. Justin peered through his telescope and adjusted

the focus. At that precise instant the tower clock

started to strike. As the first chime reverberated

along the shelves of chemical bottles, a dazzling

shaft of sunlight burst from behind a cloud,

illuminating the stooping figure of an old, old

man. He had snowy-white hair, a flowing beard,

and appeared to be wearing long linen robes.


. Justin blinked. For a split second he saw a golden

hourglass in the man’s right hand, and a scythe

carried over his left shoulder. Old Father Time –

surely he was imagining things? He leapt back

from the telescope, putting both hands on his

stomach. It felt as if someone was tossing the

caber inside it.


. Justin readjusted the focus. His eyes must have

deceived him, the sudden ray of light creating an

optical illusion. Now, he saw nothing but a

raggedy stranger carrying a shabby bundle over

his shoulder, tied to the end of a long stick. He

looked like some elderly shepherd who’d lost all

his sheep. From the vacant expression on his face,

Justin assumed he’d probably lost his marbles as

well.


. The old man stood peering at a sign by the

roadside, deciding which fork to take: left

towards Drumnadrochit, or right, leading

directly to the castle. He withdrew a coin from

his pocket and tossed it high into the air,

leaving chance to plot his course. The tower

clock continued striking as the coin

somersaulted skywards. Gleaming sunlight

glanced off its facets, and the illusory image

appeared a second time, shimmering around

the old man like a fragmented hologram. Then,

as the tenth chime faded, the image flickered

and died.


. Something clicked deep within Justin’s brain:

like the turning of a long lost key in a well-

oiled lock, instantly liberating a million

thoughts, letting them erupt into life and hurtle

around his synaptic race track. He felt within

him the power to defy gravity, soar into the

heavens and explode into a billion particles of

the purest light. It was the sensation that Justin

loved beyond all others: that exhilarating thrill

of discovery that centuries earlier had prompted

Archimedes to shout Eureka – I have found it.