Of course I wasn't always a soldier, in fact I was only a soldier very briefly, I never enlisted or took the kings shilling, I was never drilled or taught to use my rifle, but I still wear my old uniform because tailors are not amenable to people like me I find. I would remove my hat as this is a church, but under the circumstances that would not be advisable. So despite my appearance I am actually quite an uninteresting person, I am, or I was only a shipping clerk, but you don't want to know about that. I can't remember how it came to be, I remember Lambeth Palace and Parliament Square and the bridge and the river, then I was far away. I was walking along a path, on the right was woodland and to the left was a tall wire fence, on the other side was a long steep grassy downwards slope, at the bottom of which I could see a great white country house, a lake and some woodland. As I continued to walk the path seemed to rise and the trees began to close in and become darker and darker so that the only light seemed to come from the path, I felt like I had been swallowed by something great and terrible. I saw lights beside the path that began to fade, first orange, then white then blue, then a horrible yellow shone from above so brightly I could not bear it. I felt I was in a metal shaft, walking forwards, being sucked it, I felt the floor moving forwards, I felt my neck going backwards and my mouth opening, my head went backwards 90 degrees, then more with a crunch and I passed out, then wih my eyes still closed I felt I was moving forwards at a hundred miles an hour and I began to feel very sick. I heard the sound of drums. I remember being in middle of a battle, I remember the gunpowder smoke, the red uniforms, and the sound of guns, I saw men fall around me. I felt a bullet enter my abdomen, underneath my left rib and I fell to the ground. Eventually there was a stretcher and then I was left on the floor, then I was on a camp bed, then I was put on a cart and put in a hole which was covered in earth. I felt the rotting flesh of the bodies beside me, I felt the maggots eating me away, I felt them eat away my eyes, then I could see. I was in a soup of decaying bodily matter, I swum to the surface and stood up, on top of the rotting mass of bodies, I saw they were in a cauldron, it was being stirred by a bearded witch with a great white paddle, there were bones and bits of uniforms floating on top. I tried to speak but I had no jaw, then my skull was taken by a belgian peasant, he had dirty calloused hands and greasy black hair combed in a way that told me he was no good, I was wrapped in purple in cloth, full of straw, the indignity of it! I rattled all the way back to his house. I was put in a cupboard, and left on my own. I wondered how it had come to this, I was an idiot I thought, I should have ran the other way along the path instead of stupidly going forward. I found it quite nice in the cupboard, it was dark and cool and peaceful. To be honest, I was not sad to leave the warehouse where I worked behind, but I cried a little not just because I had died, but because I didn't really know how or why, it was a strange felling of sadness and relief. Being free from the demmands of being alive boredom did not affect me, I was just content to take in the darkness and the smell of the wooden cupboard and the feel of the cloth and my thoughts and sensations. At night I would climb out of the cupboard and walk around. I would handle and clatter the jars and vases and crockery, but I woke no-one. On a Thursday evening I would be put in a sack and taken to an abandoned hut in the middle of a field. I would be put in the middle of the dusty floor and unwrapped with the cloth laid flat, I would be surrounded by nine candles, there were a number of men dressed in homemade robes and eyemasks, who would speak and chant but I had no ears so I could not hear. They would raise and lower their arms and bang their walking sticks on the floor. After waltzing around for a bit they would produce tumblers and fill them with spirits and get drunk as I watched, I don't think they knew I could see. I thought they were a contemptible gathering, I could guess a few of them were peasants but most of them I thought were middle class, the leader was the only one to wear purple, he had a forked black beard with tinges of grey and peircing blue eyes. This had been going on for several weeks, when they finally perfected the ritual. I was sprinkled with a fine dust, the leader removed his mask and gripped his walking stick very tight, and looked down right in to my eyes. He sent me to a palace in Brussels I think, I was in a glass fronted cabinet, looking through the glass in to a corridor. I felt a stream of conciousness enter my head but it was unmarshalled and unintelligible. I saw my reflection in the glass, a skull with empty eye sockets surrounded by elabourate porcelain and I silently laughed, but I was filled with misgivings, there was someone who someone they wanted, a girl I thought. I wan't sure. On the next week they repeated the ritual. This time the mans eyes seemed to speak to me. "O' dark slave you are called to do my bidding" I felt myself flying through the clouds, and I was full of anger at him. I was taken to a tudor manor, I walked through the open kitchen door and slammed it behind me. I felt the mans evil conciousness controlling my limbs as I walked through the house, up the narrow stairs, along the landing. I saw coats of arms on the wall and a very small ornamental suit of armour. I find these old houses quite pleasant, they make you feel like you are back in famous merrie England, but with a slight air of decay and death that as a dead person you learn to appreciate. I felt light and energetic, I was almost floating, but when I opened the great bedroom door, I felt very heavy and stiff as I walked to the old man. He was sitting up shocked in a great four-poster bed without curtains, I liked his bed a lot, and I decided that someone who slept in such a solid bed could not be deserving of an uninvited visit from me. He even wore a striped nightgown and nightcap, something about him made me like him a lot. He had grey sideburns and grey eyes, I remember because I stared in to them as I placed my hands on his shoulders, I felt my hands being pulled around his neck but I resisted, still staring in to his terrified face, he began to wimper. I felt my hands slowly move despite my resistance, but before I could touch his neck he cried out and I was back in my cupboard. Soon enough I was brought out again, but this time by my captors son and some of his school friends, I was fingered examined and breathed on, then carefully put back. Thursday came around once more with the same old ritual again, the man stared in to my eyes again. "I now see you are not my slave, it seems like I underestimated you, perhaps then you are my servant, do you agree?" I said nothing, because I could only say nothing, he was an estate manager I thought, ...Yes eccentric old Jean Dupont the estate manager ho ho ho... HERE COMES JEAN DUPONT GUARD YOUR DAUGHTERS HO HO HO, SEE RANDY OLD JEAN DUPONT TRYING HIS LUCK WITH ALL THE BARMAIDS HO HO HO, SUCH A CHARCACTER, GETTING DRUNK AND STARTING FIGHTS, HO HO HO, CAN'T HOLD HIS DRINK, HO HO HO, SEE HIM WANDERING HOME TO HIS BATTERED OLD WIFE DRUNK AS A LORD WITH HIS BEARD ALL DISHEVELLED AND IT'S NOT EVEN HALF PAST NINE, HO HO HO WHAT A PIG, HO HO HO. "...You do agree, to my proposal?(no) "Good, my friend, good, we won't regret this!" The room was dimly lit, the curtains were a nasty shade of yellow and the walls were hung with rather inferior watercolours, there were tin soldiers and toy cannons on the mantel piece, it all seemed very nice. I could see myself sitting at the baby grand, playing the G minor scale over and over, it was slightly out of tune. In an armchair in the corner, the old man with sideburns I saw the week before sat terrified, I heard Jean Dupont say "Kill" and I raised my gun and fired in to the mirror beside the armchair and I was standing back in the hut, staring at my tormentors, I gave them a quick Ironic salute, but my body had become a corpse that dissapeared from beneath me and I fell with a clatter and cracked several of my teeth and my left cheekbone. They covered me with their foul dust and wrapped me up again, I was left alone with my thoughts for a long time, eventually I was taken to the blacksmith, who fixed my cracks with lead, then he carved many runes and symbols in me, which he filled with more lead. I was put in a fine sack, I liked that sack, it felt much more dignified than the others, I felt I wad entitled to such comfort. It's funny how death death changes your perspective, I had never cared much about fabric before. I was taken to the graveyard and left behind a gravestone, then came to me many spirits, they spoke without words and took me away. I was taken out of the graveyard, away from the comforting presence of the towering majestic headstones, I thought it a shame that some of them were blighted by fresh wreaths and flowers as I passed, but in truth there were mercifully few of them. I was taken through the back gate in the shadow of the church and down some stone steps, on to a black sandy plain, it formed a great expanse all around, there were patches of long grass, grey or black the sun was setting but it did not seem to move, nor did the clouds which were illuminated fantastic blues, reds and oranges, withered gallows trees littered the land as far as the eye could see in two directions, in one there was a black forest in the distance and in the other I could see the lake of sulphur, it was urine yellow, giving off clouds of steam, where small bolts of lightening would flash and crackle. But who was this? Monsier Jaqques Baptiste?, Sergeant Major Maclean?, and old Johnny Ketch? Surely? "WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE?" they asked.