...and the earth shall burn
"The discovery of nuclear reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than the discovery of matches"
The minutes passed ever so slowly as she huddled in the corner of the living room in the old, rotting abandoned house. Her son lay curled in a tight ball with his head in her lap. She gently stroked his hair. It was long and it needed to be cut. It had been weeks since she the old pair of kitchen scissors had broke. She made a mental note to keep an eye out for a new pair. She laughed at the thought of how many pairs of scissors she had at home. Who knew that they would become such an important tool in these harsh days.
Danny moved slightly, he murmured something softly and she realized she had stopped stroking his hair. It was how she got him to sleep when he was a baby and it seemed that it still worked.
What a change their life had made. They had been living in a safe, secure neighborhood on a quiet little street, both had maintained good jobs, Danny had attended a nice school and it seemed all was perfect.
Now they were on the move, never stopping for more than a day or two. Living in tents or run down houses, eating whatever they could salvage or catch.
It had started slowly. Danny was born a few years after the first power plant went down. The stories spread about the poisoning of the oceans and at the time it didn't seem as if that one plant would have much effect on the ecosystem of the ocean. Life went on as normal until the second one went down. This one was wiped out by a hurricane. Still it didn't seem that bad. Local fish kills and quarantines. By this time however, the radiation at the first plant had begun to unleash its power upon the people that were in the area and they began to die at an alarming rate. Yet it still did not affect her or her family. It was in another country and although she felt bad for them it was their problem not hers. Wasn't much she could do anyways.
When the third one went down a few months after the second the world began to get nervous. The third one was triggered by another tsunami just like the first. The affected countries began to beg for help from the U.S. as the cost of containment and cleanup began to reach the billions. Officials in Washington DC declined, the cost of carrying the worlds troubles was taking its toll on home soil and the good 'ol US of A just couldn't keep it up. This infuriated many throughout the world. Those who thought it was the responsibility of the greatest country in the world to pay for everything.
The door opened for an entire new class of terrorism. Revenge based attacks. Out of the 104 operating nuclear plants in the U.S. 23 of the largest were attacked. Most by hijacked aircraft that were flown into the structure just like the Twin Towers of 911. These attacks were much easier because they used smaller planes that were locally hangered. Some used guerilla tactics and simply over ran the security at the plants and then planted demolition charges at precise locations. It was simple, quick and easy. It didn't take much to knock out a nuclear power plant. They were bombs just waiting to go off if you could just light the right fuse. Later on the remaining plants, abandoned at some point or another, melted as their automated cooling systems went offline.
This force the power companies to produce more coal based power and they just couldn't keep up. The populations affected by the attacks began to slowly migrate to other areas of the country. Ghost towns began to pop up everywhere. This led to more unemployment, crime and poverty. The government was forced to hand out more and more money to those displaced. They took their time, neglected a good portion of those people and it was politics as usual. This turned out to be the straw that broke the camel's back.
Many activists and hardcore private militia types began small scale attacks on local power companies. Setting explosives in the coal fired power plants and knocking them offline. Then sending demands to the government which asked for payment, jobs and housing for those affected by the nuke plant terrorism.
The government initially began paying these claims which turned out to be the worst decision ever because it opened the door for every Tom, Dick and Harry to start blowing up the local power companies, which they did.
It wasn't long before the country was in chaos. Martial law was put into effect. Curfews were set. Anybody caught outside after 10pm was shot on site. No questions asked. You were an assumed terrorist. With the chaos at hand the government began calling all its troops home to deal with homeland security issues. This in turn led to a worldwide free for all. Russia began to reclaim all of its prior territories such as Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Armenia, Georgia, Latvia and the list went on. China began bolstering it's forces as if on the brink of war and North Korea invaded South Korea almost immediately after US troops left and within a month had gained control of the entire southern peninsula. Without the aid of the US the United Nations had shut down. Effectively endangering the entire world.
As more and more lawlessness spread people began to abandon urban areas. The crime rate was so high that 2 out of every 10 people were mugged, raped or beaten. It just wasn't safe to live in the city. Entire metropolis's began to shut down. The first to go were the ones that were oceanside. With the world in turmoil the shipping industry fell flat. No longer was it safe to travel the worlds oceans and with the demise of the shipping jobs many port based cities collapsed rapidly. Unable to maintain the unemployment and police the crime.
They had left after she had been attacked. In a normal world not filled with chaos and death she would have taken the bus to and from work. The bus would stop at Danny's school and together they would walk the three blocks home. In this new world the transit system was no longer operational, she no longer had a job and she had to walk to pick Danny up.
In broad daylight two men grabbed her off the sidewalk, drug her down an alleyway and beat and raped her behind a stinking garbage container. They stole what little she had and left her in a heap on the cold concrete. Eventually she gathered herself up, there were no police around to help anymore, limped to the school and retrieved Danny and headed home where she cleaned up as best she could. Danny was too young to know any better but when Jimmy got home from work she told him she was mugged. She did not tell him about the rape. He was infuriated but knew there was nothing that could be done. It was then he decided to leave.
Three months later here they were in an abandoned city. 90 days was all it took. The country and the world had simply fell apart. 60% of the country was now without power, China and Russia had declared war on each other and it quickly went to a nuclear disaster. Most of the entire Eastern world lay in a radioactive cloud of dust. The middle east was quickly going up in flames too as the muslim world laid waste to Israel and systematically began eradicating the Jews reminiscent of World War II Nazi Germany. Then they began to war with each other. What little exportation of oil was happening ceased entirely. The European power houses began to feel the pinch as they quickly lost power and oil and soon began crossing each other's borders in search of natural resources. It wasn't long before the tanks rolled out and soon the entire European land mass was at war. It seemed as if the floodwaters were rising and there was no Ark this time.
Everything and everybody was sick and dying. The entire world had just fell off the brink and was hurtling into a new age. The age of death and fire.
She looked down at Danny, a tear slipped down her cheek. Jimmy was off checking on the bridge crossing and he should have been back by now. She was getting nervous. She gently repositioned Danny's head off the swell in her mid section. She had known for awhile but Jimmy was not aware. She had been hiding it. It wasn't his. She didn't know how to tell him. He had believed her when she told him she was only mugged not raped in the alley.