One day off the streets meant a lifetime of filial slavery. Or that was what Quint thought. The main reason he never allowed any adult to take pity on him was because if he got too comfortable with them, he might forget his free life and the perks, which weren't many but were enjoyable, that came with being an orphan living in a train station fixing toys and clocks, and stealing food. He wasn't an orphan exactly, he had a guardian who hasn't showed up for six months.
But that is digressing.
Quint nibbled at the doughnut from the morning in the late evening. He felt the chains of consciousness snaking in his little mind. Therefore, he saved his breakfast and made the meal last for the entire day. His stomach protested at this unjust treatment. He bruised easily.
The night promenades were his favorites, especially in the cool summer nights, not winters, like now. But he had nothing to do and the rags he called blankets weren't doing anything at all to keep him warm. So he decided to take a walk through the desolated and quiet station, where just a couple of hours ago was bustling with life. The shadows cast on the cold stone floor were eerie and distant. They seemed like spectres from the night trying to engulf him in darkness. The moon shone bright through the arched glass windows, embedding it's luminescent existence onto the floor. It was beautiful if you stared at it in silence.
He had trained his walk to be as quiet and echoless as possible, and he had mastered the art. The train station was an extension of himself, he sometimes breathed to it, and learned too. He knew every branch, every underground passage, and every train frequenter. In other words, sometimes he felt like a train statio himself. And other times, a clock. He was fascinated by the clockwork mechanics. He had to thank his father.
Quint sighed. His eyelids were heavy and he longed for his cot. He turned to leave when suddenly, a shadow grew larger over him. He gasped in fear and turned around. A tall, shadowed figure was standing behind him. The figure was wearing a long traveling coat and a brim hat. Quint couldn't see his eyes, but could feel them piercing his skinny existence. Curious by nature, Quint didn't run away. He just stared at the tall figure.
"Who are you sir? The train station is closed, how did you get in?"
The figure didn't respond, but Quint knew they were staring into each other's eyes.
"Quint Cariell, will the mortals of this world remember you?"
Quint looked at him apprehensively. "What do you mean sir, please?"
"Will you be remembered?"
Quint thought hard, but couldn't think of a single person that would honestly say they'd miss him. "I'm so tiny, that not many people see me. But if I were to leave, officer Martin will not chase me and he will grow to be a very fat man, as well as his dog. The clocks will miss me dearly because I'm the only one who cares for them. I can say the same for the toys of Mr. Bordeaux store. The librarian, Mr. Amberchaud will miss his book "The Three Musketeers" because I borrowed it from the library."
The figure had leaned closer to Quint while he talked, examining him.
"Quint Carrel, do you like to learn?"
"I love to learn sir," Quint answered affably. He didn't meet people with traveling coats and hats with brim very often. Naturally, he immediately took liking of this individual.
"I came to take you away."
"Somewhere you're not going to be missed. You'll be extremely happy."
Quint's heart dropped. "I told you I cannot leave. What will happen to the toys and the clocks. I won't be taken away!"
"You'd be more useful where I'm taking you."
Quint shook his head. "I am not leaving." He turned to go, wishing a good night to the stranger. But he felt a tight grip on his arm and a sudden jerk that turned him around to face the stranger again. His breath was on Quint's face and he could see his eyes because both their faces were so close to each other. They were of the brightest vermillion he had ever seen. "You're hurting me sir..." whimpered Quint.
"Didn't your parents taught you about never trusting stranger?" His wicked smile frightened Quint. It was as if a grimace was forced into an ugly smile.
"Please let me go sir, it's past my bedtime." Quint tried to writhe and wiggle his arm loose, but to no avail. "What do you want?"
"Come with me." He felt himself being lifted from his feet and carried away like a bag.
Quint screamed, his voice bouncing off the high ceiling of the station. He kicked and hit and yelled for help, but nobody came. The stranger was just walking steadily toward the dark tunnel where the trains come and go. On a last attempt to free himself, Quint held a post and didn't let go. He kicked and fought, but the two iron-clad hands that held him down were far too big and heavy for him to handle by himself. Two big tears rolled down his cheek as he was being lifted again and poised on the stranger's shoulder.
The figure jumped onto the train tracks and kept walking into the tunnel, where everything was dark and cold. Quint trembled but didn't utter a word. This felt worst than being caught and threatened to go to the orphanage. The wind was howling on his ears, and the next minute, he saw a fast and approaching light.
It's the train! thought Quint. We're going to die.
He closed his eyes and willed himself to sleep because he always wanted to die in his sleep. He did fell asleep, but the train never hit. There was no train.