Ben Matheson returns home to his Chicago apartment in a panic telling his wife that the electricity is about to go out. Before it does, he manages to contact his brother Miles and also to download something from the Internet. When the blackout hits, it's a global phenomena - and permanent. Fifteen years later, Ben is living with his children Charlie and Danny is a small rural village. Life is good, even without electricity, until Capt. Tom Neville of the local militia arrives to arrest Ben. Several are killed in the ensuing skirmish and with her brother Danny taken prisoner, Charlie sets off for Chicago with two others from the village, Aaron and Maggie, to find her Uncle Miles.