The Autumnal Express

Summary: It rides on the rails between worlds, seeking the change of seasons.

It rides the rails between worlds, traveling with the changing seasons. It stops at the junctions with summer and winter, but diverts midway through its route for the underworld. Each year, it takes the departed from the platform at the last day of summer.

The train was headed by an Art Deco locomotive as sleek as a bullet, colored the gold of autumn leaves. The conductor was dressed in a rich red uniform, as bright as split blood. The cars were colored the rust-brown of ancient bronze, but the caboose was as sanguine as the conductor's uniform. Whenever the engine's whistle blew, a chill gust of wind blew leaves beside it. The specters vanished onto the train, some seating themselves near the windows.

The train left the station, heading down a rusted side track. Around it were the gravestones of a thousand cultures, echoes of all worlds touched by mortality. From the rails were fog-shrouded, crumbling castles and shattered cities of untold eons. The perpetual twilight was illuminated by the light of stars long dead. The detritus of ancient starships crashed beyond the ever-expanding horizon. The engine's whistle became a dirge as it departed across the final veil.

The Autumnal Express returned empty. From an unknown place, a new crew emerged from the train. They set about repairing and refueling it, clearing off the first frosts of winter. The engine's warm hearth erupted in a crackling fire as warm and vibrant as its seasonal colors. It turned around the solstice turn, and headed back from whence it came.