Nobody will miss them. They grew up in the streets, little urchins of society devoid of love and affection. They learned the ways of the streets, and most importantly, of survival. But they held the key to another universe quite unlike their own. In this universe, they learned to battle, to hunt, and to weave magic.
The train whistle echoed and bounced off the walls of the train station. The ground adjacent to the tracks started to shake, gently announcing the arrival of one of the first steam trains of France. The people were lined up to board the train in their due stop, eagerly waiting for the almost golden color transportation machine. A speck of gold appeared in the tunnel first, followed by the nose of the train, and finally the train itself, with a trail of puffy, white smoke behind it. It was marching at full speed and once out of the tunnel, it decelarated, until it finally came to a stop. Everybody clapped and cheered. The conductor waved his arm through the window.
The smoke was disippating. Everybody had seen the spectacle from below, only one person from above. A boy of twelve years old, with a smile of gleeful triumph in his face. He had been standing on an arched beam that ran over the tracks, these beams were scattered around the train station to hold up its colossal size and weight. He felt the whistle on his ears and the smoke on his body, engulfing him. And most importantly, he had seen the roof of the train glinting gold under the sunlight streaming through the glass in the roof of the station. He had dreamed of climbing on the beam for months, to feel big and infinite. He had accomplished his dream and now it was time to get back to work.
Slowly, he climbed down, careful not to let anybody see him. When he got to the floor, he walked to the other side of the station, where the shops were located. The smell of bread reached his nostrils; his eyes hungered, and his mouth watered. He didn't remember when was the last time he had something that resembled a full meal. His stomach always gnawed stronger at him during winter season. He made a mental note of getting something to eat after work. With effort, he walked past the food shops.
His work was very important. He was a time keeper, as he liked to call himself. He winded the clocks of the entire train station, a job he had done first out of duty and survival, and now, out of monotony. He used his secret passage, an old vent on the wall that led to the underground. He knew his way very well through the undeground and upperground mazes of the station, and through the towers of the clocks. He learned to love and cherish the constant and palpitating tick-tack of the clock's hand. It was his lullaby ever since his parents died from the steel of a knife. An uncle took him under his custody and made him his apprentice. He learned the secrets of clocks.
Quint Carriel was a nobody to everyone. A little insignificant urchin from the streets. Everybody who had seen him, forgot him instantly, except for the shop owners that were wary of him and his intentions. But Quint would only stare at them silently and then continue walking. He was always dreaming of a better place, a better situation, and a better future.
After cleaning and oiling the cogs of the clock, he went to his room. His room was at the top of the tallest clock tower of the station. Ever since his uncle disappeared on the streets of Paris one night, with the promises of coming back, he had moved to the tower. He had carried his small bed by himself, and he had made the furniture from scratch and scraps. He enjoyed creating things, it was is passion. He made everything, from notebooks and toys, to chairs and bookshelves. Of course, it was all made from unwanted material and stuff he found at the junkyard just a quarter of a mile away, and useless (and mostly stolen) cogs and clockworks. He dreamed that one day, he would be a famous inventor and everybody would know his name.
He smiled inwardly. The sun was setting, turning the skies into an orange pallor. He could no longer ignore the rumbling of his stomach, so he decided to climb down from his tower to get some food. He walked through the station as casually as he could, it wasn't difficult to not get noticed because he was so small and thin. But the people in the station were dwindling and he stuck out fairly easy. He reached the bakery shop, hidding behind a column some feet away. There were loaves of bread on a counter just outside the bakery and nobody to guard them.
Quint looked left and right. Nobody was watching. He walked closer to the counter and upon reaching it, he quickly snatched a loaf.
A whistle blew hard in the distance. That startled him into dropping the bread on the floor.
"Thief! Stop that boy!" an officer was shouting, running at full speed toward little Quint.
Quint gasped and picked up the bread before breaking into a run. He had not expected an officer to be nearby.
"Stop!" The officer hollered behind him. "I said stop!"
Quint's heart raced. If he was captured by the officer, he would be dragged into an orphanage. He refused to get caught, he valued his freedom. Besides, he had heard from mothers in the train station that the orphanage was a terrible place for kids. They were forced to dress in gray, to clean, and to eat plastic food. Maybe they said so as a threat for their misbehaving children, but behind every fabricated story, a sliver had to be truth. That was enough for Quint to make him pump more energy to his legs. The chase seemed endless, but he knew the station very well, better than anyone else.
The officer was confounded after several minutes of chase. He was scratching his head, wondering where the child had run to.
Quint saw the officer standing above him from a vent on the underground. He neither moved nor breathed in fear that in doing so, he might give away his hideout. The officer walked on and Quint exhaled with relief. It was getting darker and colder. He climbed up to his tower and heartily ate the bread, savoring every piece he put in his mouth. There wasn't any certainty that tomorrow he'll be so lucky.
That night he cried, both of happiness and sorrow. Happiness because he was able to go to bed with a half-full stomach, and sorrow because he was wondering why life had taken his parents away and left him alone in this cold world.