It started when the lights went out in New York City.
Some witnesses said they saw a solitary airplane escape when it happened. Others said it was only the beginning, because the entire east coast was dark within 24 hours, but it wasn't sabotage, or terrorism. The crazy lack-of-power sceme (or was that scam) to save the planet from the "ravages" of fossil fuel, coupled with grids poorly maintained by union labor bureaucrats had finally run it's course. The black-out rolled across the country like a bulldozer. Some resorted to generators and flashlights, but when fuel and batteries were expended, night fell yet again - an enduring darkness; a reality that paralleled the nation's fanatical devotion to believing lies instead of truth. Some localities locked themselves down under martial law. Others implemented strict rationing of all remaining fuel and food resources. In a month, it was to no avail, because when the lights and fuel reserves went, so also went the phones, mail, the delivery trucks and the computers.
And the welfare state.
Deprived of their "entitlements", tens of thousands of able-bodied moochers in the major metropolitan areas organized, armed themselves and became roaming hoardes of looters, working themselves up from the elderly and disabled, to the shops and malls, and eventually out into the suburbs and open countryside, where the gated communities awaited like the proverbial fatted calf. Authorities - the last vestiges of a once great civilization, weakened by limited supplies and numbers, quickly fell away. Without the ability to communicate and coordinate efforts, law and order broke down as certainly as their equipment had. As the months passed, looters concentrated less on robbing banks and department stores to cleaning out grocery shelves, then resorted to more gruesome and grizzly means of acquiring sustenance.
People had been slipping away in small numbers prior to the black-out, but rumors began to circulate as many fled the suburbs to seek out friends and loved ones in rural areas of mass disappearances: Abandoned homes, entire ghost towns. Few of the looters survived the conflagration they had started, turning on eachother when there had been nothing and no one else to consume. Those who fought them off successfully or fled their coming began to organize into makeshift caravans, armed and armored. Like nomads, they pressed onward, in search of others, gathering what resources were still available. After the sixth month, as days grew cold and short, stores scarce and depleted, most had to harden themselves against a new adversary: the elements. Some of the nomadic groups fought eachother. Others knew they could not survive without cooperation and some sort of voluntary structure. Most took refuge in deserted rural communities. Seven months into the disaster, the lights came back on - what little still worked.
It happened about a week or so after a makeshift network had been cobbled together among the various communities using library information, solar and wind power and two-way radios. Strangely enough, it was the newer TV sets that came back on, along with those weather radios that go off automatically or sound an alarm during an emergency. Hope rose again! Many anticipated information about help on the way and how to make avail of it. They didn't know the worst had not begun yet.
On the radios, there was only ambient sound: sometimes footsteps or rustling of papers. Muffled, distant voices. The broadcast was continuous. At the same time, a jamming signal stopped the newly-established two-way network cold: All channels and frequencies were deluged with static.
On the televisions was a singular image on every channel. There was a long counter-like desk, lit by a single lamp, near which sat a very heavyset man in an office chair. Figures moved about the desk, infront of and behind it, silhouetted in darkness. They appeared to be wearing military fatigues, or in some cases, SWAT team gear. The top of the counter seemed to be obscured, but strange light emanated from it's surface, competing with the lamp in muted colors, but still much too dim to fully illuminate the room. Every so often, one of the military/SWAT personnel would walk up to the fat man, seated with his back to the camera, and hand him a sheet of paper, or point at something on the desk. The a/v simulcast went on like so for about a day, during which most of the audience discovered it was no longer possible to turn off their TV sets or radios, as they operated on some power source other than conventional electricity.
Finally, someone picked up the camera, moved it to another spot in the room, and started to adjust it. All the men crowded around the glowing countertop took station on either side of the seated obesity, and as the light level rose and the focus cleared, the camera zoomed in on fatstuff.
He appeared to be somewhere between middle-aged and elderly, with thick glasses in round, black frames, held on his face by a nose that could only be described as aquiline. The thick jowls betrayed some part of the Slavik world or Russian Federation as his home. His speech confirmed this. They were not the words of a comforter, or an agent of mercy. It was more like an orientation lecture; one in which the information provided is a matter of life and death, underscored with that last threat in no uncertain terms.
My name, you will learn in due course. It is in reality, as irrelevant as your own. Suffice to say, I am the individual who owns you. I have for some time, now! As far as you are concerned, think of me as God!
Your continued survival is contingent upon your cooperation.
You will do what you are told, when you are told to do it, no matter what you are told.
Those who comply will get what they need.
Those who do not, will find there are now, much worse things in the world than bullets.
Here I help you make sense of this: The great 'experiment called freedom' is over.
It was over when my stooges, whom you kept electing, took away first the value of your money, then your dignity and honor by offering you tons of counterfeit currency in their place.
Slowly, my predecessors and their stooges sold this same control mechanism around the world, only those who bought it and their governors never realized they were becoming the ones being controlled!
America, Asia, Europe...you no longer exist, and neither do your states or municipalities.
We are now United Nations of Earth!
That unity will be enforced, as the world needs to be guided by a strong hand from somewhere, and you are now looking at that 'strong hand'!!!"
As he spoke, the sounds of trucks and helicopters were audible around the inhabited towns and cities. The camera panned out, and the light shining up from the counter revealed the faces of the men in uniform to not be those of men at all.
In the falling shrouds of shadow, as the light from the counter grew more intense, it did not even appear they were human.
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