Michael could never get enough of a good smoke. He constantly craved the buzz, constantly wanted the pipe in between his lips. His lips happened to be wrapped around the smooth bit of his pipe right now, sucking smoothly on the warm smoke.
On his head was a black bowler hat, around his shoulders, a long, brown button-down coat. Michael was sitting on a bench just around the corner of a red brick wall in a train station. The iron rails lied on the ground just five feet in front of him and he stared at them absently as he smoked. The only other soul in the station was a man in a black coat who was around the corner of the wall.
“Dillan, will you quite hiding?” Michael said.
Dillan stepped around the corner, a mischievous smile on his lips.
“I thought you might’ve been too focused on smoking to sense me.”
Michael chuckled. “You were like ten feet away. I could’ve been doing an acrobatic routine and still sensed you at that distance.” He took another breath of smoke.
Dillan looked up at the orange sky, his light-brown hair blowing with the gentle breeze. It was a quarter-to-seven and the whole day had a strange feeling of stillness to it. As if everything around them was waiting for what was to come.
“What’s on your mind, kid? You seem distracted,” Michael asked.
It was Dillan’s turn to laugh. “I really can’t hide anything from you, can I?”
Michael shook his head slowly.
“I’m just wondering if we’re about to make a major mistake.”
Michael cocked an eyebrow. “And what makes you wonder that?”
“This kid we’re going to see . . . what if . . . what if he doesn’t want what we’re offering him? What if he doesn’t want this life?”
Michael had a feeling that Dillan was talking about himself, but he just smirked.
“Do any of us?”
Dillan turned his head to the train track in front of them. He thought it fitting, that a train would be taking them to him. Everything about a train was so predictable. One route. One rail. One engine.
But for the kid, his train had flown off the tracks.
“That’s an excuse.” Dillan said. “He doesn’t know about the Higher yet. He doesn’t have to. He can live a normal life.”
“Maybe,” Michael replied. “But you have to consider what’s best for those around him. He’ll be a strong Higher, given that he survived.”
Dillan sighed and there was a hint of sadness to it. “I just know that this life isn’t easy. Especially when you’re so young. What is he? Seventeen?”
“Something like that,” Michael answered. He sucked in more smoke and breathed it out of his nostrils slowly. “I know what you’re saying, Dillan. But if he’s as powerful as they say he’s going to be, we can’t just let him go. We need anything and anyone we can get to fight Malachi.”
“See, you say that, but what about what he thinks? Why doesn’t he get a say?”
“He does, Dillan. No one is forced to live this life.” Michael looked in the distance at the steam engine that was coming their way. “But every Higher is obligated to.”
Dillan snorted as the train rolled into the station, white steam filling the station along with high-pitched squealing.
“Pardon me if I don’t see the difference,” he muttered.