By: Charlotte Schofield
1. The area of openness between two objects.
2. The endless universe that our planet resides in, the vast absence of material.
3. A brief pause, also known as a rest.
4. The feeling of euphoria.
In the first few hours, almost all of the civilized world will fall into darkness. Without humans to run the plants that provide electricity, cities will fall dark and the night sky will light up. The only power still available would be in areas with hydro-electric plants that run on water like in Niagara Falls. This could realistically last for a couple of years; if they are fortunate enough not to have a part break without repair.
In a few days, underground subway channels around the world will flood with water without subway crews to pump the groundwater out. The water will rise to the streets and turn long avenues and drives into rushing rivers. These rivers will rage against skyscrapers that once held corporate companies, law firms, even famous hotels. The waters erupting through the city turn its once neat streets into a watery graveyard. The skyscrapers become glass tombstones, the bodies of lawyers, hotel maids, cab drivers, even the odd cluster of pigeons lay like broken things on the side of the road. Huge sheets of glass would shatter to the sidewalk, cutting the earth like knives and piercing the concrete jungle.
Within a few weeks, most house pets will escape their homes through open windows or starve to death because they won’t be accustomed to hunting in this new wild world. Zoo creatures will hunt inside their enclosures: cheetahs chasing Canadian bison, prized Komodo dragons crunching through the bones of the petting zoo chickens. Or they’ll escape through the turntable gates, fly over the iron-wrought bars, and crawl into the world with the hunger of solitary prisoners who have been released from life sentences. The feeling of euphoria makes the zoo animals grunt and snarl and squeak and squawk and exclaim, “Hallelujah!”
All the endangered populations of exotic animals will multiply quickly over the first few months without the interference of humans, creating new species and mutations over thousands of years. Eventually these creatures will inhabit all human cities like New York, Shanghai, Moscow and will rule the land above sea level.
Within a month without humans, nuclear plants will explode and create radiation blasts lasting for thousands of years. Next the chemicals used in the main reactors and boilers will release into the air, thick clouds of noxious gasses toxic enough to choke an elephant to death. Without energy to run them, these toxic gasses will permeate the atmosphere, creating a mini nuclear winter. The temperatures will drop drastically and animals will begin to hibernate and kill each other for survival. The climate change will be extreme, winter storms will turn to an enormous heat wave, the ice sheets will melt into the oceans, and the sea level will ultimately rise.
One year after the humans disappear, all satellites in Earth’s orbit will fall back to the surface, returning the night sky to shooting stars, bursting nebulas, Aurora Borealis and Gods at war. In two decades, all vegetation will evolve and cities will be completely hidden away by towering trees, twisting vines and canopies to block the ground from sunlight. All fruits will mutate into bizarre plants, overgrown with all the unused nutrients, evolving without the threat of deforestation and human meddling.
Desert cities like Las Vegas and Dubai will be drowned in the melted ice sheets of the former Antarctic and become lost under miles of new ocean water. Two hundred years later without humans, all underwater cities will be swept to the bottom of the ocean floor. The water pressure will break dams, collapsing them, ultimately changing the Earth’s landscape. After three hundred years without humans, all metal structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty will corrode with rust and internally collapse. The only structures left will be ones made by the old world, made of stone and mortar like the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza.
Our electromagnetic radiation will always last; little bits of television, radio, and telephone signals left from humans will bounce around space for eternity. Unsent emails asking for vacations from bosses that were quickly deleted, voicemails from mothers asking when you’re coming home for Winter break, wedding songs lost in the vast absence of our universe, whispers of people who lived and died thousands of years ago still echoing.
If all humans were to disappear the world would keep turning, the grass would keep growing and the stars would keep shining in the night sky. But what if one human managed to survive the nuclear explosion, the ice age, and managed to multiply and evolve with the animals of Earth; humans becoming something else.
What if they thrived?