Light began to illuminate the field of vision. Shapes soon started to appear. Finally, the figure of a man, seeming standing over the person lying there, came into view. A hand reached toward, then back away as the line of sight becaming crystal clear.
"Welcome back, Jay."
The man standing there was none other than Pat, and the man lying on the table beneath him was Jay. Jay looked from his lying position around the room taking in his surroundings. To his left were a multitude of people. Larry, Dr. Blake, Dana, they were all there as well. Slowly Jay began to rise up from the table and sit there squinting and rubbing his eyes as he continued to get his bearings.
"You've been out for quite a while", added Pat, assisting Jay up.
Jay took his hands down from his eyes to bear witness to a room filled with dozens of people. Everything from workers from The Fleece, to medical personnel. Jay was uncertain of where he was at the moment.
"What happened? How long was I out?"
"Several days. The important question here, Jay, is what did you experience during that time?", replied Pat.
"I don't remember anything", Jay paused thinking about what he had just said. "I don't remember ANYTHING."
"That's a breakthrough", said a medical working-looking man standing to the left of Pat.
Jay was astonished by this, "If I don't remember then does that mean I was actually just asleep?"
Pat smiled at Jay, "Miracles can happen."
This prompted a chuckle from Larry.
Jay looked over at him, "Lar, what happened here while I was gone?"
"Nothing but a lot of people worrying themselves to death about ya."
Other's in the room laughed.
Jay smiled a bit, then realized Linda was nowhere to be found.
"Where is Linda? The kids?"
"Safe and sound, she's got her hands full with those two little ones. She definitely needs you, sir", replied Pat, giving Jay a big toothy smile.
"Can I see them?"
"All in due time, my friend. For now we need to run a few test now that you've regained consciousness. We want to be sure everything is in fact ok. You had a nasty knocked on the head. They physician's here just want to be sure with a CT scan that everything is as it should be."
"Well, I understand that, but I would just like to see them. Like Lar said, I'm sure they've been worried about me."
Pat's tension level was starting to rise, as were some of the others.
"In due time."
"Why don't you just let me see them, that won't take that long?"
"Jay, please don't get worked up, the test will only take about a half hour. Then you can see your family. We need to run it while..."
"Let me see them!"
The doctor was not approaching. A speaker came over the intercom stating that Jay's vitals were once again becoming eradict.
"What is going on in here? I want to see my family!"
Now, even Lar and Dr. Blake were joining in on attempting to restrain Jay. With hands all over him, Jay was becoming more annoyed. He swatted them away as the others tried to talk sense into him. Jay then took notice of a figure walking into the room through the door. As he continued to swat away, he looked up to see Britton standing at the door in a nurses uniform. She quickly turned and went back out.
Jay couldn't believe what he was seeing. He lunged forward off the table and away from the surrounding people, then out the door Britton had just exited. He saw her walking down the center of a cooridor that looked like something out of a hospital. Britton was walking along very slowly, slow enough Jay was able to catch up to her.
"Britton, I can't believe you're alive..."
Jay grabbed her left shoulder and pulled her around to reveal something quite hideous. It was Britton, only a corpse-like remnant of her former self. Her flesh grayed with rot, dried and fresh blood covering parts of her face, tattered clothing, and grayed out, dead eyes. Jay lurched back away from her, but Britton did not pursue. She stood there, motionless, appearing to stare unabashedly back at Jay. At that moment, Pat walked up behind Jay, startling him again.
"She won't hurt you, no one here will, Jay."
"What is this? What is going on here?"
"Jay, Jay. What do you think is going on here?"
Jay looked around the cooridor, at Britton, then back to Pat, "I looks like the hospital I was in once, only now it's that other world that I go to."
"No, I'm afraid not, Jay."
"But that's where these things are, whatever it is."
"You know exactly what it is, Jay. Don't play dumb."
"A zombie. That doesn't exist here, everything is prestine here."
"Right, because you made it that way, Jay."
Jay looked back at Pat with puzzlement, "What do you mean?"
"This is your world, Jay. It's whatever you choose to make it."
"Because it's all inside your head. You've created everything in it that you can see, hear, touch, taste, smell. All of it is inside your mind."
"But I'm awake?"
"Are you? Think about it, you're standing in the same hospital you were admitted to with a zombie standing in front of you. Surely you can't think this is real?"
"But back there, in the room, you said I had finally regained consciousness? All of the people I know were there."
"Except for your family?"
"Except for my family."
Jay looked back at Britton, who continued to stare at him, still motionless.
"Why would my family not be here?"
"That's something you'll have to figure out on your own, Jay. I'm merely and imprint of a person you experience in your conscious life. I only know what you know."
"I know my family would be here for me, awake or not!"
"That is entirely up to you, Jay. Just like whether or not this zombie attacks you. The literal definition of a zombie is someone under another's control. So again, it's up to you."
"Maybe she's under your control?"
"That's still an extension of you, my friend."
Jay was becoming angry now. He wanted this to end, to simply wake up, for real this time.
"Why? Why have any of you here with me then?"
"The mind is a complex entity, Jay. It conjures up what it wants to perceive at a moments notice, adding details to things that sometimes no one can explain. Just like your wife's grandmother."
That last part grabbed Jay's attention. He had lectured on a similar topic with almost the same example. Is this really all just in my head? Have I completely lost my mind?
"Why is the most difficult question to answer. But I can offer this. And this is purely based off your own experiences. Why would a man need to dream about a world destroyed, riddled with zombies, where everyone and everything he has ever cared about no longer exists?"
Jay pondered the question for several moments. Tears began to well up in his eyes. As a few drops hit the floor, Jay looked down. Then he looked back up and said aloud, "Because he doesn't want to exist at all."
With that, Britton snarled at Jay and began moving towards him. Pat then reached over and grabbed Jay, prompting him to look at him. Pat too was now a zombie. The room that was filled with staff and his friends poured out a horde of zombies all making their way towards Jay.
Jay pushed aside Pat, and evaded Britton to charged down the cooridor. Zombies were now coming after him as he ran away from them as fast as he could. When he reached the end of the cooridor, more zombies came around the corner. Jay was now surrounded by the horde. He saw one patient room door still open, and ran for it quickly. As the horde barreled down on him, he slammed the door shut and locked it from the inside.
Jay thought this would at least slow them down momentarily, as he went over to the window to try and find a way out. When he pulled the curtain back, however, zombies littered the outside area as the room was on the ground floor. They took notice of Jay and began pounding on the glass. Jay could hear the glass giving way, as well as the door to the room. Once they got in, it was going to be all over.
In this moment though, Jay had a moment of clarity. He remembered a lecture about dreams he had heard as an undergrad and what the interpretation of dreams could mean. Zombies, in this sense, mean that someone's life feels out of control for whatever reason. At that moment, Jay heard a distinct and crystal clear voice in his head communicating with him.
"Do not be deceived."
Jay acknowledged the voice, as if the person talking were in the room with him.
"You are not in control of this, someone else is."
"Who is in control?"
"You know who."
"Because you want to help, just like grandma."
With that, the door burst open allowing the zombies in. The window collapsed, and horde spilled over. Jay was surrounded and would momentarily be devoured. But he had gained solace in the fact that something greater than him was in control and if he survived this intrusion to his mind, he would find out what that something is, and why it is here.
Linda awoke, her face planted firmly in the asphalt. She sat up, and brushed herself off. She was covered in dirt for whatever reason, but was currently lying on the ground in an old loading dock where trucks had once frequented. As she got her bearings, she could see the ashen sky, gray, deadlike. Fog crept along the ground in the early, cool, crisp morning. She had no idea what time of day it was, from her perspective, but her perspective was about to change dramatically.
She knew Pat had done away with her, for some reason. She now knew Britton was alive. What she didn't know, however, was where she was at for the moment. That, however, was about to change.
Linda heard foot steps approaching, and quickly moved to pick up a rod she saw laying near by. It had been part of the railing of the steps to the dock. She turned and readied herself to take a swing at the approaching person, only to find it was a young boy. He couldn't have been more than twelve, and was deshevealed. But the boy quickly grabbed her attention with what he said next.
"Don't swing, Mrs. Trent."
Linda stopped short of hitting the boy. She looked at him, bewildered by what he had said.
"How do you know my name?"
"I know a lot about you, Linda. I'm Rob."
Linda's jaw dropped. This man, the person inside my husband, is a boy?
Rob just stared back at her as he saw her lower the rod.
"Welcome to my world, Linda. Welcome to Anderson, South Carolina."
Linda looked around as the fog dispersed some. She could see the hollowed out buildings, like she was now occupying a war zone. The scorched earth, pot holes, and dead bodies lying about. This was the world Jay had told her about from his dreams. The same world the zombie had come from. For the first time, someone other than Jay had crossed into the other world he had been experiencing. Finally, it was proof positive: this other world is real. The real question is, why?