Not all children are safe…
A ribbon winding north, by day it was just another highway with its shoulder pressed against the trees. Newly built, only starting to show signs of wear from chains and the predations of frost. In the dark beneath stars which burned brighter than anything they’d known down south, it was so black that it ate up the light wherever it fell outside of the white guiding lines and the sunken reflectors. It was a road that gave J the creeps.
- from Dark Beneath Stars
Pushing through the reeds was a throng of ghost tourists. They queued to get aboard the ferry, much as they had in life. Eternity was tedious, and it was important, everyone said, to get out and do as much as you could in death. See the world you were no longer a part of.
First on the list of stops was one of those northern ghost towns. An abandoned coal mining settlement on the largest island of the archipelago. Not a town filled with ghosts, that would be gauche, but one empty of the living. Most of the native ghosts, if there were any, tended to keep clear of the settlement for that same reason.
Only gulls, the occasional curious traveler or misguided adventurer, and the thin wild dogs who were dying, but slowly, fading out of the ecosystem, what that it was, yellow eyes gleaming like lamps from beyond the boundaries, haunted it. And the ghosts of course, who came in small groups, fanned out down the avenues where grass was springing up through the frost cracked tarmac, pushed their faces through the mostly intact windows, and just as silently as they had arrived, after a few hours, gathered back on the boat to Longyearbyen when the ghostly whistle blew.
Next: an old electrical testing facility somewhere deep inside Russia. They all felt eager, if you could call it that, for the tour to move on.