Reality is a story the mind tells itself. An artificial structure conjured into being by the calcium ion exchange of a million synaptic firings. A truth so strange it can only be lied into existence. And our minds can lie. Never doubt it...
(No, I...I can't - )
Zampano knew from the get go that what's real or not real doesn't matter here. The consequences are the same.
I'm caught in it, must run and hide from it, but I still can't move. In fact, the more I try to escape, the less I can breathe. The more I try to hold on, the less I can focus. Something's leaving me. Parts of me.
Everything falls apart.
Stories heard but not recalled. (consequences)
Words filling my head. Fragmenting like artillery shells. Shrapnel, like syllables, flying everywhere. Terrible syllables. Sharp. Cracked. Traveling at murderous speed. Tearing through it all in a very, very bad perhaps even irreparable way. (words. noneofthemaremineandyettheyallaremine)
He returns the next night, crawling back, bleeding to death, claw marks on his back. With his last breath he says -
"Mr. Patel, a tiger is an incredibly dangerous wild animal. How could you survive in a lifeboat with one? It's -"
'Within the Jungle lives a Tiger, who is twelve feet long, obsidian claws, and has fire in its eyes...but it is just a Tiger and it bleeds.'
"In a lifeboat? Come on, Mr. Patel, it's just too hard to believe!"
After that he dies.
"And you expect to find a tiger in a Mexican jungle! It's laughable, just plain laughable. Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Oh, it's still scary and they take precautions from the huge Tiger...
"We just don't believe there was a tiger living in your lifeboat."
...but it's just a Tiger.
I didn't know words could be so heavy.
Eventually I manage to speak again. "Am I real?"
He barely even thinks about it. He doesn't need to. "Look in the folder. At the end. See it?"
In large scrawled letters on the blank side of a beer coaster, it's written. His answer is written there in black ink. It says, Of course you're real - like any thought or any story. It's real when you're in it.