Billy Naddle is a man all alone wandering the streets a small town. In most particular situations he would prefer solitude, but today the silence is deafening. Where is everyone and what is going on? Billy will have to search to find out.
The streets screamed with silence as a young man wandered around attempting to find anybody, anything that could tell him what was going on. Billy Naddle, a tall man dressed conservatively in flannel and blue jeans, had no idea what was going on but sure enough to know it was real life. The streets and buildings lay silent with nothing making a scratch nor tap. The chill of a gust of wind blew through his arm hairs that never could in a dream. The warmth emanating off the metal of cars. The smell of burning fuel from the cars nearby and the exhaust from furnaces in the diners across the street told him everything was real. Billy Naddle was alone in Tweepleton, a town south of Bluff City and also the town of his birth.
“Hello! Anybody here?” He called out. Silence and nothing was the response. “Hello!” He tried his cell phone, but the battery died. Billy barged into the town diners. The jukebox played, power was on, but no music could be heard. Fresh plates of food, some eaten and some untouched remained on the tables. The cash drawer still popped open. Cooks were absent in the kitchen. “Where the hell is everybody? Anybody here!” He called out in the diner to receive no response. The gas station pumps beeped at cars to return the hose back to its holder. The clerk was missing from their post, yet the shotgun under the counter remained. Billy considered it for a moment then decided to get a drink. “Nobody will mind, I don’t think under the circumstances.” A reach-in cooler glass door was left open. The temperature was forty-nine degrees. Across the street was Saint Nero’s Church. A behemoth of a building in a small town but such a building to add zest and grandiose appeal. “Ain’t never going in there, no peace will I find and never did,” Billy said. The grocery store was a ghastly sight. Shopping carts full of groceries and home supplies placed randomly were spread throughout the store. In a dream, Billy found himself filling his own cart with whatever he pleased and running it throughout the store doors like he won a game show as an audience cheered him on. He heard cheering in that moment. “Hello!” Billy yelled out, “Anybody there? I heard someone!” The audience cheer dissipated. This is a nightmare, Billy thought.
Clouds floated above Tweepleton like vultures circling a prey. Billy looked at the clouds with suspicion. “What the hell is going on!” Billy said. Sweat poured down his face. His palms were even more sweaty. Billy ran to another building across from the grocery store, a donation dropoff building. Nobody. He headed to a fast-food restaurant. Nothing in there besides a burning fryer and beef patties shriveled on the grill to the size of pennies.
The pharmacy was next to the restaurant. Billy walked in, this time contemplating turning it into a gameshow “fit all you can in your shopping cart!” A single cart sat in the entrance. Come on, fill it up, no time limit, no restrictions apply, fill all you can! Billy strolled the aisles. He fumbled through the sunglasses, even trying on a few leopard styles, but he placed them back on the rack. You can fill your cart up with groceries if you want, snacks of all kinds. Milk! Milk! Milk! Billy peeked behind the customer service desk to see anybody. Empty. The drugs are next! Fill up your empty cart with just drugs! Probably be the best thing you ever did! You want it? We GOT it! Billy retreated to the entrance, pushing through several shopping carts to leave the building.
“What the hell is going on?” He said to himself. Billy began wandering down the street. Tweepleton had a main street that went all buildings sat upon. All he could do was to follow it in one direction. Cars looked like they drove without a foot on the pedal until they stopped or crashed into a pole, tree, or a building. Some cars crashed into others. If Tweepleton was any bigger, he was sure to have seen wrecked planes or planes crashed into the towers. The thought of seeing such a sight horrified him. But the loneliness he felt now was unbearable. More so. Never before had he felt such obvious loneliness.
He arrived at the town square. Tweepleton had a one-way street square around a courthouse surrounded by various government buildings. Billy thought for a moment and went into the library. SILENCE was plastered beyond the opening doors welcoming him inside. The library had two floors, one for reading and the other for research. The walls were an ugly brown. Paintings filled the empty spaces on the walls. One had a beautiful bouquet, another a beach with seagulls and waves crashing into the sand, and others that brought glee and jupilation to eyes landing on them. The front desk had a large manuscript opened up with blue ink written in it. A large feathered pen settled next to it waving in the air, almost like an arrow beacon drawing attention to itself.
Hello, Mister Billy Naddle. The words popped up to him written in blue. He flipped the page with a degree of caution. He met resistance turning the parchment.
Billy… flip another page. The ink on the paper demanded. He complied and carefully slipped his fingers on the pages rubbing them together to pluck the top sheet off turning it over letting it finish the turn with a flop. The sheets of parchment scratched like sandpaper rubbing against each other. The sound it made nearly made Billy clasp his head.
Live a life of fulfillment and find it there. Lived a life of emptiness and find it here. Billy flipped the page but needed both hands to force the pages to separate from each other.
Billy… Look into the mirror… Billy. He grabbed the parchment to flip a page, fighting it’s resistance. “Ow!” His finger slit open, blood dripped out. Nearly pouring out. He sucked on his finger, then wrapping his shirt around it. His finger throbbed within his shirt as blood poured out in a hurry.
You won’t find what you are looking for here. Not all answers reside in books. Everything you need is in Tweepleton. He flipped another page. The page lifted it’s forceful weight away. Nothing there. He flipped another. Empty. He flipped another. Blank. Finally, on the last page, it said, The End.
The thought crossed his mind, “Home,” he said, “that’s where I’ll find something, someone!” He went out to the street and got into a truck that appeared crashed into a pole but at a rolling speed. Nothing damaged on it besides a bent bumper. The truck failed to start. Billy broke into every car parked or otherwise crashed around the square but none would start. The cars that didn’t crash but seemed parked didn’t have keys in them and, of course, he never learned in school how to hotwire a vehicle. “I live not far from here, just a thirty-minute walk on the other side of the tracks,” Billy said, “I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.”
He ventured down the street he walked on earlier continuing in the same direction. The clouds gathered closer around the town, around Billy. He couldn’t breathe the air. The trees ceased movement, but Billy didn’t notice. Mist rose from the pavement. Billy quickened his pace hurrying home. Perhaps he hurried too quick because he collapsed onto the black tar pavement.
Maybe it was a daydream, maybe he passed out, or maybe it was a simple memory – like a vision – but Billy’s thoughts controlled his mind and vision. He saw himself standing in line. The view of the surroundings covered in fog. The others in front and behind him were looking impatiently around. Some stared at their watch. Nobody held a phone. A few had pieces of paper tapping on their sides or in their hands. One lady held a newspaper. Some were leaning to the side peering their heads to get a gaze of the front of the line. Nobody said a thing. He heard a loud bang. The room flashed white.
Billy arrived home. He was unsurprised to find it void of people, not because the town was void of people but because his life was void of family or friends, none that would be his roommate to say the least. He found the quietness of his life to be satisfactory and pleasant. Preferable. His clock stood still at eleven fifty-nine. Right before midnight. “What was I doing before midnight?” The thought implanted a headache in his head. He went out to his backyard. Night had fallen. He turned on his porchlight. Beneath his back deck was a beautiful inground granite pool.
Out of his peripheral, he saw a bubble pop in the pools surface. Then two, three, four bubbles float from inside the pool to the surface. Billy stared and dived. The pool light was off and he couldn’t see well. He looked around the blackness and went back up for air. The porch light turned off. Billy grabbed the rail to pull himself out but a forceful tug brought him to the bottom. He splashed his arms trying to rise above but his gaze couldn’t see what gripped him. He lowered and bent his back but there was nothing attached to his legs but he felt a grip crushing his ankle. A grip that wouldn’t relinquish its grasp. He kicked his legs and grabbed the side of the pool clawing his way to the side until he grabbed both sides of the pool with his arms and lifted himself out. He rolled over and rushed inside the safety of his home. Darkness crept into his home. It felt unwelcoming. The air was thick and poisonous. He felt dizzy and spun, twisted down winding up his body until he was fully on the floor.
His school flashed in his eyes as his head hit the carpet. Fog filled the rooms but he could tell he sat in the cafeteria, alone. The room flashed white. He declined an invitation from a girl to go to the prom. The room flashed white. His yearbook laid on the desk in his room, blank. Empty. White. The room flashed white. The principal handed him his certificate, he went home afterward. Alone. The room flashed white. Billy became a 911 dispatcher. He answered calls. Never showed emotion. The room flashed white. He sat on his couch. He ate alone. Window shades pulled down. Empty. The room flashed white. The room flashed white. The room flashed white. He was at the courthouse. He opened his eyes. BANG! The room flashed white.
He was at the courthouse steps. Clouds stood between him and the moonlight. Light only shone upon the courthouse building. Darkness filled everywhere else. The doors beckoned him to enter. Billy stumbled his way up the steps, parting the doors. Stepping in, he saw the line he stood in before, in his dream. The room flashed white. BANG! Pow. Pow. Pow. The sound of rattling drums. The sound of tap tap tap. The room flashed white. Mist rose from the floor. Blood poured down the walls slithering its way to him. Silence. BANG! The room flashed white. Billy’s body laid on the wood-paneled floor. The room flashed white.
Billy ran out of the courthouse. Rattling drums followed him. A marching band marching alongside him as he charged to the library crashing into the doors. Like Moses, he parted the library doors forcing his way inside.
SILENCE. The Library demanded.
SI – LENCE. The Library repeated.
Starting with a beckoning, the library demanded Billy come closer.
It called to Billy, in Silence, but he knew it called. He heard it.
Loneliness filled Billy as he stood in the library. Nobody was there.
Even if there were others, he wouldn’t want them by his side.
Nobody ever gave Billy comfort, they made him afraid. He was afraid!
Calling and beckoning, the library demanded Billy to know.
Everyone disappeared, but that was a Lie.
SIL-ENCE. The Library requested.
The room painted white, it screamed at him but he couldn’t hear it. The books were bound with chains. Paintings of flowers, ocean waves and beaches were replaced with burning houses, a singular man on top of a cliff surrounded by waves of ash and lava, and a black building surrounded by trees – the front of the building resembling a grim face. The library clocks face was punched in. Shattered glass littered the floors. Blood dripped out of Billy’s fist.
The manuscript laid on the front desk. The feathered pen missing. A neon sign hung above with an arrow angled towards the manuscript with a flashing light. Flashing. In. And. Out. Billy sauntered to the parchment that sliced his finger before. The pages twisted and turned themselves without the need of a moving finger. The book flipped and landed where Billy left off. His blood provided the bookmark. The blank pages previously, were not filled with words. Wonderful words.
Have you figured it out, Billy? Oh Billy boy!
Billy peered at the parchment. “Yes,” he said. Don’t SPEAK it. WRITE it. The feathered pen presented itself to him. He wrote, “Yes.”
Where do you think you are? UP. DOWN. LEFT. RIGHT. DEAD.
Yes, Billy boy, oh yes.
“Where am I now?”
You died innocently but lived an empty life. You are UP. DOWN. LEFT. RIGHT. DEAD.
“Who am I?
You are the Nothing Man with Everything.
Enjoy your Stay. Silence. Solitary.
Billy Naddle lived his life of potential fulfillment alone and without companionship. He committed no sins, objectively did nothing wrong and died an innocent death. Did Billy go to Heaven to spend an afterlife the same as he loved living it, or limbo to remain alone in a dark and dreary eternal life, or hell in a cold representation of the lonely life he lived?