By Nathan Grayson on December 22nd, 2012 at 2:00 pm.
It happened in a flash. No bangs. Not even a whimper. And then there was nothing.
Nothing except a farm.
I don’t know where exactly I am. It’s very quiet, though. And… empty. Eerily so. An ocean of glorious green lies before me, but not even a single sign of life rustles in its bladed waves. I miss squirrels, I realize. Mere ambient distractions before, I now find their absence to be a fluffy-tail-shaped hole in my heart. Also, the entire human race.
Hey, tractors! Oh boy!
Welp, given that I’m on a farm and surrounded by tractors, I suppose it’s time for me to do the logical thing: attempt to contact aliens to get me off this desolate, abandoned rock. Right then, this ought to be cake. Well, except that I’m not particularly great at driving, and I’m actually the worst artist in the world. But since everyone’s probably dead now, I suppose that also makes me the best driver/artist/operatic metal singer on Earth by default. Now how’s that for a confidence booster? So yeah, I can do this. I can totally do this. No problem. Not a one.
Wait, no, I was wrong. I think I accidentally carved this strange wheat field on the edge of existence into the Borderlands logo, though. I wonder if aliens enjoy co-op? Or maybe they’re a hivemind, and the concept of co-op is literally incomprehensible to the–
Wait, what was that? My PDA made a sound. Someone – or something – is giving me orders. Also, I have a PDA for some reason – which seems like some kind of cruel joke, given that humanity is apparently extinct, but PDAs are back from the great technological beyond. And yet, even so, I must seek out whatever mysterious force is urging me to do its agricultural bidding. It’s my only lead. Finally, I have a brightly blazing source of hope. A light to guide me out of this madness.
Shit, I don’t even have the foggiest idea of what a pallet fork is. Oh well, I give up.
However, in the process of trying to figure it out, I’ve accidentally invented perpetual motion. Seriously. These two tractors became intertwined in some sort of otherworldly physics mishap, and now they’re just sort of twirling in one spot of their own volition – like ballroom dancers gliding about in an eternal embrace. Sinking into each other’s curves with the lithe grace only two-ton tractors are capable of. It’s beautiful. Also, I’ve probably lost my mind.
I glance at the clock. It’s been an hour.
I decide to get the lay of the land. Plus, who knows what I might find? And then, I see it: a car. It’s moving down a street far off in the distance. I immediately give chase, soaring over gentle hills and lazy fields on my ever-faithful tractor like a man on a mission. A man with a death wish. Eventually, I catch up to it. And also, I’m in a golf cart now because I don’t remember why. The car stops. Cautiously – butterflies in my stomach caged by instinctive trepidation – I approach on foot to peer inside. This is what I see.
That is not human. That is some plastic toy mold facsimile of the human form – a nauseating echo of my race, placed here for one mechanical, soullessly systemic purpose: to move aimlessly in circles until the end of time.
I flee in terror. I flee as fast and as far as I can. Up hills, through trees, past countless abandoned houses. But eventually, I can’t go any further. I can see off into the distance, but an invisible wall halts me where I stand. What kind of strange construct am I trapped inside? Can this be all that’s left of the world I once knew? Is this even that place at all? Or have I been unwittingly imprisoned in some kind of rustic, down-home purgatory, doomed to eventually fall in line with its hopeless cycle of repeated mistakes and crop rotation?
I survey the skyline, wondering how it came to this. I can look, but I cannot – and probably will never be able to – touch. I feel my stomach sink in despair. I guess this is the end of the line. But then, another faint sound shatters the silence. It’s my PDA.
I guess I should really learn what a pallet fork is.
Next time: Actual farming! Plus, tractor romance, existentialism, and more answers to the questions about this mysterious world that you’re probably not asking or – for that matter – even mildly curious about.