In the first few years, there had been hopes of being able to get the machine fixed and running again; but because the cancer of self-importance and selfishness still filled the hearts of man, the last war over precious resources raged until the very same precious resources that the war was being fought over were utterly destroyed (as were those who were doing the fighting).
It was then, in what humanity thought was its darkest hour, that the lights finally went out completely. The pandemic (dubbed by the general population as "The Wheeze" due to the final stages when the body’s lungs slowly and painfully collapsed in on themselves) jumped from human to human as greedily and hungry as a fire in a dry forest. With the gasping breath of civilization trying to make one last stand of it, it was the sickness that was easily treatable only a few years before, that finally knocked humanity down off of its perch.
What followed were several excruciatingly painful winters and unbearable summers, as if the earth itself was suffering from the same fever that was consuming the human race. Year after year, decade after decade, the conditions continued until life on the planet slowed down to a crawl and then almost disappeared completely.
57 years after the last army of the last government simply decided to stop fighting and go home to its war-torn skeleton cities, a peacefulness descended across the globe like a deep, restful sleep; as if the fevered sickness that had covered the globe had finally broken. Time slowed down and the 1% of the former population hid away; too scared to venture back into the world.
Sarah Parker had been one of the lucky ones. Her grandmother had survived The Long Dark Night while hidden away from the rest of humanity as the carnivorous embrace of death had wrapped its arms around the globe, covering everything within its dark cloak. Sarah's people had managed to make a life for themselves and passed it along to future generations. A meek and humble existence to be sure, but they had survived when most of humanity had not; like a forgotten seed hidden deep underground.