Challenge #01300-C205: Sense Askew.

*air horn sound *

*second air horn sound *

"This isn't deodorant" -- Gallifreya

He looked at the can. It looked like a regular, everyday bodyspray. Yet when he pressed the spray button, an air horn noise came out.

It shouldn't even be able to do that.

Come to think of it, the towel only looked like a towel. It behaved more like tissue paper, falling apart in his hands.

The toothpaste looked and smelled like toothpaste but... it was aoli. At least it wasn't Preparation H. Or vaseline.

The milk tasted like... orange juice. The corn flakes were more like eating plastic. His clothes felt more like a swarm of insects was covering his body. The tighter they were, the smaller they were. Constantly crawling.

His car made more noise than the second world war squeezed into one room. And the train the rest of the way to work smelled like fresh offal.

Which had to be an improvement, because it regularly smelled like the putrefying kind.

The sidewalk made squeaky noises. Not the cute kind that made kids giggle. Every footstep sounded like a dying mouse.

It was wrong. Everything was wrong. His coworkers sounded like muted trumpets. Traffic noise, usually muted at ten floors up, was louder than in person. Every press of his computer key sounded like an old-timey typewriter. Replete with the ding and zip at the end of the line.

He couldn't stand it any longer. He took a break and started running. Blindly. Trying to escape the aberrant sensations. He dared not escape the prickling, crawling horror of his clothing. He didn't want to get locked up. He just wanted the world to start making sense.

And then he walked out of anywhere he'd ever seen and onto a bleak, featureless grid.

Submitted for your approval. Joe Average. An everyday man with an everyday routine. Until a glitch makes him aware of a flaw in the simulation he's been living in his entire life.

"Is that Rod Serling?" he said. "Why...?" His name was Joe. But his last name wasn't Average, it was... it was...

Subject 790B3K, said Rod Serling's voice. Somehow inside Joe's head. Remain calm. Normal service will resume in sufficient time.

He ran on through the bleak grid. It was neither cold, nor hot. He didn't go hungry. He didn't need a smoke. Or a beer. Or even a Nuttynu Bar. He didn't even feel tired.

Was this heaven? Was this hell? Was there even a way to tell?

Joe... whatever his name really was... sat. At least there was no more squeaking, even though it felt like he was sitting on an anthill. "Someone tell me what's real?" he said.

But nobody came.

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