Adventure Science Fiction Speculative

The beginning of the end, of what Stanley and others called phase I civilization, or pre-Ruin, began when immigrants left there home countries in hordes because the land began to be overrun by water at the coasts. This began slightly after the last glacier melted and ice began floating everywhere. Then someone got hold of a nuclear fission bomb and The Big Kabooma it finally happened, but no savior came and neither did the end of the world. That according to phase II civilixation history happened about three centuries ago. The X in civilixation was pronounced the same as the z in civilization. It emphasized the X termination of large scale government and technology.

Anarchy and small government became the norm. Sometime when big winter comes a long spring follows. Even though life still did not seem perfect, it seemed better than before The Big Kabooma. In fact the empiric faith in the current world being only able to happen due to Big Kabooma. Amazingly the lack of population created by the The Big Kabooma and The Great Die-Off due to nuclear winter only lasted two centuries. Glaciers began to come back and the Earth began to heal itself. Unfortunately many species died off. However, it all seemed necessary you know swings and roundabouts. It all balanced out in the end.

Stanley was a man of his times as all of us have been. “Everything seemed as it should be and that’s the ways it is you know”, he thought.

“Hell comes to those who live long enough”, thought Stanley. Of course he knew that he did not really feel this way. He knew it could have been a lot worse. But he also knew it could be a lot better. And Stanley believed it would get a lot better. But fast enough is relative, and in Stanley’s mind it did not happen fast enough. So he knew enough was never enough.

After “The War of Ruin” had occurred, just getting food and water were a daily difficult maneuver. Many of the wells were drying up that had been drilled a century ago. A hundred years ago Stanley thought is when things changed fast enough. The early beginnings when everyone worked together or they would have perished.

Stanley thought about what his dad had often said, “May you be heaven before the devil knows it”. His dad always found the good and bad news in everything. Swings and roundabouts he thought, that had become his life. Thus he prepared himself for his usual daily uncertain schedule.

Today Stanley introduced the local town to a new type of hand-cranked drill made from large wooden planks. The machine had a lot of pulleys and levers to transfer the energy from the grinding wheel to the drill so that it would move faster. This made the drill move four times as fast as old style drills.

Stanley thought the design was not perfect. He knew that drills used to move more like 30 times faster but this was better. On the other hand the drills did wear out faster, but luckily old wood planks currently were in abundance, so no biggy. Yes, swings and roundabouts was his motto.

Stanley decided what to do each day by what came in that day. He never questioned whether the wind blew ill or good, that being the bygone occupation of philosophers before the The Ruin. He got his marching orders by what had come.

Sometimes he set and ankle or broken arm. Sometimes he stitched up someones wounds. Sometimes he offered herbs for an infected eye. He kept a box of eyeglasses sorted by prescription to trade for other needed community resources.

Today, the first day of the month, he took the horse driven wagon and began his journey to New London to find out the latest regional news. He could negotiate a lot of bumps and even large holes. Then there were roads strewn with vehicles broken in eights and twisted on a bridge that was nothing but a debris field.

There were roads that had become obstacled by cars that had run dry of fuel trying to escape in the early days. He did begin making a map using chalk and stones to write on for later reference.

Sometimes he felt a spinner with four directions would be good to keep in the car to help him make his directional decisions. Any direction forward, whether he moved east or west, south, or north. At least he moved somewhere and learned something new. Yes moving anywhere, any direction seemed just like the children playing on the swings or playing on the roundabout, as long as they played.

On his way to get regional news, he also stopped at various important regional points of interest. He took Hoss his horse with the wagon to the new school held in a tent. He let the children ride Hoss.

The Children played games to learn important life lessons. They sang songs to learn about civics. Teaching children how to grow food, how to take care of minor medical issues, how to apprentice when the time came were popular subjects.

Next as an itinerant doctor he visited several Hospitals that were set up in many neighborhoods. Becoming a farmer or doctor were each equally ‘paid’ occupations. These were times that bedeviled humanity. Stanley, a doctor-farmer-mechanic modern renaissance guy loved visiting his neighbors.

He often used herbs grown on his farm and traded them for whatever he could. He did not know if any medicines could cure the ills of the war: radiation, water pollution, unexploded mines, and a loss of all knowledge on computers. The electrical system right now had been destroyed by the bombs, sabotage within the country and complete lack of maintenance due to ignorance.

The only technologies left were manual labor and artisan machine building. Finding books on medicine and living older doctors and older farmers and mechanics became another important occupation.

He had been avoiding joining a particular faction. Each faction wanted to blackmail him for protection. The government such as it was did not exist. There were the ex-military, the religious zealots, the criminal, the psychopaths each vying for his belongings and allegiance. He so far had kept them off his back by offering his services to all of them equally. Yes keep everything in balance.

Stanley had a bulletin board that could freely be posted on weekly. He offered a mimeographed local newspaper that gave services and also entertainment. He hooked up the power brokers with entertainers that soothed their souls also. Today the Grand Poobah, the origin of the name lost in antiquity would get entertained by The Hula Troop. A group of boys and girls that sang ancient songs about volcanoes and green lands that used to exist in abundance.

Everything slowly seemed to be getting better. Overpopulation, climate warming, the almost complete end of the world were no longer a worry for humankind. Everyday was spent trying to figure out the balance of things sometimes the roundabouts and sometimes the swings that is where the children played and on the balance of it everything seemed better.

Stanley was a man of his times as all of us have been. “Everything seemed as it should be and that’s the ways it is you know”, he thought.

July 22, 2022 04:12

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Graham Kinross
13:00 Aug 01, 2022

It’s an optimistic view of the end, the end of the world as we know it but not the world itself. And as long as there were clever people to reinvent the lost technology maybe we would regain what had been lost, hopefully with a better understanding of consequences.


Glenn Holt
02:01 Aug 03, 2022

Thanks, glad you enjoyed this story. I am hoping we can avoid the crisis before we lose what amazing beauty we have.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Amy Jayne Conley
02:58 Jul 28, 2022

Ooh, I liked this a lot! The theme was really nice, a lovely take on dystopias I've personally never come across before! Great work!


Glenn Holt
20:40 Jul 28, 2022

Thanks. Hopefully it will not swing this way :).


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jim Firth
08:13 Jul 22, 2022

Glenn, Stanley sounds like a bit of a polymath; he would be a useful guy to have around in a dystopian world. I like how swings and roundabouts is his modus operandi (or anti-philosophy) and that he stays on an even keel by working for various people. The world building using Civilixation as way to mark out a new time is a nice touch.


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.