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It was one of those event horizons - nobody remembers the year exactly, as it didn't happen fast enough. Or more, it was that it happened inexorably, and thus nobody could pinpoint the exact moment when we were, to use the dramatic term for it, 'doomed'.
Originally, that word just meant fated. Now it means shit out of luck. It was both. Not that it's all bad nowadays, I mean, people sure learned a lot. Out with the new, in with the old. All those old mythologies our people are famed for that some people didn't think were true and other people swore by. You know the stories - a bunch of Eastern Europeans whack-jobs dig up some old chick's corpse and cut her apart in case she returns as, I don't know, a few things. Strigoi, maybe, or pricolici, moroi. You call them vampires or werewolves, you Western folk. It depends on which, both some'd better be called both. It isn't that simple.
Well, anyway, both sides were right. They didn't exist for us. Not then anyway. But then came the point where we realised that the technological stagnation hasn't been, well, stagnation - it was a reversal. 'Devolution'. People said it was us Eastern Europeans being backwards. Fucking commies, weirdo vampire-hunters, Europe's slice of the third world. Radioactive scum and superstition. That shit. This was before my time.
Like I said, I can't describe when or what. I can tell you the results though. Humans now rightly fear the dark. There's the 'post-mortem non-revivial assurance procedure'.
1. Corpses have their heads removed (pre-emptive decapitation),
2. stuffed with garlic (defensive administration of botanicals),
3. the coffin is filled with seeds. They don't have a name for that one.
That stops them from coming back. Allegedly. Usually, it does, but you can't prove that with science. I'm sort of glad it doesn't work, in all honesty, but we'll get to that. First I have to point out what else differs.
The whole 'electricity' shebang. It went retrograde. Gone. Kaput. Outski. Combustion engines and shit still work, but nothing electrical works for shit. It's all torches and retro car dealerships these days, and expensive to boot. You try making cars without robots to assemble them, right? Most of us get about on foot, the omnibuses, or even horse and cart, would you believe. The rich have custom-builds. They're beautiful, but I find them disgusting.
The cities stink. They shine in the sun and smell like lubricant and oil. Out in the countryside it smells of horse shit and unwashed bodies.
That one has nothing to do with the event, mind you. God knows why everyone stinks here.
The most interesting part came when the re-walkers showed a proficiency for the retro-tech. They were fucking good at it. This was their age. We were just refitting everything, including our own ways of thinking. These guys had been forced out by the age of enlightenment and, like fungi or maggots in meat they just sprouted right up in the panic and chaos. People turned back to superstition. People were afraid, needy. They wanted a scapegoat and the scapegoats clawed their way out of the ground and wandered off.
Then there's the new-breed. Seventh daughters of seventh daughters or whatever. My family's pretty small, I'm the second and last daughter of my family. She, though, is one of 'them'. They get a lot of shit but they're not like the re-walkers. They have minds. Morality. Some use their powers for good but others just don't want to. They're citizens too, though the law tends to overlook them because there are too few of them to complain.
She was one of those born with no heartbeat, pale skin, no pulse or reflection. Her hair's dark and never tidy, but I like her wild. Sometimes she drinks cow blood but I'm not sure if she's just trying to be a Goth, or what. My mother hates that I'm dating her, but I think it's more the fact that she has tits than a second set of teeth. Makes a living selling second hand automobiles just like any human would - we met when she hired me to handle sales because everyone got spooked to look at her, and a creepy dealer is never good for profits. So she retools them out back, covered in grease, and I smile and look human out front, wrestle with the rusty old cash machine salvaged from an antique store.
Nobody's sure how far the retrogradation spread, or why. Radio won't work, the internet certainly won't work. Whether it's global or just some kind of EMP situation is anyone's guess. But, point is, we're stuck with it. I'm not even complaining, but then, I don't exactly know better.
You don't want a car, do you? We do good deals, we polish them up good. Every engine's functional, guaranteed.