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This is my yearly "Down The Rabbit Hole" post. Most of them are fairly dark.

Other years:

2017: Lifeboat
2016: Atrocity Day
2015: Log of the _Blue Oyster_
2014: Pile It On
2013: Door to Door Inferno
2012: Future Imperfect (this one)
2011: Freedom From Fear: The Home Front
2010: War of Terror: On The Front Line
2009: America Back To Work
2008: nonfiction break "The Power of Nightmares," a censored film about Islamic and Christian fundamentalism
2007: In The Hole, Spectacularly Not Winning
2006: Security & Space
2005: GlobAll War Of Terror

I am struggling to read an old Heinlein book, Expanded Universe. In it he indulges in that harmless pastime of attempting to imagine the future.

My legs hurt, my back hurts and my hands hurt. Even my butt hurts from sitting on the cold poured concrete bench.

The light is fading and I realize that the sunset is dim enough that I can't make out the words. This is unsurprising because I no longer have glasses. There is no one making them any more, so I am basically fucked. Can't see beyond arm's length, can't observe shit. Certainly can't guard anything or fight to protect my community.

Not my loved ones. I will never know what happened to them. I heard from a passing traveler that the town in which the loved one of a good friend lived, only two states over, was Smacked. That is the most I know of any of their fates.

I fell in with this group of survivors. Quickly all of us learned that we didn't know anything about anything. But we learned. Learned how to butcher a chicken or a hog, kill a man, turn night soil, make candles or soap or moccasins, weed -- and God how I hate weeding! I hate it so much! -- and do everything else necessary to feed our bellies and try to feed the heads of the children. To keep hope alive in a world of madness.

The nicer people all starved. It was that close.

I'd read a couple books about "The Change" or a hypothetical inability for combustion engines to work and firearms to work and all electrical equipment to work. S.M. Stirling made it all sound like a fantasy, rough on that generation but ultimately, he implied, Good For Humanity.

What killed our world was much more prosaic. A nuclear exchange in which several sides used nuclear weapons in the high atmosphere. EMP. Electro magnetic pulse. Wiped out all the computers, all the power, all the technological systems.

I am alive -- this community is alive -- because we were near a fabled "Distribution Center" for products which used to be shipped by air and road, by companies like UPS and FedEx that are now fading memories for an elderly few. We had the tools to build the tools to build the tools, far enough from the cities that we avoided the worst of the Dying Time.

Engines still worked while there was fuel. Guns still work, for those who can see to fire them.

I cough again and spit up a little blood. The nurse's assistant who has been teaching herself medicine all the hours she does not farm or weave believes I have cancer. I'd just as soon call it consumption. There is no such thing as chemotherapy, and the few oral antibiotics left have to be saved for people that they can help.

I am a hero. But we are all heroes, and we know it, and there is no resting on our laurels. I made this community, I saved this community, I fought for this community and bled for it. But I must work or I will not eat.

I am starting to hope it is soon. Only because I know how close we were to the stars, and we blew it. Greed, wrath, fear of others. Elected an idiot President and the missiles flew.

My boyfriend sits next to me. He is ten years older but he is going to outlive me and we both know it. He's a man of few words; he hugs me and closes the book for me.

He wipes the tear from the corner of my eye.

"It's not your fault," he says, as he has said a thousand times before.

And I could answer as I have before. I knew. I knew the quote about the story of humanity being that of monkeys with matches on a petrol dump. I knew Einstein's quote about World War IV being fought with sticks and stones. I knew what a Hundredth Monkey is.

If I had fought harder for humanity's survival -- told my friends and my family and my loved ones, don't vote for idiots, believe in science but realize that science means to doubt, the progress of our species is NOT inevitable, war is a spoiled-child luxury we can ill afford -- .

If only.

I let him lead me back to our hut, where we will prepare food and he will work by the light of a tallow candle. I will work blind, knitting by touch.

What am I knitting?

A baby blanket. Something I could have bought at a dollar store Back When.

Can't now. Babies need to be warm.

David Gerrold said, "A baby is humanity's way of insisting on another chance."

So with cold numb fingers in the dim flickering light, I stubbornly insist.


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