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With a Whimper

Warning: not filled with holiday cheer. With a Whimper

When it finally came, we were not prepared. All the philosophers and pundits had been predicting it for millennia. And amidst their dire proclamations of doom, we never really saw how it was happening all along.

Annihilation doesn't come in the form of a one-time event like an earthquake or a hurricane. Sure, these things are destructive. People die. Property is lost. Some places can be hit so hard they will never, ever recover.

But doom -- all out and inescapable -- that is another matter entirely.

The quiet desperation of the sick and the lowly. I think it started there. We didn't see it. We didn't want to. If we had food in our bellies and leisure to distract us, we just walked along.

And then there were more and more of them, until the world practically drowned under the sea of tattered people. They sat on stoops and along street corners, hands outstretched. Begging and begging.

We passed them by, until lay-off after lay-off, foreclosure after foreclosure, we became them. On the streets, in the flood, crouched in filth.

We burn books now, not because we object to their contents, but because there's nothing else to keep us warm. The words can't help us anyway. Almost no one can read. The schools were disbanded long ago. There was no money to support that luxury.

Another day with food in our bellies and a dry place to sleep. That is luxury now, here in this hole left by a civilization collapsed upon itself.

Once upon a time, we feared nuclear escalation. People had night terrors, fretting over what world despot might be crazed enough to push the button.

I'm sure there are bombs out there somewhere, but it's hard to blow up the world with all the infrastructure gone.

God -- it would be faster.