All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


I turned the corner and there before my eyes was a vast chamber with four massive cast iron valves high up on the wall. There was the constant sound of rushing water and the air was hot and damp with a heavy metallic odour.

I felt as though the walls were beginning to close in, my breath clogged in bloodied lungs, a white hot fear pierced into freezing black coldness within me.

He sat lounging in a giant chair with lavishly dressed men and girls on either side, a lizard on hs shoulder. Moths flew about - or were they butterflies? He was smiling, almost to himself, with a slightly puzzled look - not concerned, but interested in a cruel uncaring way like a cat with prey. The people around him were all looking at me.

I felt myself led forward. There was laughter and whispering but as he straightened a silence fell and his companions looked toward him.

Hello pilgrim

I'm in hell

Not yet

Who are you?

Don't you know?

I don't know anything. I know that I'm done with this - I'm out of it. All of it - I'm going to tell the world about you

He raised an eyebrow.

And who would listen Pilgrim?

The police, priests, the authorities?

Another smile.

It's no good old sport - you know it's really no good

How can you be like this? It's me, me you're talking to. Me

And this is Me my dear

And in that moment, I suddenly saw him as he truly was: completely other, almost alien, capricious as they say the Olympians were - not evil, just entirely amoral.

I'm leaving


I'm getting out of here - I'm going home

And where would that be then old sport?

I turned and walked back towards the entrance - but there was no entrance.

Let me go

But there's nowhere to go my dear. Don't you know?

Know what?

His companions were sniggering again, all looking at me and each other with exaggerated caricatured sympathetic expressions. He silenced them with a wave.

It's no good my dear. You really have to give it up

Give up what?

All this ... disbelief. It just won't do any more


Do I really have to spell it out?

Laughter broke out again.

Spell what out?

He stopped smiling. Looked directly at me.

You're dead

The heat and coldness in me intensified to an unbearable pitch.

I'm not dead, I'm not dead

He was smiling again, shaking his head, mocking but almost gentle once more.

I'm afraid you are old sport

You've been dead for years..