Preface to "Darktyde Rising: A Historical Perspective on the Now" by Robert Yeats, (C) 2045, RandBetween Publishing
History is many things to many people. There is what really happened, what is believed to have happened, and what is recorded. Ideally, these things are identical. The art of history is recounting the events in a meaningful way rather than a sterile delineation of factoids. It is within this context the Darktyde presents an interesting challenge. The quanta of events observable objectively on Earth represent only a fraction of what really happened. Quantum forensics has provided additional information beyond what was recorded as the human experience, but the complete picture remains elusive. As with Schroedinger's cat, we know there is a cat, we know the poison is real, but we now realize that the binary possibilities are no longer exhaustive - the cat may be dead yet animate, mutated in ways benign or malign, or simply not there and as such arguably never present.
The Darktyde event, as it is now understood, was named to reflect what is thought to have happened. While many theories exist to explain the current state of reality, most of them share a number of common themes, all of which allude to a rising volume of "darkness" in some tidal context. Much like a rising sea, the tides are not felt in the center of the ocean, but along its coasts, and most profoundly experienced in its bays and lagoons. Earth in that context is very much the port of Humanity, capable of handling normal ebb and flow of the cosmic tide and completely unprepared for storm surge of an epochal maelstrom.
The greatest corollary to the current state of existence is the presence of systematic inhumanity. Throughout the course of human history this was experienced through slaughter, hatred, brutal dictatorships, and subversive cultural practices. We can reflect on the Inquisition, Nazism, Native American genocide, and question how could we as a people have accepted these things as they were happening. We can judge those that perpetrated them, and pity those harmed by them. But can we definitively say whether such events invited the darkness, or did the darkness seeping in precipitate the inhumanity? If it were possible to answer this question, does the answer provide any clarity?
Objectively we can see beginning with the American Civil War and ending at World War III, or the Industrial Revolution and Digital Revolution, the level of suffering and inhumanity experienced was without historical precedence. This was made all the worse since the majority of these events were not random acts of aggression or defense, but rather systematic applications of force in pursuit of selfish goals - it's the collective, focused, and organized evil that is most dangerous. The momentum they created essentially fed on itself until the fabric of reality, a cosmic levee as it were, could no longer hold, allowing raw darkness to flood into our world, destabilize the very bedrock of existence, and poison the field of reality beyond recovery.
What we see now is a new equilibrium, the aftermath of the quantum tectonic event we call the Darktyde. Cities lie in waste as a result of economics, conquest, or both. Those that remain reflect the rigid hierarchies of a class based society, with heavenly arcologies at the core surrounded by relatively safe ringtowns, then fading into the coops and nullzones of the fringe. Peaceful countrysides are now poisoned into dangerous, twisted havens of Darkspawn and dimensional hazards on land known as Darkearth. Rural life, where present, is as dangerous and hard as the frontier ever was, existing beyond the fringe of urban civil society and often clinging to the intercity transportation links that cut through a frightening wasteland.
A visitor from the booming '90s might believe the arcologies to be sci-fi utopias, the ringtowns to be not all that different from the cities of his era, and the coops to be urban slums or ghettos. He would have no real analogy for the nullzones - sprawling urban ghost towns, serving as dark reminders of the past. And the Darkearth could only be described in terms of horror films, as the worst of humanities primordial fears given form.