This is the concept behind a book I’ve been trying to write for 20+ years. Still need to figure out how to fill out the story.
A Light In The Cave
Everything happened so quickly. The signs were all around us, yet we let the politicians and anyone with a profit motive have their way. What could we do, really? They decided what was seen and heard. The supposed freedom that the internet was supposed to provide was curtailed by targeted media. People were only shown what they usually looked at, and therefore they never had to leave their comfort zones or learn anything new.
Science told us that we had to make some serious changes, yet the uneducated and very vocal minority ensured that such changes we never made. The world was erupting around us, literally and politically, and we kept on with our armchair expertise, bantering and debating and ever consuming. A beast of cells that fed only itself. No one cared about being accurate or helpful or prepared, we all only wanted to be right. The short-lived adrenaline rush of one-upping some anonymous person on a some other part of the globe was our daily opiate.
The world continued to erupt. It shook and flooded and thrashed us about. Our economies broke completely as a very few got almost all of the money and the rest of the globe spiraled ever downward into heartbreaking poverty. People raised their voices to deaf ears. Those that could, wouldn’t, and those that would, couldn’t. Change in any real sense was handily prevented by those with the money. They died with billions in their bank accounts and ensured that none of their wealth would ever be used for any philanthropic cause. It was as if they were trying to break the world. Their greed was so pervasive that they wanted to use up everything for themselves and leave nothing for those they left behind, except perhaps for their own immediate families. Fuck everyone else.
The combination of natural and economic catastrophe cost countless lives. The already ineffectual infrastructure for response was severely overwhelmed and governments existed in name only. Desperation and hunger ravaged humanity, and it brought out amazing kindness and unfathomable cruelty.
These times were the most horrific in known history. So many had led sedentary, cubicle-bound lives and had not the slightest idea of how to survive for a single day without their dependencies on modern infrastructure and technology. Most of them had never planted a seed or hunted an animal. The only knots they knew how to tie were shoes and ties. They could not identify edible plants, didn’t know how to build basic shelters…they were simply incapable of survival.
The ones who knew how to survive were often paranoid and xenophobic. They hunkered down either by themselves or in small, trigger-happy groups which were unwelcoming to outsiders to say the least.
The politicians and those who listened to them scurried into vast underground shelters, many of them beneath military bases and airports. Of course, this meant a life that was very much like that of a prisoner and many people chose to take their chances on the surface. Society separated into aboveground and subterranean factions, which rarely had contact with one another.
It took several years for the two societies to settle into a more or less stable way of living. The earth continued to shake and heave and massive storms devastated everything they touched. Sometimes earthquakes crushed those who lived underground creating mass industrial graves.
Those who lived on the surface gathered into communities of various creeds and dispositions. Some were very militaristic and even considered themselves an extension of the defunct government. Others were agrarian collectives that hid into deep wilderness, far from any roads and strove to live a simple, back-to-the-land existence, often with some kind of spiritual focus. A vast patch of the Pacific Northwest had finally realized its dream of creating an independent nation they called Cascadia. Many in this area were too independent for their own good, which made consensus on anything very difficult to obtain, however, it worked well enough to sustain those involved. They managed to retain a functional intranet, and walked the line between modern technology and rural homesteading.
Those who lived underground had their lives controlled through fear, religion, tradition, and other forms of propaganda. They we told that the world above-ground was an uninhabitable wasteland that no one could survive. They were told that the world continued to suffer because of the sins in the minds of the underground survivors. They believed that no one was left alive up there, and that this underground existence was what humanity was to endure for the foreseeable future.
They were admonished not to question, only to pray and obey. They had become an oligarchy where the politicians of the past became the eyes, ears, hands and voice of God.
It has been seventy three years since they went underground. One young man is about to discover the truth.