Ian’s reality check.

“I’m proud of you, Ian,” Ron beamed as he walked alongside his son Ian during their stroll around the block.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Ian replied.

“No, seriously. Look how you turned your life around during the past 5 years. You went back to school to finish your degree and then you started training to take my job at the office. Now here I am, retired and visiting you and your family at your new house. I couldn’t be happier myself. And to think all it took was a little motivation on your part to get your life going.”

“Yeah,” Ian sighed. “I know.”

Ron could detect a hint of uncertainty in Ian’s voice.

“Something the matter?” Ron asked.

“What if all this is just a dream?” Ian wondered.

“Do you want it to be?”

“Well, no.  But I’m almost expecting something scary to happen that’ll wake me up and put me back where I started, back before all this happened.”

“Nonsense,” Ron replied. “You worked hard for your new life and you know it.”

Just before Ian could take comfort in those words, he heard a spooky laugh from behind him. He spun around only to find nobody behind him.

“What’s the matter?” Ron asked.

“Did you hear that?” Ian said. “I thought I heard laughing.”

“Probably some kids down the street.”

Then Ian heard the spooky laughing again, this time louder. He stopped walking and turned around in another attempt to locate the source. There was nobody there, only the sidewalk running past the rows of houses lined up along the street. When Ian turned around to face his father, he gasped. Ron too had stopped walking and was standing there with his back facing Ian.

“Poor Ian,” Ron spoke in a sinister voice, his back still facing Ian. “You just proved to yourself what you can do with a little motivation and now you wonder if it’s all a dream? How could you hurt yourself like this?”

“Dad, what’s going on?” Ian asked, his voice shaking with fear.

“You just worked the hardest you ever worked to get to where you’re at and now you’re expecting to wake up only to realize that none of this ever happened? Are you sure that’s what you want?”

Ian was too frightened to respond.

“You finally got my job so I can retire, you got married and moved into a nice house and you gave me a grandson. And you want all this to go away?”

“N-No, I don’t,” Ian stammered.

“You don’t sound like you want this new life. You’d rather be back home with us, unemployed and unmotivated like you’ve been all your life. If that’s what you really want…”

“No, I like this new life I have. I’ll keep it.”

Ron let out a sinister laugh. “You’ll keep it? Not a wise choice of words there.”

“Dad, why do you keep talking with your back facing me?”

There was a long pause.

“So you want me to turn around?” Ron asked.

“Yes, please.”

“YOU GOT IT!”

Ron suddenly spin around, his face as white as death, his open mouth full of yellow, sharpened teeth and his bloodshot eyes twice their size and bulging from their sockets. Ian let out a terrified scream.

Ian suddenly sat up sweating and panting, awake in his bed in his room at his parents’ house, back to his old life in progress, back to being unemployed and unmotivated as he had been all his life.

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