The year is 2250. Or maybe it's 5971. Or maybe 217, or A-4, or even the year Green for that matter. Any sort of universal system for keeping track of time disappeared a long time ago. What we do know is this: about 200 years ago, the world died. The killer goes by many names. Most folks that have heard of it just call it "The War" or "The Last War." Some decoded ancient texts even refer to it as "The Fifth World War," which may actually be accurate because those same sources claim it was the third in a series of global wars that all happened within 50 years of one-another. One got over, the victors were too weak from putting all their resources into winning to stay in power, and another one started right up because of it.
A lot of us living in what was called Europe say it was Ragnarok, the mythical end of the world. Three winters in a row followed by a fourth, even worse one in which even the gods themselves would be laid low. Wind age, wolf age, before the breaking of the world. You'd be surprised how much that actually fits. Three winters, three wars. And after that, it got real cold...
When the sound of bombs finally faded, there were around a hundred years of bitter frost, no sign of the sun except for a faint halo in the dust-choked sky. Everyone in the world either died, adapted, or moved to the equator where it was still bearable to go outside for a good five months out of the year. Farming was out, 'cept for mushrooms in a few places. Hunting became more dangerous ad mankind found itself once again down a couple notches on the old food chain. Only the strongest, smartest, and fastest animals survived, after all. If you don't believe me, go for a hike in the wastes at night covered in cattle blood and I'm sure the varger will do a much better job of convincing you than I ever could.
Of those that survived to see a real sunrise again--and all the flooding that happened right after she came back-- we've mostly organized into tribes for survival. Rumor has it there are some true city-states out there, with thousands of people and real police. Mostly though, it's just whoever can get the most folks with guns to listen to him that's in charge in an area. We're fairly lucky here. Living in this tin can that, if the stories are to be believed, used to carry folks through the sky from one place to another. Sounds crazy, huh? We may be down to 279 adults and 61 children after this past winter, but that's more than a lot of other settlements I've seen can say. We've got crops, we've got hunters, and we even have our own militia-- headed by one of the few truly good-hearted people I've met in my life.
The ancient stories say that, after Ragnarok, the human survivors would come out of hiding to find the world beautiful again. That certainly didn't happen... but we're here. That's gotta count for something.
~Clara, Travelling Historian and Resident of Settlement 797