Hard Winter
Chapter 1: The Collapse

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Post Apocalypse, Oral Sex, Anal Sex, Violent,

Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1: The Collapse - It is 2013. Economic problems, climate change and disease have brought civilisation to it's knees. Mark Jennings, like everyone else has to cope. This is his story.

In the Spring of 2011 I started a two year contract at an oil refinery in North Lincolnshire as a C&I engineer. It was a drop in rate from my previous jobs but, at fifty four, we were mortgage free and it looked reasonably secure; business confidence was at an all time low and unemployment was over 3 million. After all, I thought, everyone needs fuel. Sally, my wife of nearly 30 years, was relieved for me to be at home every night as there had been some unrest in the cities. We were living in a small village four miles from Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire where we had lived since we married. We had not been blessed with children in spite of having loads of fun trying. I know this was a major regret of Sally's but we led a full life and she doted on her nephews and nieces who lived in the south west, as did Karen and Geraldine, her two sisters.

Two weeks after I started at the refinery Gordon Brown resigned as the Prime Minister of a minority labour government, the result of an indecisive election ten months previously. After two weeks of talks, and in the light of the continued deterioration in the home and world economic situation, the major parties decide to form a coalition government.

In June of that year all the UK banks and building societies were nationalised by the coalition government. Many of the banks were already partly state owned after the problems in 2008. I think every bank in the western world was either broke or nationalised. Foreign exchange rates fluctuated wildly from day to day and this brought world trade to a standstill. We were considering a trip to France for our annual holiday but there had been riots and protests all over France. We then considered a trip to the US but this looked impossible. The final nail in the coffin of any overseas trip was the difficulty in obtaining foreign currency. Debit and credit cards were now only usable in the country of issue. Banks were now charging a huge margin on currency exchanges and this scuppered our plans. At one point I was quoted £1.80 for $1, and when I asked what I could sell the dollars back for if I didn't use them all I was told $1.75 for £1. We ended up visiting Karen and Geraldine, and enjoyed taking their children on some days out.

In September the economic situation meant that oil imports had almost stopped. As a result the refinery where I was working was idle as most supplies of crude oil came in by sea from abroad. Initially we were told to carry on with our project but I knew in another couple of months I would be out of a job.

By the start of winter, banks would no longer exchange foreign currency but black market traders had filled the gap. These black market traders would still exchange the various currencies but only at a huge discount. Gold South African Krugerands started to appear on the 'alternative' market. Russia also started issuing silver rouble coins and these began circulating throughout Europe and possibly further afield. Who would have thought that the Rouble would become the currency of choice for many people. A ten rouble silver coin was worth roughly £5 but in many cases the price of something in roubles would be reduced as everyone understood the value of the silver coins.

At first the government tried to make using currencies other than sterling illegal but that was a bit like using chewing gum to plug a crack in a dam and in any case, there was no one to enforce the rules.

At the end of the month floods and gales affected the whole country. Power supplies and transport were seriously disrupted and never really recovered.

The Winter of 2011-12 was another cold and snowy one. We were definitely in a period of climate change which, I suspected, was due to an alteration in the gulf stream. A lot of people don't realise that if it wasn't for the gulf stream the UK climate would be more like that in Alaska. I was laid off from my refinery job before Christmas. I started doing odd jobs around Bridlington for cash and was making just enough for us to live on.

During spring the news bulletins reported that the climate change had also affected the North American continent and there was widespread drought in the US and Canada. It was worse than the 1930's dust bowl years. US and Canadian exports of grain were halted as they were needed to feed their own people, not that we had foreign currency to pay for it anyway.

The summer of 2012 was a long hot one and fuel rationing was introduced. It was academic really as only the desperate few would queue for three hours or more for the monthly ration of two gallons. There were whole-scale layoffs in the public sector and private industry was all but finished.

Many people took temporary work on farms doing jobs previously filled by foreign workers. For most of these, the fine weather and outdoor work was a break from the nine-to-five drudgery of an office or factory and they treated it like a holiday; setting up tents in the fields and cooking over open fires.

The fine weather meant that we had a good harvest in the UK which offset the effects of the drought in the US and Canada. Food supplies were still plentiful but there was much less choice.

The winter of 2012-13 was as cold and snowy as the famous 1962-63 one which I was just able to remember. We were now walking or cycling everywhere and were snowed in for three weeks. The army brought us basic food supplies.

Then just before Christmas the first signs of a major disaster hit us. A major flu pandemic started in south east Asia. We didn't get to hear a lot about it but it spread rapidly and by the end of January 2013 it had reached the UK.

My wife, Sally, was one of the victims. I was devastated. I knew she was very ill and took her to hospital but they did nothing, they were overwhelmed and had no treatments available. I took her home and she died two days later. She died on the twelfth of February aged just fifty years. I felt powerless, I knew that not only had I lost my wife, who was my lover and my best friend, but that the world had changed and the clock could not be put back.

What made it worse was I had no way of contacting her sisters. I felt isolated. The phone system was down, and postal deliveries ceased once the snow came. I eventually I managed to contact Karen by phone in April but long distance calls were now very hit and miss. She told me that her other sister, Geraldine, had lost her husband to the flu.

There were fifty three people in our village before the flu; after there were forty one. Three houses were now unoccupied and everyone lost a relative or a friend. Burying the dead was a nightmare; the ground was frozen and each grave had to be dug by hand. We put a simple wooden cross on each grave, which I engraved with their details, it was more than most victims got.

The infrastructure and facilities in the western world were unable to cope with the flu pandemic. Probably one in five people who caught it died. In the UK alone the authorities estimated it killed over one million people, but I did not believe these figures, I reckon the real figure was at least three times that, maybe a lot more, based on my own experience. The Army ended up burying the dead in mass graves, and even now, ten months later, decomposing bodies would be found in abandoned properties. To be honest I don't think anyone knew the true figure as most deaths were not recorded in any way.

The strain on basic services was huge. Martial law was imposed during the flu epidemic and the army attempted to maintain basic services but hospitals and other services couldn't cope. Power cuts became common place, gas supplies were intermittent and fuel for vehicles was strictly rationed - although as with anything it was available at a price. Nine months later martial law was still in force and the army organised most food deliveries and other essentials. They had also become the defacto police force and would intervene in the cases of major unrest or serious crimes. Otherwise law and order had broken down and each village, town or even a street would deal with crimes like theft locally. Most of the plethora of petty rules and regulations which had permeated life previously were totally ignored as there was no-one to enforce them.

With no money for wages, no fuel for their vehicles and no courts to prosecute wrongdoers the police force no longer existed, all the officers had drifted off into other things as they had to survive like every one else. The funny thing is that, as life had become a struggle to survive, the petty, annoying, anti-social crimes committed in the main by bored youngsters had almost stopped overnight. They no longer had the energy to go out vandalising and worse after a hard day's work in the fields and if anyone caught them they would get a beating as justice tended to be rough and instant.

Food supplies were now limited to what we could grow and produce in the UK and with hardly any fuel available for farm machinery many people had gone back to work on the land permanently.

During spring the melting snows revealed more bodies. The various TV and radio stations gradually went off air as there was no advertising revenue. By March there were just two BBC radio stations and one BBC TV channel, mostly showing repeats, and these went off air regularly, sometimes for several days. The news was definitely censored, it was as if by not recognising the scale of the problems they would disappear. Reference would be made to government promises and dealings in London, but London might as well not exist as, since the winter, all public transport had ceased. In Bridlington the railway tracks were rusty, and there was no fuel for buses.

In theory the internet was still up and running but with most ISP's having gone out of business local access was a problem. The mobile phone networks had gone the same way, the army had taken over the O2 network, but unless you were 'somebody' or had access to hard currency, i.e. gold or silver, you could not get access.

Things which we had taken for granted disappeared overnight. It came home to me when the MacDonalds restaurant closed in our local town during March. I hated MacDonalds food, but it was a warning of things to come.

Rumours were spreading of major unrest in the towns and cities, with whole areas in flames, and large parts of the inner city areas ruled by the drug dealers who were now selling food to the helpless residents at grossly inflated prices.

In May I started going out with Margaret, a women from Bridlington, who lost her husband to the flu during winter. We met when I was doing some work for her neighbour and started talking when she offered me a drink. We got on well as friends, but she wasn't into sex. OK, we had sex but I could tell that she was one of those people who would not bother if she never had another shag. On the other hand sex is an important part of a relationship to me and I was missing the lust filled sessions that me and Sally had even after thirty years of marriage

During the summer of 2013 farmers used the people fleeing from riots and gangs in the major cities to do the jobs previously done by machines. The only payment these workers got was a square meal, and a dry place to sleep in a barn or outbuilding. Considering the stresses it worked quite well and it was a warm summer with adequate rain. Those farmers that adapted to the new conditions had a good harvest. Theft of food was a major problem but most farmers solved this problem with a well aimed shotgun.

One of my little successes was to design and make a simple test kit for the silver rouble coins as there were forgeries in circulation. The silver forgeries that some peopled coined were acceptable, it was the base metal ones that needed to be detected.

I had some sources of electronic components and the breakthrough was to make a simple device which consisted of a gauge plate to check for size, a simple balance to check weight and, using the thermoelectric effect, a test for the metal in the coin. If the silver was debased by more than about 10% the thermoelectric output from a hot junction with a genuine coin could be measured and displayed on a simple two led display; green for good, red for doubtful. I sold these kits for 40 roubles, and people supplied their own 10 rouble coin for the reference. Heat for the test came from the hand and the signal was amplified to light the LEDs.

I could sell as many as I could make and currently had around 10000 roubles, my profits from the kits, buried in jars under the kitchen floor. This was my 'emergency' money. I would make about 10 kits in a couple of days and had a waiting list.

I also did machinery repairs for local farmers during the summer and converted machines from tractor to horse or electric power. These jobs were usually paid in kind, either grain or meat, mainly lamb. I had two freezers full of meat by the end of the summer. The grain I would exchange at a local mill for a smaller amount of flour, the difference being 'profit' for the mills, which they then sold for hard currency.

The carefree atmosphere of the previous summer was replaced by a grim realisation that things were now desperate and there were lots of scuffles and fights. As a single bloke I was targeted by nearly every woman I met while working on the local farms. I was offered sex by girls and women from below the age of consent to those old enough to be my mother. And not just straight sex either but any sex act I wanted in return for food or silver Roubles. I stayed faithful to Margaret but it was hard because some of the girls and women were 'lookers' and, to be honest, Margaret wasn't any good in the sack.

I didn't intend going hungry during the following winter, whatever the weather did to us. In spite of the Met Office's prediction that the last five winters were, 'An unusual fluctuation, ' and that the following winter would, 'See a return to the milder, wetter conditions experienced during the 1990's and 2000's, ' I was certain that a significant change in the climate had taken place and I was preparing for another cold, snowy winter.

There were also rumours of fresh outbreaks of disease in the cities but, with reliable news bulletins a thing of the past, they were just rumours.

The final collapse, when it came was quite sudden, it was as if the whole country had been running on empty, and finally everything ran out. Schools closed, Hospitals would only treat emergencies, and gradually all the things we take for granted became unreliable, and then disappeared.

It was now Autumn 2013. I was widowed with an on-off girl friend and life was harder than at any other time in my fifty six years.

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