...The Mists In Between...(Continuation of the Hub titled "All Board the Quit Smoking Express")
My feet are cold. The night has advanced into a deep darkness. You hover now at the platform, gray mist and smoke pouring around your ankles. You have no feet now as mine are as cold as ice. This time last night you were alive...and well? Weren't you? Then you fell asleep watching Kyra Sedgewick eating a Ho-Ho while you had a lit cigarette in your hand. The sirens came and went. I am thinking of you and how I really didn't know you. Now you stand before me, a ghost, waiting for the ride to begin.
The train is still there waiting for us but it is vacant now. Even the conductor has left us here to wait. The Phantom Queen stands in Her place on the tracks. We go in and have a seat. Newspapers and coffee cups blow gently around. There is no glass in these windows. The dead don't get cold although I always want to believe they do.
I look over at you and I know you have to come back around again. I still wonder if anything I could have said could have made a difference. I know that sometimes just one word can stick in one's mind, reverberating right down into the core of a soul forever. There are two that stuck in mine, two that She promises to remove for me soon enough. For now though, I am thinking about you. The streetlights pour in the window and make the shadows long. You want to talk, but no longer have a voice. I want to talk but I have no idea what to say.
A scraping sound distracts me as you can't hear a sound. I see sparks along the outside of the train and watch as a tall sharp figure trails a long scythe alongside it. I am seated with a ghost so this visitor could be anyone, or anything. I have long since abandoned my fear of the night and its mysterious ways. Shadows like demons stand in the car with us and I look over at you. It appears that you are examining hands that no longer have fingers. The figure stands outside watching over our shoulders. I wonder how long it will be before the ride begins.
...The Gathering of Kindred Souls..
The streetlamp picks up movement in the parking lot. A shrouded figure comes drifting up over the stairs and past the Coke machine. Floating effortlessly it comes into our car and hovers in front of us. The figure outside passes through the wall and they stand nose to nose. I am freezing now, in the presence of new death. The new spirit is unable to move and stares with eyeless sockets into the stream of light from the parking lot beyond. Regular trains sound their horns and pass through.
The scraping figure moves towards the parking lot and vanishes. More shrouded ghosts come, some in pairs, some are throatless while some are amputated. I feel colder each time another enters the drafty car. Still no conductor in sight as the car fills up. The dark night holds its breath as the train begins to move so slowly. The Phantom Queen is waving to me from the end of the platform. I want to get out but I know She will only replay this until I get it right. So I sit among the ghosts as the train moves painfully along.
Some of the ghosts are trying to reach out to me, to touch me but they aren't ready for that kind of advanced behavior yet. I stand and walk to the back of the car where I can see where we have come from but I can't see anything. It is like a huge black cave that we emerged from. The streetlamp, the platform, and the Phantom Queen are no longer. I stand with my hands on the railing and watch as we leave no trace of our journey behind.
I turn back to the car and its passengers now. I am not surprised to see myself alone. There are photographs all over the floor now, pictures of those spirits that had boarded. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters...the first shrouded figure whom I recognized as a grandmother. They all looked pretty happy in their photographs. I noticed that my house fire spirit was not in the pile at the same time that I noticed he was still in the car, off in a corner. He was half in and half out. Apparently learning to pass through walls already I sat back down as the car slowed.
When it stopped completely we were in complete darkness. I could hear talking and whispering and crying. I couldn't find the door out and was too confused to try. As I felt around in the dark my hands found something smooth under them, a cold curved casket lid with flowers upon it blocked me from moving. Then I heard the most disturbing laughter that made my pale skin crawl.
...The Blackened One...
He stood there again, back from the parking lot where he had gathered the newest additions to his collection. His grin was filled with black teeth, eroded by the smoke he blew in and out of his phantasm body. His laughter made my own teeth chatter and I hugged myself for a warmth that wouldn't come. His voice was unmistakable through the tendrils of smoke that drifted out from between his teeth. He was that disgraceful memory that I had carried through most of my life, he was everything that I ever doubted and misunderstood. He twisted around lies and deceit, anger and guilt. He Was The One.
"Till Death Do Us Part." He whispered through sheaths of smoke.
"Over my dead body." I turned away toward the light.