeah, I don’t want to go back to those days,” he said.  “And can you imagine having kids?”  He made some rather humorous comments about having to put his technologically-dependent children out of their misery.

Well, it was funny the way he said it.  And over the humor, I had to admit that back when Y2K was a threat, I might’ve been a little excited about the possibilities of having to survive civilization’s imminent technological collapse, but I was also single with no kids.

I dunno.  Thinking about it in terms of a more terrifying apocalypse like that of “The Walking Dead,” maybe that survival instinct wouldn’t be as strong (“I’d just let the zombies bite me,” the history teacher said.  Clearly he hasn’t seen the show), but I still think in the case of a Y2K-esque collapse, I would accept the challenge.

The kids would just have to play outside when they got bored.

What do I want from you?

Just so you don’t think negatively of our history teacher, most of this conversation was in jest (as are most of our lunch conversations), but it does raise interesting questions.  So what’s your take?  Is it the survival plan or the cyanide pill for you?  Whether joking or not, I was impressed that my colleague would admit possibly subscribing to the latter (he’s actually a pretty interesting guy in several other areas of his personality as well.  I’m sure he’ll make a character in a story of mine at some point).

Don’t forget to enter the Somewhere in the Shadows giveaway at the link above.

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23 thoughts on “Survival Plan or Cyanide Pill: Which would you choose?

  1. Your title sucked me right out of my Hotmail account, Paul, lol. An interesting conversation. I’m reading about the rise of Hitler right now, and suicides were very common when he took over Austria, Czechoslovakia (had to look that one up), etc. I don’t know if I could do it, though. I’d probably opt for the survival plan.

    1. Wow, Michelle. That’s fascinating. I’m sure our history teacher would be aware of that fact as well. I’m sure many people considered it the beginning of the end when he took over. Thanks for the comments. Hope all is going well for you.

  2. I’ve had similar thoughts as your history teacher. I’m not sure I want to be as brutal as I’d need to be to survive. (I live in a city. Things could get very ugly very fast.) I probably would not kill myself, but I probably wouldn’t last long. Twenty years ago, I’d have said something else.

    On the other hand, one of my daughters and her friends joke about surviving a zombie apocalypse all the time. They do martial arts, parkour, and train with bow staffs and side swords. I asked her if I could join her gang if the zombies came, and she said, “I don’t know. What can you contribute?”

    1. Yeah, Marie. Living in a city would be pretty freaky. We live pretty far from any major cities (our closest “city” is only about 20,000 people and is about 15 miles away).

      That’s pretty funny about your daughter and friends. Sounds like you better come up with a skill. Maybe you can be the scribe capturing their moments of heroism 🙂

      1. I’ve watched all episodes of Survivor Man. Also, I can cook…

        1. You had me at Survivor Man 🙂

  3. I don’t need no steenking pill. I’m here to live. I’d pull a Burgess Meredith from the Twilight Zone and hold up in a library, enjoying my free time to read. And unlike him, my eyes are still good.

    1. Yeah, I would’ve pegged you into the survivalist group… although the image of Burgess Meredith wasn’t the first to come to mind 🙂

      Great episode though. Man, Rod loved Burgess, right? I’d have to look it up, but I can think of at least three episodes with him.

      Thanks for the comments.

  4. No cyanide pill for me, Paul. I am an angry enough person to surely go into survival mode, and possibly get some type of therapeutic joy from it.
    I do not think of this subject often–but have been pondering lately…some funny signs out there. I don’t think the end is right around the corner, like in our lifetimes–but I do think we have entered an era that has set us up for an easier and quicker demise.
    Have a nice day 🙂

    1. You’re so funny. I love the “Have a nice day” after your comments. And interesting comments indeed. “easier and quicker demise.” Yikes. Many people had speculated over the years that our 12/21/12 date was actually when we would enter a new level of consciousness. The optimists and spiritualists wanted to postulate that it was a higher level of consciousness, but maybe it was a tipping point going the other way.

      Well, as long as it won’t be in our lifetime 🙂

    2. Oh, and in regards to your therapeutic joy, I bring you this quote from Dwight on The Office:

      “There are several ways to kill a zombie, but the most satisfying one is to stab it in the brain with a wooden stick.”

  5. I don’t particularly feel we will SURELY do ourselves in–part of me is hopeful and that is probably one of the reasons I do not think this way often.
    2013 DOES feel a bit different.

  6. Oh I LOOOVEE the wooden stick plan…
    That nails it for me 🙂

  7. I’d be in the survival group, but my wife would choose the pill. So that makes me not want to be in the survival group. Attachments complicate things!

    1. Yes, they do, my friend. Yes, they do.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  8. I would go with the survivors. I tend to be determined to overcome and stubbornly refuse to give in just on general principle.

    For some interesting insight into your history teacher’s point of view, I recommend reading the classic horror novel “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson. The protagonist, Robert Neville, struggles with just how much does he want to survive his own vampire apocalypse, though his vampires are more like our modern-day zombies. Note that I am recommending reading the novel. Though they are great movies in their own rights, don’t watch either “The Omega Man” or the Will Smith “I am Legend”. They are far removed from the original book. Interestingly, there was an original “I am Legend” movie made about 1957 starring Vincent Price, which is pretty close to the Matheson novel. At least the first part I saw was very close. I must admit I was watching it late at night and fell asleep during the second part, but the first part was nearly spot on the book.

    1. Phil, thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, it’s too late for me on both accounts when it comes to the movie versions (both “I am Legend” and “Omega Man”), but I’ve been meaning to check out the book for quite some time, especially if it isn’t really close to the movies.

      And there’s a movie version with Vincent Price? My wife will be so excited (she’s a sucker for most things he’s done)

      Thanks again, and keep fighting the good fight. Maybe my group of survivors will run into your group of survivors. Hopefully we will be able to peacefully co-exist 🙂

  9. Hey, Paul. How are you doing?
    You know, you’d think a horror guy like me would “eat” zombie fiction up; however, I have only recently come over to the zombie stuff. I’ve been reading Stant Litore’s “The Zombie Bible”, and my teenagers have been forcing me to watch “The Walking Dead.” That’s a crazy show to be watching while you’re having chicken or ribs for dinner, am I right?
    I was kind of hoping it would be a nuclear war, you know? I realize that’s so “cold war” and all, but you see I only live 30 minutes away from The Fresno Yosemite International airport. My plan to avoid fallout was to drive there, park my car and sit myself down in a lawn chair until the “Earth-shattering Kaboom”, followed by the blinding flash and mushroom cloud.
    Take care, man!


    1. Interesting. Yeah, I guess I would’ve assumed most horror writers at least have some fondness for the genre.

      Chicken or ribs. eww 🙂

      How’s The Zombie Bible? I’ve heard good things about it, and it’s on the list, but just haven’t checked it out yet.

      And yes, the nuclear option is very “Cold War” of you. I think I’ve just recently been able to shed off that childhood fear of how the world would end. That’s for reminding me. ha ha.

      And thanks for stopping by. Hope all is well.

      1. Sorry for the late reply, my friend. I’ve been in writer’s cave again, working on the latest manuscript. What Stant is doing with his series is something very special, mixing history, culture, zombies and the Bible. When you get that chance to check it out, I’d be really surprised to hear you were disappointed.
        Have a good one!


  10. Kim Koning @AuthorKimKoning 04/03/2013 — 8:48 pm

    Catching up on the blogs I have not commented on due to the computer being dead…
    I loved this post Paul. Personally for me it would be a survival plan. I don’t quit, hate giving in and have always been a bit of a fighter. Growing up in the country has also given me skills that I think would get me through difficult days.
    Great post! 🙂

  11. This subject always seems to come up. Lol. I did know a few people on facebook who were survivalists and kept a ton of canned food and survival equipment, including guns in their basement just in case of a zombie apocalypse. If you look at it from a zen perspective, not much will change. Right now, we are surviving by doing what we have to do, going to work, making money and buying food. We teach our kids what they have to do to survive in our modern society.
    If we go back to tribal ways, we would be doing the same thing, hunting, gathering planting, doing what it takes to survive and we would teach our kids how to hunt and gather and plant to survive. I wouldn’t mind adapting. I’m getting sick of my computer breaking down and I do like the outdoors. Many anthropologists agree that times were easier during hunter and gatherer times. Things were much less complicated and stressful.

    1. Hey Lacey, thanks so much for the comment. Sorry for my delinquency in response. My blog has been the stuff of back burners while I finish my year teaching (among a handful of other things… like trying to write occasionally)

      Anyway, WOW! Actually people who were serious about the zombie apocalypse? Or just any sort of apocalypse? Not that I’ve ruled out the zombie apocalypse, but I’m betting on something else first. And if we go back to that agrarian society, you are welcome to join my clan of traveling bards, wielding our old bulky Smith Corona typewriters mostly for pleasure, but also for protection should we run into bandits or bears 🙂

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