It was a bad season for colds everyone agreed. Almost everyone had gotten a cold this winter, one that seemed to hold on for weeks. Nobody thought anything about it, it's not uncommon to get a cold in the winter after all. Then the dying started. Within weeks of the start of spring people started dying of all sorts of strange diseases. By mid April the mass die offs began. By the time it stopped only one in two hundred in the United States still lived. Other places where AIDS or a lack of medical services were prevalent suffered worse. In parts of Africa and Asia only one in three thousand survived. Finally the disease ran its course and the survivors crawled out of their hiding places. That's when the killing started.
Jon looked out from the thicket to see what had disturbed him. He didn't see anything and went back to sleep Jon was a rather unimpressive young man, he stood only 67 inches tall and weighed 120 pounds soaking wet, a condition with which he was all too familiar. With his blond hair and blue eyes you would have expected him to be big, but a lack of good nutrition and the constant running made that a goal he would never reach. Jon wasn't too sure how old he was, somewhere around 16 to 19 years he thought when he thought about it at all. He had been alone for much of the last 7 years and had only a vague memory of times when he wasn't running from someone or something. This was the normal course of life for him.
Most people had thought that after the death from the die offs had finished there would be plenty of things for the survivors to live on. Unfortunately they had forgotten about the tendency of men without hope to destroy things. Men, not many but enough, had reacted to facing death by indulging in an orgy of destruction, as if by destroying the cities and towns they would remain alive. Fire was the favorite means and many people, who would have otherwise lived, died when their homes burned around them in the night. Only scattered houses and remote towns remained standing after the firestorms. Many of these fell when the starving survivors fought among themselves for shelter from the elements.
Finally civilization of a sort reemerged from the ashes. Strong men began to appear who stopped the carnage by any means necessary. Some were based on slavery for the majority with a small elite class that lived on their labor. Others were based on more of a religious model where the mass of people supported a small religious caste. Most however were based on a clan structure where everyone was related to the leader. In every case however, anyone who disagreed with the leader soon found themselves cast out from the group. Jon was one such individual.
Jon no longer remembered why he had been cast out from the group. Something about food he remembered, but nothing more. He had been lucky, he and several others had been cast out at the same time and that fact had allowed them to survive until only Jon remained alive from the group. He had become adept at setting snares and dead falls and managed to keep himself fed fairly regularly.