Not A Single Year

The fires have come again, but not here.
The air is bad, but not here.
The sky is red and suffocating, but not here.

When the plague swept through, they drew together first; the first instinct is always to help, to do right, to keep everyone safe. It was only when the dying started in earnest that they turned. Those who could, fled the city, bearing the plague outward; but rumor flies faster than illness, and by the time they reached the next town, the next city, the gates were locked and they were met with stones, invective, and bullets. They starved in the roads and the fields, those who the plague spared, armed themselves and turned to banditry until the only travelers were other bandits, and then they fell on each other.

When the weak had all died, they began raiding the cities. They broke through the gates and poisoned the wells, or simply sat in the market breathing pestilence and the fear of pestilence until the town emptied of everyone who could flee and the roads were against choked with refugees. They fed themselves sick on the food that remained.

The rich armed themselves and barricaded the doors to their mansions in the hills, dug wells deep for meltwater, threw extravagant parties and waited for the end of the world to come at last, at long-promised last.