Chapter 4 begins with Brian waking up from a terrible dream.
It is evident that he became unconscious in the aftermath of the crash. In Brian's dream, he sees his mother sitting in a station wagon with a strange man. The man is not Brian's father. Brian's terrible secret is that he was privy to his mother's infidelity.
The text tells us that Brian wakes up screaming and realizes that he has survived the crash. However, he is in terrible pain, and his entire body aches. Exhausted by this ordeal, Brian eventually passes out again.
When Brian wakes up, dawn is almost breaking. He finds that his head is throbbing with pain, and his body still aches. The experience of surviving seems hardly real to Brian. He is caught in a surrealistic nightmare, and things get worse for him: a swarm of mosquitoes set upon him and begin biting him.
Before long, Brian's eyes are swollen shut. He tries to protect himself with his torn windbreaker, but it does little good. The mosquitoes torment him until the sun rises above the horizon.
When Brian is able to survey his surroundings, he discovers how lucky he is to be alive: if the plane had descended to the left, it would have crashed against a rocky ridge, instead of the lake. As he looks out at the lake, he sees hundreds of fish jumping out of the water. Brian is fascinated with the scene before him, as it is so unlike anything he has seen in the city.
The quietness of nature is deceptive, however. When he is still, Brian hears the sounds of insects humming, birds singing, and fish splashing. Eventually, Brian settles down against a tall pine. He is still shell-shocked, and as exhaustion overwhelms him, Brian succumbs to sleep.