John was walking down the road. He wasn’t sure, but the sunny day didn’t seem as bright as it once did. It might have been just his imagination. His clothes were dusty and disheveled and he was tired.

He looked at others on the road. All of them appeared to be in the same shape as he. Most of them were on foot, although several were on bicycles. Cars had fast become a thing of the past once the price of gas had reached $12 a gallon. Of course, it was hard to find anyway, because no other country wanted to sell their oil to foreign countries. Then again, pumping the gas from the pump was next to impossible now that electricity companies could not get coal to generate electricity. The government had banned the use of coal as being too dirty. Their plan was to substitute solar energy but the solar farms couldn’t generate enough power. So many families had to do without. Doing without had become a way of life.

As he continued down the road, he listened. It was eerily quiet. The people around him were quiet as they had nothing to talk about. There were no car sounds, no motor sounds.  Above him, there was only the occasional plane flying, taking some government bureaucrat somewhere to do something, he was sure. The airlines had gone out of business, so they were absent from the air. Private planes were gone as well, as they were just too expensive to fuel and maintain.

But then again, planes indicated there was a place to go. The economy had tanked to virtually nothing. The banks, which had gone to the financial aid of Europe at government insistence, had crashed once country after country defaulted overseas. The viewpoint of the Europeans that more and more people required fewer and fewer people to pay for more and more for less and less return had collapsed the European Union. That same view had permeated the population of the United States as socialism took hold of the country. Europe’s collapse led to the collapse here. Companies that had measured their histories in centuries ceased to exist. Unemployment soared to near 50%, although the government said it was only 18%. Since the first of April, 2012, The United States had the highest corporate tax rate in the world so Asian money that could help deigned not to interfere. In fact, the Chinese considered a large percentage of things American to be hers already, so much debt had the United States accumulated.

The government had used an executive order signed a couple of years previously, in 2012, to nationalize companies and farms by declaring a national emergency. Why those in the now defunct Congress hadn’t seen the possible abuse potential, John still didn’t understand. The government had used one provision to press a large number of people into labor camps, at no compensation. They worked the factory lines and the farmland, yet production was nowhere near where it was before the collapse.

Finding out what was happening was difficult in times like these. The internet had been the first thing to be terminated. The government deemed such a high proportion of the content to be anti-government that it had to be shut down. Of course, they had to deem the Constitution invalid and then disband Congress first. To be honest, they had been dismantling the Constitution for many years and Congress had effectively been by-passed for almost as long. News was fed to the masses by government newspapers put out once a week. There was no television and no radio as there was very little electricity to run them. The White House Press Secretary handed out a statement of weekly news, mostly propaganda it was said, by radio to state government centers and then it was disseminated to the papers. No variances were allowed. But then, the media had been willing accomplices for a decade before the collapse and no journalistic integrity remained.

John continues to walk, although to where he still had no idea exactly. He’d had a wife and a home, both gone now. His wife had gotten ill and the government patient health panel had deemed her not to be worthy of health care. Well, there were few doctors anyway, and those still in employed in government service were quacks. More patients died as a result of their doctors than from the disease. After his wife’s death, the government determined it a waste of space for him to have his home to himself, so they turned it over to a group of twenty-somethings so they could rest comfortably after their college indoctrination. So there he was on the road, dusty, hot and tired. As he walked, he wondered how he could have been so complacent back in the early ’10s.