A rangy, gray haired, darkly tanned man rises and starts to speak at a gathering of 40 - 50 people in a semi-ruined auditorium located somewhere in the Central South of the North American Continent in what used to be the United States of America. The group that has gathered here in this ruined spot, in this ruined city, are mostly younger than the man who has risen to speak. They are, in various shapes and sizes, mostly skinny, (hungry) disheveled, and dirty looking bunch. Every one in the room, if you could actually apply the term to the place, including the gray haired man looks to be carrying at least one weapon of some kind. Looking around himself, into the crowd, he hesitates a moment, and then starts to speak...
"So, forty years ago, I was a support programmer for a major oil multinational, in Houston, Texas. What were you doing forty years ago? Trouble is, most of y'all weren't even born then. Those of y'all that were, know that things were a lot different back then. Trouble is, there ain't that many of us left. That remember. Most of us that do and that still have our wits about us, are gettin' old. And wore out."
He pauses for effect and then continues, "I was born in Nine-teen fifty-eight. I guess that makes me one of the oldest people here. Do any of y'all even know what year it is?"
Some one in the back of the ruinous amphitheater yells out something.
"That's right, you in the back. It is now the summer of 2045. You must be damn near as old as I am."
"In the year 2005, I was forty-seven and I had all the stuff that was thought to have mattered. A wife. A house. A Mortgage. A good job. Three kids (one that was mine, two that were hers). One of our kids was graduating High School. The other two were in College. One Sport Ute and two cars. A long commute. A retirement fund and a pension to look forward to. And Two (count 'em) ex-wives.
And everything that went along with all that shit. Hell, most of y'all don't even know what most of that shit is, do ya?"
Another pause. Then, "That was the year everything started. And started to end. American Society at that time was the top of the heap, Numero Uno. The big cheese. We had the best of everything and we were the best, and brightest. Or so we thought."
"That's the trouble with bein' on top. There's always some sumbitch to come along an' try and knock you off the top. We were the only Superpower left. An' we shoulda been on the lookout for the fall."
"That's what the Soviets found out twenty years earlier. When their own people rose up and said, 'ENOUGH!!' Theirs was a crummy system anyway. The government couldn't sustain their economics and finally fell over from their own heavy handed, top heavy systems." The old man paused, as if trying to catch his breath.
Some younger man in his immediate vicinity mutters something and the gray hued man picks up on it, "Wha'd you say there, youngster? This ain't no history lesson? Well, yeah, it kinda is...So get on with it you say! Watcher hurry? You got an appointment?" The kid backs off and sits down on the ground.
"2005, the year that everything started. Actually it was the year before, in '04. It probably really started before the millenium turned, but '04 was when I started payin' attention..."
"There were all kinds of signs. The entire planet was in trouble. Natural disasters, high unemployment. There were wars over religious beliefs goin' on. Prices for staples rising higher and higher. Pollution indicators off the scales. Mass deforestations. Crazy fuckin' weather."
"And one of the most ignorant, arrogant bastards in the Whitehouse in history."
"We, the planet, were in deep shit. An' we were too self absorbed to even realize it. 'specially those of us in North America."