We all think. Some of us think in words, others prefer scenery; landscapes through which to move, rest or hide. When we are calm we travel to a place of stillness, a quiet beach or dusky woodland. When we are worried our perspective narrows into walls and corners, cities with buildings and rooms to house the images of our anxiety. And then there are the places in-between.

This room was empty. There was no furniture but the carpet was thick and comfortable, the walls a soft blue-white, the windows big and clean so the bright sunshine entered with a warm confidence that made it feel homely. It was upstairs but the rest of the structure was indistinct. It currently had the feel of a bedroom but that was more to do with who was coming next. In a little while it might be downstairs and feel like a kitchen; after that an office in a skyscraper or the knave of a church. Always this room would feel familiar, the rest of the structure unnecessary except for the purpose of context.

Noun waited, sitting in quiet meditation under the smaller of the two windows.

He was young, only ten seconds old in fact, but he was also very, very old. As long as there had been things that thought, he had existed. To some he was holy. Always to humans he seemed holy, but not so much to the other animals. Humans tended to find him impressive; the other species saw him more as a play-thing. Where he came from was difficult to say because he was rarely the same thing twice. Currently he was a young Chinese man, peaceful and calm. He could just as easily have been a frightened rabbit, but that’s what the dogs created; his next was certainly a man. Noun could tell that from the walls. Human males always needed him to be contained.

In as much as Noun knew himself to be in a dream, he tried to understand the reality of his next visitor. The room was a sanctuary, nothing unusual there. The mind of the man would not allow him to be frightened. It was empty, which was a good sign. Those that brought lots of possessions into their rooms were not ready for him and would resist. They might desperately need him but he could do little if they couldn’t see the difference between want and need. He didn’t like those situations, ultimately he just stood there not doing anything which upset and disturbed the visitor and meant they would resist coming back in the future. His next seemed to be ready.

The feel of a bedroom usually meant a place form childhood, when a single room was where his next once stored all that he owned. These walls felt safe, but in a way that was also difficult. Eventually all prisoners feel like their cell is a home. Noun opened his eyes and nodded to himself, as he become more solid so too did other details. Only two of the walls looked real, the ones with the windows. The other two, assuming an average of four; were edgeless and ghostly. There was no door, which tended to indicate that bad things had often invaded this space. This was a sanctuary, the only thing his next would bring inside was himself.

A slight itching against his skin made Noun glance down at his legs and he noticed a costume had started to form. This was some manner of martial arts uniform, although his next clearly didn’t know very much about the myriad disciplines of such combat. White trousers, a baggy white tunic top tied tight around the waist by a knotted black-belt. These were the only details. This too, was good; but sad also.

Some centuries ago, in situations such as this, Noun would always come to the room with a blade. In those days, combat, even in despair, had traditions and rules that no fantasy would traverse. Even when gravity was relaxed, the protocols of a duel were not. Honour was important. Nowadays, blades were used for self-harm or in panicked rage. Rules of a different age applied. The modern mind was so much more efficient at holding on to damage, so many ways to be inadequate. The torture of thought so loud and horrible that only the sting of pain brought a moment of resolve. A bell of silence struck hard enough to rip through the torment of self-doubt. The mind in charge of the hand, the hand in control of the blade. Decision – application – result. But relief was fleeting. Noun could help them but he had no power to seek out and invite. Everyone had to find this room by themselves.