"I don't know what must've been worse: seeing the comet coming over a year in advance or not being able to do a damn thing about it. I think it would have driven me mad, especially at the end, the last few weeks when it was visible as a bright milky blemish in the night sky. How it must've felt like watching the headlamp of an oncoming train all the while helpless to move off the tracks.
"If it's any consolation to the past, life after the fall isn't much better. In the nearly two hundred years since Comet DB-1985 (it hadn't even been given a proper name) impacted in the shallows just off the eastern coast of Florida, the human race has degenerated into the savage opportunists we once were all those centuries ago. The most civilized populations are ruled over by warlords and tyrants, men and women who use scrounged technology and terror to keep their subjects in line.
"I don't belong to any such 'civilization', if it can even be called such. The nearest hegemony to my current location is the so-called 'Empire' of Kane, which claims ownership of the entire coast of the inland sea, which stretches up from what was once a city called Los Angeles to San Francisco, which still supports small communities within the sections of the city that survived the waves and earthquakes following the impact of the three-mile-wide section of the comet that broke off mid-entry and landed in the Pacific. Hawaii was washed clean, along with Japan, Indonesia, and New Zealand. The waves hit the entire western coast of the former United States. The huge central valley of California filled with seawater like a giant bathtub. When the waves finally receded, the valleys remained flooded.
"I imagine the geography of the planet looks pretty different from what the old books show. If anyone were still able to operate the dozens of satellites still up in space, I bet they'd be in for quite the picture show. But there haven't been people to work them in two hundred years. What we know about the damage is learned from word-of-mouth from travelers and the few surviving reports released just after The Fall. International travel, if such a term even applies to a world devoid of nations, is impossible. Nobody really knows how bad it is. May be that nobody ever will. You hear whispers, rumors of functioning government in some of the older countries like England or Germany, but I know how unlikely that is.
"In the first place, most of Europe probably got swallowed up by the Atlantic when the big one hit. And whatever managed to stay dry would have frozen solid in the years after. I've personally seen ice sheets as far south as Colorado. All that talk of surviving society is Europe is just that: talk. I suppose it gives people hope. Me, I'm a realist. The Fall happened two hundred years ago. This life is all I've ever known. Sure, things look great in pictures and books from before. But we won't get back there any time soon; maybe we never will again. There's no sense in pining over a world you've never even known."
Excerpt from the diary of an unidentified
man living two centuries after The Fall.
Entry c. 2222 AD
"This summer is colder than last summer. Mark says it's just my imagination but I think he's in denial. He doesn't want to admit that it's getting worse. I know the seasons will stabilize in a few years; the scientists all said the first five or ten years would be the worst and it's only been two. I'm just glad the rain stopped. Everyone on the TV told us about it for months before it happened, that after the strike, it would rain a lot. But all those words and diagrams couldn't prepare you for the weeks of solid, unrelenting, maddening rain. They said it was because of where the comet hit, something about hundreds of cubic miles of water all being vaporized and tossed into the atmosphere. I guess that makes sense. All I know is that it rained for almost two straight months non-stop and then just most of the time for the month after that. It got so sick of that sound that I just about went out of my mind.
"But then the rain stopped one day and the sun came out. And for a whole day it didn't rain. And then for two days, and then a week.
"After the rain stopped, it got cold. I hate the cold."
Excerpt from the journal
of Alice Hendricks.
Entry dated July 17, 2024
"Isabella died last night. I'm still numb I think. I haven't found the strength to grieve yet. Her health was already poor. We found a doctor about three months back who said she had developed some respiratory disease from all the dust still in the air from the comet. The act of giving birth had sapped what little strength she had left. She lived just long enough to see our daughter, Izzie, cry for the first time. Then she slipped out of consciousness and within the hour, out of my life forever. I buried her this morning by our cabin as Izzie slept.
"How will I survive without her?"
Excerpt from the diary
of Ernesto Vasquez.
Entry dated September 5th, 2027
Rain never stops
The world has been swept away
Good riddance, I say
As cold closes in
The body begins to slow
Death is close at hand
These are my last words
I have lived a decent life
My time is ended
Haiku found scrawled on
a wall beside skeletal remains
c. 2023 AD
"In all my remaining years I will never forget the sight of the Atlantic Ocean as it poured over Washington and washed it clean away. My helicopter sped me away to safety while millions perished below. The last thing I saw before being overtaken with grief was the ever-proud Washington Monument, its base undermined by the rapid erosion of rushing water, begin to sway. I could not bear to watch as it toppled into the frothing waves as I had witnessed the White House swept off its foundations, along with two hundred and fifty years of history.
"To say that this is a time of great hardship for our country is a delusion. Our country no longer exists; indeed the very world will likely perish in the coming months and years. Our civilization is gone, perhaps never to return.
"I firmly believe this to be God's judgment of the human race. We have allowed ourselves to poison the Earth with our chemicals and kill our fellow man with our weapons of war. Maybe we had this coming to us. Maybe we have been deemed unfit to keep possession of the Earth by a higher power. I pray every night that those of us left, those precious few survivors, learn from the past. We must not permit ourselves to fall victim to the sins of our ancestors.
"May God have mercy on us all."
Excerpt from the diary
of President James. H. Stewart.
Entry dated one week after The Fall
"Comets are a pain in the asteroid!"
Graffiti scrawled across a wall
in the remains of downtown Akron, OH
"The day I discovered my comet, I took my wife out for lobster. Outside of the birth of my son and my wedding day, I cannot remember being so happy. Had I known that in less than three decades that dirty snowball would cross paths with the Earth, I might've started prepping for it that day. But I didn't. Instead I celebrated; I enjoyed my fifteen minutes of fame.
"I wish now that I had never bought the damned telescope. Then maybe I wouldn't feel like the guy who looked Earth's assassin in the eye before going about his life, business as usual. Amanda told me once, back before it hit, that there wasn't anything I could have done, that I wasn't God. And while that may be true, it did nothing to relieve the guilt I still feel. I discovered the killer of mankind and couldn't do a thing to stop it. And in the end, I couldn't do a thing to save Amanda, either.
"My sweet Amanda. I will see you very soon. To the people of Earth, you scattered, broken souls, I'm so sorry. My comet has sealed your fate. I have killed us all."
Suicide note of Douglas Brown,
amateur astronomer who
discovered Comet DB-1985.
"It was heralded at the time as the end of the world. The human race was whittled down to fewer than one hundred million spread across a ravaged globe. The effects of the comet were unimaginable. It altered the very face of the planet, rendering it unrecognizable to anyone from the pre-strike era.
"But through it all, through the floods, the famine and disease, through the rain and the bitter cold, mankind survived. Even when things were at their worst, even when all hope was lost, the race survived.
"And then one day, it ceased to survive and began simply to live. It lived and it thrived once again. Humans are the ultimate survivors. Their collective will and their unrelenting drive to live is unparalleled in nature. The individual may lose his way, but the whole of humanity can never have its spirit broken. Not even by the cosmos itself."
"Remnants: A Tribute to Man's Triumph
Over the Second Dark Age"
By Walter Cromley, published 2522 AD