I start to strum on my guitar quietly. I paused and pulled my capo from the guitar's headstock and placed it on the third fret, preparing to start a new song.
The train started to come to a stop and I reached out my free hand, grabbing the pole near me to steady myself so I wouldn't slip out of my seat.
Once the train stopped the silver doors swung open, shadow people streaming in. I quietly watched them as they rushed in, pulling an older man in with them. Once they were all aboard the doors closed and the train pulled forward, the man grabbing one of the ceiling straps to avoid falling.
I didn't recognize him so turned my attention back to my guitar and started playing it again, experimenting with a new tune. I pulled back my feet as the man trudged past and I watched him disappear into the crowds of shadow people.
I jumped slightly and turned back to see Nickolas the conductor standing next to me, his hands held behind his back. "Oh hello, Nickolas."
Nickolas wasn't human, he almost looked like a ghost from an old movie, transparent and pale blue-colored, his face wispy and blurry making it impossible to determine the features. He was always wearing an old-fashioned suit with tall fancy boots and a handsome black hat. He was a gentle man, often talking to others softly and with consideration behind each word.
He was the first person I spoke to when I had come here and we had talked for a bit. He liked talking about the train, he would often talk about it and how it worked with pride.
"Writing a new song?" Nickolas asked.
I nodded. Nickolas seemed to enjoy my music, often claiming that it made the train seem less gloomy. "Yup."
He nodded. "Good good." He turned to leave.
"Hey, Nickolas?" I asked and the conductor turned back to me. I placed my guitar in my lap, dangling my arms over it casually.
"Yes, young man?"
"Why does only one person get on each time we stop?" I asked, looking into his misty face.
"Each stop represents a person's life. Once a person is to enter the station their soul has left their body and getting picked up by us is them actually dying, no chance of return." He explained, itching the side of his face with a gloved hand.
I frowned. "Then what are the shadow people?" I asked. I had been trying to figure this out by myself for a while but his answer had crushed all of my theories that I had scratched together.
Nicholas chuckled. "You are a curious one aren't you."
"Silhouettes are the dreams, hopes, and goals that belong to or are related to a person. They reside in the stations until they are fulfilled or until they died."
"That's why so many of them come on board when a person dies," I said quietly.
Nickolas nodded. "Yes, when a person dies all their dreams tend to die with them. Other people's dreams die too, plans that can never be completed, hopes of marriage, friendship, and families gone."
I nodded in understanding. "Thanks for telling me, Nickolas."
Nickolas nodded. "It's nice to find someone who is so interested." He said as he started to walk away.
I adjusted the guitar and started strumming on it again. The notes floated from the strings, filling the space around me.
The afterlife was nothing like I had thought it would be when I was alive. I loved it here and couldn't wait to share it with my siblings. I just hope they are doing okay without me, that not too many of their dreams were here in the forms of the shadow people around me.