Some people achieve action heroism, others have it thrust upon them unexpectedly after they finish their waitressing shift at Big Jeff’s burger joint. I’m not a good prospect for the former: although P.E. activities with a hint of adventure or violence (obstacle course! archery!) got a better performance from me than team sports, I was never a prospect for rippling athleticism. But there’s always the latter. You can’t predict being the accidental survivor of a zombiepocalypse, or indeed the fated mother of mankind’s savior. I’d rather be prepared, especially if there’s any chance of 1980’s-era Michael Biehn shirtlessness involved.

How I could be a better action heroine
Note: list draws from sources in a gender-neutral manner.

10. Learn Morse Code. I’m not sure how useful it is if no one else knows it — in the absence of Starfleet Academy, I may not put this one into effect.

9. Play flight simulators (See also #8) A little bit more theoretical knowledge of how to fly – and especially land – a plane can’t hurt, and occasionally it can really help. No reason not to do this.

8. Practice driving a stick. In theory, I’ve known how to drive a manual transmission car since I was commanded to learn for paleontological purposes. Realistically though, I haven’t driven one in over five years. The choice of cars for breakneck chases and last-minute escapes is not always wide, so it’s best to be prepared for anything. Should an opportunity present itself, I should practice.

7. Practice cheeking pills. I’m not saying I expect to have to avoid swallowing mind-numbing medicine in a mental hospital or hoard pills in order to poison my captors, but I don’t expect to be an action heroine, either. Taking my daily pile of pills just got more heroic!

6. Train up sense of direction. My sense of direction isn’t bad, precisely. It’s just limited. If I’m on foot, it works pretty damn well, and has even impressed people. If I’m in a car, not so much — this could get really awkward in case I’m ever in a car chase. But then, what do I need to know but “away”? I may forego doing this, and just hope I’m never called upon to, say, lead survivors through a maze of ventilation ducts pursued by an alien horde.

5. Get baseball bat. (Or cricket.) Good for zombie-crushing, fending off murderous failed novelists, and, given sandpaper enough and time, staking vampires. It’s actually very strange I don’t have a baseball bat, because I was raised in a house where the baseball bat was the what-was-that-noise weapon of choice. As a side note, I’ll mention I already have done one thing right: learn a sport with a swinging tool. Sure, a tennis racquet is a lousy weapon, but I bet I get a free point in shortsword for that.

4. Learn when to remove things from wounds, and when not to. I often think characters are pulling, say, shrapnel from exploded Terminators from their flesh when they should leave it in at least until there’s a tourniquet. If I learn this, I can be more helpful in an emergency and a more confident know-it-all when watching movies!

3. Get a shotgun. Watching shocking numbers of action movies, not to mention playing video games, has reminded me that the shotgun is your friend. It is suitable for big damn heroics, zombie slaying, and applying delaying force to nigh-unstoppable cyborgs. However, here in the real world, I’m not sure I’m ready to take this step. Even though I’d love to have a shotgun (or a replica pulse rifle, to be honest) hanging on the mantel with a brass plaque reading “Chekhov’s Gun”, it might cause an endless stream of gun-rights arguments in the unlikely event of us inviting people over. Not to mention, it’s a slippery slope from one gun on the wall to crossed guns and a mounted deadite head, and that just wouldn’t go with my aesthetic.

2. Start carrying a lighter. Due to my personal history of primness, practicality and asthma, I have never smoked. (Once I had to fend a cigarette off physically – ah, France!) However, it has not escaped my attention that the ability to summon fire is dead useful. Whether it means summoning help (also 1980’s Michael Biehn, although tragically fully clothed) via fire alarm or completing an elemental ritual in order to save the universe, the lighter pays its way. Much like a bit of rope in another context, you’ll want it if you don’t have it. I’m seriously considering this.

1. Cardio. (Run away, run away!) Already working on it.


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