Fact or fiction

Second dark ages. An alternative pandemic reality, twenty years later

The world changed suddenly a few years ago. A pandemic caused by a previously unknown virus hit the planet like a monsoon rain. The media switched to the pandemic, news of the sick and dead was broadcast like reports from the battlefields of the great wars.

The well-functioning economies of the developed countries were creaking, bursting at the seams, and with a plaintive rusty creak, convulsively collecting the spilled beans, they tried to crawl onto the new rails of life.

There was no escape from the disease. Scientists fought to create a vaccine against terrible mutations. In the first years of the pandemic, the planet seemed to unite in the face of a common danger – all states, despite past geopolitical contradictions, agreed and adopted common rules and it seemed that humanity, as always, was about to defeat the invisible enemy. Indeed, the first vaccine was developed literally in the first couple of years of the pandemic, and in several countries at the same time. 

Millions of frightened people lined up to be rescued. However, the euphoria lasted only a few months – it turned out that the formidable virus had mutated again and the developed vaccines no longer helped. 

Moreover, millions of people who took the first dose of the vaccine were now doomed to constant injections but years passed and the disease did not recede. The planet was sinking into a strange version of Middle Ages.

However, every coin has two sides. The tornado of economic chaos did not affect the digital and robotic industries, on the contrary, having absorbed all the released power of human intelligence, digital technologies rushed forward and in a few years the pandemic turned into an Everest among the small hills of other sectors of the economy. 

Gadgets and robots, forced to replace human communication in conditions of self-isolation, were literally one step away from a full-fledged android from the worlds of Isaac Asimov or Robert Sheckley.

Digital tracking, controlling, and suppressing unacceptable actions have become almost mandatory

Any digital transmission of information was no longer a secret. State structures controlled everything, of course, with the good goal of saving people and preventing terrorism.

The pandemic has led to the restriction of interstate ties. Transport links between countries were limited only by economic necessity. Planes did not fly, trains stopped, ships rusted at the berths. Globalization has gradually been replaced by separatism.

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The civilized world was turning into a medieval patchwork of specific principalities. The only thing that still somehow united the painful world was the mass media – the Internet, television and radio.

And – as is usual in any decent Middle Ages – each principality, separated by a palisade from its neighbors, developed according to its own scenario.

A quarter of the world’s population – China – was the first to close off from the rest of the world. No one really knew what exactly happened behind the wide Chinese wall. Of course, bloggers and journalists constantly created fictional stories about life in the Middle Empire, some of them even tried to pass off their information as truthful, obtained at the risk of life, but the reality of Chinese life during the pandemic era was unknown. The only thing that was transmitted from China to the media through the official channel was reports on the sick and dead and new treatment methods, if any.

Following China, India closed itself off from the rest of the world, and soon the countries of the traditionally Eastern mentality disconnected from the world information web, demonstrating that the East is indeed a delicate matter. 

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Sometimes strange articles flashed on the Internet that there was no plague in Iran at all, or that South and North Korea united, built a mechanical continent on the sea and left the land with all their population left from the pandemic. What was true of all this, and what was fiction was unknown.

An empty city in China. A lonely man in front of a giant sculpture.

The states of America are no longer united

The northern continent was most similar to the Wild Field. Each State declared itself a separate state and did its favorite American thing – began an armed squabble with its neighbors. 

The pandemic in America, judging by the reports of the media, has assumed terrifying proportions – journalists vied with each other to transmit terrible numbers about the sick and dead, about overcrowded hospitals, about corpses that were taken to common graves in refrigerated vehicles. 

The government of the once united America tried to avert disaster with its traditional methods – the army, navy, air force – but the scale of the disaster only expanded.

Plastic coffin warehouse in Georgia. Each for 4 people.

The richest and most prosperous continent in the past was engulfed in the fire of civil wars and pogroms

Europe was in a fever the most. Despite advanced medicine, it was there that the most severe epidemic situation developed. The governments of the European agglomeration took unprecedented steps to improve the situation in their countries. 

The specially created Epidemiological Security Service (ESS) was endowed with the broadest powers. This Service was originally created to identify patients at an early stage, later its functions were expanded.

Thanks to the incredible development of digital technologies, European medical masks began to look like space muzzles – the mask no longer just filtered the air, it measured all body parameters such as temperature and pressure, did blood, saliva tests, exhaled air analysis and determined the mental state of a person. 

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If any parameter deviated from the norm, the mask had the opportunity to introduce the necessary medicine into the body. One of its main functions was the timely administration of a vaccine to a person.

The masks of Europeans no longer just filtered the air.

Every single mask in the European agglomeration was combined into a common digital system, which was subordinate to the SES of their country. Violators of the quarantine regime, and especially vaccine dissidents, of whom there were many in Europe, were equated with state criminals. Therefore, gradually the medical functions of the masks were supplemented by surveillance functions that help the ESS to identify dissidents protesting against the epidemiological restrictions. 

One of the functions of the mask was to reduce the oxygen supply to each individual through their mask and cause a temporary loss of consciousness. A person could not take off the mask on his own, the digital lock prevented all such attempts and immediately transmitted a breaking signal to the ESS, with all the ensuing consequences.

According to the European Protocol, citizens were allowed to be without a mask eight hours a day, with the exception of citizens of the Special List. The digital lock of the mask was opened according to a schedule agreed with the ESS, as a rule, it was a night’s sleep, and the citizen had to place the mask in a disinfecting container for these eight hours.

Night in Europe was the favorite time of anti-epidemic dissidents

Almost all residents of European countries suffered from complications caused by the constant wearing of these units. The long-term mask regimen led to the fact that the skin on people’s faces became covered with scabs and flaked off in gray patches. 

Because of this massive disaster, one of the bloggers aptly dubbed the unfortunate Europeans as “reptilians”, a nickname which became legendary.

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