On reasoning

That day, I found myself on purple grass under a green sky. Two moons and half a sun burned. I was sweating, but when I wiped my forehead, I realised I was sweating blood. I panicked and thought I was approaching death. However, I wasn’t weak, so I ran. I ran past trees with whalebone trunks and leaves that looked like caterpillars. They seemed alive. I ran past a lake brimming with many cats. I tried explaining things. Was I in hell? Did some ‘event’ transport me to another dimension? Was this the afterlife?

I tried bringing everything I saw around me to the level of my reasoning, but I struggled. I sat down and tried to recollect. My memory was fragmented. I remembered a station… a train… a loud thud. Then it dawned on me. I was in a coma after an accident; this was a lucid dream! But then something attacked me. Something feral but invisible. It tore a chunk of flesh out of my left arm. I screamed in pain and yelled for help, but soon drifted out of consciousness. I woke up later to find myself missing an arm. Then I felt a burning sensation where my missing arm was. I hypothesised again and thought it must be phantom pain I was experiencing in a lucid dream because the doctors had amputated my arm in the real world. I still haven’t woken up from my coma.

As the days passed, I felt hunger and thirst and drank from the lake of cats. The water tasted like piss. I then fashioned a weapon out of metal reeds I’d collected (I can only call them that). I slew two cats and ate them raw. They tasted like fish and didn’t bleed when I sliced them open. Then, I fell into a pattern of sorts. I avoided any strange animal I came upon. And I saw many—three-horned rhinoceroses with gills, elephants without tusks and tails, cougars with blue coats, walking on seven legs. I hoped that the invisible predator would never return.

Years, or what seemed like years, passed, and my reasoning was failing. My instincts, however, had sharpened. As I explored the strange biosphere, I encountered both things and occurrences with a supernatural or surreal aspect. I wondered if aliens had abducted me and placed me under observation in an unnatural habitat to see how I’d respond. But that didn’t explain how I’d healed from having my arm torn off. Had they changed me before placing me here? Had they tampered with my biochemistry and my human nature? Was I becoming an alien myself? Is this how they captured other species and transformed them into creatures like themselves?

Then one day, a memory flashed in my head. A memory of a hospital. And I thought that perhaps everything I’d known was a hallucination. I was just a mentally ill man in an asylum living out a terrifying, make-believe reality, oblivious to the truth. But that posed other questions. How could I have known the actual world unless I’d experienced it at some point? Was I a functioning individual who had a psychotic breakdown because of a personal catastrophe? Then I wondered if anything was real. We spend our lives looking for answers, but what if there aren’t questions to begin with? What if some sentient being dreamt us all into existence, and when its dream turned into a nightmare, earthquakes, plagues, and train accidents occurred? What if little dreams within this being’s dream made each life? And when a dream within the dream took a surreal turn, realities got turned inside out. This was an absurd explanation, or perhaps a profound one, I don’t know, but it was the best I could think of.

Now, I still live here in this strange place. Centuries, or what seems like centuries, have passed. I still sweat blood and don’t have an arm. I look at my reflection in the lake of cats, and it looks the same. I haven’t aged. I’ve stopped praying for help. The invisible monster never returned. I hunt, eat and survive.

3 responses to “On reasoning”

  1. I remember reading this a few years ago when you posted it on your other site and it’s one that has always stuck with me. Occasionally I remember it and (as now) I think, damn that’s some fine writing! Seriously, one of my favorites. The imagery and tone is perfect.

    • Thank you so much Tara. I remember you leaving a comment on the old blog. I’m glad you recognised it. I edited it a little because the earlier version was a little too scattered (if that’s the right word!) and posted it. I’m always fascinated by topics like the limits of reasoning, free will, determinism, time, etc.

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