The nuclear fires had burned bright
The nuclear fires had burned bright but burned quick, burned out and birthed a new world. After a thousand years global warming was no longer an issue, overfarming and forestry replaced by hunter gatherer 'tribes' in many cases associated with soft drinks or pop cultural ephemera or sports teams. Remnants of what was once the Reservation system morphed with higher education studies on the subject, museums were harvested for their rich treasures. Things got mixed up.
Some auto-manufacturing still existed, but mostly to retrofit ancient vehicles. The US gov’t infrastructure was barely there, bits and pieces left over, mostly run by robots. Robots were not some unmanned sky army eating humanity. They were few and far between, pockets left over, mostly in Washington D.C. and the new Capitol in Vermont. There were still some farmlands, one or two even robot owned and operated, whom traded for their fuel. But mainly the continental US had returned to native growth virgin forest, with some European 'Old World' species mixed in, as well as some diversification from genetic mutation after the bombs. But a thousand years is a long time for the earth to heal itself, warming patterns spiked after the war, for sure a nuclear winter followed, death, devastation, but then finally rebirth.
There were far fewer cars and trucks on the road, far fewer factories. Well, far fewer people to begin with. But Ish and the People high up in the clouds survived the blasts with their culture and technology intact. By now, a thousand years later, it was certainly safe for them to have resumed life on the surface. But it is like that sometimes with patterns, behavior, reflex, routine, cultural mores, attitudes and finally socially acceptable behavior and normative small group interaction and feedback and finally in the end societal norms. So at first they could not, right after, in fact during the bombings, return to the surface. But after ten years, a hundred, a thousand, suddenly you find your culture has been doing things one way because that’s the way they’ve always been done.
Ish was not a rule-breaker in the sense of upsetting the apple cart, she was a team player for the most part. She resented nonsensical seemingly random rules enforced without mercy, prejudice, nor any inclination towards non-parity favoritism. Rules just for the sake of rules. But no one visited the surface, without a good reason. It was more like a punishment, or an assignment, it wasn’t something someone looked forward to. She felt girded by too strict strictures; smothered, as it were. And longed for unbridled unchained off-the-hook freedom.
The bombs had taken everyone by surprise. It wasn’t so much that the People were more prepared, not that much more prepared. But they were the purveyors of the most necessary technology outside of creating clean, bacteria-free, radiation free foodstuffs: genetic cloning technology. It was illegal, during the time they were practicing it, before the war. And so a lot of the breakthroughs took place after the war. The initial years, ten or twenty, were the most difficult in terms of pure survival, also the years that behavior became most ingrained. Their genetic lines, the Code, was refined, explored, digitized, improved and saved, backed-up and shared, as well as utilized for cloning.
But then they rebuilt a government, learned rocket science, kept a few satellites in orbit, communicated with the few remaining robot fleets, and traded their knowledge and skills for whatever else they needed. All done, for the most part from the safety high up of their perch, overseeing the rebuilding of the world. But mostly just continuing to recycle and maintain while Mother Nature healed herself and did the rest. The wilds were not entirely wild, not entirely virginal as they had been before white settlers from the 'Old World' and were crisscrossed by ancient highways, super-highways, federal roads, kept up, to a degree by robot repair, but mostly crumbling, like the rest of the infrastructure.
Flowers bloomed, birds flew, bald eagles were plentiful, buffalo roamed the land, the seas were teamed and jumping with fish. Global warming, increased by the spike, flooded the cities, but once the water receded, the fertile marshland that ensued turned from swamp to bog to forest, and so most urban centers were overrun by nature, swallowed back up to a previous temporal state, as if an artist made a mistake; some remnants were left. The banks, stood like ancient Greek ruins on the Acropolis, and reminded one of the ancient Age of Courts, when kings and queens and lordly princes rode through streets paved with gold in mink furs with entourages, onlookers, fans, well-wishers paying them homage as they danced and sang and fucked in spectacular orgies of magnificent proportion, both men and women, both sides of the coin, the male and female of the species.
But unless one was punished, caught with a lunch table penis-squirter in one’s pod, incorrectly utilized for the sexAction, running through the halls naked, thinking wrong thoughts, spreading wrong thoughts, being unclean, questioning the Code, one wouldn’t seek to go back down, to that old, dying primitive world. They had everything they needed in their pods, for the most part, where in groups of six, seven or eight, individual Scout clone lines cohabited, slept, studied and watched TV. TV was a hit or miss affair, mostly, depending on what channels or shows the satellite signal happened to pick up bouncing off some star or moon, some ancient signal still floating around the airwaves. Then too, there were some restrictions imposed by the Mother Superiors, if not the Supreme Council or Congress. But mostly it was uncensored, unfiltered and raw, sometimes graphic, sometimes family oriented entertainment. There were different mores, the context had often been lost. News, live reporting, reality TV, pornography, amateur porn, there was a shitload of programming from TV shows and movies to everything in-between, but there was a disconnect between what was real and what was fiction. Further, myth played a heavy role. Godzilla was popular, it helped explain the nuclear holocaust, without denying that their existence owed something to it. But was the violence in an action movie received differently than live newscasts of terrorist attacks? Was there a distinction between the United States or French Revolutionaries and the Islamic Jihadists? All context was for the most part lost. Porn was popular, but really no more so than The Love Boat. Occasionally an old sportscast would pop up. It was fascinating and bizarre, why were they hitting each other? For money? But it would usually disappear as quickly as it resurfaced and again, lost of context, was just another bit of cultural ephemera in the solar winds, detached from nostalgia, fascinating, pointless, confusing, seemingly trivial and inexplicable, in the end just perplexing.