It was just one disaster after another. Some people began to wonder if it was Armageddon; weird cults started to spring up garbling together all sorts of science fiction and out of context Biblical scriptures to prove it and gain followers. And if it wasn’t Armageddon people were wondering about, they thought it was a more mundane end of the world scenario. Either/or to be honest. It definitely was the end of the world for a lot of people.
The beginning goes something like this:
Once Russia and China had decided enough was enough of mucking up each other’s plans to take over the world, they decided to collaborate and went into the Middle East, crushed most of the regimes both physically and financially and replaced them with secular regimes that were just as bad if not worse but who were amendable to playing the game the Russo-China way. The two super powers then divvied up the region between them while the rest of the world quaked wondering what was next. That pretty much put a chokehold on the world’s economy. Russia also exerted a lot of influence and control in South and Central America. The US Dollar, after losing ground around the world for several years, experienced a brief surge as investors hunted for a safe haven to escape to and then went into free-fall as people realized there was no escape for anyone at that point. Of course there were repercussions. You can’t remove a major cog in a piece of machinery and expect the gears to continue operating properly. Within months the rest of the world – except for the elites – was also experience economic collapse. If you listened to most people they believed the elites to be masterminding the chaos and blamed the rich for the straits they found themselves in. If anyone had listened to the elites they would have found them to be just as confused and panicked as the rest of society, wondering how their carefully crafted plans and enterprises could be failing as miserably as they were, that it must be the fault of the entitlement crowd who wanted something for nothing and benefits without risk. It became tedious listening to both sides blame the other.
And then, as the world was bickering and throwing words in a prelude to throwing bombs, the unexpected happened, something not even the elitist of the elite were prepared for. Truly a worst case scenario.
With almost no warning Laki, the Icelandic volcano, erupted in a near repeat of its 1783 eruption. It developed over a hundred craters all of which were spewing hot ash then molten lava. The volcano kept going for days and the longer it did the more talking heads on television spoke about things like sulfuric aerosols and volcanic weather patterns and scientific terms that both confused and frightened a lot of people.
In the midst of trying to determine the effect Laki would have on the economic depression the world was already suffering, Mount Baekdu in North Korea where it bordered China awakened and blew its top. When it went it threw over 1000 times more ash into the air than the Icelandic volcano eruptions though it lacked the lava features.
The airline industries of most countries were already grounded. And a good thing too. Because three weeks later something truly catastrophic happened. Four major volcanos went off like the world was belching one right after another; Vesuvius then Stromboli then Etna and lastly Santorini. None of them were as bad as they could have been, or even as bad as Laki or Baekdu, but the point was that they each went without any real warning and since they’d been quiet for so long population centers had encroached into unsafe proximities. The people near Vesuvius died in their beds. By the time Santorini blew they died in the streets trying to escape. Think the horror of Pompeii only captured by thousands on social media as they tried to leave behind something of themselves besides ash.
No one has been able to explain it yet except for a few freaked out conspiracy theorists on late night radio shows like Coast to Coast, known for its weekly dose of doom porn. Their explanations didn’t really have a lot of basis in fact but in theory, hyperbole, and hysteria. People talked because they were afraid. The theories they came up with were supposed to help them manage their fear, give it some kind of structure that could be dealt with constructively; however, more often than not all they did was scare themselves more. Truth is stranger than fiction and if they had been given a glimpse of what was coming many of them would have refused to accept it as reality.
What really caused panic and threw both China – already having trouble dealing with the eruption of Baekdu – and Russia into a tizzy is when the supposedly long dormant and thought to be extinct Ararat volcano blew. It blew so violently in fact that its ice cap was completely obliterated as was the peak nearest to it known as Little Ararat. It was thought at first that a nuclear detonation had occurred and in fact Turkey activated its nuclear arsenal and launched a counter strike on several of its neighbors. That didn’t do anything but add to the nightmarish chaos.
The world was in so much shock it didn’t even react to the eruption of Kilimanjaro. What’s Africa after all? But they sure sat up and noticed when Krakatau and Tambora blew because the combined effect created immense tsunamis that took out the naval presences there that were protecting the international envoys that had gathered to try and hash out some kind of peace agreement before things got worse.
Shock. There’s no other word for it. Already the weather was changing and there were all sorts of documentaries being broadcast on “The Year Without A Summer,” an historical event that took place in 1816 that caused unprecedented illness and famine as a result of a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil caused by a severe volcanic eruption.
When Mount Fuji went in Japan the world barely had the energy left to whimper. Then Bezynmianny – a volcano in Kamchatka, Russia that had been erupting almost constantly since it had reawakened in 1955 - and Klyuchevskaya – located on the Russian coast where it meets the Bering Sea and which had started its last eruption cycle in 2007 – began erupting more fiercely, prompting Russia to finally refocus its energies on something other than world domination.
Some in the US, up to this point, had been gleefully rubbing their hands together at the catastrophes that their enemies had been experiencing. It was payback time; if they wanted aide and assistance then they’d have to come crawling on their hands and knees. Some even claimed it was God showing the US favor. However those with more commonsense had been sticking pins in maps and predicted that Illimani and Katmai in Alaska were next. They weren’t wrong. Anchorage was the first major US city to be all but destroyed by the volcanic dominoes. There were some people with more than just commonsense and they had started to plan and prepare for what seemed inevitable. A multi-year, world-wide catastrophe that would likely be a turning point in the human race if not a near extinction level event.
Next volcanic domino to fall was Mt. Ranier followed quickly by Mount St. Helens, both of which proved to be heartbreakingly destructive, killing tens of thousands of those that had hung on to the fatal idea that it couldn’t happen to them. Then Lassen Peak, the southernmost volcano on the Cascade Ridge began to rumble to life after several decades of quietude. From that point people wondered what would be next, The volcanos of Mexico or the super volcano under Yellowstone?
But even in the midst of such world changing catastrophes, people face their own personal world-changing events. The end of the world would have been easy and soon over. Less suffering that way. For those waking up after the end of the world as they knew it and finding they were still alive that was the real catastrophe.