I was born four years before, the turn of, the century. As my father had, before me, I became a gardener, at Griff Manor, when I left school. When the war came, I was eighteen and it was to be all over by Christmas, or so they said, so I joined the 1st BLI, as soon as I could. For several years, I was lucky enough, to manage to survive, the insanity, terrors and stupidity that were, the Great War. I was one of the last of the, 1914, volunteers, still in the line. Most of those that I had joined with had been either maimed or slain, by the end of sixteen. Howard, my best friend, had been slain, on our very first day, at the front. His cigarette case was later to save me from a bullet. That was when I caught sight of a German sniper reflected in it, as I was lighting up. The first captain, who had been in charge of us, one Kimberley St John, took a bullet, in the top of his head, before he knew it had happened, he was dead. His brains fountained up and landed all over my uniform. He should have ducked when I did.
The summer of seventeen saw me in the line, at the Battle that is known as Passchendale. We were gathered, ready to go over the top, when the well mannered barrage started. All those curst, well mannered, Generals would always send a warning, that we were coming. The barrage warned the Germans, to keep their heads down and prepare for our coming. We struggled out of the flooded trench and waded, or was it swam, forward in the Passchendale mud.
Maxims opened up and down went many of those around me. I was still wading forward against the swarm of bullets. I cried out as bullets tore through my legs. I fell down in the mud, and was then slowly sucked down, into the blood sodden earth. I still remember the taste, of the blood and earth, as I was swallowed, by the mud, and the bloody mud filled my mouth and nose. I struggled for breath, but could get no air, through all that the foul mud. My hand closed round my crude, wooden cross. I preyed, to Juda Didimus, The Contender.
I floated upwards, out of my body. I soared high, into the sky. From there, I watched the suffering, of others as their bodies washed up, upon the German line, only to ebb away again. Something pulled me back down and I found myself, in absolute darkness, trapped within my dead body, trapped within the bloody swamp, that was Passchendale. I felt the explosion of shells, for an eternity. I wondered if I was doomed, to the Hell of Passchendale, for eternity. At some point, even the shells stopped. The blood, of others, seeped into my body, then eventually I passed from consciousness. Then I awakened again, in earth that was dry, the blood no longer seeped into me. The earth held me fast and I passed back into deathly unawareness again. I awoke again, ravenous beyond ken, still gripped tightly, by the soil. I struggled against it, and miraculously I moved higher in the earth. Eventually, something told me not to go any higher. There was vibration in the earth and I separated from my body and floated up into the air. Something like a plane passed through me, it had only the one set of wings, not the two or three I had regularly seen, above the trenches. The thing moved to fast, to be a plane. Its markings were like none I had ever seen before.
The things I saw, confused and terrified me. Roads clogged with refugees. The war continued, or so I thought. Things had changed so much. Warfare was no longer static and dependent on trenches, instead it was lightning fast. Planes were no longer the crude string bags, that I’d seen above the trenches, for they were exceptionally fast and sleek. Men carried little maxim guns. The stalemate had been broken and we were loosing the war. All traces of battle lines were gone. Every British soldier I saw, who was not a prisoner, was making his way towards the coast.
I floated down towards the refugees; none of whom noticed me, except for a few dogs, who growled at me. I saw their terror and confusion, as a strange plane dropped, like a stone, from the sky, to attack them. The refugees dived into the hedgerows and ditches. I travelled far and wide, seeing the amazing and terrifying weapons and machines, that had been developed, since I had sunk into the mud. Everywhere roads were blocked by refugees. I returned to my body, in despair and wondered, how long the war had gone on for, thirty years, a hundred years — at school I had heard of wars lasting that long.
The sun set and I clawed my way out of the earth. I was naked, except for the crude wooden cross that hung around my neck on a leather thong; It was dyed red, from the blood, that had seeped into it. I lay on the ground and expelled the earth that had filled my nose, mouth and throat. I scraped the dried mud away from my eyes, when I was finally able, I opened my eyes and could see clearly, and in colour, despite the darkness. I was little more than leather clad bones, but I could move. My movement attracted someone’s attention and they came over to me.
What I think, that they saw, what they thought to be an old corpse. The figure went to leave; I touched it, the person froze, before I knew what I was doing, my jaws bit into its leg. Venom, from my mind, flowed into the person’s body and paralysed it. I drank the entities blood. My hands explored my victim without any purpose, when they touched the sides of his head, something, other than blood, flowed into me and nourished me. The blood fed me one way and an energy flowed into me through my hands.
I learnt that many years had passed since 1917, it was May 1940. The futile sacrifices, that I had volunteered to be part of, had lead to our victory, in 1918. The war was a new one, less than a year old and Germany was winning it. As I fed, my body became less of a skeleton. Slowly, my body filled out and my skin became less leathery. I think that I must still have looked like some mud caked demon, from hell. After I had taken my victim’s clothes, my hand instinctively entered his body, just below his ribs, so that I could rip out his heart.
Still hungry, I went on a search for more food, only to come upon a German patrol. The three of them spotted me and ordered me to stand still. I did, as they wanted, then as they closed, with me, something just snapped, in my mind. The next thing I knew, was that the three, of them, were paralysed. Reason having returned and without any remorse, I feed off the three of them. Their blood and life-force nourished me, after which my body looked less hellish and more human. From the mind of one of them I learnt German. From another I learned about weapons and modern warfare. The third’s mind yielded a vile poison, that was all hatred and insanity, in the guise of political beliefs. The war became my crusade — in the last war I had gone, to serve King and Country, only to discover that I was a fool, to fight for such things. Things were different in the new war, I had become death risen with a Crusade that was to destroy, the vile evil enemy. Each of their hearts, I ripped out, as I had done with my earlier meal.
That night, I discovered how fast I could run and that I did not tire doing it. At the end of the night, I buried myself again. For the next week, I spent my days in the earth and my nights, oh my nights, they were spent hunting Germans, to feed me, constantly travelling onwards towards my goal Germany. The night before I reached the German border I encountered a whole German Platoon. They opened fire on me with their Machine pistols, of course some bullets hit me, but I only felt their tender impacts and they did me no more damage than gnat bites — not that I suffer from such things now. Once again, I entered that state that I had done when I encountered the patrol, upon the night when I’d first awakened. Oh! The carnage! Oh! The carnage. It was magnificent and I fed until I was bloated — all but one of them I left dead and the one that I left alive, being incapable of feeding off him, I left with his mind paralysed.
For a while, in Germany, I just fed off soldiers, but when I learnt of their bombing, of our cities, any German became fair game. Before long, I was far too well fed and I became lethargic. Then for several nights, I could not rise, from the earth. The hunger, for blood, lessened and my commitment, to my cause, grew. After a few more months, boredom set in, this was due to the lack of challenge, that my kills presented. It got to the stage where I only killed once or twice a week, but I did find other ways to occupy myself.