With a sudden jerk, he woke up.
“I don’t know what’s happening, but I refuse to die.”
But it would be so easy… Just accept this perfect life. Let it take hold of your weary mind. Rest, Sylus. Rest and endure your eternity in peace.
“I have to wake up.”
No, you don’t…
“Is everything okay in here?” his wife appeared in the doorway.
“Sure. If you consider being very aware of this all being a dream,” Sylus laughed, “And that I’m dying.”
“Y-you’re… But honey… You just got a clean bill of health from Dr. Quinton…”
Sylus sat up, staring at her, “Quinton’s the pastor.”
For a fleeting moment, his “wife” looked confused, “Oh, dear, he’s a doctor, too… have you forgotten? This is a very small town, after all. Some of the duties have to be shared. Like yourself! You used to be a fireman and a police officer… Now you’re mayor!”
Sylus reached for the lamp on his bedside table and threw it at her. It crashed into the wall just inside the door. With a shriek, she ran out of the room.
Standing up, Sylus began twisting his sheets into tight coils.
This won’t help, Sylus…
“I won’t play your STUPID game… Let me out!”
I have no control over that, Sylus. You have to let yourself out. You want out so badly, yet here you linger…
Sylus threw one end of the twisted sheet over the curtain rod in his window.
You’re only hurting yourself, Sylus…
“Fine. Maybe if I hurt myself enough, I’ll wake up…”
No pain you can self-inflict will ever be stronger than that which your body is enduring…
“I knew it… Where’s my body?! What’s happening to it?!”
Oh you poor thing…
Sylus wrapped the sheet around his neck before jumping out the window.
BECAUSE YOU MUST DIE! DO SO GRACEFULLY! UNGRATEFUL MORTAL!
Sylus woke with a start. Before the inevitable wife entered the room, he ran for the window and threw himself outside. Rolling onto the grass, he was quick to right himself only to find Jeron staring directly at him.
“Jeron! Jeron!” he ran up to the startled man, “Something’s wrong, Jeron! I have to get out of here!”
Jeron looked around nervously.
“Please! Jeron… There has to be a way out!”
“I-I don’t…” he slowly lowered his hose to the ground. “I don’t understand, Sy… L-let me go get Gloria… M-maybe she can help…” He slowly backed away and into his house.
Looking down, Sylus saw himself in nothing but his underwear. In the distance, he could hear police sirens speeding down the street.
“Oh fuck me.” he grumbled before…
Sylus flung himself out of his bed, threw on the church attire that was laid out for him, lowered himself out the window, and slowly approached Jeron in his yard.
“So,” he began casually, leaning on their perfect white picket fence, “If I told you this was all a dream, would you believe me?”
“A-a dream?” Jeron laughed softly before turning to his house, “Then I’d have to say I lucked out.”
Sylus shook his head. “Your wife. Your kid. None of it is real.”
“My family isn’t real either…”
“I-I don’t… Sylus… Are you… okay?” Jeron slowly lowered his hose to the ground.
“No. Not really. And if the voice in my head is anything to go by, I’m not doing so hot outside of whatever hell this is,” Sylus forced a chuckle.
“Th-this is hardly hell, Sylus… Perfect home, perfect wife, perfect son…”
“See, there’s that word again,” Sylus folded both his arms on the fence, “‘Perfect’. I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. Everything sure is perfect, isn’t it?”
“I-it ssssssssure iiiisss, neighbor!” Jeron’s eyes seemed to waver in and out of focus as he slurred on his words.
“Hm. Right,” Sylus leaned away. “Well. I’m gonna start walking in, oh… That direction,” he pointed down the street. Away from where he knew the church was, “And I’ll keep walking until I find an end to this. There has to be an end, right?”
“Thanks for the talk, Jer. I’m sure the real you is far more interesting.”
With that, Sylus spun on his heels and headed out into the street. His car backed out of his driveway, slamming into his body. With a rattling crack, everything went dark.