No one knew how it happened; they only knew that it had and that they had somehow become part of it. One simple act from someone somewhere may have ignited something else from somewhere else. Perhaps it was a large group or merely a meagre few who first initiated what politicians would come to call a global insurrection. Perhaps it had been an ideal gone awry, a demonstration of rage against a regime that had misled the populace with understated remarks concerning the threat that Eventide was posing against the Earth; but then perhaps it had been just one man, woman or child who had thought fit one day to pick up a rock and hurl it through a window. Nevertheless it began seemingly within a matter of hours.
A fire had broken out in the pre-dawn hours of December 18th close to the River Thames in an old abandoned building, derelict, cold and empty. The fire lasted little more than seventeen minutes but managed to consume most of the supporting beams, which amounted to an impressive and thunderous cave-in to disturb anyone sleeping within a two mile radius. The fire department was quick to act; there were no fatalities and the damage was inconsequential being that the building itself had been condemned.
It was the ensuing fire twenty-eight minutes later and half a mile away from the first that began to unnerve the department. Initially believing that a single arsonist was at work, the police were quickly on the scene alongside SOCOs and reporters. No evidence was discovered to link the two fires simply because there had been no time for any evidence to be gathered. A third and much larger fire had broken out just under an hour later, this time a little further inland on Bridge Street. The flames shooting from nearly every window of Portcullis House were reflected in the slumbering river, lending the water the semblance of still molten lava. Motionless and luminous, the eerie glow was arrested only by the adjacent black and leering shape of Big Ben, whose distorted silhouette against the dawning sky stretched across both the water and the growing wide-eyed faces of those who had travelled from their homes to witness the event. Plumes of dense smoke rendered the multiple chimneys atop Portcullis House as levitating monoliths. The south facing windows began to detonate as though being fired upon from the inside dispatching shards of tempered glass towards the ground as fire-fighters continued the skirmish against a seemingly relentless monster. This was merely the beginning of something that would soon become quite indescribable. It became a thing, a happening and an alteration of the human race into something unrecognisable. People had become angered not from the thought of their approaching demise; rather it was the all-too-brief time they had been allocated to offer their cheerless farewells both to life and loved ones across the world. The plaster had been ripped too quickly from the skin to expose a deep and penetrating wound that had no time to heal.
Just hours later the ten Parliament Square statues of statesmen had been beheaded, knocked down, dragged around the city by cars and left to drown in the Thames. By mid afternoon the following day groups had been formed by no one in particular. It was easy to find common ground amongst those whose fate had been sealed not only by the approach of Eventide, but by the very government whose indubitable foreknowledge of events had immediately separated them from the common man. As for that common man, it now seemed that his goal was to turn anger, panic and the fear of death into one insurmountable force, a force that began slowly at first, forging a momentum, acquiring strength in numbers and each manipulating the other until the other became themselves. The destructive force of the mob was only just beginning to be understood by those who also began to panic, to secure their houses, their families and their wits during a time that would undeniably stretch into unyielding mayhem.
Over the course of three days the majority of all political discussions regarding the state of the nation had halted. Self-preservation had set in. Politicians, after all, were also people with families and the desire to remain breathing for as long as possible. The Prime Minister could no longer plead to the nation to remain calm. The truth was out; it had taken to the streets and run amok. The people had listened, the people had reacted and, for just one moment stretched into a few dark days, the people had been united.
A mob can include members from all faculties of life since it is so often the defence of life and liberty, their continuation or threat of termination that becomes the common ground rather than links to occupation, class or creed. Each member bleeds effortlessly into the other until a single voice is born, one that screams not from the mouth but from the soul. Here were many souls each housing fear, panic and trepidation while others of a more drunken inclination announced proudly that they were more than happy to be present at the world's end; after all, they had been absent for its beginning. It would be an event, a concert of apocalyptic chaos to which all had been invited. Tickets were free and it was front row seating for everybody, but before the doors opened and the show began the mob would have its day and seize its one-time opportunity to release its inhibitions.
So it was that crude barricades were set up by clerks, accountants, bus drivers and lawyers. Missiles were hurled at the advancing riot police by small business owners, shop windows were smashed by pensioners and house windows shattered by children. The majority sought comfort in destruction, each joining the other to form a ruinous indestructible beast that roamed the streets seeking destructible prey. Every new member was an extra limb, another appendage to lash out at everything and everyone that opposed it. The beast was without conscience; its attention had been diverted from what approached and its hunger was seemingly insatiable. It fed greedily from distraction and digression, never contemplating and never pondering the real cause of its hunger until, finally and perhaps inexorably, it cast one of its many eyes towards the sky and to that one relentless immovable and enlarging sphere. Only then did the beast begin to consume itself.
Where previously shoulder had rubbed against shoulder in an effort to affect an uprising, soon the very reason for that uprising became unclear. Where would it end and what exactly would it achieve? The once angry and unified voice screaming for answers had suddenly acquired internal rational dissenters each posing a much simpler question: "Why?" It was an uncomplicated enquiry that remained unanswered. The meaning of everything was at stake. Life itself had arrived at a turning point within a tapered tunnel. There was nowhere else to go; there was nothing left to do but wait and, in the days that remained, mankind announced all too loudly that it would not seep quietly into shadow unheard and unseen.
By December 23rd London had become a dark and ominous labyrinth. Street lights had been smashed and shadows dwelled within shadows, amassing in thick immovable clumps that dominated every corner, every street and almost every man's heart. Some who had accepted their fate remained in their homes behind locked doors, and behind those locked doors was furniture, heaped, broken and stacked, once used for comfort and now used for defence and security. Others, however, still fuelled by anger, vented it indiscriminately and mercilessly, aiming rage at whatever or whomever crossed their paths. They looted without purpose and then turned on each other like unruly animals borne from some dark place. The breath of the masses was suddenly everywhere, permeating the walls of every office block, house and heart. The very air itself became rotten with rage, spoiled by lungs heaving with fear ready to air itself in screams of fury, which were more often than not accompanied by random acts of violence first across London, and then the world.
The major cities were the first to fall. After the global reports of London's upheaval, fear and panic began spreading wildly from one country to the next like an infectious agent snaking its way through the streets, targeting homes and mutating many of the occupants into misshapen souls with barely a memory of themselves. Governments across the world rapidly lost their hold upon their now distrusting populations that no longer cared for pointless precepts and nonsensical authority. Few barely recognised friend from foe. Civil liberty had been drowned in the asphyxiating smoke from smouldering flames and the gallop of gunfire. Most of mankind devolved while the world revolved seemingly faster, quickening the hours and turning the hands of every clock with a sickening swiftness that facilitated the final countdown, that interminable tick heard in every human heart. Many innocents had already begun to flee the cities in cars and on foot, either for the countryside or anywhere where people's eyes and souls had not yet been blackened.
All that was once good had been siphoned from society, tapped rapidly from cities previously swollen with life, only then to be scattered throughout the surrounding dying land like failing roots eager to discover a place in which to scream: "I still exist!" All that was once good was now bound to those fleeing millions whose homes had been ransacked and robbed. All that was once good was gone...