SURFER presented this scenario to a panel of world-class surfers, each chosen because they possess a special skill that might increase their likelihood for post-Armageddon longevity.
OUR GOAL: DETERMINE THE LONE SURVIVOR.
THE PLAYERS & THEIR WEAPONS:
SHANE DORIAN: "I am a bowhunter, but generally I miss a lot so I wouldn't be the winner, I don't think."
MICHEL BOUREZ: "I would look for a big knife, and then I would run up on the hill so I could dominate and see what's going on from above."
MARK HEALEY: "I'd want to go for something as powerful and safe as possible, so I'd go for a rifle--if you sit there in plain sight you're gonna get murdered fast. But unless you have access to more shells and ammo, you're gonna run out and then all you can do is club somebody with a rifle. So you use the rifle only when necessary."
KELLY SLATER: "I'd take an ultra-high-volume sound weapon. Make the ears bleed. Throw the equilibrium off. Use it at close range. I'd wear full sound-proof gear to protect myself."
JOEL TUDOR: "I have a pretty redneck background. A lot of my family are into hunting and diving--end-of-the-world-type stuff. I'm pretty well versed in all of it. But I've never been much of a gun person, so I'd probably just take a Hawaiian sling with me. It's something you can fish with, and something you can fight with. Bullets go fast. A sling is more practical."
RUSTY LONG: "My weapon of choice would be a machete, and my goal would be to stay hidden and stealth, while others hopefully kill each other off."
STERLING SPENCER: "Being a centaur gives me a one-up on everyone. The only weapon I could grab in time would be Dane Reynolds' Summer Teeth towel."
KAI GARCIA: "I get a weapon, too? Pfff. I'll take an AK-47 then. Can't beat that. They're good when it's wet, they're good in dirt, they're powerful, and they kill. Without weapons, I could take any one of those guys. They'd have to team up--those guys are 150 pounds, I'm 220 and I've trained my whole life."
STRATEGY: "I plan on using my Summer Teeth towel to harness Dane's indie powers and seduce my enemies...then I'm heading for the hills. No guns or jiu-jitsu for me--I'm not manly."
LIKELY RESULT: Needless to say, Sterling Spencer is the first to go. The Centaur is surrounded by a pack of Hawaiian groms on the bike path off Ke Nui Road. Spencer reaches for his Summer Teeth towel, hopeful that these grimacing tykes, the oldest of whom might be 10, will be placated by the DIY whimsy of Dane Reynolds, surfing's answer to Michel Gondry. The groms, raised on an all-beef diet of Sunny Garcia power-hacks, are unimpressed by the magical hipster terrycloth.
The Centaur shuffles his hooves nervously.
"Whatever you've heard about Jello being made from horse hooves, it's not true. And the upper-half of me is all man, after all..." The groms glare at him, unconvinced. Sterling begins to twist his towel, then ruefully attempts to give the fattest miniature moke a whip, as he's seen jocks do in movies.
Within seconds, the pack is upon him, tearing into his horsey flesh with their dirty little fingernails. Between panicked neighs, the Centaur lets out a few feminine squeals, their pitch evocative of either horror or delight. As dark blood pools on the pavement, black smoke fills the wind-whipped sky. The pack of blood-smeared little faces look up in wonder at the descending heavens.
The first of the firestorms has started. Death surrounds them. The end has come.
STRATEGY: "My first move after the Apocalypse would be to gather as much food as possible. My next move would be going up to the hills in Pupukea, to stay hidden due to features of the land, all while hopefully having a good vantage point if somebody comes. There are lots of coconut and fruit trees up there so there's food to survive on, and water, and you could keep pressing deeper into the island, away from others hopefully."
LIKELY RESULT: While Rusty Long gathers health food and fills his backpack, Healey, Dorian, Slater, and Bourez have already moved into the hills. Rusty, practiced in the art of ditching other surfers while retreating to his beloved secret spots, manages to avoid the roving gangs of murderous street fighters and disappears into the canyon.
Alone, Rusty sits cross-legged on a patch of grass, communing peacefully with butterflies as he eats papayas. Long considers what comes next: Some afternoon yoga? He checks his iPhone again, hoping to check the latest swell models--perhaps those firestorms will super-charge an XXL system? Still no signal. Rusty sighs. He won't be able to upload that Instagram photo of his butterfly friend.
The next morning, Rusty makes his way deeper into the hills, where he finds a cool pool of water. He notices footprints in the riverbank, and follows them to the base of a waterfall, machete drawn. BAM! Michel Bourez is upon him, falling onto his prey, and slitting Long's throat in one clean motion.
STRATEGY: "The Hawaiians know the island better than I do, so they will be hard to beat. I would need to trap them. I would leave some footprints on purpose to make them think they were on my trail. We all need to drink water, so I would find a river and base a camp above it, so I could see those who come to drink, and when they do--BAM! The Spartan will get them."
LIKELY RESULT: While searching for mangos near his stream, Michel spots a curious man--bald, fit, with the gait of a predator. He is wearing a strange set of headphones, and holding a black, glowing orb. As the man turns toward him, Michel draws his knife. It is none other than Robert Kelly Slater. Michel pauses. He's been told countless times by World Tour competitors never to look into Slater's beautiful eyes. But Slater's smile disarms him--it reminds Michel of simpler times, before all the bloodshed began.
Kelly speaks softly. "I love you, man." Then Slater presses a button on his glowing orb, and Michel's eardrums burst with a deafening pop. The Spartan falls to the ground, writhing in pain, unable to tell up from down.
Kelly doesn't want to kill anyone. He walks slowly toward the Spartan, pity in his heart. Then Slater remembers the time Bourez humiliated him in a heat in France in '07 as a wildcard, ending Kelly's title hopes. The Champ's eyes go black, like those of a shark. He calmly severs the Spartan's jugular with the Tahitian's own knife.
STRATEGY: "I'd stay in the old military fortress on the hill above Rocky Point, trap wild boar, and eat coconuts--and occasionally a haole or two. Then the locals won't think I'm out to get them...As for the other surfers, they think I'm the nice guy and I'm not as big as Michel or Kaiborg, so I've gotta use that as my strength to get in range. I don't really want to kill anyone, but I can do whatever I want once my sound weapon is in effect."
LIKELY RESULT: Slater goes to the old bunkers on the hill. It's been weeks since he ate his last haole. He's hungry, and misses his audience and iPhone. He keeps composing Tweets in his head, only to sadly remember the only people following him now are trying to kill him.
While foraging for coconuts, the Champ is snared in a boar foot trap. He writhes in pain, clawing at the metal cable. For a moment, he wishes he chose a more practical weapon, like a hacksaw or gun. But negative thinking loses heats, so Kelly quickly refocuses his mind. He hears a rustle in the bush, coming from the direction of the old bunkers.
Mark Healey emerges from the underbrush, his skin coated in dark mud, the whites of his eyes burning like non-environmentally-friendly incandescent bulbs. It turns out Healey has been hiding in the same old bunkers Kelly chose as his retreat. Healey has a rifle, but a limited amount of ammunition, so he is hesitant to use his bullets unless necessary.
As Healey approaches, Slater reaches for his sound weapon. Mark pauses for a split second, curious. He has Kelly trapped, and how much of a threat is Slater out of the water? Kelly inches his finger toward the activation button. In a flash, Healey remembers all Kelly's last-minute comebacks at Pipe. He cannot be underestimated, even after the Apocalypse. There's no reason to go down smiling, like Machado did in '95. Healey raises his rifle and shoots Slater between his beautiful eyes.
STRATEGY: "It will all come down to how many skills you have. How good you are on a surfboard--that won't be one of them. As far as physical strength, if it comes down to a clean fight, I'm fine with anyone on that list, with the exception of Kai. He was one of my jiu-jitsu instructors, so he knows everything I'm going to throw at him. I don't think I have a chance. He just outweighs me. You do the math--greater mass times same knowledge equals he's gonna get me.
"So I'm not putting myself in the race in terms of survival. If it's a fight, I'd do fine, but when it comes to feeding myself--I'm a skinny guy, I'd go quick. Vegetarian, picky eater--I'm not gonna last long."
LIKELY RESULT: While the true survivalists head for the hills, Joel stays near the coast, content to die when death comes for him. He watches as civilization crumbles around him and the team houses are raided and burned by roving gangs from the Westside. Although he does not start fights to the death, he finishes them, killing off scores of mad Australian, European, and Brazilian WQS warriors. As the months wear on, Tudor finds himself alone on the North Shore, or so he thinks.
Winter comes, and with it the first true west swell of the Apocalypse. Tudor, weakened by his irrational vegetarian diet, throws caution to the wind. He paddles out at Pipe on a vintage '70s Lightning Bolt single-fin. He is at one with the universe, alone with his thoughts. As he pulls into a barrel, he hears a dreadful whistle. Somehow, out of nowhere, Kaiborg is there behind Tudor in the tube. Borg has broken his own rule to avoid the water, and Tudor has now dropped in on his instructor.
Joel knows what must come next. He straightens out and rides to the beach. Kaiborg follows him. They fight to the death, there on the sand, with honor, as men used to before the darkness fell. If only Tudor ate meat, he might have stood a chance.
STRATEGY: "My plan would be to get lost. All I would need is my bow and arrows and I'm good. I would head up the mountain and easily live off fruit (wild mangos, avos, guavas, etc.) and shoot meat to eat--cows, pigs, birds. Luckily living off the land is easy in Hawaii, whether near the ocean or in the mountains."
LIKELY RESULT: As luck would have it, Dorian is already deep in the hills when the Apocalypse comes. He doesn't even realize what's happened until he spies the smoke and chaos on the coast below through his scope. Dorian retreats deeper into the interior, living off the bounty of the land for many months without having to extinguish a single human soul. Immersed in the hunt, Shane becomes lost in the ways of animals--their scents, their trails, their brooding, mystic ways.
Many moons pass. One cold morning, Dorian spies the largest boar he's ever laid eyes on. He tracks it for eight days, too absorbed in the hunt to stop, even though he knows he's ventured much closer to the coast than ever before. The old boar makes its way toward the old bunkers above the hill at Pupukea. Finally, Dorian sees his moment: a clean kill line as the boar pauses by a stream. He draws back his bow, and lets his arrow fly just as a shot rings out. The boar falls to the ground. It takes Dorian a second to process the sound of the bullet, and the fact that the bullet was meant for him.
Mark Healey shoulders his rifle and walks slowly toward the slumped body of his old friend. The dusk is warm and quiet. They lock eyes, silent as Dorian's chest rises and falls a few final times. Healey's expression does not change. He takes note of his beloved outer reefs, capping off in the distance. Night will come soon enough.
STRATEGY: "I've already thought this one through a bunch of times. Up in the hills is your safest bet. All the water tanks are on high ground on the North Shore. I'd go to the old bunkers up in the mountains--they're fortified and you have the water towers. If you're controlling the water, you're controlling everything. Resources put you in a position of power, because money won't be worth a thing.
"In terms of food, there's already a feral pig problem, and dogs go feral pretty fast. So you could eat pigs or dogs for meat--either shoot 'em or trap 'em. You could use snares, and you could catch people who come to poach your snare.
"I'd lay low at the beginning, get what supplies I needed, then let people start canceling each other out. Once that happens, I'd head down to the ocean--that's when you come out and make your move."
LIKELY RESULT: As winter bleeds into spring, only two alpha males survive: Mark Healey and Kai Garcia. Healey is based in the bunkers, while Garcia makes camp in Waimea Valley. Garcia tends to a motley flock of survivors-- all women and children--who have begun to farm the valley and re-domesticate the animals. Healey and Garcia know of each other's presence; for many months, they have encountered their respective victims--a gruesome breadcrumb trail of death and dismemberment. The bodies tell no lies--they point to the approximate location of each fearsome man.
But while Garcia gathers and cares for the women, children, and animals, Healey soldiers on alone--too terrified to take on responsibility for another life. That unfortunate incident with Jericho the pet snake was enough for him, thank you. So Mark knows he must make the first move. He must study the habits of Garcia, and, when he least expects it, strike.
For many months, he watches the great man. Based on the corpses of Borg's victims, he expects to find a cruel, blood-thirsty ogre. Instead, he examines from afar a savior--kind to the young, generous in his affection with the wahines. Mark cannot help but feel a tinge of something he'd never thought he'd feel again: shame. The more Healey observes, the more he comes to respect--even love--Kaiborg. The civilized world now rests on the shoulders of this large, unlikely man.
Healey becomes convinced that he must face this most worthy of adversaries with respect, instead of deceit. It is the only way to win and keep living, yet the most likely way to die. But Healey must risk it.
He lays down his rifle, un-straps his knife, sets down his spear gun. He marches naked into the heart of Kai Garcia's camp, hands up, ready to offer Garcia a noble fight to the death: hand-to-hand combat. They guide him to Garcia, who is sitting on a toilet-bowl throne. He looks up at Healey, exhales.
With that, Kaiborg raises his AK-47 and riddles Healey's pale body with a veil of bullets.
STRATEGY: "My first move is to grab my bug-out bag--if you don't know what that is, Google it. [We did! It's a portable kit containing the items needed in the first 72 hours after a disaster. -Ed]
Then I'd make base camp near water. I'd find a cave in Waimea Valley, on the higher ground so I could see what's going on around me. I could hunt for birds, pigs, and gather fruit. Then I'd sit back, let them come to me. I'd be on red alert. They would come. If guys are trying to kill me, if it's just survival and friends are no longer friends, if it's the end of the fucking world--then I'm just going hunter-gatherer. No surfing. Once everyone else is dead, then I can go surf."
EPILOGUE: It is a clear, blue morning when the beloved leader finally passes. Around him, the bustle and orderly progress of a vigorous, healthy community. Flocks are tended. Gardens are grown. The madness has passed, and a new generation of men thrive, free from the compulsion to kill one another.
Only the elders still remember the darkness, the screams, the killing, the machines that came before it all. The children know only of simpler things: food, shelter, land, sky, sea. Kai Garcia draws in his last breath, his body wizened by age, his mind haunted by bloodshed. As he exhales one last time, he finds solace in a simple fact: much of the world's sins will pass away with him.