Whereupon a marmot with the head of a steely-eyed snakefish told me that henceforth from this day on the sons of man were to be called Scullions and they were to serve Satan in all things, that they might receive their just deserts. Whereupon, the very next moment, I beheld a Mullion, which had the head of a yapping poodle and which spoke to me as a man speaks, and it told me of the past that is in the future and the future that is in the past, and none of what it told me made any sense, but I heard it all the same and having heard it I departed from that place none the wiser, but nevertheless knowing one or two things that I did not know before. I walked away from that place and as I walked I had many thoughts passing through my head, thoughts of happier times when the world was still a good place. I hadn’t got very far when I passed by a great iron gate at the side of the road and leading upon this gate was a Scullion with the head of a Mullion and this fearsome but nevertheless courteous creature addressed me by name, calling me Bartholomew, which is not my name, and it declared solemnly to me that from this time on the sons of man should be called Hellions, and they shall serve the Worm God that dwells secretly in the dark and unwholesome places of the world, and that their payment for this service should be confusion, sentimentality and nostalgia, which they shall possess in great abundance. Thus, he told me, will begin the New Age which we have heard so much about in the prophecies and legends. I thanked the Scullion with the head of a Mullion for its words and continued on my way, whereupon I immediately came upon a small metal man, small in height but mighty in girth, who asked me if he could walk with me for a while. I agreed gladly – company is a good thing when you’re a long time on the road, as I am, and I was furthermore very interested to hear what tales he might have to tell. We walked in silence for a mile or so and then my new companion began to speak. He told me of the great suffering he had had to endure over the course of many millennia. ‘Those were millennia of pain for me’, the metal man told me. ‘They were epochs of anguish.’ He then explained to me that he was made of lead, and not just any old lead but philosophical lead. ‘Being a creature composed of philosophical lead, my nature is that of suffering and who can suffer escaped from their own nature? For a long, long time I tried to do just that and wisdom was slow indeed to come to me; it was slow just like a big heavy old tortoise that drags its feet in the dust and lumbers along at a barely perceptible speed – but it got there in the end, as it always does.’ Thus spoke the metal man, or rather thus spoke the leaden man, as he walked by my side. Thus he spoke, thus he spoke… ‘Much suffering have I endured’, the leaden man told me, ‘because there was no avoiding it, and much more suffering yet awaits me still, because there is no escape from it.’ he spoke slowly and with great resonance. ‘Do you understand what I am telling you?’ he then asked me, after giving me a chance to digest his words. I answered that I did for it was true – I understood what that metal man was telling me with great clarity. ‘Very well,’ he replied, in his resonant but strangely muffled voice, ‘then understand this – the leaden man is you and you walk alone down this long wearisome road. You have no companion. You are me; you yourself are the leaden homunculus – you just didn’t know it until this moment’.