It wasn't the man with the uneven stride that caught his eye, or even the giant woman with the stream of screaming children snaking out behind. It was the quiet man with the forlorn face and the dejected demeanour that had captured George's attention.
Of a smallish-medium build, he wasn't particularly attractive, and not a beast. He wore a grey overcoat, grey trousers and black shoes. And his briefcase was as conventional as the tightly furled umbrella tucked neatly under his left arm.
He was in possession of a small square face, which bore no striking characteristic. Two beady brown eyes peeped out from beneath squarely positioned eyebrows. His nose was averagely proportioned and his lips were neither thin nor particularly full. His ears weren't too large, his neck wasn't fat, and a perfectly appropriate pallor could be seen upon his smooth cheeks.
The only real suggestion of personality present on his façade was the wiry moustache that burst forth angrily from his upper lip, as if the hairs were trying to escape some unseen terror lurking beneath the skin.
So ordinary was the man, so anonymous, that if he were to be swept away by the wind no one would be any the wiser. His landlord would question whether anyone ever lived in that flat, his boss would advertise for a replacement without looking into the whys and wherefores; even his friends and family would move on without too much effort.
Skulking sullenly up the street, he was almost invisible. Yet, his existence excited in George an overwhelming sense of suspicion. The more he watched the greater grew George's conviction: the man was midway through some malevolent mission, up to no good, and definitely not to be taken at the deceptive value of his unprepossessing face.
But it was the face, that forgettable nothing of a face. The closer you looked, the more calculating those vacant eyes became. And there was something artificial about the symmetry. Why that moustache? And why did he need to grip the briefcase with a severity that saw his knuckles turn white?
George shadowed his man, quietly tracing the path from the library to the old railway line. Alone on the wooden bridge, they filed slowly down the rickety ramp leading to the platform. And stood waiting, suspended in silence.
It's true, what they say.
There’s a really tall animal walking on two legs over there. It hasn’t got any arms but it seems fairly happy, ambling along with what passes for a grin stretched across its wide face. He’s wearing a weathered bowler hat that could’ve been pretty stylish.
But that’s not really the point. The thing you need to know, if you aren’t here to see it for yourself, is that this creature has a length of rope tied around its waist which tethers it to another creature.
If you allow your eye to trace across the three metres of rope you arrive at the wrist of a small human-shaped entity. But it’s not a human like you might be. It’s more a suggestion of a human or a shadow or a ghost, maybe.
I’m not really sure it is there at all. I can see it but there’s something unnatural about the way it’s moving: the way its arms and legs seem to elongate occasionally, growing impossibly long and spindly before retracting and fattening, as it slides slowly across the baking sand upon which we are all standing.
The taller creature plods along obediently, never attempting to venture further than the rope would allow. So you might think everything is fine, but the exact nature of the relationship is a mystery. And it doesn’t look particularly appealing.
I keep watching as they slowly disappear over the top of a dune on the horizon, and then I realise…