Jon Booker had amnesia.
He’d had it for about six months now, give or take a week. He had yet to regain even the slightest memory from whatever had been going on before he’d waken up in the hospital on a sunny Thursday morning in January. The doctors had said there was a good chance that little things like store signs, familiar people, smells, and songs, would trigger a memory. Jon had been waiting. Nothing happened.
The convenience store on the corner had hired him right away. He was young, able to work any hours, and seemed smart enough. Jon felt smart. At home, a place he only knew because it was on his driver’s license, he’d go through Crosswords and Sudoku puzzles in a matter of minutes. He figured that before whatever accident had erased his brain he’d done something exciting, something smart, something important.
It didn’t bother Jon to work at the convenience store. Marty’s Mart had a good clientele. It was located within walking distance of his apartment and his boss was nice. Marty was always regaling him and his co-worker Bekkah with tales of his days at sea. Apparently he’d been in the Navy, though to hear him tell it, he’d commandeered his own pirate ship at one time. Jon preferred it when he told his stories than when he asked personal questions. There was no secret to Jon’s amnesia. He told both Bekkah and Marty about it, that he had absolutely no idea what he’d done before, and that he wasn’t even sure he had friends or family.
“Doesn’t anyone call you?” Bekkah had asked one day while they’d been outside smoking a cigarette. Jon didn’t think he’d smoked before, but the inhalation came easy to him and it was something to do. “People you knew before have to be trying to get ahold of you.”
Jon shook his head. “Nope. No one.” That wasn’t entirely true. There’d been a few calls but no one had said anything into his answering machine. And for whatever reason, he didn’t have caller ID. There had been one strange call in which he could have sworn he heard a woman sighing, but the click of the telephone had told him that she hadn’t been interested in talking. Probably a telemarketer. At least he remembered what they were.
Bekkah shrugged. “You’re an enigma man. That’s for damn sure.” She was a cute girl with tattoos down her arms and a biker boyfriend named Albert who picked her up every night after work. Albert was a nice guy, but not one Jon ever wanted to get into trouble with. It was probably a good thing he wasn’t attracted to Bekkah.
He sometimes wondered if he had a girlfriend somewhere and why she didn’t call.
When the dreams began, Jon hadn’t been prepared. He’d been having dreams since he’d gotten out of the hospital. They’d been your typical run of the mill “naked-on-the-first-day-of-school” dreams. They didn’t bother him at all. When the new ones started, he knew something was going on. Not only did they bother him, they stayed with him all day, weighing heavily on his mind and his heart. There was something in them, some key that he wasn’t quite grasping, some way to find out what had happened in his former life. But they were just dreams, right? Even during the dream he knew they were dreams, and yet the woman was angry with him. She’d begged him, yelled at him, pleaded with him, to realize that he needed to do something. Not only could he not realize what he needed to do, he fought her at every turn, insisting that it was a dream and that she was nothing more than a dream figment.
He’d made her cry one night and he’d felt guilty about it the whole next day.
They always started the same and he always knew what she was going to ask him to do. The request was easy. He had to walk into The Room with her. The Room, important enough to garner its own capital letters, scared the hell out of him. In fact everything about the dreams scared him. But there was an exhilaration to them as well, and he’d touched the woman in a few of them and the feeling went beyond exhilaration. It was absolute heaven. Then she’d take him to the room and he’d walk away and she’d scream, or beg, or plead, and he’d wake up wanting to cry.
The dreams were becoming more frequent and while Jon wanted to see the woman, the anxiety was pushing him towards the safety of insomnia.