As part of my writing process for Erebus, my cast of characters are told that they should pack sentimental objects they can’t live without into a duffel bag, not unlike the one above. Weight isn’t a factor, but you couldn’t bring guns, explosives, or compressed gases.
Your only assurance is that you’ll be provided food, clothing, and medical gear sufficient for your needs. Electronics, too.
So, what does one take?
Dash, my protagonist, has no such warning or options. He falls into this mess, but for everyone else, I felt this presented an excellent opportunity to flesh out their character. I, the writer, know that these people are going to end up far from what they’re expecting, but I tried to pack as they might.
In the future, people will still have sentimental clothing to which they’re attached. I’m no different, so I ignore the promise about being provided clothing and made sure I grabbed a couple sets of pants, several of my favorite T-shirts, and (not pictured), my three favorite hoodies.
Were I to show up in the story myself, the fact that I chose to save an anime T-shirt, or one repping my favorite soccer team, might say something about what I value. Plus, if everyone’s issued the same clothes (more or less), it makes it hard to stand out from the crowd.
But not everything I packed belonged to the awesome T-shirts category. The rest, I found, were sentimental objects of my adventures around the world, or books I don’t have in electronic format.
- Fuzzy Blanket of Awesomeness – The first gift my wife gave me. Super warm and comfy.
- Anniversary Portrait – Because duh!
- Books! Some of my favorites.
- Fans don’t seem practical for spaceflight, but they can also serve a decorative function, so I packed them. One was from a festival in Suita, Japan, where I lived for half a year.
- Dice – One can never have enough dice.
- Pocketknife from Iraq – We’ve been through a lot together. Not gonna give that up.
- Narbona Pass chalcedony – A souvenir from my archaeology days.
- Silk rug/mousepad – A gift from one of my favorite teammates in Iraq.
- Antiqued Chinese coin. It’s not authentic, but I always enjoyed it.
- Hard drive – There’s two terabytes of videos, music, pictures, books, and documents in here. My life can be pretty portable.
- Jewelry box. I picked this up in Kuwait. It’s simple, but I’ve always loved looking at it.
All of this fit into the duffel bag. It bulged a bit, but I managed to squeeze everything together. And that’s it. That’s my collection with which to ride off into the apocalypse.
I assume at least some others would bring books and hard drives, so a thriving trade could take place to share media or lend books. As the owner of the dice, I could start a roleplaying group and form friendships around that. Once romances start back up, I can definitely see people borrowing nicer (or at least different) clothes for dates.
Lots of different hooks for a character, and they all fit in this handy little bag, too!