*Disclaimer: This is purely a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Also, there may not be a scientific basis for event which might transpire in the story.
The sun hung high up in the sky, basking all life below in its golden radiance. Light softly filtered through the fluffy white clouds, a weather that was perfect for an outdoor hike or a family picnic.
During this time, the streets of the city below would usually be filled with the hustle and bustle of a modern cityscape, a familiar sight which all the residents had long since accustomed to.
However, the situation today was different. It was as though the embodiment of chaos itself had descended, as noise and violence filled the entire city.
The noise came from multiple sources, among which a warning siren was the loudest of them all. The siren could be distinctly heard even amidst the chaos, demonstrating the effectiveness of the public warning alarm.
The people were also in a mess as angry shouts and piercing screams rang from every corner of the streets. However, the anger could do little to hide the traces of helplessness and despair contained within the voices, reflecting the true feelings of the people.
It is only in times of despair that you can truly observe the strength of one’s will.
This was clearly reflected in the streets below. There were people on one end of the spectrum who were frantically rushing through the streets, clinging onto the tiny bit of hope they held in their hearts.
Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, there were people who lay dejectedly on the grounds, some kneeling with their hands in prayer, leaving everything up to the hands of fate.
The roads of the city were filled with vehicles, but all of them were stationary. A closer look at the vehicles would reveal that most of them were empty, with the occasional driver repeatedly honking the vehicle impatiently with a look of resignation.
The reason behind all of this could be traced back to an announcement, one which was repeatedly playing throughout the entire. If one were to listen carefully, they would be able to hear a mechanical voice mixed in with the noise.
This voice came from multiple sources, such as phones, radios and televisions, but the loudest of the sources was the public announcement systems which were distributed evenly across the city along with the public warning alarms.
The mechanical voice repeated the same message over and over like a broken tape recorder, continuously stirring the unrest and irritation felt by the people.
“Nuclear Emergency Declared, All residents, Please head to the nearest shelter immediately.” This was the announcement it repeated, the beginning of an end.
Needless to say, this had brought about a large wave of panic among the people when it was first announced.
Sceptics began voicing their doubts to the announcement but their voices quickly fell silent when more supporting evidence appeared, causing the weight of reality to kick in.
Their city was not the only one under attack, far from it. Comparing the size of their city to the size of the attack was akin to size of an ant to a human, pointless to even compare.
Satellite images depicting the plight of countries which had been attacked earlier started spreading around, along with pictures of missiles flying en route across the globe, shoving the dreadful reality directly into the sceptics’ faces.
People immediately started pouring into the fallout shelters, filling them up like cans of sardines as people all over the world began contesting for the world record of fastest nuclear evacuations.
Fights ensued over spots in the shelter, causing many to lose their lives before the attacks even reached.
As each shelter successfully sealed its doors, hordes of people could be seen outside, their faces burning with rage as they stared at the sealed door.
There were also some who kneeled and begged in front of the door and others who repeatedly slammed the door as they cursed and swore at those behind.
Similar scenes played out around the globe as they welcomed the nukes which mercilessly obliterated everything in their wake.
In this city, there was a mother who held her baby daughter in her arms. She was among those who had a strong will, not willing to give in to despair.
She bore witness to the shelter sealing its entrance on them, but heart did not break. She immediately took off for another shelter that she remembered was nearby, clinging onto a sliver of hope in her heart.
Her dress was tattered, and her arms and legs were covered with injuries from the violence that filled the streets. Yet, the resolve in her eyes remained strong as she ran forward with hope.
Suddenly, the man before her stopped abruptly in his tracks. She had not been prepared for this and lightly slammed into his back, despite her efforts to slow down when she realised he had stopped.
The man was staring blankly ahead with eyes that contained a deep darkness, resembling the entrance to an abyss.
His hand that held his phone to his ear slowly dropped lifelessly while loosening its grip, causing the phone to fall to the ground as his hand fell to the side of his thigh.
The man turned body rigidly to face her, staring down at her from one head above with a blank gaze.
Just as the mother was about to apologise and go on her way, a fierce glint shot up in the man’s eyes as the sides of his lips curled up savagely. He grabbed onto the wrist of the mother and threw her onto the ground, pressing his body towards hers immediately after.
The baby girl was lying beside her mother, facing up towards the sky. Thankfully her mother had been gripping her tightly, causing her to roll away from her mother only after they reached the ground.
Panic filled the mother’s face at the sudden development, but she turned to check on her baby. However, what she was not her wailing in pain as expected, but instead, her eyes opened wide while pointing an outstretched finger at the sky.
Puzzled by the bizarre happening, she turned her face up to look at the sky where she saw a dot which was quickly enlarging in her vision. She started screaming in fear as she finally lost hold of the last strand of hope within her heart, releasing a piercing scream filled with terror.
The man who pushed her down was moving his hands around her body, but he momentarily regained his senses as he saw the pair’s widened gaze and turned his head to look above.
What welcomed him was a dizzying scene of absolute white, burning deeply into the depths of his mind. Following this, a wave of extreme heat assaulted him, sending him into a perpetual darkness.
Rewinding the clock by several years, it had been the peak of human prosperity. However, all things in the world came at a cost, a price humanity had been turning a blind eye to in the past few decades.
Yet, this price was not something that would disappear with time. The problem kept worsening with the weak measures used to contain until, until it finally developed into a large problem which could no longer be put aside.
Humanity had gone through many cycles of resource shortages, but new technologies that allowed them tap into other forms of resources were discovered each time.
Hence, they adopted said technologies each time, casually downplaying the damage that was being done to the planet each time.
Indeed, humanity achieved prosperity, a had period of rapid development which spanned several decades. Technology flourished, economies boomed and the quality of life of humanity improved greatly over this time.
The voices of conservative environmentalists fell on deaf ears as humans focused on the benefit before their eyes, repeatedly taking without returning from the seemingly inexhaustible inventory of Mother Nature.
Urban settlements appeared one after another, in places where great forests once stood. Most mines sat abandoned, showing no signs of the rich resources it was once filled with.
The damage had already been done, and the weak countermeasures implemented did little to stop it. Humanity now bore the full brunt of the retaliation from Nature, no longer able to run away like they had been doing over the past few decades.
Harmful gases filled the air in toxic concentrations, requiring the city-wide air filters just so humans could breathe safely.
The seas were no longer the deep blue colour it once had, tainted by pollutants of all kinds. Weather conditions became increasingly erratic and natural disasters ran rampant across the planet.
Based on virtual simulations, the world was projected to lose the ability to support life within the next 50 years. To top it off, critical resources such as food and water were also projected to deplete fully within the next three decades.
Meanwhile, resources used to generate electricity that were equally as critical to humanity were projected to be able to last even shorter.
Finally recognising the severity of the issue, leaders all over the world held an international summit where they gathered and discussed on the options that were available to humanity as a whole.
This was no longer the problem of just one nation or several nations, it was a problem which threatened all life on the planet.
The summit had lasted over three months, one of the longest summits in the history of mankind.
In the initial stages of the summit, some leaders voiced blatant disregard towards the ‘projections’ that were made by the supercomputers around the world, saying that this was a conspiracy led by environmentalists to pull the wool over their eyes.
However, their harried expressions betrayed their true emotions, as the truth of the matter was clear to everyone and there was little meaning in acting oblivious to the situation right now. These leaders quickly came under fire at the summit as the discussions proceeded in a darker tone.
After much deliberation, the leaders had finally narrowed it down to two options.
The first of the plans was one which focused on environmental restoration, dubbed as “Operation Restoration”. It involved a treaty which required all countries to pledge that they would reduce all forms of consumption to the bare minimum required to sustain their country. The world would then focus on environmental efforts, in hopes of restoring the planet to its former state.
However, this plan would face many challenges in implementation due to factors such as public backlash. Furthermore, there was little hope of success as although the countries had not publicly acknowledged the severity of the issue before, there had been ongoing environmental efforts which allowed them to understand the difficulty of the task.
Hence, there were fears that this would only serve to prolong the inevitable end.
On the other hand, the second of the plans was one which focused heavily on technological developments and was dubbed as “Operation Last Stand”.
As its name suggests, this plan was literally the ‘last stand’ of humanity. The plan involved pooling all available resources to the greatest of minds of humanity and providing them with the largest amount of support possible.
All the participating countries would work together to gather these people and the resources required, even at the cost of resources depleting at a greater rate. This meant they would accelerate the end that was projected, all in hopes of developing a path of survival for the species.
Over the course of the summit, there were many discussions which revolved around finding less extreme plans. However, they quickly realised that any such options would end up conflicting with itself, limiting the success rate of the plans which already had abysmally low odds.
Ultimately, they had finally arrived at the conclusion with a vote, one which the latter marginally won, thus deciding the future actions that humanity would take.
After returning from the summit, the leaders started publicising controlled amounts of information on the current plight of the planet. They had downplayed several matters to avoid widespread panic and paranoia but had emphasized on the severity of the issue and the importance behind solving it.
Following the release of these statements, the leaders then announced a global project, aimed at gathering talented people from every field and the best minds humanity had to offer.
The project involved multiple rounds of selection conducted throughout the globe, where people who passed were then offered incredible incentives to participate in the project.
Meanwhile, they also proceeded with plans to construct a tower on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean. This was a grand project which involved talented architects from all over the world, a building which symbolised the epitome of human architecture.
This tower was constructed to be the most advanced multi-faceted research facility on the planet and was named as the ‘Tower of Hope’, in hopes of finding a solution for the impending doom humanity was facing.
After the tower’s construction, the people who were invited to participate in he project were then gathered and sent to the tower, where they received the greatest research support the world had ever seen.
Around the period when the world’s leaders started to highlight the severity of the issue humanity was facing, global organisation started a movement to archive the technology and culture of humanity in physical shelters all around the globe as part of technological and cultural preservation efforts.
These shelters were designed to preserve the stored material for extremely long periods of time and were built to have a sturdiness which exceeded even that of most fallout shelters.
Of course, a large part of this was attributed to fact that most of the fallout shelters were built with outdated technology from decades ago, as these shelters were entirely absent from the list of priorities of countries in spite of the recent developments.
Initially, all things seemed to proceed smoothly. Research in the tower proceeded smoothly, and discoveries were being made at an unprecedented rate in human history, prompting technological advancements in many fields.
In particular, right around 10th year since the construction of the tower, the developmental pace suddenly skyrocketed and multiple new discoveries and developments were being made at a daily basis, shocking the world.
However, it was also around then, when the research started diverging from its initial motivation. The tower began to release results that were moving in a dangerous direction, with developments in areas such as weapon developments being released.
The world leaders frowned at this initially but chose to turn a blind eye to it as many of the results released by the tower still proceeded in the right direction. They discussed shortly on the issue and concluded that it was probably a ‘research frenzy’ which would die down on its own.
Yet, as time went on, the problem only got worse as the tower continuously reduced less results that were beneficial to humanity over time, but just as the leaders began to lose their patience and wanted to address the issue, disaster struck the planet.
On this fateful day, of the 12th year since the tower’s founding, military bases all around the globe suddenly fell victim to hacking attempts which originated from the ‘Tower of Hope’, and all their nuclear arsenals were emptied shortly after as all the staff watched on helplessly as the planet welcomed the greatest fireworks show humanity had to offer.
Missile rained down from the sky, taking out most of the population in the world, but that had only been the first act of this grand show.
As missiles rained down, continents trembled, and deep fissures appeared on the land. Lava escaped to the surface from these openings, painting the picture of a flaming red hell on the lands. Natural disasters broke out on every part of the world, permanently altering the landscape of the planet.
Amidst all the chaos and destruction, thick dark gases also started spewing from various parts of the world, encasing the planet in a thick sheet of darkness, blocking most the light from entering the planet.
The skies of the old were lost at this moment, replaced by the blanket of darkness which covered all life. Today was the day where everything changed as the planet ushered in a new age, an age of darkness.