Another Earth. It’s where they told me I was going. To another world in the outer reaches of the galaxy. Apparently Earth ran on out of prison space. They said I would have a new life, they said I wouldn’t even notice I was gone, they said it would be just like home, just like moving to another part of town.
I believed them. For a while I thought they had told me the truth. This other world looked the same, except for the geography of course. Skyscrapers towered in the populated cities and small houses and farms inhabited the towns around them. Trees grew in the forests and the jungles, and birds sung day after day looking for a partner to mate with, but above all it was the people. I could swear they were human. Learning the new language was not too difficult, the same as when I learned spanish, it was just another language. I got a job downtown in the city of Nadira as a repairman and everything seemed good for months, it seemed that I had gotten my new beginning, my new chance at life, my chance to avoid the mistakes of my past.
I now know it’s not so. There is something off. I don’t yet know what, but I’ve been noticing things. In the mornings when I wake up there’s that feeling of emptiness, not in me, but around me. I’ve felt it before, back on my blue Earth, when I visited the ruins of the Aztecs. If you stand in silence long enough inside them you can feel the age in them, their souls scream at you in silence through their decaying walls. The haunted emptiness of their old temples scratches the back of your head when you peer around the corners. It’s ancient death.
And then there’s the silence. Everywhere you go, silence awaits. It’s a hidden silence. It hides behind the songs of birds and motors of cars, it lurks behind the words of that other language and you can only really listen to it during the night. It comes out when everyone has gone to sleep. It’s not natural. It’s more than peaceful silence, it’s the lack of vibrations in the air, it’s a lack of life in the world.
Last night I walked outside when it was darkest. I walked down the empty streets, around the base of the unlit buildings, around the parks where even the trees looked black. I might as well have been dead, prancing around hell by myself. I was convinced they had all died in their sleep, but I woke up again and they are there. They talk to me with their vacant eyes and their desolate voice, and I’ve come to realize that this world is not like Earth. I’m not sure it even exists, it’s a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I can feel them staring at me empty-eyed when I walk past them. Sometimes I can see the animals spring into action at the sight of me, like they’re waiting, like they’re pretending, trying to keep up the charade, but I know.
I know this city is empty, I know the “people” are vessels, and the animals around me little robots programmed to make me believe…
I caught one. I have it in the other room. I’m going to cut it open.