Stevie sat in the back of an ambulance with his shoulders slumped from exhaustion, a cigarette hanging loosely between his fingers. He didn’t usually smoke but he had inhaled so much today he figured he may as well get some of the good stuff while he was at it. He stared back down the hill at the smouldering terminal. The building had further collapsed and now it was sealed off as all carriages had been searched for life and the dead were left as the structure threatened to completely collapse at any moment. The smoke that still rose made the setting Sun hazy in the distance, as though it were a mirage on a desert horizon. Scattered along the hill there was still a strong gathering of reporters and cameras though a sizable chunk had disappeared trailing the two ambulances that had taken Walter Wallace and Lucy Blues away.
Stevie hadn’t yet had time to decipher the whole situation. It would be a juggling act of chance and convenience. Both of which offered little to the reasonable doubt he was bound to. But more intriguing still was the presence of fate. Stevie was a spiritual man – he based his thesis on Eastern philosophy in Western medicine – but he never believed in any voodoo claims such as greater beings and destiny. But then how could he accept the fact that Walter Wallace had strode into an inferno and rescued the woman who had plucked him from obscurity. This doctor had disappeared weeks ago to the point that the network was embarrassed to admit they knew nothing of her whereabouts. Now, like some fairytale, these two meet and...and if he were to succumb to such theories then what should he make of his own chance encounter with the man in question. Was there some force drawing the two together? Ridiculous, surely. Stevie took another long drag from his cigarette and let his mind clear again.
That morning Stevie had risen to a four day weekend with absolutely no plans. He had decided to do the rounds on the internet, checking those sites that shared his sentiment towards Citadel. The practice had become almost trivial at this point - though just as another trivial idea like God’s Grand Plan presented its case, so too had the intuition of one of these trivial sites. BullCit, which featured a heavily doped up conspiracy theorist, had recently begun following the Walter Wallace tour and documenting it. And the blog from the night before mentioned a large media presence, much larger than usual. He had written ominously: “Something’s going down.”
He felt a vibrating sensation in his pocket and for a split second he thought his body was finally reacting to all the toxins he had absorbed before he remembered his phone. He flipped it open, “Hello.”
“Doc, how you goin’?” Mark Tanenworth’s cheerful voice came through the phone. Stevie realised in his hast to leave that morning he had forgotten that it would be unlikely that he would return in time for their appointment tomorrow.
“Mark, I’m good. Listen, I meant to let you know earlier but I won’t be available for our session tomorrow.”
“Fancy that. I was calling to tell you the same thing. I’m gonna be stuck up here in Newport Haven. Big accident with the trains; it’s all on the news. You must hav-”
“Yeah I’ve heard,” Stevie said, shaking his in honest disbelief. He stood up and began to walk around the small groups of reporters and paramedics and rescue workers that were spread across the hill. “I tell you what, I would have been surprised any other day but this has been a strange one.” He propped his head up, restricted by his height to see over the crowd and spot the broad shouldered man in a dirt brown suit holding a phone to his ear.
“What do you mean?” Mark asked curiously.
Stevie saw a long black limousine parked on the road about 50 metres away. “Well it turns out you might not have to miss out on the endless benefits of psychology which you receive weekly from our sessions.”
“Oh yeah? How’s that? Don’t tell me I got more homework. I’ve never done so much breathing in my life.”
Stevie laughed. He had no idea how intentional Mark’s humour was but the end result was always the same. He approached the tall figure of Mark Tanenworth, who didn’t see him coming because he was gazing up into the sky as if hoping to find answers in the incoming radiowaves before they reached his phone and convevrted into words that said with an odd echo, “Mark.”
“Holy shit!” Mark jumped and raised his hands awkwardly in defnence before realising who had tapped his shoulder. “What the fuck are you doing here?” he exclaimed, still talking into the phone. Stevie smiled a genuine smile and Mark opened his arms and gave Stevie a hug.
“No homework, mate. Let’s go get a beer. Today we’re on excursion.”