...It was dark.
I couldn't see anything—not even a single ray of light.
...It was quiet.
I couldn't hear anything—not even my own heartbeats.
...It was empty.
I couldn't feel anything—not even my own existence.
There was literally nothing.
This must be what all living things will have to experience eventually—
—This is death.
Is there life after death?—I guess this is something you will never know until you experience it on your own.
...Where am I?
What am I doing here?
What is this sound?
... This is ...a train?
"Hello there." Amidst the gray scenery, an unfamiliar voice greeted me.
"You're new here aren't you? There's always a new passenger appearing now and then, so I knew it right away,"
... The person that greeted me was none other than a shadow. Or rather—that was the only thing I could make out of it.
"Don't be alarmed," The shadow says in a soothing voice. "I'm sure you've already realized that you no longer belong to that world."
"Don't worry," It repeats. "you'll get used to it quickly." Pause. "Its the same with all of us."
"We're currently on a journey,"
... A journey? What kind of journey? Where are we going to?
As if reading my mind: "No one knows where exactly this train will take us to. There are those who will just wait patiently until it reaches its destination—and there are those who are trying to figure it out by talking to the other passengers, such as me." The shadow says, "Speaking of which, I have yet to introduce myself, haven't I?
"My name is Little Mary—you can just call me Mary." The shadow stops. "Of course that isn't my real name. As you can see, we are nothing more than shadows of what we used to be—without names, memories nor our own bodies. It is difficult to figure out who is who, so I thought I could give my self a name—how about you?"
"Perhaps you also want to give yourself a name?"
...Wind. That was the first thing that came to me.
"Wind?" Mary asks, intrigue. "That's a peculiar name—but I guess I am not one to did you call yourself that?"
Why? That's a good question. "...I don't remember."
"Don't worry, that's normal. No one here remembers anything." Mary said.
"..." I have nothing to say.
"In any case, its nice to meet you, Wind. I'll be at the 6th seat. Feel free to visit me anytime you like." With that said, Mary left.
...What should I do now? I easily sees a window beside me. I tried peeking out of the window. There was nothing—other than the thick white mist that extends beyond nothingness. It is truly a sight out of this world. I pull back. Maybe I should walk around the train. That's what I did.
I don't know anything about this train. I'd better talk to Mary before asking other people. I believe she's at the 6th Seat. I easily recognizes her, but, in front of her sat a child-like shadow.
"Oh, hello there, Wind!" Mary greets. "How are you doing?"
"I'd like to ask some questions." I say.
"Sure, what do you want to know?" Mary waits patiently for me to ask a question.
"Where do you think we will end up?"
"That's a good question. There's a myth regarding a train that carries spirits to the other world—isn't that just like what is happening to us now?" Mary muses. "I guess what awaits us at the end of this little ride is the afterlife—at the very least that's what I would like to believe. Everyone had different answers for themselves. You probably do too."
"Anything else?" I nod.
"How many people are riding this train?"
"There are five, including you in this passenger car last time I checked. However, this number might change at any time—as shadows can appear and disappear without notice. I've heard from previous passengers that one can only stay at this train for a maximum of 12 hours. Even though we are riding the same train, each of us is bound for a different destination." Mary trails off. "I wonder what awaits us at the end of our journey. By the way, this is going to be a long ride..." She looks at me—at least I think she did. "You might want to talk to the other passengers in the mean time."
"That's a good idea." I agree. Maybe I should start with the one sitting opposite of Mary.
The child-shadow look at me, "..."
"Leiyu—call me Leiyu." The child interrupts. "You must be Wind. Mary has told me about you. Unlike her, I am new to this place so I don't think I can help much. However, I shall answer to the best of my abilities. So—what do you want to know?"
"Are you a boy or a girl?"
"I don't have a clue." Leiyu replies nonchalantly. "How about you? Do you remember your own gender?"
"I don't really think it matters here anyway." Leiyu continues. "Gender means nothing when we forsake our earthly body—its all about soul, the purest form of oneself. In a place like this, you can literally be what you want to be."
"Do you remember anything about your past?" I ask.
"No, not at all," Leiyu says. "This must be the work of Lady Meng."
"She is the Lady of Forgetfulness in the Chinese Mythology. She brews herb and pond water together to create the Five-Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness. It only takes one sip to forget who you are—all of this to ensure that every one of us is reborn with a blank state. This is probably why no one can remember their past life."
"..." I do not know what to say.
"Isn't it strange?" Leiyu chuckles. "I've forgotten everything about myself, and yet, I can still remember a mythology—that might or might not even exist." Leiyu looks out the window and I take it as a cue to leave. Nodding to Mary, I left.
I walk to the 7th seat. A shadow of a man sat alone there. "Excuse me..."
"Who the hell are you?" I look at him blankly.
"What? Me? You can call me Darwin, I guess." The shadow sighs. "Its a random name, I know, but I couldn't think of anything better. Besides, Lil' Mary said it's better to have any name than none after all."
"I'm Wind." I say.
"Oh, Windie, glad to know you—is what I'd like to say but . . . that's probably stupid especially when we are on some disturbingly creepy train." He sighs loudly again. "Everyone here comes and goes so quickly. It's pretty pointless to go around meeting and talking to people. Not to mention, they all go 'poof' whenever they feel like it. Like when you ride on a train or a plane, most people would rather sit quietly and wait, instead of wasting their time talking to people they will never meet again. As a matter of fact, I might disappear anytime soon. So you can save your breath from talking to me.
I blink, "I see ..." But I stay.
"What? Why are you still here?" Darwin demands when I make no move to leave.
"Nothing in particular."
"You're an odd one, but ... I like that." If I can see him, he may be grinning. So I left.
The only other seat here is the 9th seat. Another shadow of a man stands there.
"What are you doing?" The shadow asks. "Oh, a new one?"
"Bluebird—that's what everyone calls me here." He says in reply. "Sorry, I am a little busy now. Let's talk later."
"Okay." I say quietly and left. I think I've talked to everyone.
...This train is ... "What a peaceful place—it's nice to be here." I murmurs quietly to myself.
"Hello." Someone says from behind me. It is yet another unfamiliar voice.
Wait a second. . . I thought there were only five people in this train. Little Mary, Leiyu, Darwin, Bluebird and me. . . There shouldn't be another person.
. . .Who could it be?
I turn. I see a shadow of a young boy.
. . .!An extraordinary feeling shrouds me—a sensation like no other ...
I instantly know that he is different from everyone else.
"What's your name?" The shadow of a young boy asks me.
"Wind." I reply.
"Wind?" The shadow questions. "You mean like the breeze?"
"What a coincidence," He says. "My name is Wing."
"Yes, the 'wing' that allows one to fly to the sky," He nods. "I didn't think we would share such similar names."
". . .It feels like a matching pair." I say.
"Yes, Wind and Wing—I like that." He pauses. "I wonder if you'll laugh at me if I say I feel a strange connection to you. Its life you're my missing half . . ."
I am speechless. I won't laugh. On the contrary, I can't laugh because—that's how I feel too.
That was when ...
... The clock within me begin to tick ...