Five years after the bombs civilization continued to move along. The world hadn’t come to an end, but things had gotten harder.
The oil fields in the middle east didn’t survive, so it took time for alternate fields to be tapped and feed the industrial machinery needed to keep an urban based civilization fed and clothed. But people did manage. Diesel engines ran just fine on vegetable oil, so farmers kept enough of the tractors going to keep the harvests coming in, and even if people no longer had an office job, or tech support job, they found ways to barter and trade. The rationing of food kept the riots and prevented “the golden horde” from becoming a reality, along with a country awash with guns and ammunition. Being a looter was a quick way to end up dead after the bombs.
Many people died. Diseases that would have been a hospital stay killed many as ambulances couldn’t roll, and power generation was sporadic at best early on. But many people also lived.
The historians were fascinated by how alike, and how different the rebuilding after the bombs was from the Great Depression. The cause of the economic problems were different, and the citizens of the world generally had fewer survival skills, but they seemed to get by well enough. The woman who used to work the front office wasn’t much of a seamstress but she could get buy mending and patching worn clothes. The man who repaired copy machines also did alright as a firewood cutter and handyman.
It was a time when people learned to buy quality again, seeing things as tools to be used for their own economic advantage. The woodworking enthusiasts with large collections of hand planes never hurt for repair work. The blacksmiths, even hobby blacksmiths, had plenty of work to keep them in food. Junkyards became resource areas for spring steel for tools, and sheet metal for hinges, and axles for cars became axles for carts.
The first world became the third world, and the third world just went about it’s business of survival. But slowly the factories came online again, the oil fields pushed energy into the world economy, and the pre-made parts and goods started to fill store shelves. The worldwide information grid reconnected the ends of the Earth, east meets west only in cyberspace. The end of the world, wasn’t. Five years and the young children didn’t remember a time before the bombs.
How long does it take to recover? The answer is that you never really do recover. Just like the Great Depression fundamentally changed the United States economic policies, the bombs left their scar on the world. The world changed, and that was a recovery of some sort, but nothing was truly as it was before.