Children In Winter
Humanity has always been known for inflicting its mark on the world around it. As long as there have been humans, they have been changing their surroundings, slashing and burning, digging and diverting, until what’s left behind bears little resemblance to the original pristine wilderness.
After so many thousands of years spent inflicting their will on the world around them, it should have been small surprise when the world fought back.
What started as unstable weather in the early years of the twenty first century spiraled rapidly out of control. Humanity’s best efforts to rectify the damage they’d caused to their environment were all for naught.
The severe weather grew worse, leading to extremes even more severe than the most fearful of scientists had predicted. Ice caps melted, ocean currents changed, weather systems spun out of control and, through it all, humanity continued to ignore the world around them.
But as food supplies dwindled, even for the rich, as deserts grew ever larger and seas rose, drowning oceanfront property beneath their waves, all had to acknowledge the disaster going on around them. Nations fought over food and the land to grow it. Scientists and the rich collaborated to build underwater and underground retreats, leaving the surface behind as it grew too dangerous. In a matter of mere decades, the work of millennia fell to its knees.
Survivors remained on the surface, clinging to life in the extremes. The remains of a nuclear winter combated with the harsh deserts left by global warming, leaving vast tracks of land nearly uninhabitable. And even the few remaining temperate areas could hide invisible dangers, soaked as they were in the radiation that poisoned so much of the land.
Much of what had once been densely populated cities now lay destroyed, broken and tumbled into disarray. The survivors who remained on the surface picked them clean, turning over what remained and making what they could from the rubble left behind.
Slowly, some sort of order reestablished itself. Camps near clean water sources grew bigger, permanent structures were added, built from the ruins around them, and soon actual towns appeared. They dotted the landscape, small havens of life and safety in a wilderness of death and struggle.
The wastes between them were not to be tread lightly. Those that had no choice employed protection from the wandering bandits, from mutated wild animals, from any and all who would take what meager goods they had scrounged to sell.
Providing that protection gave many a purpose and living they otherwise would’ve lacked. Young men and woman who’d grown up in a different world now trained with the weapons developed by long defunct governments. They banded together, and earned their place.
Yet others formed the groups who attacked them.
Through it all, humanity persevered, scratching out an existence in the remains of the old, their children playing in the ruins of their forefathers. The scientists had told them it was the end of the world, and they were meant to die.
But they didn’t.
The human race is resilient. More so than most suspect, when they see its member sacked out on the couch, remotes to control everything around them, too soft, too lazy to move more than a finger at a time.
But take away those comforts, take away soft beds, warm showers, and remote controls, and they manage better than anyone could’ve imagined. Science fiction authors focus on the adaptability of humans, on how they can make the best of any situation.
- In the aftermath of December 28, 2051 of the old reckoning, they will prove it.