“Think about it, kid,” the old man said. “When have you ever seen a movie, read a book, heard a story in your short little life that didn’t end with the hero alive and safe at the end? Even those that don’t have them going out in a blaze of glory.”

“So what?” said Chris. “This is different.”

“No it isn’t!” the old-timer said, taking Chris by the shoulders and shaking him. “This is your mind, lost and scared, trying to beat things into that mold! You find the Light, you find your death. That’s the view I’m taking.”

“And what if you’re wrong, huh?” Chris said. “What then?” he brushed the man off like a jock in gym class, holding his hands up defensively.

“Seems to me this wood was doing just fine without the Light,” the old man said, in a voice thick with sorrow. “You find your way to safety, you can always come back better prepared.”

“And what if I can’t? What if it’s too late? The Light needs me, you nutcase!”

“No,” the old-timer said. “You need yourself. You go much further, and you’re liable to be dead no matter what’s real or not.”

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