It took him some time to realize he was in an alternate universe.
“Cooper, he knows everything about architecture, from A to Zed.”
“A to Zed.”
“Everyone’s doing that these days. It’s so pretentious.”
“What am I supposed to say?”
“What the hell is Zee?”
The conversation happened several times, over several years. How often does one mention a letter? Finally he realized that people weren’t kidding around, or being pretentious. People in the United States were saying Zed, not Zee. He knew that people once called Z Zee, but no one else recalled such a pronunciation.
“Yeah that would be a totally good name for a letter. Bee Cee, Dee, Zee! You’re funny!”
It had taken so long, there was no way to pinpoint when it had happened. There was no other explanation. Either he was crazy, or he had entered an alternate universe. He kept monitoring his own lucidity and looking for indications that anything else had changed. He never seemed crazy, and nothing else seemed different.
Time travel. What kind of event would change the language slightly in the colonies, without changing anything else? He did research on great American writers, but whenever he came across a name he didn’t recognize, it was too esoteric for him to tell if this was a difference. No immigration history he read failed to comport with his limited knowledge of history. Zee for Zed.
Eventually, he ended up in an institution. His obsessions with an alternate universe became a dark path he couldn’t shake off, and he spent the end of his days lulled by strong drugs. Still he knew that he had once been in a universe where Americans said Zee.
He knew it.