"You want to know how this all ends?" Chloe asked, eyes closed.
"Buy the rights," she whispered.
And as the final crashing verse of 'The Last Day of Our Acquaintance' boomed out, I faded away and my image overlapped and dissolved into an image of myself years later sitting in a hotel bar in Milan where I was staring at a mural.
I'm drinking a glass of water in the empty hotel bar at the Principe di Savoia and staring at the mural behind the bar and in the mural there is a giant mountain, a vast field spread out below it where villages are celebrating in a field of long grass that blankets the mountains dotted with tall white flowers, and in the sky above the mountain it's morning and the sun is spreading itself across the mural's frame, burning over the small cliffs and the low-hanging clouds that encircle the mountain's peak, and a bridge strung across a pass through the mountains will take you to any point that you need to arrive at, because behind that mountain is a highway and along that highway are billboards with answers on them-who, what, where, when, why-and I'm falling forward but also moving up toward the mountain, my shadow looming against its jagged peaks, and I'm surging forward, ascending, sailing through dark clouds, rising up, a fiery wind propelling me, and soon it's it's night and stars hang in the sky above the mountain, revolving as they burn.
The stars are real.
The future is that mountain.