Prologue

To those of you who are still able to read, this is the story of how seven children found themselves embarking on the greatest and most exciting adventure that anyone has ever had. That is the middle of the story however, and of course a story must also have a beginning and an end. We will begin, briefly, at the end of the 18th century – The Industrial Revolution.

            After a period of little innovation and low technological advances, the Revolution saw new machinery created in order to replicate processes that would have previously been accomplished by the human hand a hundred – or even a thousand – times over. These machines were designed to make things easier for man. This sparked a period of creative and inventive genius that saw the birth of the Cathode Ray Tube created by German physicist Ferdinand Braun 1897, and developed by English physicist J. J. Thomson. From the Cathode Ray Tube came the television, invented in 1934, and by the mid 1950’s there was a television set in almost every home in the western world. The television soon became a necessary commodity in the world of the wealthy and was not uncommon in the homes of commoners either. A purely recreational creation, it continued to advance and people started to depend on television for entertainment.

Around the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Leonard Kleinrock and Douglas Engelbart began research into computer networking and by the mid 1990’s The Internet was born. The internet – along with the nine-hundred odd channels that could be found on most television sets by the mid 2000’s – soon became man’s soul source of entertainment and classical methods of entertainment, such as reading books and learning to play the harpsichord – okay, maybe that’s a bit farfetched – classical methods of entertainment became too difficult and boring.

            This is how it came to be that in the second decade of the second millennium – the years 2010 to 2019 – as technology advanced and it seemed everyone and his dog was well educated, human beings reached their lowest intelligence levels since before the invention of fire. Many people had completely replaced the activity of reading with other, less productive activities. There was no harm in this. Or so they thought…

            By the end of 2019 most children under the age of fifteen could only read and write in “text speak” – a horrid and crude form of writing used by the lazy and half-literate – and by 2022, the eldest of those under fifteen year olds had become adults. Lazy adults with no desire to learn or – well, to do anything really.

            Still, someone had to be in charge in the years to come. Most of the governments of the world at the time had realised that young adults had now become foolish, lazy and incompetent. They set out to groom new prospective leaders of their respective countries, but most of the candidates were, although the pick of the litter, foolish, lazy and incompetent.

            In 2046 Edward Morrison, at the age of forty-two, was elected Prime Minister of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Of all the things you could say about Ed Morrison there was one good thing you could say: he tried his best. Alas, it wasn’t good enough. Ed was a close friend of Italian president Ciao Bella and US president Bubba Wilson of whom Bubba, the oldest of the three, was able to give him good council – or what was thought to be that at the time.

            It seemed necessary to war with The East. The West was fast running out of resources to fuel their consumption of power, gas and even food. These resources were not abundant in The East, but not scarce either. Bubba believed that if we didn’t go to war with The East and take their land and resources, we would surely starve and die. Well, he met that fate anyway along with eight-billion others in the biggest war this world has ever seen. Most of those who survived the nuclear blasts died from radiation poisoning afterwards, or from the extreme weather conditions the war had caused. This left us with almost eight-hundred-million Survivors of The War. These were your great, and great-great grandfathers (and maybe even great-great-great grandfathers depending on how old you are and whether your great-great-great grandfather survived The War (and the eight-hundred-million would have also included your great, great-great and possibly great-great-great grandmothers too)).

            In any case, only the strong survived The War – and of the strong, only those who lived far away from any of the blasts – and only the wise survived the rough, anarchic world The War left behind (well, the wise and the lucky. Although it is said that one makes his own luck). Eventually, only three-million remained and from that three-million, came the society you know today. People came together and made towns and villages and even cities, where they would use their different skills to help one another and attempt to create habitable environments. Some villages were a hundred strong, and some cities, tens of thousands, all with their own sets of rules and laws.

            The countries of old were lost and most of the old names had been lost too. Some however, we do know a little about: The Bump for example – where are story is set to start any time now – was situated in a part of what was formerly known as the UK. It is the hilly bit that sticks out above The Foot.

            Anyway, as I have said a story must have a beginning and the beginning of this story is fast approaching, so now that you are up to date with your history we can get started.

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