I remembered his words.
You have to learn from that Black Glasses guy and be more ruthless.
I looked at the herdsman. He must have been frightened by my expression because he didn’t dare say a word. Although I didn’t understand what was going on, I knew I had found another bug.(1)
I was a logical person, so I knew that the reason why I felt so uncomfortable these past few days was because there were bugs in all the logic.
In real life, once there was a bug in the logic, you would know right away that someone was lying to you. When I didn’t have confidence in myself before, I always thought that it was all in my head and I was just thinking too much, but then I found out later that that wasn’t the case. Any problems in the logic must mean that someone lied to you.
But the logic was too confusing, which led me to having a certain state of mind where I hoped to obey only the big logic while my body would automatically ignore the small logical problems. But with my college degree, I had to tell myself that this line of thinking was wrong. All contradictions were equal, so as long as there was any contradiction, there would be problems.
“Learn from that Black Glasses guy and be more ruthless,” I repeated. “That’s what you told me.” This was the contradiction that I ignored.
“Yes, I told you that back then because I heard you tell his story.”
“No, no, no. Your accent was too strong in that context, so I failed to take notice,” I said to him. “Based on the context of that sentence in Chinese and your tone at that time, you must not have heard of him from a story, but actually heard it from him yourself. The same thing happened between you and me.”
I looked at the herdsman. He was in a great deal of pain, but I didn’t see any signs in his expression that he was trying to deceive me.
“No, I… fuck, brother, what are you talking about? You really told me.”
“You’re too real,” I said to him while looking at his vivid appearance. “You’re almost perfect in every detail. In fact, you’re the second realest hallucination I’ve ever experienced. Moreover, you have a huge advantage because I’m stuck in a heavenly gift loop and don’t know what happened in the past, so you can prevaricate all the bugs with the reason that ‘I told you before. You and I met in the previous memory’.”
When I said these words, did I have any confidence? I didn’t, but I was very good at deceiving people. I had already lied at this point, so I had no other choice but to keep lying to the end.
“I was too anxious. I was too anxious to follow my friends and save them,” I said to him. “So, when I encountered the first difficult problem, I didn’t pay much attention to it. In fact, Black Glasses also taught me that people in our generation who play a lot of games always think that the initial level is easy, and it will get more difficult as things progress, but in fact, this isn’t the case. Many times, the first level you encounter is the most difficult one.”
The herdsman touched his forehead, “Just kill me, ok? I get it. You’ve been looking for water to continue torturing me. You’ve already given it to me nine times, so now you’re going to start playing new tricks, right?”
I remained quiet. If this was a hallucination in front of me, then it was a perfect one. I thought I had broken through the hallucination three times, but it immediately re-formed into a new one.
Plus, there were a lot of effective factors, such as Brother Gan Shan and Xiao Hua’s cell phone. These were all symbols that I especially trusted.
This thing, like an A.I., was perfecting the hallucination it gave me again and again. Every time I managed to break through, it would make a correction and continue once more.
If this was a hallucination—if I was in reality now and discovered that it was a hallucination—how should I try to break through?
I started to think in reverse. What did that big-ass mechanics professor back in college used to say?
“If everything that makes me certain that the world was real is actually fake and is being used to confuse me and make me feel more at ease, then all the bugs and flaws, in turn, should be real. In other words, someone is trying to save me. That person keeps making flaws to save me.”
But how did they make the flaws, and how did these flaws appear in my hallucinations?
I looked at the herdsman and said, “Brother, let’s analyze it. Say… say this world is a hallucination and there’s a thing in this world, which is intelligent. If this thing doesn’t want me to leave here, will it use any means necessary to prevent me from leaving this hallucination? In that case, the things it created for me will definitely do their best to prevent me from seeing, remembering, or learning about it from others. For example, if your neighbor’s daughter dies, will you keep taking your daughter to the neighbor’s house? Will you?”
“I have no neighbors. My neighbors are sheep.”
“Let’s try and figure this out. What is this thing? What won’t it let me do? You might be feeling devastated, but that doesn’t matter right now. You have to theorize with me; otherwise, I’ll treat you as a hallucination.”
The herdsman looked at me and frowned, “Brother, I said you were so awesome when you went to find water, and then you made me drink water nine times. If you start analyzing now, I bet you’ll make me analyze nine times after this.”
“No, I’m really awesome this time,” I said to him. “In this world, the only things that won’t deceive people are logic and the law of cause and effect. I’ve gone through so many cycles, but always given you water in each one. If giving you water prevents me from doing one thing, what would it be?”
The herdsman looked at me without answering, so I continued to press him, “What would it be?”
“I don’t know.”
“No, you do know. The answer is very simple. If I keep giving you water, then I’ll be stopped from doing one thing. What exactly is it?” I looked at the herdsmen and asked.
This was a question anyone could answer.
It was to prevent me from going deep into Juxian Hall. Every time, just as I was about to enter Juxian Hall, I would turn back and go save him.
It was very simple.
The herdsman’s face twitched and he didn’t speak, but he looked so innocent, as if his mind was stuck.
I couldn’t rely on micro-expressions, nor my usual sensitivity.
I took a deep breath. The only thing I could rely on was logic. If a person was an extremely good liar, logic was the only way to figure out their flaws.
There was something in this hallucination, and its main goal was to prevent me from getting any relevant hints about the way out.
So, this herdsman would never be able to tell me.
But I couldn’t expose such a thing, because if I did, a new round of hallucinations would begin immediately.
He couldn’t speak, or say the answer. If he did, it would be tantamount to this hallucination system “automatically” pointing out where the exit was.
In the same way, the fact that he couldn’t say it meant that my inference was correct and the exit was in Juxian Hall.
Plus, I had a strong gut feeling.
I turned and began looking at the corpse with the door on its face.
“I’m telling you, you’re really amazing. I never thought that when I broke through one hallucination, I’d immediately enter another one. I have a new understanding of this place,” I said. “However, there must be someone outside who’s trying to save me, and their hint to me has been very clear. I have to go into this face door, even if I think it’s absolutely impossible for me to enter it.”
After I finished speaking, I closed my eyes and began pushing myself into that face door.
Almost at the same time, the scene before my eyes instantly turned into one where I was holding a mummy in my hand. Then it suddenly morphed into one with an ivory pagoda in a forest before suddenly changing into a scene where I was trapped in a crevice and a mummy’s hand was reaching out to me.
Every change felt like I was coming back to my senses, making me think that I had broken out of the hallucination, but I remained motionless. I continued imagining that there was a face door in front of me while constantly strengthening my belief.
Then, I returned to Juxian Hall, and saw that the corpse with the face door began to move—it was undergoing a corpse transformation.
My heart beat violently in my chest, and then I heard the herdsman behind me say, “Please don’t go. I really don’t want to stay here alone. Turn around and look at me. If you really think this is a hallucination and that’s why you want to give up on me and go by yourself, then look back at me, brother. We’re good friends, no?”
All of my hair was standing on end as I felt something crawl up behind me. It must not be a person, but some unknown monster.
Without an ounce of hesitation, I took a symbolic step toward that face door.
In an instant, a strong fishy odor enveloped me from all sides, and then everything around me turned black. I began to cough violently, and my throat was filled with the taste of blood.
Then I heard Black Glasses’ voice say, “Didn’t I tell you to be ruthless? Why did it take you so long to listen to me?”
(1) He means like computer bug.
Ahoy! Black Glasses sighting!
Lawd, how long has it been? hahahaha