Though he might be a bit of a stereotype, Alec fits the exact description that he's given in the first chapter:
The older man was gruff, a hardened former soldier who rarely smiled. (1.3)
He's a rough, tough vet who fights his way out of skirmishes… and has a knack for getting the group out of trouble. Alec is by far the most useful character when it comes to survival: especially because he's the one who maintains order.
He might seem like he's a bit too hardened, but Alec's just a smart guy. When he and Mark return to their campsite and catch the smell of dead bodies, he gives the young teenager some sound advice:
"We need to set some things straight before we get up there. We can't let our emotions rule everything. No matter what we see, our number one priority has to be saving as many people as possible." (10.5)
Now, most people would just run into the town shouting, Hello! Anybody? What happened here? Why is everyone dead and smelly? But because Alec is there (thank goodness), they actually proceed with caution. A true soldier knows his surroundings, and when death is your surroundings—well, it's time to set things straight with your hyperactive teenager friend.
But hey, just because Alec is a grizzled vet doesn't mean he's incapable of caring about people. When he, Mark, Trina, and Lana find Deedee—a little girl who has already been shot with a Flare dart— Alec gives in to Mark:
"I may look like I was chewed up and spit out by the meanest beast in the jungle, but I'm not heartless. We'll take the girl with us." (18.34)
Aww, thanks Alec. Lucky for him, Deedee turns out to be immune, and the key to the whole entire book.
Another thing we should note about Alec is that he's super old-fashioned. And that translates to… being untranslatable. None of his jokes actually make sense, especially because it seems like he makes most of them up. Here are a couple of his most Alec-y Alec quips:
"Then let's quit yappin' and let's get slappin'." (15.20)
"That's what my mama used to say… 'My sweet Alec. You are one strange little man.'" (28.35)
Alec is the classic Grandpa character—when he's not beating up bad guys or mapping out directions, that is. Whenever he tries to make a joke, there's usually a, What did he just say? response that lingers. But this is just another reason why we love Alec; dad jokes and all.
Though he might not make sense most of the time, Alec's humor is something we learn to laugh along with as the book goes on. He's hardened and he's serious, but when he jokes, he can lighten everyone's mood. When he finds out that his homemade maps are dead-on correct, he says:
"Oh, I'm good. Seriously, after all these years, you'd think I would stop amazing myself. But here I am, still doing it." (22.9)
His mama was right: he's a strange little man.
Everything about Alec points to how he's a war vet and the man with the plan in this book. If we were casting The Kill Order movie, we'd want Alec to be played by the love child of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis: Arvester Schwarallonis. Yep. That'd be perfect.
He isn't just the guy who helps everyone else get their heads straight, he's also the guy who leads the charge. He's the dude who rides the horse, shoots the gun, applies the first-aid, and acts as front-line infantry. Just check out this quote of a lifetime:
"Because it's what you do when someone comes to your house and attacks your people. You fight back. I'm not going to let these bloodsuckers get away with that crap." (6.24)
Woo! Who's ready for a fight? We know we are. He's a motivator, an instigator, and quite possibly a Terminator. And, oh yeah—he's also a father-figure to Mark:
"Scared. That's good. A fine soldier is always sacred. Makes you normal. It's how you respond to it that makes or breaks you." (48.9)
Oftentimes it's Alec who snaps Mark out of it when he's feeling scared or melancholy. See, Alec is one of the easiest characters to love—he has a soft side, but he's mostly a hardened warrior.
But there are times when he lets the soldier part of him go a tad too far. When Trina, Deedee, and Lana are missing and him and Mark find blood, he says:
"It's hard to say how serious an injury we're talking about. I've seen bloody noses spurt this much out, but I've also seen a guy with his arm blown off who hardly bled a drop. The explosion cauterized him right clean."
"Not... helping," Mark muttered. (29.2)
Yeah, looks like sensitivity training probably wasn't part of the military education back in his day.