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William Rushcroft usually passed, knocked into, flowed as water with innumerable others at these depths so instances of seeing them up close - as though contextless and singular memories in his mind - were rendered unreal, and he even began to imagine that he might have created these people as an exciting postscript after the event, or even welded them in to a collage of tiny real sights and sounds, or dreamt them in the fickle silver light seconds after heíd woken up, and just before heíd opened the curtains.

But that single figure, pallid but endearingly beautiful, ignited some buried fire in him, dug up energies that he longed to bottle, or at the very least pinpoint and forge ahead with. This spectre had a solid, stony stare ahead that signalled someone who was untarnished - and didnít want to be distracted - by the multiplying elements of the chaos. This was a gaze going straight towards some distant place that contained a vision that wasnít fixed to the stairs ahead, nor on any of the torn posters or the tiles.

Thatís what lifted this character up from the normal, itís what intensified the memory so that it was impossible to ignore, and at the same time imbued this figure - or the spirit outline of it - with a magic. It came with a strange, faded trench coat from another time, combined with a white, lasting handsomeness in the face. A bag. A warn blue-brown satchel. And the shoes: corridor-potted dark brogues. These shades of colour were standout ones because of their conspicuous variety. They were weird understated shades that seemed to flood away in an instant, colours mirroring the fluidity of the figure itself.

Why hadnít he stopped the character then? At the time heíd known that it was an anomaly - hadnít he? At least lurking in some part of his subconscious? - and a moment not to be dispatched forever to reside in the blindness of his generic memories.

The loss was hard for him to accept, especially as that contact could have formed some kind of closure Ė all ambiguities smashed. But his own timidity had held him back then. That lack of assertiveness was an infuriating partition that ruined any chance of clarity, a handicap that continued to bedevil him, always outmuscling courage, until these fantastic and odd hours. Now, with this unexpected blossom of confidence he was back in this zone ready to face those woes once more but also with renewed hope that he could smash through the burdens and emerge above ground with, as a minimum, a lighter mind.

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