Torontonians are a jaded lot, but a few non-tourist heads turned as the man made his way down through the entrance gates to Spadina subway station. First of all, although he carried a Metropass, he stopped dead at the turnstile. He had to look very carefully at both the card and the reader on the turnstile before he figured out how to get the machine to scan the card and let him through. The TTC worker at the ticket wicket would report later that the man traced is finger along the diagram beside the card reader several times, but ignored the worker when she offered help. She said he glanced in her direction when she spoke over the intercom, but didn't seem to understand her.
The lack of familiarity with the turnstiles could be explained away easily enough. One could assume the man was a suburbanite who didn't normally come downtown, perhaps using a borrowed pass. His appearance, however, did not suggest suburbia, or at least not one that had existed for sixty years. The man himself looked closer to fifty-five, but he wore a dark grey boiler suit with a light grey shirt and bow tie. He salt-and-pepper hair was topped with a visored cap made of the same fabric as the suit, and which the passers-by who recognised it at all were more used to seeing on Ralph Kramden's head in reruns of The Honeymooners.
A student who was a witness to some of the events later told a Toronto Star reporter that she'd never seen anyone outside of a movie with such perfectly shiny black shoes.
After passing through the turnstiles, the man paused and read the sign above the stairwell to the platform. He frowned, then shrugged and followed some other people down the stairs.
The stairs at Spadina station lead to an underground concourse with two levels. The main level has a tunnel to the north-south line, a few newsstands, and the streetcar platform. The lower levels let people board the east-west subway trains.
The man walked to the stairs leading to the eastbound subway platform, but he didn't go down the stairs. Instead, he leaned against the railing and stared down for a few minutes. He started, stared harder, then stepped away from the railing, shaking his head.
"That's where that dude offed himself this week," said a teenage boy passing by.
The man closed his eyes and nodded. "Do you know —" he started, but a women brushed by him and he opened his eyes, startled. He glanced around himself, bewildered, as if he expected the teenage boy to still be there.
Behind the nearest newsstand, on the far wall, a TTC security guard opened the door to a breakroom. A man wearing a TTC driver's uniform could be seen, sipping on a coffee.
The man in the boiler suit squinted for a second or two. Then his face cleared. "Thank you," he said to no-one in particular, and crossed the concourse to the breakroom door.
"Employees only," said the driver sipping coffee to the man in the boiler suit. The two other drivers sitting at the laminate table shoved to one end of the room nodded agreement.
The man in the boiler suit slipped in the room anyhow. "Oh, I'm not going to stay long," he said. "I'm just here to make a delivery. For someone's birthday. It's a surprise."
"Surprise them outside," said the security guard. "The guy's right, it's employees only here. No exceptions."
"Suit yourself," said the man in the boiler suit. He walked up to the security guard, spun a neat half-turn so he was standing directly in front of the guard, facing the same way, and then took a half-step back... into the guard. The gently smiling face of the man in the boiler suit shimmered over the security guard's shocked expression briefly, then disappeared completely.
The drivers dropped their coffee cups and leapt up. The one who had been sitting opposite the door crossed the room and closed it.
"Where'd the Other one go?" he said, scanning the faces of the drivers.
"Are we supposed to attack..." started one.
"But if we do, then we might kill...." started the other one.
The security guard was trembling as if he were about to vibrate apart. The guard started making "mmmh-mmh-mmh" sounds, lips forced closed. The drivers all backed away to the opposite corner of the breakroom.
The guard's mouth shot open in a wide scream that quickly faded into frequencies too high for a human ear to detect. White flashing light poured out of his mouth, nose, and ears. His eyes bulged, pushing out of the guard's face just before they too were dissolved in white light. The same light sprang from the sleeves and pantlegs of the guard's uniform.
The drivers watched slack-jawed as the security guard dissolved in flashing white light. Although the guard's scream had been well beyond human hearing for several seconds, one driver put his hands over his ears while the other two cringed, just as the guard's body was completely consumed by the white light.
The light pulsed and filled the entire room, then faded to nothing. There was a faint smell of coffee mixed with ginger and melted plastic. The drivers blinked, waiting for their imitation human eyes to readjust to the light given off by the single fluorescent tube in the ceiling.
The man in the boiler suit smiled at them from the spot where the security guard had stood.
"That wasn't too difficult," he said. "Just a moment..." He reached out a hand and put it on the doorknob. There was a brief scent of hot metal and ozone, and then the man in the boiler suit removed his hand. The doorknob was melted onto the metal doorframe.
"Now then," said the man in the boiler suit, "would anyone like to go next, or shall I just pick randomly?"
The driver who had been sitting opposite the door stepped forward. "They don't use decoys on your world?" he said.
The man in the boiler suit's smile faded. He nodded. "What the humans call a 'pawn sacrifice' sometimes," he said. "All right. Let's continue."