Jay laid in his bed, staring at the ceiling. Just below his neck, lay Linda, snuggling up to him in bed together, the sheets draped over their naked bodies.
The kids were tucked in their own beds, sleeping the night away. For the exception of the night shift crew of The Fleece, Jay was the only other person still awake.
He stared into the grainy, tiled ceiling of the room, pondering all that had happened to this point. Not just since the whole dream shifting issue began, but everything. Everything from the time he could begin remembering, until today.
Jay thought about his childhood, one of his first memories. He remembered nearly being kidnapped as a child but some strange woman, right out of his grandmother's living room. She walked in and snatched him up, even as Jay's family stood all around. It was like time slowed down for everyone and everything, except him and the dark-headed woman. She simply took him and intended on taking him further away.
Jay wondered, what might have happened had she succeeded in taking me?
Jay's thoughts were random, shifting to and from different memories. He remembered the day he proposed to Linda. It was a joyful moment for both of them, as he watched his bride-to-be cry tears of joy over a long awaited day that she wasn't certain would ever come. Jay, for that matter, felt the same. After all, Jay thought, what woman could put up with me and my ways for too long?
He shifted thoughts readily. Another memory encompassed his walks across the stage to obtain his diploma, his degrees, and other such honors. Another walk was the long one the day his son was born, as he nestled into his mother's arms and cried tears of both joy and heartache, as the delivery had not gone exactly according to plan. In fact, at one moment, Jay thought he might lose his son. He was worried about Linda too, as she was nearly torn open to bring their son into this world. A frightening moment that Jay could truly count his blessings that the people he loved did in fact survive.
Jay recalled the first time he ever kissed someone. It was as sweet as sugar spread all across his lips, as he ran his tongue around them and licked it off to enjoy the sweet and succulent flavor of ecstasy. You never forget the first person you kissed, no matter how good or bad it might have been, from either person's perspective.
He remembered the heartache of rejection, by the first girl that ever rejected him. By an instructor telling him he wasn't cut out to be a nurse. By not receiving the job he so wanted.
He thought back on the pitfalls of his life, and the triumphs. He remembered the "I dos" and the "I don'ts." He remembered holding his babies, and being held like one. He remembered running for fun, and running scared.
They all had one thing in common...
...there was no more happiness.
Not in this place. Not in the place Jay was in now.
This whole dream situation had turned his entire world upside down. This had been the first time he could really even think about it, rather than react to it. Now, in this new place, The Fleece, and what Pat had just done, Jay had no clue what to think anymore. He was a blank canvas, bereft of intrigue. The happiness was gone, at least for now. Jay hoped he could find it again, but it was going to take time. This whole situation had tried him to his very core. He was left feeling empty, hollow. His whole life had become reaction to his environment and this series of events had called all of it into question.
But he was left with one thing. The voice that had talked to him in his dream. As Jay ran from the horde, that voice was a calming influence on him. He still remembered what the voice had said. "Do not be deceived. You are not in control."
Jay looked down at the top of his wife's head. The rhythmic movement of his chest rising and falling would allow Linda's head to rise and fall with it. She laid their, resting, undisturbed by the fluid movement. The rhythm probably aided her resting cycle.
He stared down at the crease in her hair, the shape of her nose, the length of her eyelashes. Everything as perfectly placed as it had always been. She was perfect to him, anyway.
But one thing stood out tonight. One glaring, obvious difference that only Jay would be able to notice. Everything, right down to the love that they had made, was exactly as it had always been. Except for one thing.
Never, ever, not even one time in the history of their marriage, engagement, or courtship had Linda ever called Jay "Honey."
That was when Jay knew, Pat was his true enemy. Somehow, someway, Pat had "replaced" his Linda with a perfect replica. An actress. But that actress' ad lib had already cost Pat dearly.
Jay would play along for as long as he could stand, but sooner or later, Jay was going to force that bald-headed twit to tell the truth. Pat was going to tell him where his wife was at, and then he was going to tell him how to get her back.
Besides, if the man can read minds, then he is capable of anything. The only problem for Pat, however, Jay knew he was capable of so much more now.
And Jay couldn't wait to unleash it.