The world quickly went to hell after Man’s Best Friend became our deadliest enemy.
It’s been about a year since The Dog Flu (a highly contagious and deadly form of distemper) came out of nowhere. No one’s sure if we gave it to them or they gave it to us, but it didn’t matter much after 80% of humanity had been wiped out.
Polite society quickly collapsed under the pressure, and it took all the old rules with it.
Tens, possibly hundreds of millions more have died since from starvation, disease, or for the food in their hand, and mankind has been pushed back to the population and technology levels of the 1800s. The weak are already dead and survivors must be willing to fight to protect what’s theirs.
Good folk remain but they are constantly outnumbered by the bad. Despite all the death, there still seems to be a never-ending supply of crazy and dangerous people anywhere you go. From the gangs and militias in the largely abandoned cities to the tribes and clans out in the country, any efforts to rebuild are swallowed by the fighting for ground and whatever limited resources remain. If you have something someone wants, you can expect them to try and take it.
The collapse of central authorities created a power vacuum which has given rise to tinpot warlords, often ex-military, police, or criminals, all leading raggedy armies and claiming sovereignty over any area they want and everything within it.
Roaming bands of marauding raiders who don’t care about notions such as territory will descend like human locusts to take what you have by force, all too often with military precision. They are getting more desperate as unspoiled gasoline becomes harder to find, and this desperation just serves to make them more dangerous.
People have always turned to Religion in hard times and the death and devastation caused by the virus inspired the rise of multiple new churches, sects, and cults. Each has their own fanatical followers who are seemingly willing to commit previously unthinkable atrocities in the name of their new faith.
Perhaps scariest of all, there are even rumors that a semblance of the Government is up and running in Washington and that they have both a vaccine and a plan to try and reestablish control.
The shortage of food has turned some to cannibalism and although that idea still remains repulsive to most, the truth is that there is barely anyone still alive who hasn’t been faced with the prospect of having to kill someone else to secure their next meal.
As hard as it is to trust anyone these days, it’s hardest of all to trust a well-fed man.
In light of all these dangers, residents of many towns, villages and settlements have banded together for safety, but also to pool their efforts and resources. Small farming collectives are establishing themselves around the country as people return to a life without the internet or power tools. There is always a need for hardworking people who are looking for a sense of community, just like there will always be a need for people prepared to fight to protect what’s theirs.
And then there is still the virus itself. H724. The news called it "the Dog Flu", but The Distemper is how most people refer to it. Not content with killing more than 6 billion people during the first go around, The Distemper can infect and wipe out a community within days. Dogs still carry the disease, and it makes them as crazy as it makes us, and packs of feral dogs are a constant threat. They show up in packs with no warning and rip into anything they see, transmitting the disease to anyone they bite.
Masks are still more common than not, although that is starting to fade the further we get from the pandemic, even if the fear of the distemper itself never does. Once someone gets infected it takes a few days before they exhibit symptoms, but even before they show, the virus has already started making them go crazy. By the time it’s obvious someone is sick they are ready to snap until, with no warning, they turn on anyone around them and, like a dog, they will bite and scratch and attack anything within reach until, like a dog, someone puts them down.
A runny nose or sneeze can quickly get someone shot in the face because no one takes any chances these days.
There are no more rules, there are no more laws, and each individual is going to have to decide who they want to be in this ugly new reality. At some point, everyone is going to find themselves asking, “what am I prepared to do to survive?” and they had better have a good answer.
So, who do you plan on being? Do you have skills valuable to others, like a doctor or mechanic or teacher, or have you survived this long by being better at doing unto others before it’s done unto you?
Are you simply trying to secure your next meal, will you take part in trying to rebuild society, or do you plan on carving out your own empire by force?
Will you be hunters, will you be protectors, or will you find yourself someone’s prey?
Spring is coming, food is running out, and there is nowhere left to hide.
It’s time to choose.