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For context, the title comes from a road that covers America. The Nevada part is considered the loneliest road in the world, 100’s of miles of basically nothing. Middlegate is a community on that road, where the story is set…
‘Welcome to Middlegate. The middle of nowhere. Elevation 4600feet. Population 17
The first thing that caught Ethan’s attention was the ceiling. It was impossible not to notice. Every inch was covered in dollar bills; there must be hundreds, maybe thousands. It was mostly $1 bills, some of them showing wear and tear like they’d been up there for decades. Others looked brand new. Hanging off a wooden beam directly in front of the door was a sign reading ‘Old Middlegate Station’, a large cluster of $100 decorating it on all sides. The sign was the only thing on the ceiling not covered in money, even the chandelier had a few notes stuck on it. This was probably all an attempt by the owners to impressive the customers, no doubt hoping it would be memorable enough to earn them another five-star review on TripAdvisor. Ethan’s more cynical side also suspected it was because it covered the wood ceiling which, judging by the exterior of the building, was in desperate need of renovations.
The second thing that caught Ethan’s attention was the room itself. It was very cramped, perfectly square, about ten or so meters on both sides, with a short passageway along one wall leading to another room of equal size. He assumed where he was standing was the restaurant, judging by the crowd of tables and chairs that filled the room. Each one was a unique design like they’d been bought at thirty different places from all corners of the country. Plates of half-eaten food and cups of coffee with smoke gently rising into the air laid atop some of the tables, the rest vacant. Along the far wall were multiple framed photographs, mostly of the surrounding desert landscape. An empty log fire sat in one corner of the room, a light sprinkling of ash on the floor below it. The full rays of the midday sun fell through the solitary window, casting a warm glow on everything. All the furniture looked old, as though Ethan had travelled back forty years when he entered the room. It was a remarkable sight. Instinctively, Ethan took his Nikon digital camera, strapped around his neck as always, and took a picture. He’d grown used to hearing the distinctive sharp clicking sound it made every time he took a photo, to the point that he barely noticed it anymore. But this time he did, and it was only upon hearing it he noticed the third thing.
There was no talking. No laugher competing with the music from a radio. No sounds of chairs scraping across the floor caps being removed from bottles, glasses being clinked together.
Ethan lowered his camera and took a few steps forward. The wooden floorboards creaked under his foot. For the first time, he really looked at the room. The half-eaten food, the smoking cups of coffee, the place looked like it had been abandoned only moments earlier.
Silence had never been so deafening.