Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.

The Skeleton Key of The Zombie Apocalypse

The Zombie meme has so penetrated our culture that that you can walk up to a perfect stranger and have a conversation about the Zombie Apocalypse as easily as a traveling salesman of the 1950’s could have talked about baseball.

We’ve passed some kind of strange, pop-culture milestone beyond which post-apocalyptic small talk has become acceptable. I think the war is over, and we geeks have won.

So I find it odd that there’s one answer to the In-The-Event-of-A-Zombie-Apocalypse questions that I have never encountered in fiction, film or casual conversation.

Mattock, double-barrel shotgun, flamethrower, armored personnel carrier, private island – these are all good things to have at the end of the world. But the first thing I’d reach for? The most useful thing I can think of? The seed from which the flower of a new civilization can blossom and grow amid the ashes of the old?

Bolt Cutters.

In the event of the Apocalypse, the first thing I’m grabbling is a pair of bolt cutters. With a pair of bolt cutters and a little persistence, you can get anything else you want or need. Here are some routine Post-Apocalyptic tasks at which bolt cutters excel.

  1. Cutting through fences.
  2. Cutting through padlocks.
  3. Bashing in windows.
  4. Bashing in skulls.
  5. Extracting information one finger at a time.

Sure, a tank is heavily armored, but the box in which the tank keys are kept is probably just padlocked. Sure, that box may be in a very big safe, but the hardware store where they keep the dynamite isn’t.

So why haven’t we seen or read more about bolt cutters? They are a supremely useful implement. One deserving of heroic names and songs of praise. I’m tempted  to prove this by writing a story how a boy and his pair of bolt cutters avert the end of days. And not magical bolt cutters, either, just ordinary bolt cutters, ’cause they’re magic enough all on their own.

The world will probably end before I write that story. If it does, remember: showing up to the end of the world without a pair of bolt cutters is a rookie move. I’ve got mine. Do you have yours?

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