Whether he returned in time for sleep was irrelevant, as Keith enjoyed, and in fact toyed, with the sensations spawned by lack of sleep. He believed that sleep deprivation enhanced his powers of observation, this being the result of chemicals within the brain that were only released during periods of fatigue to create heightened awareness when the body’s strength was depleted and organs swollen and sore due to lack of sleep. The consequent condition in the brain thus allowed for greater intuitive perception of potential threats, and, in turn, a more powerful intuition into whether fight or flight would be the appropriate response, allowing one to conserve energy in the event that neither was not absolutely necessary. He reasoned that, by releasing these chemicals into his brain and his blood-flow, and then not having to process the fight or flight dilemma, he was free to employ the condition in more imaginative and enjoyable endeavors, as if it were some kind of natural narcotic.
When Keith explained this idea to one of the ranch-hands who had commented at how tired he appeared, he just looked at Keith as blankly as when he told the story about Mount Mihara the day before.
Applying his theory over the previous several weeks, he had averaged very few hours of sleep per night. Some nights not sleeping at all.
At some point around 8:30, he finished fumbling around with the contents of his pack and drank his last cup of coffee. Upon satisfying himself that he had all the necessary items for a day in the wilderness, and his notebooks and pens, he buckled it shut and stepped out into the sun. He would not return.
When his apartment was searched later that afternoon, the book that he had been fighting through the night before – Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner – was turned over at page three. There were dozens of unfinished letters scattered around on the floor - to his parents, his sister, and even to his grandfather, who had died years earlier, well before Keith had returned to Hoback Junction.