Five minutes to save the world

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Time marched on. Suzanne looked up into the blue sky and saw a bird up high. But the bird was blowing a line of smoke from its back and its wings did not flap. What was it?

She remembered her childhood, when the Great death came. Each of her grandparents, and her mother were gone in a week. Her father tried to raise her, but he had to work and earn money. So he was always away in the woods, cutting and sawing for people who could not gather firewood. They lived in an old house. Central heating did not work, no one knew how to fix it, and there was no longer a gas supply.

She looked up again, the bird, or whatever it was, had flown over the horizon, and the smoke was disappearing into the beauty of the blue sky.

Over in Omereca, a man stood by a screen, his hand hovering over the red button. Yes or no? He had the choice. The clock was running down. Would he press and destroy everything?

His aide ran in as the clocked ticked to 11.55pm.

Sir, he said quietly, the plane, its come back! They have images, there are people there, they saw woodsmoke.

The Restidebt took his hand away slowly from the button. Now we start to rebuild he said as they left the room together.

Flight

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The light flew across the sky, something not seen for centuries on the Earth.

The world had overheated in the previous millennia, viruses and bacteria had spawned a plague and 90% of the population had died before a cure was found. The remaining humans were all children, the fate of their parents leaving them in a world of technology they could partly use but not maintain.

Then came the explosions, nuclear power plants went offline, nuclear bombs rotted in their silos. Crops and fruit failed. A few books had been left, some technical papers, but the schools were gone. Children grew to adulthood and learnt to hunt and gather like their ancestors. Technology was stored in caves, but without power could not be used.

Then came wars over food and clean water. People living near reservoirs were lucky, but those downstream were cut off as the pumping stations failed. Humans were close to extinction. As the fable said ‘how the mighty had fallen’.

But a few people learned electronics from taking old things apart then putting them back together. They tinkered and played, and a light rose in the sky which was artificial. Who knew what would happen next?