Alternative History

Y2K Apocalypse

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January 17th 2009, post-Y2k

On January 17th, 2000, a SH-60 Seahawk Helicopter from Langley Air Force Base went over at around 4:30 in the afternoon and took this photograph of Washington D.C., more than two weeks after the nuclear strike.

On December 31, 1999, over billions of the earth's citizens had finished their final Christmas celebrations of the Millennium and were preparing for the New Year, hopefully filled with promise and hope. Cable News Network had set up around Times Square to see the Millennial Ball drop down toward the eager crowds, awaiting the dawn of a new age. NORAD stood vigilant as they prepped the national nuclear defence plans for a possible glitch, yet their precautions were neither thorough nor adequate. Those familiarized with the Gregorian Calendar, a small third of the world, forecast a meaningful yet uneventful year ahead.

At around 11:50:00 p.m., New York Time, few cared at that moment about the latent warnings around a possible malfunction to every single object that possesses a microchip, they had heard on many news stations and Christianity websites. Many disregarded the idea as mere paranoia. At 11:55:12 p.m., in Los Angeles, California, a man broke into the CBS 2 News Station and managed to appear on-screen in front of the local anchormen and shout explicit messages of doom and horror regarding the Y2K Bug. He was forcibly escorted out of the building and taken to the nearest police station. He would not survive the night. By one minute to midnight, all of America was gripped in suspense as the clock slowly ticked toward the approaching hour. In reality, more than half the world had already celebrated their arrival in the year 2000. The crystal ball studded with 504 triangles began to fall. New York watched with wonder and awe, as did others on the east coast. Finally, Midnight.

At 12:00:00 a.m. EST, January 1, 2000, the computers had failed in over a third of the country. Then, by some unlikely situation, the problem magnified. 13 seconds later, over 6439 nuclear warheads had been unstoppably launched, and were heading for their various targets. Britain, France, Germany, Australia, the former Soviet Union. Naturally, Russia’s defense system reacted double-fold. The Warheads reached Washington D.C. and New York at 12:24:56 and 12:12:09, respectively. By dawn, over five billion people's lives had been lost, and thousands of cities and towns in ruins. To the few survivors, this was only the beginning of the end. Their families and friends have all been gone because of a mere date malfunction, and the rest of the world was at an end. Man has started everything and now is being gullble like you...


The Warnings (Pre-Y2K)

When the microprocessor was invented in February 1971, innovations in time-keeping followed. The data processing method relied heavily on just simple Arithmetic counting, making only more susceptible to the upcoming year 2000 problem. Unlike our OTL, this world decided to make two fatal mistakes: building computers and devices with a simple time format, and spending less than $15 billion dollars toward the Y2K problem in the three years before that fateful day. The main reason behind the lack of funding toward the forthcoming error was the escalation of the Gulf War, which caused Bill Clinton and his staff to divert much-needed funds toward the stabilization of the Persian territory. Other than these certainly possible events, there is little difference between this timeline and ours.

Many computer programs stored years with only two digits, for example, 1980 would be stored as 80. Some such programs could not distinguish between the year 2000 and the year 1900. Other programs would try to represent the year 2000 as 19100. This could cause a complete failure and cause date comparisons to produce incorrect results. Some embedded systems, made use of similar date logic. Politicians, Military and Computer companies alike were warned of the possibly of a simple misplaced digit could cause disastrous consequences. However, the seemingly alarmist attitudes did little to change the course of time.

Around the world, numerous computer problems arose. On August 14, 1998, a computer technician from Las Vegas noticed a possible error in one of the military defence network of Nevada. The problem was quickly fixed, yet others like it soon came up in the following months. Since military defence networks had primarily been built on C programming language, the possible of weaponry reacting to the sudden error of dates was not out of the question.

The Last Year of Civilization (January 1, 1999 - December 31, 1999)

Problems Throughout the Year

On May 18, 1999, Kurt Leasure, from the University of Pennsylvania, was doing a regular system check on different models of computers, testing to see how well they could change their date format, discovered a new computer virus of unknown origin that threatened the stability of the world's computers.

The new virus, dubbed 3Xer ('X' because it was unlike anything seen before and unknown, and ‘3’ because it triplicates itself in decimal time), was unusual, in the sense of where it seemed independently to work to find points of weakness in systems that had standard date processing. It seemingly corrupted systems that had trouble changing date formats, especially computers that only processed two digits for a year on their clock. Leasure was intrigued by this new-found virus since early similar versions had been found in September 1998 and March 1999, when fellow universities had done their Y2K Bug systems check.

Many computer designers around America reacted and for a brief while, started putting millions into the solution to this bug. But since 3Xer had only appeared minimally throughout the nation, e.g. twice, many did not worry about the supposed consequences of the rogue virus. Still, an anti-virus protection system was developed and tested fully. However, the protection system would be ignored and fail to be integrated into any computer system, with the exception of five University computer centres, including the University of Pennsylvania.

Last Days

Throughout the following months, very few computers and computer systems, including the Internet, were fully processed to protect them from the Y2K Bug. There were still plenty of systems that were checked on a 24/7 basis, which included the systems of the financial and business sector. As for personal computers, the plan was to send an anti-date system on a floppy disc that would protect the files of the hard drive if the date reset to 1900 or changed to 19100. The anti-dating system, named MillenniaWatch by Microsoft, did not have immunity against the 3Xer virus.

Christmas came and went, without a whim or a care. Decorations were hung up and taken down, eggnog was poured and carols were sung, Presents had been sent or given to loved ones or close friends. Advent calendars were being opened regularly. Boxing Day came, with practically everybody who celebrated January 1 as the day of a new year in high excitement.

December 31st, 1999

December 31, 1999 itself was a mildly eventful day; Boris Yeltsin had just resigned as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as acting President; The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal to Panama. There was a hostage situation on an Indian Airlines plane, as five hijackers held 155 hostages demanding two Islamic clerics that they later freed.

To those living on the eastern seaboard the streets were fraught with snow, Christmas decorations were begun to taken down, and numerous people turned on their radios and televisions to listen and watch the shows like Good Morning America as they would talk about the approaching millennium which was just several hours away. Little did people know that this would be the last day of civilization as they had come to know it. No more going to work, no shopping at local malls, no school or university or waking up to a newer and better day.

Y2K 29 seconds

The last surviving photo taken in New York City, photographed in Times Square, just 29 seconds before midnight.

After lunch, millions in the country of America flocked to cities and town’s ‘centres of activity’, most likely having some sort of commemoration for the upcoming event of the century. Churches and stores alike were adorned in messages like “Happy Millennium” or “New Years 2000’’. Just the same, seemingly homeless people with picket signs and carry-on billboards roamed the sidewalks and alleys with messages like “Y2K: Where Will You Be” and “The End is near”. Most people were not bothered by the predictions with their cataclysmic innuendo. Throughout time, humans had been taught that the future is not certain, and that numerous prophets that have tried to foresee it have failed. Doomsday alarmists have been many respected persons, yet still they could not predict the upcoming. So, who could take a man with a billboard strapped to his chest seriously at all?

By night time, all the stores had closed and the families and friends of the world gathered together, wherever they may have been at the moment, and counted the hours to the big event, totally oblivious to the tragedy and electronic maelstrom up ahead. Some waited patiently; they decided to have one more drink, or they decided to read the last edition of Time Magazine released that very day, with a picture of Albert Einstein whose work led to the invention of the Atomic Bomb, the same device that would undo the empire humans created in just a short while.

The Apocalypse

Mir space station photo Y2K

The Intercontinental nuclear missiles being launched at 12:00:13 a.m. EST from the U.S. military base on Guam, photographed aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-103 mission.

On this earth, in the one solitary hour that those ICBM's flew with the wings of death across the azure sky, more than four billion people meet their end in that moment of time. The first to be annihilated by the nuclear fires were the massive teeming cities of this world, that once were the centres of countries and of worlds within a world. This event, however brief, would shape things to come for the human race forever.


Nuclear sites Y2K

The first nuclear missiles were sent to their primary targets at roughly 12:01 to 12:05 a.m. EST, which are in red. The secondary targets, which are in blue, were sent at from 12:15 to 1:00 a.m.

In essence, it wasn’t really the inability for computers to make the date change, but the 3Xer virus. Once a few computer centres in the country had failed to make the change, the virus spread to almost every other computer in the world within its reach and corrupted its internal system. It took only a few microseconds for it to do so, and by 12:00:06 a.m., half the computers in the world had been irreparably damaged. The United States defence system had its main clock fail, which allowed the 3Xer virus and other minor sister viruses to enter the main defence grid and cause massive errors, which by 12:00:13 a.m., caused it to activate the nuclear warheads and set it to DEFCON 1. This caused full-out retaliation to a non-existent nuclear attacker.

When the clock turned midnight, the world population, according to estimated figures by government censuses, stood at 6,041,626,705 people. [1] However, by noon later that day, the population would suddenly drop down to barely 900 million. In all, over 14,569 nuclear warheads had been launched from the opposing countries of United States and Russia. Few cities and large towns managed to avoid destruction by nuclear bombs that failed to reach their destination. These cities included the Austrian city of Vienna, the Canadian cities and towns of Montreal, Greater Sudbury, these cities spared by nuclear fire.

The First Few Minutes (12:00 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.)


A photograph of St. Louis, Missouri being incinerated by a 15-megaton warhead, taken by Brian Graham at 12:06 a.m. CST on Interstate 44 near Rolla.

Catania Y2K

The city of Catania after being annihilated by a nuclear bomb from Russia at 6:12 a.m. CET.

Dawn (4:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.)

Louisville Y2K

Louisville, Kentucky became destroyed by a delayed nuclear warhead at 9:06 in the morning of January 1, 2000. The sky is already red from the thousands of nuclear bombs that have exploded.


A cloud of nuclear fallout falling on the city of Portland, Oregon at 9:02 a.m. (PT), the fallout came from another city, specifically Seattle. The main 15 megaton nuclear warhead missed its target (which was the centre of town) by about 2.4 miles and hit the suburbs instead.

When the first light from the sun onto this new world came, only then could the true significance and amount of destruction could be fully seen. In most cities in the United States, clouds of radioactive dust particles hung in the air surrounding the city. Thousands of those fortunate to survive the initial blast now had to battle with radiation sickness, and inevitably cancer. Nearly all electronic devices, in and near cities, had been destroyed and fried by the EMP pulse generated by the nuclear bombs ignited close to space, before the targeted bombs meant for levelling cities came.

Day 6

By Thursday, much of the massive confusion and mass hysteria on what might come next in this horrible week of hell only made things worse, even before they could remotely get better. Over 50% of the initial fallout from the nuclear attack on the first of January had dissipated into the oceans and fields of the farm belt in Central North America. Huge clouds of chlorine and other assortment of poisonous gases that came from tanks and house utilities that needed maintaining, and by now with anyone in a state of extreme and petrifying shock, little bothered to look after these gases of death. In his book, "My Survival Though the Abaddon", by Hermann Goredam, this lone survivor of many situations chronicles the tales of endurance from the first day up to the second year which is when the book was released in March 2002. One passage describes the horrors of the sixth day after the apocalypse, when he and a few other survivors try to escape the the remains of the city of Asheville, North Carolina, after living in an abandoned bomb shelter in one of the city's buildings. The passage is as follows:

After the sixth day of God’s tyranny on his beloved planet, our small room which we inhabited had grown rotten with the stench of death. Five close strangers which had been with us since the beginning had succumbed to their wounds or had been poisoned by the lethal radiation that flew and floated in the air; the air that I breathed. We finally reach the conclusion that none of us were last any long than those decaying faceless corpses on the floor. And so, we dared do what we would have been sick over to do a few days ago; we open the doors to the outside. Immediately we saw the devastation of our government’s arsenal that had undone us just barely a week ago. Ran, we did, from our would-be tomb. We did not stay in one place very long; our goal was to be out of the city in less than an hour. A few others and I did not bother to drive any cars, since they had been fried and melted from the nuclear heat. Running seemed the only option available. Something we would be doing for our lives in just a few short minutes. Janet, someone who used to be a school teacher, one day noticed a cloud of a yellow form. She quickly discovered that it turned out to be chlorine gas; the stuff we used to put in our pools for fun and leisure. This was no leisure. She ran in the very opposite direction that the cloud was coming from. She signaled us to follow, and we did. However, another wisp of the gas had come from the other side of the street, and took her instantly. Soon, you couldn’t even see it anymore. It had thinned out and surrounded us. Surrounded us, like the mindful devil it was. Our survival instincts gave us mixed messages. We just listened to our minds and forwarded ourselves in an attempt to escape. One by one, we were plucked from our lives by the malevolent gas. Trying as hard as we could to hold our breaths, it was not enough. It burned our skin and blinded our eyes. A business man I had come to know fell on the pavement, writhing in pain. No time to help him though, only yourself could you look for. Five more lay on the once active street, withering in the fumes and acid air. Out of the initial twelve that had left the bomb shelter, only three remained. Finally, I reached clear skies. Fresh air, more or less, reassured my lungs. I ran for another five hundred yards and stopped. I sat and turned around to see if anyone had come with me. No one had. Out of the city that had given birth to pain and death, only I came out with my heart still beating. Only I.

— Goredam, Hermann. pg. 45, My Survival Though the Abaddon [1]

Day 7

Even through all that had happened in the first week, worst had yet to come to the rural areas around the world. In America alone, there were over 104 nuclear reactors in power plants, universities and naval bases[2]; all in need of constant supervision. If no one looked after them, computers would cut in. Since, however, nearly 99.5% of computers in the country had been wiped out by the Y2K Bug and the 3Xer Virus, only one nuclear reactor was protected from having a nuclear meltdown. The rest would go Chernobyl in the next few days.

The nuclear scientists that had survived the initial nuclear warheads and technological destruction of January 1st, had foreseen the disastrous effects of the nation's nuclear reactors overheating and exploding. Whereas the explosions would not be as massive as the nuclear explosions that landed on the cities and towns on that fateful day, they would have tons of radioactive material would be shot into the atmosphere and fall around the surrounding areas, killing all lifeforms; including plants, animals and some microbes. Numerous scientists, mostly affiliated with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, contacted as many people as they had known to have survived the nuclear attack and informed them of the impending excess nuclear fallout from the unstable nuclear reactors. They moved quickly as humanly possible, yet they only managed to save 34 nuclear reactors by the end of the week. On Friday, January 7, all 69 unstable nuclear reactors erupted, spewing thousands of tons of nuclear material over the nation's land.

In Baker City, Oregon, a storm of black rain, which is precipitation mixed with nuclear fallout, fell on the small city. Within two months, over ninety-five percent of the original residents would be dead from the poisonous rain, after it got into the surviving water system. Only two people from that place survived to see the next year.

The Recovery (2000-2001)

Coming out into a new world (January 7, 2000 - March 2000)

Cities have now become a living hell zone; buildings are charred from the nuclear heat and radiation and crumble into the earth, Liquefied natural gas tanks explode and set the streets on fire like something out of a John Martin painting, Chlorine tanks have overheated and have sent tons of extremely poisonous gas into the local atmosphere and choking anyone who breathes.

Confusion among many

Roots of Earth Y2K logo

The emblem of the society, Roots of Earth. This symbol would be circulated on papers made by a printing press, the only form of fundamental technology the organization used.

Since it was technology that was believed to have brought about the end of the world, many felt repelled by it and refused to use it. Some started to form cults and groups with the intent of preventing humanity from regaining their former foothold on the world by the ways of technology. One group, called the Roots of Earth, was formed in March 2000 in the remains of the city of Olympia, Washington by no less than fifty members. Largely left-wing, with Luddite political status, the Roots of Earth found their ways into other nearby towns and villages quickly. By August 12, 2000, their membership included twenty-five thousand people, and their influence continued to spread amongst the shocked masses, lost in a new era of chaos. Committed members usually wore a piece of Chernobylite on a small chain around their necks as a testimony to the burden of technology and its consequences. Because this contributes to increased lung and heart cancer among the most notable of the society, the society as a whole loses credibility, becoming a laughing stock for this perceived stupidity.

Nuclear Winter

Nuked london photo

A picture of London taken by an anonymous photographer, showing what remains of Big Ben. The date written on the photograph is 28/2/02 over two years after the city was struck by nuclear weapons.

When September had come, the average temperature worldwide was already falling below 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). It some areas, however, nearer to the equator like Miami, the thermometers told a different tale and often reached 40 degrees (104 degrees Fahrenheit). A new "ice age" had come to much of the northern hemisphere. The extremes in temperatures caused violent storm systems, with Category Five hurricanes forming weekly in both in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.

Survival Game (2001-2003)

By the year of 2001, over a half billion people had died from the resulting radiation, famine, floods, riots and loss of technology. The remaining 400 million continued to fall in numbers as once bustling metropolises became death zones. Cities became uninhabitable, large towns fell apart from decay, since all of the people assigned to keep them maintained and functional had all vanished.

Return to the Old Ways (2003-2007)

Slowly but surely, the surviving population began to recover. Survivors with the required knowledge were found and recruited into community rebuilding efforts. The remnants of pre-Y2K governments coalesced into regimes strong enough to deal with the aftermath. Old technology gradually came back into use. By 2007, most of the world had recovered to a technology level equivalent to the mid-late 20th century.

July 10th 2005, Riots (Y2K)

The surviving city of Vienna suffers losses of over 54,000 due to riots from July 4-25 of 2005. This photo was taken on ‘Day 6’.

Decline (2007-Present)

June 10, 2007 White House photo Y2K

A National Geograhpic photograph, taken on June 10, 2007, of the remains of the White House. The Tiger is most likely a descendant of the animals of the former Zoo.

On January 1, 2007, tens of thousands of religious enthusiasts went outdoors and prayed expecting Jesus to appear and take them to the heaven the world so wanted. The reason behind this was that many believed that Y2K had been the apocalypse, and that seven years of tribulation had reigned. By Midnight, numerous people were dismayed at the absence of their beloved savior, instead they simply went back into their homes, turned on their radios or televisions, and remembered with families and friends that night seven years before, when chaos reigned.


  1. Krasner, Stephen D. (1999). Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy. Princeton University Press. pp. 165. ISBN 069100711X.,M1.

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