The Big Disaster
It had to happen eventually, World War Three. For longer than half a century rulers and soldiers kept busy lying to the population about the results of a nuclear war. It would all be fine. A couple million deaths, yes, that was inevitable. An enormous devastation, certainly! But that too was manageable. Humanity had already had two major wars in the twentieth century and even then, people predicted the end of civilization and what had it become? Millions of victims, Europe in ruins, but immediately afterwards survivors started building and golden times of prosperity arrived. It would undoubtedly also be the case after the third world war. As soon as it was over, the rulers and governors would come up with their families and secret files from the bomb-free shelters, take control and become the masters of the new Golden Age. Whoever possessed the power sat on velvet. The dead would be solemnly remembered with wreaths of flowers, graves of honor and speeches, and the world could begin rebuilding with fresh courage. The destroyed cities would rise even bigger and higher from the ashes. And all problems regarding to slum clearance and overcrowding would be solved immediately. No, the men (of course they were men) with their fingers at the red buttons and purple telephones were not afraid. The moment the big conflict would break out they would be safe under the ground. Those who had to stay above the ground would have a few very hard weeks and maybe even die, but a world population of billions of people was not just wiped out. There would be enough survivors to start over and to cheer on the resurfaced rulers when they would drive by in bulletproof tanks...
But it turned out differently.
Humanity had never dealt with a real nuclear war, and nobody had even the slightest clue about what the consequences would be. The doom thinkers had said: The earth will remain fierce and empty, nothing will survive. The optimists—see above— were counting on a real victory and a nice new beginning. And they were all wrong.
Initially the nuclear war did not look so serious. A few smaller nations that got into a fight and no one knew they had some A-bombs lost their self-control at some point and destroyed each other's capital and oil installations. For three weeks the great powers Russia and the United States balanced on the fringes of madness. Had it really been the heads of government off those small states who had given the order or were the high lords of the Kremlin (or, as the counter-party claimed: of Washington) behind it? Distrust grew and grew and with it the fears of each other's possibilities for destruction. Who would be the first to let the distrust become panic and act? Massive demonstrations were held in all major cities of the world, all ordinary people who had no access to the shelters demanded disarmament. Strikes, riots, and more demonstrations put daily life at bay. And one day it started, from two sides at the same time. The people hid under tables and in cupboards. The generals, colonels, senior officials and government officials plunged underground with their presidents, royal houses, and ministers and gave orders. The war hysteria, suppressed for so long, and at the same time so whipped up, had suddenly become reality. On the first day about two billion people died, in unimaginable streams of fire, in burning forests and collapsing buildings. The second day was just as bad, the third day... The third day, H-bombs, neutron bombs, and A-bombs still exploded and were automatically launched or searched for their target computer-controlled. Destroyed space satellites fell onto earth, burning, glowing. Bacilli and poisons kept in reserve escaped from destroyed chemical factories. The shelters carved deep into the mountains shook and cracked, but they held it. Of what was happening above the ground, the commanders hardly had any notion. It was supposedly hell up there, but what kind of hell?
After three days of nuclear war, nearly half the world's population was still alive—or at least had a chance to survive, because the number of dying, seriously injured and sick could no longer be counted. Cities, military bases, industrial complexes, airports and supermarkets had disappeared from the face of the earth. But now everything had been launched, faded and exploded, the war was over. No one knew who won and nobody cared. But there was one aspect the scholars had not taken into account: the response of mother earth. Because on that third day it really started...
A twenty-megaton H-bomb, computer-controlled and calculated to find a military base in Alaska with its infrared seeker, had landed and exploded in one of the largest active volcanoes in that area: the Katmaicrater. The explosion not only blew up the mountain, but destroyed an area of more than four thousand square kilometers and tore the southern part of Alaska apart, after which it disappeared into the sea. The resulting tidal wave destroyed most of British Columbia (in Western Canada) and the Djoekdjes Peninsula of Siberia. But it didn't stop there. The shockwave propagated inwards, set the magma mantel in motion among the earth's orbs and caused an enormous turmoil beneath the earth's fixed crust. The same thing happened almost simultaneously with a fifteen-megaton bomb that, led by the same infrared mechanism, ended up in the crater of the Foudsji-San near Tokyo/Yokohama. The bomb ripped the Japanese island of Honshu in two, caused massive eruptions of other large volcanoes and left Japan disabled. But here the shock wave propagated inwards as well.
Perhaps even more nuclear bombs landed in active volcanoes or in fault areas where the earth's crust was thin. Whatever the case, the forces of nature unleashed by these shocks had unimaginable consequences. None of the survivors understood where those enormous tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and all-destructive tornadoes came from. And only a few actually got the time to think about it. Mother earth had lost her balance. She tilted.
The chain reaction in the magma mantle, through which the natural gas moved with a jerk, was accompanied by an accumulation of natural disasters that humanity had never known before. All existing dams collapsed, and tidal waves of hundreds of meters high beat over the coasts and washed away everything that was still alive or standing. California disappeared to a large extend under the sea, peninsulas were torn off the mainland, colossal rock masses blocked the valleys, low-lying areas were flooded and turned into salt mashes. Continents tore on fault lines, lakes emptied. Atomic shelters were squeezed together by earthquakes like chip boxes, were flooded or were buried forever under stone avalanches. Snowstorms, hailstorms, devastating thunderstorms, hurricanes whose strength could no longer be measured, sea-quakes, earthquakes, rivers changed in their course, torn glaciers and ash rains destroyed those who thought they were among the survivors after the three-day war.
The entire atmosphere was saturated with dust that had been pushed up miles high. That layer of dust prevented the sunlight from penetrating into the earth, which caused s small ice age to arise the first years after the disaster. The cold also took a lot of lives... But humanity is tough. There were still survivors. People were still living in remote rural areas, in sheltered valleys, in Canada, in Greenland, in Central Europe: scared, cold, hungry and desperate. It took years for them to realize that something fundamental had changed on earth. The poles had moved, just like the equator. In Russia, which was getting colder and colder, troops of wandering farmers marched along destroyed railways or tried to wrest a meager harvest from the scorched soil. Here, there, everywhere were still groups of people trying to keep alive, reproduce and build a new life with primitive means. Nobody could use electricity; the power stations were destroyed and there was no fuel. Most technicians, engineers, and scholars were dead. There was no gasoline or diesel oil either; superfluous means of transport were rustling everywhere among the ruins. After the dust had fallen—and that lasted for years—and the sun broke through again, the miracle of the tilted earth became visible. The former poles began to melt, while new cold regions began to form in other places: the north pole was located near the former Japan, which also caused China to freeze. The new equator ran through the south of Australia, through West Africa and through the south of what had once been the United States of north America. And Greenland received a wonderful climate. For millions of years, Greenland, the world's largest island, had been buried under a thick ice sheet. But after the earth was tilted, the great miracle took place on Greenland. The ice cap began to melt. That went fairly quickly because it became warmer and more comfortable on the island year after year. Giant glaciers scoured the ocean with ever-increasing speed calving down to icebergs drifting south and melting away—because the equator had become so much higher in that part of the world. The high ridge that ran in the middle of Greenland appeared. First the peaks, then the slopes and valleys. The melting ice left behind grit, stones and fertile soil. Newly formed rivers cut their bed in glacial U-shaped valleys, or filled troughs with clear water. The Greenlanders who had managed to survive the successive disasters formed a people consisting of Inuit (Eskimos), Danes, Americans, and Indians. It was just a small people; during the great disaster, Greenland only had a population of about fifty thousand souls and many of them died. But a few thousand survived and formed the core of a new people. Initially many sick and deformed children were born with few chances for life, but the Greenlanders, used to harsh conditions, managed to endure the horrors of the small ice age, the famine and the lack of comfort. And as the climate on their island became milder and the children healthier, hope shone again for them. They gave their island a new name: Thule, and their origins could still be seen in their faces. Many Thulens had dark, somewhat narrow eyes, a stocky build, short legs and broad shoulders. Others, with more Danish or American blood in their veins, were taller, had lighter skin, grey or blue eyes and a high forehead. The women in particular stood out: slim with long flowing hair and fine bone structure.
This story plays out in this Thule, in thin new country, after a disaster that devastated most of the earth and which had almost meant the end of the world population. And it begins with the Konega of Thule: Armina-Dottir, and with her only son: Christian.