The Phantom Train: Killing Yourself with Grief
They opened up not too long ago, these Phantom Trains, one in each major city across the USA and Western Europe (China and Japan said a firm no, far too superstitious to allow such an abomination). The research and construction were funded entirely by an eccentric billionaire who had watched his wife die in a horrible and completely avoidable car accident nearly 20 years ago (they say he held her hand until the ambulance arrived and that he watched the life literally drain out of her, her pupils dulling by the second until her lifeless gaze became permanently seared into his brain).
Since opening they have more than made up the initial investment, both despite and thanks to their exorbitant fees. $10,000USD and half an hour off your life span for an hour with a loved one seem a reasonable price when you’re crushed by grief.
No one is sure how it’s done, the science a more closely guarded secret than nuclear codes. The only explanation given by the development team is that the deduction of half hour off your life span somehow gives life, allowing the spirit to appear fully realized with coherent thought and with their complete memories. The only thing not possible is touch. You can’t touch the ghosts or they disappear (no refunds).
The religious community has been torn apart over the morals of contacting the dead. Are the spirits being pulled from Heaven? What is the impact of trapping of a soul for an hour? And what about reincarnation? Attendance is dwindling across all the major religions. Christians and Muslims alike, brought together by the conflicting feelings of Faith and the in your face methods of Science. At least four of the Phantom Trains have been bombed, allowing the visitors a more permanent place beside their dead loved ones.
Regardless, the Phantom Trains have become a more popular attraction than Disney World and the 7 Wonders combined. Many people have dumped their entire life savings into one visit, even more have gone into crippling debt.
The creator is said to have given up years of his life, already looking decades past his 45 years. He is rumored to have a Phantom Train in his home where he sits for hours talking to his dead wife, so driven by grief that he doesn’t care about his own diminishing life. His closest friends have spoken out against the project, cautioning people against paying to kill themselves (slowly but steadily, those hours add up). But still, he looks happy.
After all, if the grief is stopping you from truly living then why not let it kill you faster?