Japan withdraws all financial aid to Britain, because everyone in the country has already bought one of their wide-screen videos, lead-free cars, digital hi-fis, and take-away whale-on-a-stick (for medical research, natch.) The Minister of Energy tries to buy a supertanker of oil with his Barclaycard, but Alan Whicker defects to American Express. The meter finally runs out on the national power grid, and the computerised economy collapses; no computers means no banking, no banking means no trading, no trading means no taxes. The Government falls. Unfortunately, there has been no opposition capable of taking office since 1979. The Official Monster Raving Loony Party (formerly the SDP) takes the reins of power for an afternoon, and closes the country down for redecoration.
A Military Provisional Government is sworn in, led by King Andrew and Fertile Fergie. The appointment of Field Marshal Gerry Anderson confirms that it is nothing more than a puppet regime. Wendy-the-singing-computer disappears, and is rumoured to have entered a solar powered convent.
Without electrical power, frozen food storage is impossible and factory farms are forced to close after all livestock is slaughtered. Food distribution grinds to a halt as petrol rationing bites. Domestic flower beds are dug up, and potatoes planted. Cows are milked by hand, flour is ground with stones, horse-drawn barges appear on the few remaining canals. A global rock concert is organised by the lead singer of the Tzar-Gazers, Mickey Gorbachov, to help British famine relief.
Bernard Matthews is spotted trying to sell strawburgers ('they're piddiful') in the knave of Norwich Cathedral. Bernard Manning is arrested for cannibalism, but is released when he is found to be yet again scraping the barrel of his bottom. The last rechargeable powerpack in the land runs out, the last portable word processor in the land powers down and the last bit of journalistic drivel is erased forever.
Spring is sprung and May Day is celebrated with a return to pagan fertility rituals and witchcraft. An entire generation, brought up on RPGs and Dungeons-and-Dragons, doesn't notice the difference.
With the People's Militia otherwise engaged, one million hippies arrive at Stonehenge for the Equinox. Using concentrated thought waves, they raise it off the ground and move it to the mystical site of central London, where Orc traffic wardens wheel-clamp it. The power crisis is further complicated when tidal generators at the Severn Barrage, the Thames Barrier and the Wash are reprogrammed by IRA and Libyan terrorists. Rogue chips produce fried fish. Britain immediately abolishes the navy, after mishearing the King say 'I don't want any more bloody efficient ships'. The Republic of Ireland becomes the 52nd of the United States, and the CIA seals the border with Ulster after mishearing a tapped phone call to Buckingham Palace, during which King Andrew discusses his computer keyboard technique with Senator Bob Geldof, and succumbs to a coughing fit. Geldof is heard to say 'Far King, one-keyer? Fair cough!'
John Gilbert includes a face-to-face interview with Satan in the tenth anniversary edition of Fear. It seems that the Prince of Darkness has been running a local radio station from a council flat in Wolverhampton, under the mistaken belief that he was in Hell. In actual fact, Hell has been privatised and bought by a Swiss chocolate maker.
With the collapse of the old political parties, ex-computer programmers now head the two major factions. Traditionalists join the Back to Basics sect, whereas machine-coders flock to the banner of the Go-Forth-And-Multiply party. The result of both policies is much the same. Pregnancy is in.
The Iron Curtain is removed, Europe has freedom of movement for the first time since 1945. Britain still refuses to sign the Open Border Agreement, and is expelled from the United States of Europe, which is now self-sufficient in food and energy. UK boat people, escaping from South coast ports, are turned away from French beaches by barrages of high-yield onions.
After the successful US/USSR mission to Mars, the World Space Alliance announces the most ambitious scientific project in history: the Torus. This is an energy ring in space, high above the equator, consisting of a chain of giant parabolic mirrors 1km in diameter, 5 microns thick, which will refocus the Sun's energy to power turbines on Earth. The Space Shuttle is brought out of mothballs and renamed Elektra, redesigned to carry the Torus into geostationary orbit, spinning it out like a spider's web.
Mr M. M. Croucher, the new lavatory cleaner at Mirrorsoft, celebrates his 50th birthday by performing a lengthy series of behind-the-screen dumps.
Responding to the first radio transmissions sent by Signor Marconi, the Alpha Centauri Ark reaches the half-way point to Earth on its mission to save it from destruction. Flight Officer Gabriel, a trumpet-playing humanoid with beautiful wings and a bright halo of light shining above her head, picks up a flash of light from the Ark's ultimate destination. This is the space shuttle Elektra, with its cargo of the life-saving Torus power generators, exploding on take-off, sabotaged by agents of terrestrial oil companies, and the last hope of mankind.
Hack To The Future : final part, next month. will the earth be saved? and if so, how much interest does it pay out?