The Narrator wakes up in Tyler’s dilapidated home, where he’s been crashing lately. He notices a condom floating in the toilet, and remembers that the night before, he dreamed about having sex with Marla.
The Narrator’s life has its own “dream logic.” He dreams about things that then seem to come true, or else, it’s suggested, his dreams aren’t really dreams at all.
Later, the Narrator reports, Tyler told him what happened: the previous night, while the Narrator was asleep, Marla called from a hotel. Tyler answered the phone and learned that Marla, whom he’d never met before, was dying by suicide. Tyler called the police and ran over to the hotel, saving her life. If he had just let Marla die, the Narrator thinks, “none of this would have happened.”
How Marla gets Tyler’s house number isn’t explained, as Palahniuk drops more hints about Tyler’s true nature. Marla, it’s shown, has continued to flirt with death, hurting herself by overdosing (on Xanax, we’ll later learn). The passage also reminds us that Marla is, supposedly, to blame for “all of this.” We still don’t know how, which makes the Narrator’s apparent willingness to let Marla die seem pointlessly cruel.
Instead, Tyler went to the hotel and found Marla looking weak and sleepy. He pulls Marla out of her room while the police arrive downstairs. Tyler takes Marla back to his home, where Marla tells Tyler that she has to stay up all night, or she’ll die. They have sex, and the next day, Tyler wakes up to find that Marla has left, and he tells the Narrator what happened.
Tyler “saves” Marla, not by taking her to the hospital (he actually keeps her out of the hospital) but by having sex with her to ensure that she stays awake all night. Notice that Tyler, the Narrator, and Marla are never in the same room together.