There wasn’t a name for what what Edwin had when he died, doctors wouldn’t come up with reliable diagnostic criteria for another decade. It wouldn’t matter though, no one knew anything was wrong with his brain, the only thing they ever found was a single shell casing and a bloody hole in his head.
January 11th began just like every other day of the new year, for Edwin. He turned the coffee pot on, scooped a healthy swig of rubbery food out for his dog, and placed the silver barrel of a Remington single action pistol between his teeth. He closed his eyes and sighed, but jumped anxiously when he felt the soft, warm fur of his little Italian Greyhound, Rex, rubbing against his leg.
“Damn dog get away!” he shouted causing the poor canine to waddle off defeated, his tail held tight between his legs.
Edwin chuckled for a second to himself at the ridiculousness of the situation, dropped the hand that held the pistol to his knee and looked at it curiously. ‘So it goes,’ he thought before he raised the barrel to the side of his head only to squeezed the trigger with a steadfast finger.
Nothing. Eleven days. He brought the revolver down to his lap and swung out the cylinder. Six chambers stared back as he examined the gun’s orifices, five empty and one that contained a red-gold slug. Edwin poked it with a finger to make sure it was really in there and subsequently gave the cylinder a swift kick with the heel of his hand. It spun and clicked to a close. He tossed it on the bed and groaned before heading to the kitchen to fix himself a cup of coffee.
“There’s always tomorrow,” he mumbled indistinctly under his breath as he nudged Rex’s sniffing nose away from the kitchen counter. This is exactly what he said to himself the previous ten days. There was supposed to be a one in six chance of Edwin blowing his brains out the back of his head into a sloppy and slapdash stain on the wallpaper, he knew this rationally, but he disagreed on the philosophical mechanics. It was much simpler than that, to Edwin, it was a simple flip of a coin. Either he would pull the trigger and the room would look like the time he put maraschino cherries in his mother’s blender without the cap. The other scenario; would simply see him pull the trigger and have nothing happen. It was a fifty-fifty chance and that’s all there was to it. Mathematicians made things too complicated nowadays. And the scientists of today weren’t doing much to fix his condition.
It started about six months ago, night sweats and terrifying nightmares. He started falling asleep later and later each night and felt less rested each morning. Eventually he stopped sleeping altogether, at least a few times a week. The insomnia wasn’t the worst of it though, Edwin lost weight and started having panic attacks almost daily. Finally, as the new year rounded he stopped sleeping completely. Most nights he just laid in bed and told himself the hallucinations he saw weren’t real. He quit his job and started reading – Vonnegut, Poe and Asimov, nothing too deep. He started playing Russian Roulette with his gun as a way to get on with life, he knew his chances were slim – fifty/fifty, and one day, hopefully soon, it would all be over.
Edwin didn’t see any difference between what normal people did when they went to sleep and himself. Every night seemed like a game of Russian Roulette, but nobody seems to care. The normals, go to sleep and on any given night any number of things could go wrong where they would never wake up. He saw it the same as putting a loaded gun to his head. A fifty-fifty chance of dying, and all the mechanics were the same. Edwin knew the day would come where he would pull the trigger and then, he will face complete nonexistence, something unimaginable. But when the normals go to sleep they do the same thing, he knew when that happened it’s not like he’d be there to feel sorry about his nonexistence; he wouldn’t exist. So he figured it’d just be pulling the trigger and then.. Nothing. The normals, pull that trigger every night, they play the game too; how he wished he could sleep and face the possibility of never waking up. Just sleep… And then Nothing…