How can we know what we need to know and when we will need to know it? Honestly, I don't have a clue but I know who to ask: Maxwell Allen, Magick Sandwich's first guest contributor and author of the forthcoming book, How to Win a Fight with a Polar Bear. Ridiculous? Yes. Absurd? Certainly. But it takes just one careless zookeeper to make this a reality for an unlucky person. It could be you. Probably not. But maybe.
It was difficult to choose only one piece from Mr. Allen's hilarious "survival guide to the improbable and amazing." I highly recommend the titular, bladder-voiding ursine combat scenario, which you can read on Kickstarter, where Allen is raising funds to get his book completed in time for the holidays. But I'm excited to share, for the first time anywhere, what I believe to be the most ludicrous thing you absolutely need to know before bedtime.
What to Do When the Call is Coming from Inside the House
It’s been a long and tiring day. The kids are finally asleep, your significant other’s already toasty beneath the bed’s fleece blanket, and as you slip under the covers to reward your exhausted body with a restful night’s slumber you ruminate that all is right with the world, despite the rampant caterwaul of society’s frantic pace pinballing around in your brain from morning to midnight.
You snooze for hours, Nemo in Dreamland, drooling on the pillow - then your cell phone rings, and there you are, Hello Kitty sleep mask blocking out the cruel world as the repeating "Call Me Maybe" ringtone snaps you out of the bliss of unconsciousness. Wondering who the hell it could be at 3:17 AM, you answer, and a Scream-esque voice informs you with deadly concern that the gouda in the fridge is bad (something you noticed earlier but had forgotten to take care of).
It’s an all-too-common scenario these days: you’re trapped in your home with a madman intent on hurting you, or even worse. You know, killing-you-in-a-painfully-bloody-way worse. What can you honestly do in this situation, assuming that the invader isn’t an immortal supernatural beast in search of blood to slake his thirst (he isn’t)? Unfortunately, the biggest issue with a psycho bent on vengeance dogging your steps is that - unlike other home invaders - there's almost no chance of scaring him off. The guy’s been chasing you since Vegas, after all.
Luckily there are steps you can take to try to deter your enemy from the past, or incoming assassin from the future, in his quest to see your head on a pike and your home in flames.
Murder-Proofing Your Home
If a human’s home is his or her castle, reinforce that fortress both outside and within its walls. Motion-based floodlights, a reliable alarm system - you can even prepare mini-panic rooms in your home just by installing deadbolts on the inside of closet doors and keeping call-ready cell phones in the closets. Always keep your phone charged and with you; this ensures that even when the former option is an unaffordable one you’ll never be deprived of contact with the outside world if you have to retreat to hide among old craft accessories and Jenga sets.
Make a dealing-with-an-inexorable-predator-who-will-never-stop-coming-for-you family plan and make sure everyone knows it well enough to be quizzed on it. Practice some drills if you so desire, but never overstress the possibility of a deranged axe-handler breaking into your kids’ bedroom. Try instead to focus on best safe axe-handler practices, building their confidence in being able to deal with the nightmare if it comes true some dark and terrible night.
Also, common sense dictates not parading a constant stream of fabulous wealth into your home while shady guys in rusted-out vans are slowly rolling through the neighborhood. Refrain from making enemies of the street thugs peeing on your car, or the weird loner mailman living in your community’s backyard constantly muttering to himself while disassembling yet another riding lawn mower for parts to use in the "genius designs" hidden in his dingy little garage.
Imperial Troops Have Entered the Base
Now, whether or not you foolishly neglected to take these relatively easy steps to protect your loved ones (and prized collection of NES cartridges / Eastern European sex dolls / Nazi china) is not the focus of this article. It’s possible that you installed an alarm system and lights, and made a safe space to lock yourselves in to ring the constable. However, even these measures may fail - alarms and lights can be cut by anyone dedicated enough to track you across seven states (so exactly who is after you?) to call and taunt you from inside your own home (and what conceivable reason could motivate such a fanatical focus on coming after you?).
Even a sunny day can turn stormy in an instant, and in this case the clouds are full of fist-sized hailstones ready to smash your skull. But don’t panic. Breathe. Staying as calm as possible will help you make better decisions, like whether to take the killer’s flashing knife in your chest or upper arm. Be quiet, listen, and assess where the ninja’s creeping outside your bedroom.
Get into the panic closet and bolt yourself in. Do not go to confront the intruder or help others. If you taught them well, they should be safe in their own closets. If not, getting yourself killed in front of the family portraits lining the hall won’t do them any more good. If your panic room remains unfinished because the Packers were playing, lock the bedroom door and barricade yourself in the room. Depending on your height from the ground, willingness to jump and accomplices lurking in the bushes, consider opening a window as a means of escape.
Call the police and leave the line open after telling them exactly where you are, exactly what you know and how likely it is that you’re about to have a massive coronary from fright.
A Maniac Seeking to Slay You Will Not Be Delayed, Swayed or Afraid
Remember, your typical revenge-driven lunatic isn’t going away until he (or, to be inclusive, she) exacts that revenge, in whatever horrible form concocted over long years of prison and/or brutal combat in far-flung war zones it takes. Boasting "I’ve called the cops, and your ass is grass now buddy!" is unlikely to elicit a positive response, except in the sense of those jumper cables the fiend will soon be attaching to your sensitive regions because you stupidly gave away your position. Remember, shut up if you want to live. Don’t give the killer any extra help.
Get ready to react, because even a split second could save your life. First, think of all the action movies you’ve seen. Now forget them - you won’t have Hollywood editors cutting together the awesome battle you’re imagining will happen, just an Eyewitness News Thirteen cameraman to document your corpse, face-down in a rubber Frankenstein mask with twenty-seven stab wounds to the chest suffered after trying to frighten the murderer away. If you’re forced to fight, it will not be fun, it will not be easy, and it may get you killed. But when it’s your life on the line without question, you must be ready to dish it out quick.
There is No Round Two
The door crashes open, or that open window turns out to have been a really bad idea because the killer’s partner is a fan of stilts. Once an intruder comes for you, and you fear for your life, fight back with whatever’s at hand - pepper spray (you better have learned how to use it or it might incapacitate you too), the aforementioned Jenga sets superglued together into a makeshift bat, the bowling trophy you got from work three years ago and still keep around because it reminds you of the joke which finally got that jerkass Jenkins fired. Whatever you can grab, swing it hard.
Go with your inner voice on just how far to take your self-defense, but be aware it’s screaming in terror and may not be the most rational. Aim first for those places you wouldn’t want to get hit: eyes and nose, working your way down to the assailant’s throat and neck and followed up with generous damage to the crotch. If you possess a gun, don’t play Dirty Harry. As satisfying as making that punk’s day (end) might be, try not to ice that fool unless you have no choice.
Instead, crouch low and aim for the feet. Doing so grants two advantages: reducing your target size in case the villain is armed, and putting a serious dent in mobility and ability to concentrate on tactics, given how much it must hurt to have one's feet pulped by close-range bullets. I don’t personally support automatic weapons, but if for some reason you have them (the deer in the area are extremely aggressive during rutting season, or you’re a one-woman resistance against the rise of the machines) try a spray-and-pray application of ankle-high gunfire - a fusillade designed to take your tormentor’s mind off how much he craves hurting you and put it on how much he currently hurts (although this will make his latter thoughts return with renewed vigor; be prepared for the reality of using more, even lethal, force).
Living With a Near-Death Experience
But if you kill the intruder, you’d better be damn sure you were in mortal danger - nothing worse than ending up with the death penalty because you wanted to be a hardass by "smoking" the bad guy. Your state of mind will be questioned in the event that you ended someone’s life - if it resembled anything but abject terror in the face of certain death, you’ll face problems. (Unless you're in Florida...)
Get counseling, even if it’s just talking to eccentric Uncle Andy, a retired ad man who survived the 80s Cola Wars. War is hell, and he’s seen it up close; he might very well be your best bet for understanding your likely post-traumatic stress disorder. You survived an awful assault on your safety and peace of mind, and even though the madman who stalked you has been dispatched to the grave or the tomb of a cell your mental health has been affected. Struggling with psychic damage shouldn’t be tackled alone.
In the future, try not to encourage deadly vendettas against you (however you did in the first place). It’ll go a long way toward ensuring you never wake to find yourself screaming and naked, duct-taped to some whacko’s front bumper as he drives off into the night.
Many thanks to Maxwell Allen for sharing this excerpt. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I did. You can follow his Ludicrous Advice on Twitter, like his Facebook page and check out his introductory video on Kickstarter, which made me laugh out loud. If you like the cut of his jib, by all means support his campaign, share this or otherwise help get the word out.
I'll be back in the captain's chair soon with another helping of Sandwich Fixins.