A lone man dressed in an Air Force jumpsuit wanders into a deserted town. Music blares in the nearby cafe. He fixes himself something to eat, shouting out his actions to no one. A bell tolls in the empty town square. Every shop he checks is empty. He spys a woman in a car and tells her he is an amnesiac. When he draws near, she is a mannequin. He continues to talk to her. When a phone rings, he races toward it, and finds no one on the line. Dialing, he reaches an automated operator. He calls for help on a police radio. Panic finally begins to set in and he runs through the streets, yelling the titular question. He begs to wake up and marvels at the detail of his dream. Dejectedly, he spins a paperback rack in the drugstore. All the titles are The Last Man On Earth. When night falls, the town lights up. He is drawn to the movie theater. The movie poster features a figure dressed like him. He speculates that his military uniform means that there has been "a bomb." When the movies begins, he climbs to the projection room. Finding no one, has runs into the lobby and into a mirror. Now in a complete panic, he runs back out in the street. Everything begins to take on paranoid significance. Clinging to a lamppost, he desperately presses the "walk" button to change the stoplight.
The scene changes to a room of men listening to him beg for help. He is in an isolation chamber, part of an experiment to test how a man will stand up to the loneliness of a lunar trip. He has been in the box for 20 days.
"Where Is Everybody?" was the first episode of The Twilight Zone that aired. The character's mind does make an effective nightmare to torture him with. The panic of amnesia. The cruel taunt of the mannequin. The dozens of books titled as his growing fear that he may be the last man on Earth. But it also gives him breadcrumbs to find his way out. The Air Force jumpsuit. He is hungry yet stumbles upon a stocked cafe and soda shop. He even has money in his pockets, so that he won't feel like he's stealing the food. And even though it is ultimately a twist ending, keeping Rod Serling from having to deal with the roundabout of dealing with a character that really is the last man on Earth, the isolation feels real, as does the creation of a claustropobic feeling in open air filming.
I do wonder how much of the imagary was influenced by The World, The Flesh, and The Devil, which was released in theaters only 5 months earlier.