As the sun set on the small town the neighbors said Goodnight to one another and went into their homes. You could hear all across the town the sound of doors locking and deadbolts sliding into place. Small towns are supposed to be quiet and safe. A place where you can leave your door open or unlocked and not worry about your possessions or your life.

In this town it is not that way. The sound of the clicking locks and the setting of the sun is the signal for the night. In this place, in this small town something else lives here at night. Something that is not talked about.

Over the years people have gone missing. They stayed out just past the curfew time and never made it home. These people were not seen or heard from again. And the people in the town knew why.

Billy was out riding his bike one day he is 10 years old. He does not believe that you have to be in before sunset or you will disappear. Billy does not know of anyone who has disappeared and he has been around a long time. Billy could hear his mother calling his name frantically over and over again. Billy knew she would be worried. Billy wanted to prove to himself, his mother and the whole town that there was nothing to be afraid of anymore. He wanted to let them know they could stay out after dark and not be afraid.

As Billy was riding his bike to nowhere when the sounds of the town started to change. The sounds went from people closing up stores and homes. Locking everything up tight, running into the house at the last minute and slamming the door to the night, to silence. The silence was frightening. Even the crickets stopped chirping, the birds were quiet and the trees went still.

Billy began to wonder if he was wrong. Before he knew he made the decision he was heading home. He had turned his bike around and was on his way home. He peddled a little faster as he heard a strange rustling, not of people or of a dog or other normal animals or sounds he was accustomed to. These sounds had a different tone and beat to it. Almost as if the heartbeat was different than ours, faster and more erratic. Billy peddled a little faster as he started to hear wings in the air and whispering all around him. He could not see any birds flying around but he heard something up there. It was getting closer to him and he could feel the wind rush by him with every thrust of the wings. Billy was almost on the lawn, only a few more feet to his lawn. Billy missed his mother; he knew if he ever made it home he would never doubt anything she ever told him again. He would always obey her from now on. Billy promised himself he would be a good boy from now on if he just makes it home. He made it to the lawn; he was going to make it. Billy jumped off his bike and started to run, that is when he heard the loud wings and screech, suddenly he was in the air and being taken from his home. He only had a few more feet to the porch and he would have made it.

Billy started crying, he wanted his mommy, he wondered if he would ever see her again.

Billy did not look up to see what was carrying him. He figured it was just a bird. Billy was afraid and he was hoping it was all a dream. If he did not look or open his eyes maybe it would all go away and he would be home. Billy did not go home, he did not see his mother again. And it was not a dream.

Billy became a night gnome. He did not look like a regular gnome, yes he was small but he still looked like himself.

That night Billy found out the truth. He could go home, but he would never be seen by his family again, or anyone else. What his life was now was very different. It wasn’t so bad but he did miss his mother. Billy went t o see her sometimes, at first she cried a lot, but over time she seemed to get better. Billy noticed that she did not laugh anymore. He figured it was better that way for here, at least she was not crying anymore.

Billy found out that if you are caught out past sunset the gnomes take you and put you to work. You are essentially a slave to the gnomes and to the Town. It is now your job to take care of the town, to take care of the trees, lawns and gardens. That is a gnome’s job. The Gnomes of this town got tired of doing all the work so they started taking humans at the time they came out to clean up the Town, Sunset.

The Gnomes figured if they had to work for the Humans they should put some humans to work. There were gnomes all over the planet, but this was the only place that stole humans to do their work. In other places the gnomes just became lazy and this made the humans clean up and take care of their own mess, gardens and lawns. Other gnomes did not like or agree with the gnomes in Billy’s town. But they did not interfere; it was not their town.

Billy became a slave to the gnomes and to the town, all the captured towns people did. They all had to be back in their new homes by sunrise; otherwise they would be beaten by the gnomes. This had not happened to Billy but he had seen it done to another little boy named Tim.

Tim wanted to stay out just a little bit longer to see his little brother come out of his house. He had never met his little brother and always wanted to meet him. Tim knew he could not meet him; he just wanted to see him. That was all. The gnomes grabbed Tim and spanked him very bad. He cried the rest of the day and none of them got any sleep before they had to get up again at Sunset to work all night. Billy saw another man get beaten. It was not like Tim being spanked. This man was beaten with all kinds of objects all over his body by the gnomes. Afterward the man did not work for 5 days. And after that he never walked right or spoke again. He was not the same man as before.

One night Billy was working away in a garden pulling weeds. Sometimes he just would work so hard he would forget where he was and who he was, George would always call to Billy on those nights it was time to go in. Tonight was one of those nights. Billy was working in Mrs. Petersons garden and suddenly found himself all alone. He knew George was with him when he came to the garden. Billy always worked with George. Billy stopped what he was doing and started looking around for George. George was not around and things were not right.

Billy could hear the silence settle in like the night he stayed out too long. Billy did not know what was going on, nothing like this had ever happened before, he was scared. He started looking around for George again but he was nowhere around. There was no one around.

Then the sounds started, but they weren’t regular sounds. They were the sounds he always heard growing up, when he was at home with his mother. Billy saw the sky getting lighter and he knew he was going to get a beating like Tim or the other man that did not speak anymore. Billy waited for the gnomes to come and get him, but nothing happened. The sun kept coming up. The silence faded into the background. Billy got to see the sun come up and he was scared. He did not know what was going to happen. No one told him what happened if you stayed out when the sun came up. Billy just stood there till he saw the sun for himself, not just the light from it but the actual sun. It burned his eyes and he had to look away.

After a few minutes Mrs. Peterson came out of her house to look over her garden. She stopped on her steps on her way outside. Billy saw her looking at him and he thought, “Can she see me”. Mrs. Peterson called to Billy in astonishment. She called to him again for him to come to her right away. Billy could not believe someone could see him; he was frozen where he stood. Mrs. Peterson came running to him instead and grabbed him. She held him close, which felt so good to Billy. He wished that she were his mother.

“Wait a minute” Billy yelled and took off running. He ran all the way home. He did not stop running until he hit the front door and started pounding on it. Billy’s mother came to the front door and opened it. She started crying immediatly and grabbed Billy at the same time. Billy received the best hug he ever had in his whole life.

Billy was finally home.

Over the next few months’ people that had gone missing started turning up. After Billy went missing from the night they realized that all they had to do was stay out until the sun came up and they could go home also. Everyone came home eventually, even the man who was not the same. The town took care of him and they also took care of their own town instead. Now the townspeople don’t fear the night and people do not go missing anymore. Thanks to Billy.


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