Children In Winter
Naysayers denied the reports to the end, telling consumers there was no need to recycle, to “go green” to fear what might be coming. Consume, consume, buy our products and enjoy your easy life, they said, right up until the day fires consumed them all.
Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, humanity ignored all the signs they could. After all, it didn’t matter if deserts in Africa got a little bigger…people were always starving there, weren’t they? And who really cared if the polar bears were struggling? It was too bad, of course, but saving energy was expensive and the kids needed braces this year. Besides, there were still the zoos, and who would ever see one in the wild anyway?
By the time the storms grew out of control, by the time the summers grew hotter than could be tolerated, by the time food disappeared from store shelves, they’d all talked themselves so far into ignoring what was happening they still couldn’t back down from their stance.
The riots started in the inner cities, but they spread far and wide, encompassing parts of every country. The economy crashed further than ever before, leaving ruin behind, and any money that might once have been spent on aide at home had been poured into the defense budgets, creating new super weapons as each country felt their belts begin to pinch and their neighbors eye their resources.
Even what few historians were left have trouble agreeing on who launched the first bomb. Most agree it didn’t really matter which country pulled the trigger, which government could no longer take the strain, which general snapped from too much stress, too little food. There was blame enough to go around for all. And the result was the same, no matter who shot first. Everyone paid.
The smoke of burning cities blotted out the sun for weeks, and what few crops had escaped the scorching of the summer sun froze in the ground. Some few had stockpiled enough to make it through the resulting famine, but millions died, either in the first wave of attacks, or the desolation left behind. Protection from the strengthened rays of the sun became vital, even if the bitter cold hadn’t already required it.
By the time the worse of the fallout passed, the world had forever changed. The governments responsible for the destruction were overthrown, their leaders lost in the nameless, faceless crowds of victims, or unreachable in a world where air travel had become a thing of the past. Maybe one day man would fly again, but it wouldn’t be any time soon. And though the nuclear winter’s grip slackened, the climate itself had begun to realign, causing ice and snow and bitter cold to migrate further south than they had since the woolly mammoth reigned.
Out of that desolation, the survivors struggled to keep their holds. Families were forever separated, left uncertain as to other members’ survival. But humanity moved on, showed its resilience, and a return to a pioneer spirit lost since all parts of the globe had been mapped.
No longer could everyone you met know what lay beyond the next hill. And once again the desire to find out rekindled itself in those who remained.