After the End

The Betterment of Mankind.

That became the slogan. After our environment became too damaged for even the most optimistic to protect it, we focused instead, solely, on ourselves. The planet was unimportant; it was the people on it that mattered. We were our greatest resource, and there was no end to the ways we could improve ourselves. Or that was the idea, anyway. We used that as our excuse. We signed away our freedoms and our safety with those four words dancing in our minds. Anything was alright so long as it was done for The Betterment of Mankind.

At first, it worked out well. New medicines hit the shelves in such numbers that even the poorest man could afford his prescription. People could be saved from the brink of death in their own homes. From cars to computers, our technology saw an upgrading the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Industrial Revolution. People lived longer and healthier and, many argued, happier.

But we got greedy. We kept pushing. We let ourselves step out of the grey morality and into the black. A human life was nothing to the progress of all humankind. Nor a few lives. Nor a few thousand. Drugs, medicine, weapons, and more prospered, but it felt to many as though we had started to lose our humanity. When hundreds of deaths no longer made the nightly news, it became only natural to wonder if maybe something was wrong, if we had let ourselves go a little too far.

We didn’t have a chance to rectify our mistakes.

Just as we were beginning to see the error in our ways, our own creations brought us low. A virus, manufactured entirely by human hands, found its way out of the lab and into the world at large. No one knew how. It didn’t really matter. Accident or attack, the release of the virus was devastating. It spread through the water and the air, faster than anyone could have ever imagined, let alone prepared for. There was an attempt to put quarantines in place, but the virus spread too quickly. Hundreds of millions fell ill across the globe. Healthy or sickly, young or old, it seemed like no one was safe from this new plague. Entire cities died out. Countries dwindled as their people fell.

The Betterment of Mankind…

The bombs fell on August 8, 2102. Like with the virus, no one was entirely sure how the missiles launched, but across the world nuclear silos opened their hatches and let their payloads fly. Over a dozen missiles fell on the world. It was said that the flashes were so bright that anyone looking outside would be blinded. Millions upon millions more died that day. Humanity suffered another crippling blow. By the time the bombs had stopped falling, less than two percent of the initial eight and a half billion people on the planet were still alive.

They called it the End, and that certainly seemed to be the case.

But they were alive. These small pockets of humanity lived, and they carried on. Those who were immune to the plague and had survived the bombs came together, in small groups and large, and they got to work at rebuilding what was left of the human race. For centuries, they and their descendants built communities and cities, watching the Earth slowly heal around them as they healed themselves. It was a struggle, but humanity endured, as it has since it first came into the world.

Now, in the fourth century AE (After the End), the human race continues to grow, if a little slowly. From the nuclear and viral wastes to the few, great walled cities, humanity has spread itself across the landscape in an effort to retake what was once theirs. The errand is not an easy one. The world is a hostile place, filled with monstrous beasts and hazardous terrain, and even one’s fellow man may not be trusted. Still, it is a human’s lot to continue on, regardless of the hardship and danger. Even after the End.

After the End