The solar flares took out the power grid. Most computers died even if they had power, having been fused into chunks of plastic.
Howard awoke from death. The world had gone dark but then he felt new sensations. He was in a box, choking on stale air. Desperately he flailed about until he felt a lever near his left hand. With atrophied muscles Howard pushed open the lid of the VR coffin.
Dull thuds emanated from nearby coffins. In darkness Howard began pulling out the tubes that fed him.
It was the beginning of a new year, a new era.