I PLAYED THEM SOME DYLAN

Not many choose this journey, I hope you aren’t disappointed, it’s quite rare, I’ve only heard of it, myself, I’ve never sold one, please do understand that we cannot guarantee your satisfaction, nor a refund, he said, all of which I heard but did not particularly care, this is the trip I wanted, he strapped the glasses on, my chair leaned back, we will feed you intravenously, he said, which I already knew, and then it began, I was a tech billionaire, I spent my fortune on a spacecraft, which was now ready to launch, I was alone inside it, just me, there will be others you meet, he said, his final words despoiling the start of my fantasy, and these may be unfriendly, uncaring, possibly violent, I tapped my fingers, eager, nervous, a bit agitated that he hadn’t yet pressed play, and there will be stretches of time, he continued, depressingly long stretches, where there will be only empty space, mostly darkness, the tone in his voice unaligned with my joy, ages of time alone, no noise, no sights, no one else, I was well aware that this was unlike what most others want, those who seek to interact with an endless stream of people, their eyes wide, screens everywhere, never a quiet moment, never a dull moment, but not me, my brain yearned for this, and I suddenly realized I was careening through space, the concierge’s words no longer heard, everyone was gone, everything nearly so, like a hot bath in the dark but neverending, days, weeks, months, years passed, I finally exited the solar system, still more empty space, more beckoning twinkling, now a decade gone, I was happy, age 55 now, I came upon my first habitable world, I decided to stop, they looked enough like me, the few differences stark but manageable, I played them some Dylan, unsure of how else to greet them, it was a soaking rain on their world, not cold, it felt good, I wondered how many years had passed since I had last bathed, and when I had stopped wearing clothes, did this matter to them, I wondered also if they would kill me and wondered then if I would kill them, I spent several years among them, mostly happy, before moving on, not sure exactly why, just felt like I needed to keep going, I may have fathered a child there, it all became a blur as the years drifted by, me back in my ship, sailing across the near-infinite blackness, alone with my thoughts once more, heaven.