Part 2 - The Survivors
Opening Excerpt

The nature of SDC was such that it could have resulted in the extinction of the human race. The extremely infectious nature of the SDC virus combined with the short time period to fatality had catastrophic results.
The speed and high rate of infection after any type of contact ensured SDC would spread widely and rapidly. It was unfortunate that Jim Henderson’s trip to the trade show in New York ensured the rapid spread of the contagion, both within the United States and internationally. Any type of isolation or quarantine plan was doomed to fail right from the start.

Any attempts at diagnosis and research into potential cures or preventive measures were aborted by the fast spread of the contagion. This resulted in the rapid breakdown in civilization in all locations that became infected. When the nature and results of SDC became widely known, the natural impulse to flee just accelerated the rate of spreading. This ensured that even isolated communities were invaded by fleeing infected people and quickly became infected themselves with almost one hundred percent fatality.

The extinction of the human race would have been complete within less than three months except for a very fortunate accident of nature. On a random basis, one person in every hundred thousand or so had been born with a natural genetic immunity. These people were as susceptible to SDC as anyone else. However, the infection did not generate the deadly enzyme in sufficient quantity to affect their normal body mechanisms during their sleep.

They caught SDC like everyone else. However, the only symptoms they experienced were the runny nose and slight headache. In most cases, they lived to see all their family, friends and all the people in the communities where they lived die in their sleep in a period of less than a week.

For many of the survivors, this experience was just too much to bear. When they realized what had happened and that they were now very much alone, they had no desire to continue living and they committed suicide by whatever means were available to them. Many just stopped eating and drinking and died from dehydration or starvation.

The random nature of the genetic immunity ensured that the survivors were spread across the world in approximate proportion to their original population. This was irrespective of race, gender and age and was in a ratio of about one survivor per hundred thousand. Earth’s population was reduced from more than seven billion to about seventy thousand by the end of July. In the vocabulary of twentieth-century environmentalists, Homo sapiens had suddenly become a critically endangered species.

The total population of North America was now about three thousand. Most of these people were in the big cities. In spite of the panic-stricken urge to flee that occurred in most centers of population, the infection and dying was too quick to allow many people to act on their impulse to flee.

The cities quickly became very unhealthy and unpleasant places to be because of the large number of unburied bodies quickly decaying in the summer heat. Because most people had died in their sleep and in their own beds, most of the bodies in the cities were confined to their homes. Shops, factories and offices were largely free of bodies. It was in the living spaces—the apartments, townhouses and suburbs—that the smell of decay quickly became intolerable.

The SDC survivors in the large cities either left them for the surrounding countryside or moved into the offices and shopping centers. The nearby smaller towns and villages became the most common places of choice for most survivors. They were close to an adequate quantity of food and other supplies. It was easy enough to make a new home without requiring too much effort to dispose of the dead.

The same pattern occurred outside North America, with about seven thousand survivors in all of Europe and about sixty thousand around the rest of the world.