This prolonged period of darkness is obviously not coming to an end any time soon, and so I feel that it is my duty to record the recent events that have occurred, in the hope that one day someone will find this diary and my story will not be in vain.
So far my food is holding out, my water supply is still functioning, and I still have enough gas for several months more. However with no apparent change in the weather I am now wondering if this will be enough, and whether I need to consider breaking cover and risking a move elsewhere, or to face starvation by remaining where I am.
I guess before I continue that I had better introduce myself, and then to tell my story, should the worst happen and I not live to tell the tale.
My name is Robert Scott, and I live close to the south coast of England, in this solid and somewhat remote hundred year old farmhouse. I live alone, at least since my wife and son were lost 17 months ago in a plane crash, which was caused by the volcanic ash cloud that has hovered over the northern hemisphere for longer than I care to remember. This volcanic ash cloud is one of the reasons for the onset of end of the world as we know it.
When the patterns of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the globe began to increase some five years ago, I realised that one day there might be a need for us, well it was “us” back then, to be able to survive in the event of a long term disruption to the climate in Europe, and I began to stockpile various items in the cellar, just in case.
The house is supplied with water from an artesian well, and a wind turbine provides the power needed to pump it into the building, as well as providing the basic levels of electricity that I need to survive.
The major earthquake in Japan in March of 2011 was a warning to us all, and that was followed with a string of chain reaction earthquakes around the Pacific “Ring Of Fire”, and finally later that year the long overdue movements in the San Andreas fault practically tore apart Los Angeles, ironically on 21st December 2011, one year to the day before the Mayan Apocalypse predictions that had been of concern to so many.
The other tremors throughout the United States were insignificant by comparison to the 8.9 California quake, but the earthquakes have been the least of our worries here in Western Europe.
The volcanic eruption in Iceland that has been piling ash into the air for the last 18 months is what is causing the most problems here. Around the world a succession of other volcanoes have in addition been creating their own havoc, including Popocatepetl in Mexico, Mt. Etna in Sicily and Talang in Sumatra, and air travel in many parts of the world has become almost impossible.
It has become impossible to fly in Northern Europe for instance, as well as in many parts of North America. The only way to fly to the USA now is to leave from Southern Spain, fly across to South America, where flights operate semi-regularly to the southern USA. Travel in and out of the UK has however been almost impossible for many months, and the journey to the Dover area where the transports depart is fraught with danger, not the least of which is the marauding gangs that are operating in some areas of the country.
But let me go back to where it began for us here, the volcanic eruption that occurred in Iceland 18 months ago.
The plumes of smoke and ash continued not for days, but for months, and as far as I know it is continuing even now (I have heard nothing from Iceland in five months).
Within days the cloud covered the UK, followed by most of Northern Europe, and is was far denser than that which caused the air traffic problems a few years before.
The skies have been dark ever since, and the lack of sunlight and ash that has covered everything have cast a grey and gloomy appearance on the land.
At first there was no panic, just a frustration with the need to cancel international travel plans, and the interruptions to satellite communications as a result of the density of the cloud that hung continuously overhead.
After several months with no improvement in the situation, the mood of the people turned angry, as it became obvious that crops would fail due to the absence of both sunlight and it’s warmth.
The scarcity of fresh food, the empty shelves in the stores, and the sharp increases in prices soon gave rise to a nationwide panic. People began to leave the country in their hundreds, then thousands. The French army were called in to try and stem the tide of immigrants from across the channel, but with the prospect of leaving Britain or facing starvation, the mobs forced their way south, albeit with a substantial loss of life.
Last I heard was that the military are now controlling the channel ports, the channel tunnel inoperable since the tremors off the French coast created cracks in the structure.
Had I not been well prepared and virtually stocked the cellar full to the ceiling with canned goods, I would by now most likely be one of the millions who have starved to death as their food ran out, and help did not arrive.
Every day I look out of the window, hoping to see some form of clearing in the sky, but all remains dark and gloomy, an ominous reminder of the severity of the disaster that is facing mankind.
I haven’t seen another living soul in almost a year, and almost never leave the house, for fear of being seen should a group of scavengers be in the area.
The government still occasionally send out Short Wave transmissions, which I am able to listen to on my radio, and I am grateful that the wind turbine that I installed helps to provide enough power to keep this running.
The news is not good. The whole of the Northern Hemisphere is a disaster area, with millions already having starved to death, or having been killed as they fight rival groups for what supplies may still be left in shops that have been already looted.
Unless the sun returns to shine on us soon, mankind could indeed be facing near extinction. Winter is fast approaching again, and I expect the bitter cold to be equally as bad as last year, with no sunlight shining through to warm the earth. Crops have failed to grow, and many farm animals have perished due to lack of food and shelter from the bitter cold.
Provided my gas and food hold out until the Spring I may yet be ok, but if the situation does not change, then it can only be said that I did my best to survive.
If you are reading this, then I presumably failed in my attempt.
I am not a religious man, but may God have mercy on mankind.
This is a short story that I wrote and originally published on Yahoo Voices, 25 May 2011. I hope you enjoyed it.
The image of a volcanic ash cloud is from Wikimedia Commons and used under a Creative Commons license.