The train has hidden at the edge of the forest for thirty-seven years. The triplets are tired of waiting for it to be found.
Before today, Sinclair has never dared to venture far enough to find the train, but he figures that knowing of his spectral eternity means that he has the right to. The trees cling to his back as he reaches the train, though the air is silent; the leaves no longer crackle under his feet. Amongst the silence, Sinclair almost misses being alive.
He tugs at the door to no avail. He then pulls at the window nearest to him, managing to roll it partway down. A sharp, angular boy climbs out and climbs up to sit on the top of the train. "Hello," he calls down to the ground, his voice a low rumble that breaks up the still night. "New to this land, I see?" Sinclair nods. He's unsure whether the boy means the forest or death, for they are as spectral as each other.
There's a flash of metal illuminated by the moonlight. The boy pushes it off the top of the train, and it falls to the ground with a thud. Peering closer, Sinclair sees that it's a set of keys. He looks back up at the boy to an explanation but is answered only with a shake of the head.
Sinclair reaches for the keys. The voice calls down again. "Open the door, will you? My sisters want to come out." Sinclair does as he is asked. The door creaks as it opens, but nothing happens. "They're in the compartments either side of us," the boy calls again. "You could break the windows, but you're still new to death and even though it can't kill you, I'd prefer it if you didn't start bleeding on me."
Sinclair steps inside the train. Picking his way through the chaos on the floor, he reaches the left door. It takes him three attempts, but he opens it. There's a girl at the back of the compartment, pointing a long pink umbrella at him as if it's a sword. "What are you doing in here?" she yells.
Sinclair raises his hands. "Your brother told me you were stuck in here. Told me to let you out," he replies. The girl lowers the umbrella, before rushing past him and out of the train. Through the open doors, Sinclair hears the exclamations of delight as siblings are reunited.
He moves across the compartments to the other door. This one opens more easily, and as he pulls the door back, he's met with a girl, standing in the doorway. She regards him for a few seconds before hearing the cacophony outside and leaves to pursue it. Sinclair follows her out.
He finds the three of them outside, on top of the train together. "Okay," he mutters. "Anyone going to tell me what this is about?"
The girls roll their eyes in unison, but the boy actually answers. "I'm Phillip. This is Emma and Olivia. We died when the train crashed nearly forty years ago. Ever since, we've been here, stuck. No spectre ever deigns to come this far, so here we died. Here our bodies returned to the earth. Here we were trapped. Until you came."
Sinclair doesn't say anything. He feels like he should, but what is there to say to this? So he waits until the aggressive one, still holding that pink umbrella that sticks out like a sore thumb in the forest, gets frustrated with the silence.
"Look," she says. "We've been here for years. You've been here for what, a day?"
"I'm not quite sure," he replies. "Death came for me, and I figured that the dark places seemed like a good place to find more of my kind. I assume that I haven't been dead long, though." It's true - the world hasn't changed since he last remembers it.
"Not everyone gets stuck here, it seems," the other girl replies. "Otherwise there'd be a train full of ghosts and not just the three of us. I wonder why." There's a silence whilst they all try to come up with explanations, and there are a few, but in the end, they agree it doesn't matter.
Dawn is breaking when the triplets float down from the train and land softly on the ground. The four of them stand facing one another, aligned like compass points. They agree to go out into the world, to guide and help the people on this earth, alive or not. They agree that perpetuity of spectating, however it came about, is a gift. They agree not to waste it.
After that is done, the four of them say their goodbyes; there are many people in this world, and it is far better for them to leave each other. They know that they will not see each other again, but there is a comfort in the prospect of new horizons and new experiences.
The four of them turn away from each other and begin to drift away, guided by the wind to wherever the currents of the world will take them. Perhaps they'll find others along the way. Perhaps there are millions and millions and millions of people already doing what the four of them have vowed to do. They don't know. Endless time will tell their stories now, when flesh and bone cannot do so anymore.
So begins their eternity, saved from perpetual loneliness by the fact that they now have some sort of purpose in this fruitful and barren world.
No, they won't waste it.