"Come one, come all, come and witness the greatest show of your lives!" shouted the Illusionist with a grin from ear to ear.
He was dressed to impress, wearing a black tuxedo, a white shirt, and his eye-catching top hat. He was performing his show right in the middle of a train station, causing a crowd to gather around to see the young man.
He pulled coins from behind people's ears, produced an endless handkerchief from his sleeves, and everyone eagerly anticipated the moment a rabbit would emerge from his hat. Although his tricks seemed simple, no one could understand how they were done. It truly looked like magic.
Some in the audience tried to decipher the illusions, but the Illusionist was so skillful that people genuinely believed the objects of his tricks materialized out of thin air.
Despite his success, the Illusionist wore a fake smile. Was this his role? To perform tricks for the public as a cheerful showman? He loved his abilities, that he wouldn't deny, and enjoyed making people happy, but was that all there was to it?
His contemplation was interrupted when an agitated man approached him.
"Stop right there! This commotion you're causing is disrupting people's traffic!" The man was the classic Cowboy, wearing a hat, a sheriff's badge, a revolver on his belt, and a tough expression. He seemed ready to forcefully stop the Illusionist.
"Oh boy, I'm in trouble," said the Illusionist, still maintaining his performative pose. "Dear audience, I must go. Coins are welcome, and see you later!"
Quickly gathering his belongings, he fled from the enraged Cowboy. He had never seen the man before and wondered if he was this unfriendly with everyone. He didn't want to find out what would happen if the Cowboy caught up to him, so he continued running through a crowd of people, momentarily losing the Cowboy, until he reached the platforms.
Two trains were waiting to depart, and the Illusionist contemplated jumping on one of them to escape.
The one on the right was much more crowded, with many people boarding. It would be easy to blend in with them and evade the Cowboy. The train on the left was much emptier but seemed more luxurious, with a slogan written on its side - "Turn the page! Come to another story!"
From what he understood, it was a train destined for a faraway place, aiming to take its passengers to an entirely new story.
The Illusionist pondered this. He had no particular interest in going to a new story and wondered who would be on that train. Perhaps people fleeing their stories due to crimes they committed, or maybe just individuals seeking new opportunities.
On the platform, he saw a series of covered mirrors being placed in a wagon ahead, and two people entering – a young woman and a man in a trench coat. It wouldn't be easy to hide, but the train seemed ready to depart, and he made his decision.
He entered one of the empty doors, close to the young woman, and tried to sneakily position himself. He didn't have a ticket for this train, but he knew he could slip into anywhere he needed to.
Inside, he saw a line of men in suits heading to the next carriage, showing their tickets to a man the Illusionist deduced was the Ticket Collector.
He considered his options. He thought he could easily grab one of their tickets, but that might harm them, and that wasn't what the Illusionist wanted. He could try to slip past the Collector unnoticed, but if caught later, he might be thrown off the train.
Finally, he thought of making a forgery. He just needed to observe a ticket for a short while to get an idea, and he was sure he could create a convincing illusion for the Ticket Collector.
As he heard the train signals, indicating it was about to depart, he heard another set of footsteps entering.
"This must be a joke... He's risking catching this train just to get me," the Illusionist whispered to himself, seeing the Cowboy's boots entering the vehicle. Quickly, he joined the group of men in suits, even though his outfit clearly belonged to a different line of work. Nevertheless, the Illusionist knew how to hide.
Despite his apprehensions, he was surprised to notice that the Cowboy appeared calmer and didn't seem to be looking for anyone.
He saw the rectangular piece of paper held by all the passengers and cursed in his mind. The Cowboy was about to board the very train the Illusionist had decided to flee on.
At least, he didn't think he would suffer too much from this situation. The Cowboy seemed hotheaded, but he wouldn't kill him over a station commotion, right?
Still, he decided it would be best if the Cowboy didn't spot him now; perhaps later, when he had forgotten the incident. He quickly pulled a rectangular piece of paper from his sleeve.
Soon, in his hands, he had a perfect copy of a ticket; at least, that's what he hoped the Ticket Collector would see.
Anxious, he handed it to the man and watched him closely as he examined his false ticket. The Ticket Collector took longer to inspect it than the Illusionist had anticipated, and he was ready to be thrown off the train. However, to his relief, the man smiled kindly and returned the ticket.
"Welcome to our luxury train. I hope your time with us is enjoyable!" said the Ticket Collector.
"I'm sure it will be," replied the Illusionist, taking the ticket confidently and proceeding to the next wagon.