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The narrator inexplicably finds himself in a grim and joyless city, the "grey town", where it rains continuously, even indoors, which is either Hell or Purgatory depending on whether or not one stays there. He eventually finds a bus-stop for those who desire an excursion to some other place (the destination later turns out to be the foothills of Heaven). He waits in line for the bus and listens to the arguments between his fellow passengers. As they await the bus's arrival, many of them quit the line in disgust before the bus pulls up. When it arrives, the bus is driven by the figure of Jesus Christ, who we learn later is the only One great enough to descend safely to hell. Once the few remaining passengers have boarded, the bus flies upward, off the pavement into the grey, rainy sky.
The ascending bus breaks out of the rain clouds into a clear, pre-dawn sky, and as it rises its occupants bodies change from being normal and solid into being transparent, faint, and vapor-like. When it reaches its destination the passengers on the bus – including the narrator – are gradually revealed to be ghosts. Although the country they disembark into is the most beautiful they have ever seen, every feature of the landscape, including streams of water and blades of grass, is unyieldingly solid compared to themselves: It causes them immense pain to walk on the grass, whose blades pierce their shadowy feet, and even a single leaf is far too heavy for any to lift.