Header image by Love Krittaya under Public Domain.
I dreamt there was an additional stage to life, between higher education and work. No…it was replacing work. It was more than work; it would become our lives, our pride. I remember being with a somewhat sparse group of people I’d seen earlier in my life – it was surprising how few people had made it this far. We stood there at what would be a small train station in the waking world, murmuring amongst one another both apprehensively and excitedly. This station was higher up in the sky than any others, perhaps the only one that could be described as being in the sky. Here, trains were only one of the types of transport. It was seemingly a gamble as to what type of transport would arrive down the line and none of us were feeling too picky. Finally, the first transport arrived; the simplest of simple transports, a series of carts linked together. The carts were more than simple, however: they contained red velvet seats on the inside in addition to being big enough to contain several people comfortably. It didn’t pull up far enough for everyone to be able to get onto any part of the train, confusing seemingly everyone on the platform.
We made our way down the platform slowly but only a handful of people got into the carts before they started to move. In a panic, several more people got in. When I went to get in, the cart sped up and simply faded away into thin air as it moved along the rails and I fell through the phantasm onto the rails. Getting back up, I noticed that not everybody had gotten into the carts although the crowd (could it be called a crowd?) had been thinned out considerably. Disappointed, I left the station and I walked. I didn’t know where I was going but I walked anyway; I didn’t know it at the time but some of the people at the station decided to join me. I walked through the whole city. I remember one particularly sloped street, on a 45 degree incline…it felt like a coastal town to me. By time I finally stopped walking I was in a field, with trees at the end of the field no matter where I looked and yellow grass that was nearly knee-deep. I could hear the trees and the grass rustle in the wind. Only one person was still walking this far with me and it was someone I knew anyway.
Before there was any time to discuss anything we heard a smooth metallic sound descending from the sky, levelling to the ground. It was another series of carts. The rails materialised in the grass, only half visible. We started to run towards the trees as the cart came our way. I shouted “get in!” as the cart appeared by our side and started to shimmer and fade. But we got in (in different carts, but that didn’t matter, I couldn’t talk to him from where I was comfortably anyway). The cart was seemingly solid though; was it still a ghost? Was I a ghost? I could definitely still see it. There was definitely a lot of leg room and comfort, so I wasn’t complaining. Somewhere in the sky, moving straight forward, I saw a series of carts on a track parallel to mine moving forward, catching up with mine until it was side by side with mine, pulling ahead at times and staying behind others in order to remain side by side.
My family was in one of these, in the back cart. I could hear them talking. I could hear them talking about someone but it didn’t sound familiar. I joined in the conversation anyway and the topic switched towards things I was familiar with. Hurtling through the sky at high speed, we had a pleasant conversation about all range of topics. I noticed that all the lampposts were passing right through the sides and corners of their cart, among other objects – this confused me but I gave it little further thought. The conversation ended before we got separated; I could hear them again talking about someone I wasn’t familiar with. It turned into an argument and it was still going by the time their cart pulled far ahead of mine, disappearing into the air with the rails as my route started moving down.
I started to wonder, with all of my concentration this time, about why things were passing right through the cart; when I looked to the side I could see the lampposts were in fact passing through the sides – there was no doubt in my mind now, the cart was definitely ghostly. I couldn’t say the same for me though, or at least I didn’t feel that way. The objects in my path were getting closer to the centre of the cart now. They were starting to phase through the corners of my shoulders now. I was relieved that I was at least ghostly but I didn’t feel any more comfortable about things passing through me. As a species that lives a corporeal life, I generally have an aversion to things coming my way at high speed out of nowhere. I could see that the rails themselves were ghostly too; they were passing right through the objects phasing through me and the cart. Ahead I could see a large metal post directly in the path of where I was going. I recoiled and desperately hoped I would pass through it safely. I did, and it felt exhilarating. By now, I was nearly at street level. The cart and I moved right through the walls of a shop. I enjoyed phasing through things; to no longer have to worry about physical matters, to enjoy life freely.
I received a rude awakening when I slammed into the wall at full force, falling onto the shelf and then to the floor as the rails streaked away. The person at the till inhaled air through his teeth then asked me if I was okay as someone who was likely waiting in line to buy something helped me up. I laughed at what just happened and told him I was okay. He didn’t seem too surprised…had this happened to other people a lot before? Regardless, I moved down the shop and found a canteen area. I bought a meal and ate glumly…how many other people here could have had that happen to them too? How do I know that they weren’t stuck here and I was just another one of them? Someone offered to take my empty plate, someone I’d known years earlier. Had he taken up working here after being dropped off here against his will, at the cost of a broken nose? I decided to follow him for lack of any other better options. There was someone here washing up that he was clearly friends with. Nobody I knew, though. I chatted with both of them briefly before exiting the building into an unfamiliar town.
It was slightly more rural than the one I was used to, somewhere I would usually refer to as “the middle of nowhere” while passing through. It was what my home town was like decades ago. I walked once again without destination. I remember nothing of this journey but by nightfall I was at another train station…alone in the sky at night, waiting. How sorrowful. Without a sound a rail materialised, above my head this time. It was some kind of…hang glider? Some kind of flying thing? It was glowing. It didn’t seem to want to come off the rail so I got in. A flying suit? The rail sped up until I was launched forward under the stars. I moved upwards, soaring, further still, levelling out and now moving forwards. Not downwards? I was flying. Multicoloured lights hovered in the distance. I was flying! I was flying and I hadn’t done so for years, and now I was doing it again! I laughed giddily as I passed several more lights. I could see fireworks in the distance now. I was going to get to my destination now, corporeal or non-corporeal and at higher speeds than ever before. I made the journey and I enjoyed ever second of it. I remember collapsing to the floor at the termination of all rails, out of breath, adrenaline running through every inch of my body. I couldn’t hear anyone although maybe they were heading to another place anyway. Even if they were here they probably got here in the daytime. I raised my head to look up at where I would be for the next few years. My vision went black, and I woke up.