The walking went on and on once he finally hauled himself to his feet and resumed his steady march. Eventually, his eyes began to play tricks. The mirage of a farmhouse surrounded by fresh green grass beckoned. In the landscape of nothingness, something. He turned his steps away from the invisible wall.
He refused to wonder if he had been wrong to choose the farmhouse out of all the broad dusty landscape. The napkin would be here. It had to be. He refused to think about how much searching he still had to do.
As he clawed his way up the porch, he saw a picnic basket sitting there. Peaking out the top was a blue gingham napkin.
The end. The last thing. He let out a sigh just short of a huff of relief as he settled onto the top step. Knees pulled up, his back leaned against the porch post, he just let himself stare.
The end. But... was he ready for the next thing? What would be the next thing? What...
He forced his thoughts to a stop. He had left all those questions and their circling gamble of answers hours ago in the dusty fields. He didn't care anymore what the wrong or right or possible answer was. He would pick up the napkin, and it would be what it would be. He had left hope on a beach not that long ago. Now wasn't time to be picking it up again.
A bottle of lemonade sat next to the basket. Condensation glittered on the glass. He reached first for that. Felt the impossibly cold bottle solid under his hand. Popping the cap off the top, he drank it long and slow, with his head tipped back. Letting it side down his throat, gulp after gulp, until it was gone.
Once it was empty, he set it firmly on the porch beside him. He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. Moment of truth. "Let's do this thing," he mumbled to the crowding air.
He closed his eyes, leaned his head against his left fist, and in one smooth motion reached forward to grab the napkin. His hand closed over the napkin.
Water, cold and thick, closed over his head.