In our world, there’s really no such thing as a pair of people who are exactly alike. Even identical twins, formed from the same snarl of cells and genetically identical at their origins, have small differences between them. They possess different fingerprints. They can come to be unlike one another in many ways given the chance to grow in differing directions. They are their own people — individuals in every way that truly matters.
However, in Idem, sameness was the name of the game, and uniqueness was a concept completely unheard of. Every citizen had the same milk-white skin and the same chestnut-brown hair. The same single-file parade of thoughts buzzed around inside their heads every day like lazy bees. Every citizen was also androgynous — each one male, female, and everything in between at the same time — so even the most fundamental human differences were absent in Idem.
When something inside the biology of an Idemite told them it was time to reproduce, they’d develop a curious duality a little bit at a time. One day, they’d have two heartbeats instead of one — doubled identical thoughts that rang out in stereo. Then, a thin, silvery seam would form down the center of their body over the course of the next day, becoming more pronounced in the days that followed. And finally — suddenly — there would be two where there was just one before. And so, the community of Idem would grow.
Idemites lived out the majority of their days performing only necessary tasks. Some spent their days planting and tending the potatoes that grew in long, perfect rows throughout the year. Others passed long afternoons and evenings by the seashore, taking turns going out on the waves in their long, slim boats to bring back crabs, and oysters, and seaweed, and the blue-green scaly fish that were the mainstays of their diet. And so life had been since long before even the oldest Idemite could remember.
What the Idemites didn’t understand was that things were only the same as they’d ever been on the surface of things. Beneath the smooth, black stones that lined the shores of their beaches — under the rolling waves that continued to bring them a bountiful influx of sustenance day in and day out —…