I wrote these two visions down on two separate dates. Still don’t know if they’re an actual memory or just me being a typical writer and wrapped up in my own fantasies. But there is a ring of legitimacy to them so I thought I’d share.
On October 20, 2012, I wrote:
The fields outside the town could be very scary places at night.
The wind across the rolling hills would sometimes moan as the warmer air cooled in the night. The old folks said it was lost spirits calling out to tempt God-fearing folk into the sin of suicide.
On the new moon you had only the stars, and you could see the milky way so plainly, a great strip of tortured white above you, the rolling hills faintly registering in their dim glow. And on nights when the moon was full the land looked white, furry, and undulating in the moaning breezes like some sort of sea moss.
Then there were the corpse candles, those sinister lights that appear on the hillsides at night and vanish without a trace. They told us that it was bad luck to follow a corpse candle, because they were used by Satan to lure men into peril. And I grew to fear those corpse candles most of all if I was ever about at night because whenever a corpse candle appeared in my way, I knew the way was not safe. But one night out on those fields, in avoiding the corpse candles, I became lost. Fearful that a cruel trick had been played on me, I ran to the tallest hill nearby and scanned the horizon.
I probably could have seen the town’s steeple from this spot in the day time, but that was hidden from view. Some homes in town had electric lighting but most still had gas, so the glow on the horizon I saw was not extraordinarily bright, but it was a faint orange glow that led me in the right direction toward the main road into town.
I later saw an entire field where I was surrounded by corpse candles in France. That was when I knew that there was no way out for me.
On October 30, 2012, I wrote:
I remember little about the first day I arrived in the trenches. I don’t remember getting there, I don’t recall how I actually got down into the trenches, but I do remember the first time I set foot there.
They were shallow, dry, and duck-boarded, not the deep pits of mud one usually sees in war movies.
In fact, the weather wasn’t bad that day. A bit overcast but not too cold and not at all drizzly, with good visibility all around. You could see across No Man’s Land to the German lines, not that there was much to see; the Germans were pretty well dug in even at this point in the war.
We walked along in a column. All the boys were polite, with smiles, waves, nods, and welcomes all around, but their smiles were the forced sort you’d see from family you hadn’t seen in many years when meeting at another relative’s funeral, and the welcomes were the sort of detached murmurings and handshakes one might see at Charon’s landing.
And amongst all the welcomes, they were loading one fellow onto a stretcher. He looked to be dead; sniper got him, most likely. Reduced to a bloody hulk that they covered with a blanket and quietly carried away while we set our bags and rifles down and made ourselves at home in a living death.
It seems music brings these memories out effectively, and emotionally-intense music (whether or not it has a martial theme) seems to do it very well. That second vision came to me while listening to this very intense piece of music: