J is for Journey
This is more an overview of how journeys (aka road-trips!) work in apocalyptic fiction. Everyone loves a road trip, right? Well except if you suffer (like me) from travel sickness, but that’s another story. For the sake of clarity, by journey I mean a long (days/weeks rather than hours) trip. If you’re writing or reading an apocalyptic book, what kind of journey works?
Going back over the last posts, a journey works well in any of the following scenarios:
Drought – travelling without water, particularly through potentially hostile territory will be tough not just on the characters but their method of transportation. Your car needs water, a horse needs water, you need water – what to do? Bicycles, camels, just making a run for it?
EMP – Once you have a roadworthy vehicle, you’ll be off like a shot – but what would you encounter along the way? Remember, most vehicles are totally unusable after an EMP, so your old-timer is going to become very hot property.
Hurricane – Getting home to tuck the kids into bed isn’t going to be much fun during or under threat of a hurricane. Either battling through or racing against the clock, a hurricane journey is going to be action-packed and nail-biting. Just watch out for flying cows.
Ice-Age – The first question here is vehicle – chances are the friendly guy in the snowplow will also be holed up burning his kitchen table to keep warm, so you’ll need something snow-worthy, and guess who will probably have most of those vehicles under lock and key? Yep, the government/military. Once you have your vehicle you’ll then have challenges in keeping warm, eating, and finding your way.
Journeys are fun, and a great way to show how different parts of the world have been affected by your apocalypse. You can pick up new characters, meet creepy/crazy characters, or further cement the relationship of existing characters by putting them through some hairy situations. Making your whole story about a journey is a difficult choice – you’ll need to have a way of ‘ending’ the story without using a cliché like ‘they all lived happily ever after’ or ‘they drove off into the sunset’.