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After the event, whilst many of the survivors simply struggled to live, some obsessed over the why and the how. They would dedicate every moment they had to trying to figure it out; they would scrutinise any scrap of information from the last days, any old paper, any half-remembered personal account passed on through half a dozen different people.

Old Faithful, in Yellowstone Park, had ceased to be quite so faithful in the preceding days, somebody said; maybe that was the first sign, maybe it was the supervolcano under Yellowstone Park that threw up the dark clouds that turned day into night, that spewed out the choking air that killed almost everyone we knew.

A massive glacier had been on the verge of breaking off somewhere up in Greenland, somebody else said. Who knows what was trapped in that antediluvian ice? Perhaps it was something ancient, something alien that choked the world.

The other survivors, however, didn’t care. They were too busy trying to find a way to grow food in the darkness, trying to find clean, drinkable water, trying to isolate the sick from the healthy, to mend their wounds, simply to live for one more day in a world that was no longer fit for human life.

Gradually, the ones who wondered died. The ones who struggled carried on; kept struggling, kept surviving, kept finding ways to carve out a meagre existence.

They forgot the names of the countries that they used to inhabit; didn’t know the meaning of America, Greenland, Yellowstone. They forgot how to read – there were more important things to teach their children – and used the old books as fuel for their fires.

This, some might say, was when the darkness truly began.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: Three Word Wednesday this week gives the prompt words Faithful, Isolate and Scrutinise.)