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Bye Bye Billy by Mol
What would happen if Billy Weir hadn't survived the Mayflower's voyage?
(Starting from the end of The Mayflower Project.)
Billy Weir lay unmoving, his body paralyzed. He could not hear. Could not see. Could not move. The hibernation equipment slowed every process, stopped every activity.
But Billy Weir did not sleep. His brain did not shut down.
The Mayflower fell toward the sun, accelerating all the while, faster and faster yet still painfully, pitifully slow in the distances of space. It would fall toward the sun for years. And gain still more speed and race away from the sun and past the shattered remains of dark Earth for years stretching into decades.
And still, Billy Weir would not sleep...
(Continuing into the Prologue of Destination Unknown.)
It took less tahn a year for Billy Weir to lose his mind.
He lay still, absolutely still, unable to move a muscle, unable to move his eyes, unable to control his breathing, paralyzed, utterly, absolutely paralyzed.
The technology of the hibernation berth had worked. It was ninety-nine-point-nine-percent successful. It had stopped his heart, his kidneys, his liver. It had stopped every system, down to the cellular level.
It had failed to still his mind.
The system supplied his minuscule needs for oxygen and water and nutrition. But it did nothing for the sleepless consciousness imprisoned in the all-but-dead body.
He raved silently. He hallucinated. He regained his sanity and lost it and regained it as the years passed, as the decades passed, as the very definition of madness became irrelevant.
He was in hell. He was in heaven. He floated, disembodied. He was chained to his own corpse. He rose and sank. He thought and imagined, and he almost flickered out, extinguished.
He begged for death.
And all of it over again, again, again. Time was nothing, leaping by in years and decades, crawling past so slowly that each millisecond might be a century.
In his madness he remembered every memory. He remembered when his name was Ruslan, not William. He remembered the cold and loneliness of the orphanage in Chechnya after his parents were killed.
He remembered his adoptive parents, their comfortable Texas home, school, church, McDonald's, the backyard pool, his room. He remembered every song he had ever heard, every TV show, every friend, acquaintance, enemy, every passing face in the mall. He remembered the wallpaper. The flyspecks on it. Everything.
He dredged everything up out of his memory, everything, every fragment of everything. Memory was all he had. Memory and the unchanging tableau of the hibernation berth's lid, the wire mesh catwalk above it, the shadow of the berths stacked above his.
At some point, after a very long time, he begun to remember memories that were not his. The memories that belonged to the other sleepers became his as well. Real, imagined, or it made no difference?
He reached out with his mind, searching, desperate, like no human child had ever been desperate before; he strained to touch something new, anything that would feed the hunger. But the hunger was a bottomless pit, a gulf that could never be filled, a silence that could not be broken.
Real or Unreal? he asked himself, wondered, then, after a while, stopped caring. Let any image come, he welcomed it. Let any new idea appear, it was a banquet, and he didn't care if it was real or unreal.
The years reeled by. He felt the deaths all around him. He felt the dim lights go out one by one. He felt all the awesome emptiness of space as the shuttle rode feeble light waves far, far beyond the orbit of dead Earth.
And when at last the new thing happened, the unexpected thing, the impossible thing, he still did not know if it was real.
The unexpected brought hope, and hope shattered him all over again.
Billy lay still.
(Here's where the alternative story of the life of the Remnants without Billy Weir begins.)
Time chose not to wait. Billy felt himself slipping. He knew it was the end, or maybe it's another dream, Billy thought. No. He was sure this was it.
"This one's dead, too," Mo'Steel reported from across the aisle.
The occupant of the berth was a kid, maybe twelve years old. Maybe younger. Or maybe he was just small for his age. He had dark, deep, almost sunken eyes. His skin was pale as death, so fragile you could see individual veins in his arms and face. His hair was black.
His eyes were wide open, staring, as blank as a doll's eyes.
"I knew that kid," Jobs said. "His name's Billy. Billy something. Weir. Billy Weir?"
"Weird?" Billy Weird? Needs to think about picking a new name," Mo'Steel said.
Jobs leaned in and said, "Billy? Billy if you can hear me...um, you were right: I'm here. I'm sorry I couldn't help."
2Face exchanged a surprised look with Mo'Steel.
"Before we left, back at the barracks. He was walking in his sleep," Jobs said. "Talking. I think he was asleep, anyway. He said, 'You'll be there.' He said that to me."
"Poor Billy. Sorry, Duck, but I guess it was just Billy's time, man," Mo'Steel said.
Big Bill cried out in pain. The Worms were everywhere inside his body. He could feel them rising in his throat. He couldn't breath. Couldn't see. Couldn't hear. He slumped over onto his side. His eyes shot open, but no he saw nothing.
"Billy. Here I come," Big Bill whispered to himself.
The Worms were, now, in his brain. They devourered the man from the inside out. Big Bill was silent. And Jobs knew the man was dead.
Olga grabbed Big Bill's arm and cried for the man, but what she did wasn't worth it. Worms immediately rose from Big Bill's body and tore into hers. She screamed, but it was over. Mo'Steel looked in terror at his mother. He knew she was as good as gone. And he couldn't every touch her. Give her a final huge.
Billy Weir was dead. Errol was dead. Big Bill was dead. Olga was dead. Jobs's father, his mother dead. Could this day get any worse? Jobs wondered. The answer was yes...
The Remnants rode upon the bouncing Blimp. They were as good as done for. Tamara knew. Wylson knew. 2Face knew. The Riders were gaining on them.
Jobs looked at Mo'Steel. Mo'Steel sat on the Blimp. He cried a little whimper, probably thinking about his mother, and then he noticed Jobs's stare. Mo'Steel immediately stood up.
"It's not worth it, Duck, there's no way out," he spoke proud, "we can't do anything. Not a single thing at all. I'm sorry, but I'm gone, migo. See you in the afterlife."
Before Jobs could react Mo'Steel leaped off of the Blimp and slammed into the ground below. He was dead, as the others would soon be.
"He's right," Tate said from behind Jobs.
"Yeah, if he's so right, then why don't you jump off and join him," 2Face said angrily coming from behind her, "and then our death counter would be raised to six deaths."
Tate turned around and gave 2Face a dirty look.
"Fine. I will jump," Tate turned her head towards Jobs. "Are you going to jump too?"
Jobs didnít' answer. He just looked in terror at her.
"Fine," Tate said. She walked to the edge of the Blimp, and peered down at the ground. She gulped. Suddenly, she whipped around and with all might tackled 2Face.
2Face hit the ground of the Blimp. Tate grabbed 2Face and jumped off the other edge of the Blimp. The two fell to their deaths. Three Remnants had fallen.
This is crazy Jobs thought. Tate a killer? 2Face murdered? Mo'Steel committed suicide? All hell had broken out on the Blimp.
The Blimp fell to the ground. It had a hole torn in it, and it was deflating. The Remnants hurried off the Blimp, but it was too late. Riders came flying on their hoverboards straight for Remnants.
Yago ran to Wylson, but before he knew what was happening he had been decapitated, as Errol had.
Rodger Dodger searched for Anamull. He looked up. He looked left. He looked... No. He didn't look again. A Rider's spear had been stabbed right through his heart.
D-Caf ran. He tripped over nothing? He turned around to seek out what tripped him. Nothing.
"D-Caf! Stay low! I will save you," a voice spoke. A tiny, little voice.
Jobs was in shock. He turned to see anything. Burroway dead. T.R. Dead. Wylson dead. Tamara dead? The Rider's must have gone for the largest humans first Jobs pondered.
The Baby crawled on the floor. Jobs looked at the baby and for the first time it looked scared. A Rider flew over the baby and its hoverboard smashed the baby's head. The Baby was dead.
Jobs ducked. He saw D-Caf disappear? He didn't know what was going on. Before he knew it he had a sword slide across his throat.
Jobs fell to the ground. He was dead.
A Rider grasped Violet. Then it took her away.
The Riders were gone. D-Caf and Edward stood together. They looked at each other, and cried. They cried for a very long time.