Dr. Tristan Shadow took the second path and emerged at a pair of benches facing the lake. The fat envelope in his gloved hand wouldn’t deliver itself to the Department of Medicine but he needed to sit. Not at a desk, not with a patient, not with a doctorate student seeking academic guidance, but on a quiet bench in the winter stillness of the prestigious university campus.
He sank onto an ice-crusted bench and cast his gaze over the glass-like lake. Late afternoon colors tainted the water and leeched into the sky, spurring long shadows to crawl longer from skeletal trees and spires of well-preserved architecture. He wanted to take a holiday however, according to his own rationale, he didn’t need it.
His health was excellent, mind fit, body cared for with exercise and cautious eating; he felt neither tired nor depressed therefore he couldn’t justify taking extra personal time, and it wasn’t in him to lie.
At times he hated his honesty. “But I still want to go.”
A voice beside him said, “So where we goin’?”
Tristan flinched, as he had a thousand times since he met the peculiar gentleman sitting to his right.
Arms folded in a vintage overcoat, the gentleman bore a comfortable aura as though he was home despite being in a foreign country, a calming contrast to the subtle energy of his limbs that seemed liable to ignite at any moment.
He spied the envelope. “That for Dr. Lazy Poop?”
Tristan’s eyes dropped to the documents to have them plucked from his fingers.
The gentleman popped up. “I’ll be right back.” As he quite literally ran away, he called back, “And I’ll tell him I’m kidnapping you so we can scram! He’ll totally believe that! Kinda like that one time those army guys and I burst in the window and dragged you outta that department meeting! HA! Those guys’ faces – anyway, don’t move! I’ll be right back!”
Tristan stared after his good friend as he vanished around a bend in the path beyond a cluster of silver trees, and then returned his gaze to the water with far less weight on his shoulders.
He said to the lake, after a moment, “So I guess I’ll just be kidnapped.”