A place which, on a certain date at a certain time, you should not be.
A place which will live in infamy, whose name will be spoken of in sadness in the years to follow.
A place which, simply by being there, will end or change your life.
A place where action, or inaction, will be the difference between seeing tomorrow or not.
A place where random people will be going about their normal lives; standing talking, sitting quietly, walking with family, out with friends, sightseeing on vacation, enjoying a meal, going to school, heading to work, heading home, boarding a bus, cycling by, with beer or cigarette or newspaper or phone in hand, whatever...
...and then in a split second, or as events unfold, lives will never quite be normal again.
There will be tales of heroism as well as loss. Character will be tested, instinct will kick in, miraculous stories will be told. The terrible event will bring out the very best in people, as well as forcing us to reflect on the very worst.
We cannot foresee where this place will be.
We think we can, but that's because we base our predictions on the past. We add pavement protection to bridges, we remove litter bins from public places, we rifle through handbags on the way into a museum, we erect body scanners at sporting events, we ask you to take your keys and small change out of your pocket, we turn schools into fortresses, we circle public buildings with bollards, we erect rings of steel, we send armed police to station concourses, we ban liquids on flights, we lock cockpit doors, we make life that little bit more difficult for everyone to dissuade someone from exploiting the weaknesses of the past.
This place will be somewhere else, somewhere we haven't thought to protect, or somewhere we cannot.
Any pavement, any street, any shop, any mall, any bar, any restaurant, any park, any match, any concert, any library, any museum, any riverside, any bridge, any subway, any train, any bus, any journey, any suburb, anywhere.
When your weapon is a car, every road is a potential crime scene. When your weapon is a knife, any public place will do. When your bomb is primed and ready, you can remain outside the venue rather than trying to take it in. When armed police are standing where you were thinking of initiating your atrocity, you can walk a short distance away and do it anyway. Killing people is surprisingly easy, but thankfully almost all of us are programmed never to consider it.
We do all we can to reduce the possibility, but we cannot design risk out of daily life.
The absolute vulnerability of this place will, however, be obvious with hindsight.
We should have installed more cameras, we should have added barriers in the cycle lane, we should have patted people down on the way in, we should have stepped up patrols, we should have reported the suspicious behaviour, we should have spotted the equipment being purchased, we should have read a chain of emails in advance, we should have followed up one piece of intelligence amongst thousands, we should have taken their obvious hatred seriously, we should have intervened with education during formative years, should have, couldn't have, didn't.
This place will claim its victims anyway, as is its destiny, whenever that may be.
The date will hopefully be far into the future, but it could be next year, next month, this afternoon.
Such terrible incidents are thankfully rare. Over the last decade, almost none. This year, too many, but not many.
We remember the handful of atrocities that were unspeakably successful, but it's easy to forget quite how many tens of thousands of times we went about our normal lives and nothing happened.
There is a place in London which, on a certain date at a certain time, you should not be. Some people will be there. It would be ghastly if you were there. You almost certainly won't be.
We cannot live our lives in fear, or terror has won.