Outline/character development for Morgan's Hollow Novel forthcoming.
On a dark and stormy night two figures are seen carrying a body out of a house on the beach. Due to the snow on the ground we know that it is the off season in some northeast beach resort area. They drive towards a more desolate area to dispose of the body. On their way there their car gets stuck in a tidal pool that has overflowed onto the road due to winter storms and unusually high midwinter tides. They get out of the car and begin to carry the body onward to its final resting space. As they do so, they are seemingly attacked by thousands of rodents who swarm out of the grass and sand. Horrified, the two thugs (working names * Jack * and * Diane * ) retreat, dropping the body. It turns out that the target of the rodents attack is the body itself. They begin to eat the flesh of the wrists and arms of the corpse stripping them down to the bone. Shivering and wet, the two thugs run away from the grisly scene.
We are introduced to * Melanie * a down on your luck stripper/law school dropout. She is described in detail and we learn that she is staying in an old house on the beach in winter (co-in-key-dink, I think not). We learn a bit about how she got here and why she is staying here (not really important to future of story). Flash to a newspaper headline about murders taking place on Long Island higher than average this year and then flash to TV news tidbit about strange animal behavior (ie. Swarming rodents and packs of dogs running rampant).
Scene 1: Back to the beach we saw in the Opening Scene. Flash to the corpse, arms cleaned of flesh, the animal swarm backs off. The bonds used to tie the hands together hang loosely on the bone. The hands themselves are pictured in grotesque detail. Quit the scene as we see the hands twitch.
Scene 2: We see Jack (thug #1 – cowardly one) sipping a drink in one of the summer houses along the beach that he broke into after leaving his friend behind. He ruminates over what happened in his mind and we see that in his terror trying to get away from the horror of the swarm of animals he accidentally (sort of) kills his compadre who mentioned that they needed to go back to dispose of the body regardless of the rats. He only stopped here to change out of his wet clothes (necessity) and catch his breath before hypothermia sets in. He has it in his head to just get away (preferably without getting caught).
Scene 3: Cut back to the corpse who wakes up with a bad headache and tries to sits up (gee not a corpse anymore). Bad headache, really sick and oops, hands still tied, falls over then notices flesh eaten away from arms and screams….
Scene 4: Jack trudging up the road trying to make it off the island before sunup, almost spotted by truck driver before diving into bushes.
Scene 5: Girl realizes that she needs medical attention as shock starts to set in and gets up to stagger towards civilization. Just then she notices Diane’s body.
Scene 6:Jack reaches the bridge and fades into obscurity into the mass of Long Islanders waking up and ready to go to work.
Scene 7:bone arm girl realizes that pain of her arms is subsiding and lo and behold her skin is healing over the bone right before her eyes. She shudders and wonders at this and at the strange fact that even though she is all wet she is quite warm.
Jack gets found and questioned by his “boss” as to what happened to Diane and what happened with the dead girl. The boss does not accept Jack’s story of spooky old animal “swarms” or how killing Diane was an accident. No, Jack, you just wanted the money without doing the job right. Pow Pow, dead Jack. The “boss” (let us call him * Peter *) turns out to be the owner of a strip club that was ripped off by a smart stripper and one of the customers. He has ties to organized crime and fancies himself smarter than Tony Soprano and more dapper than John Gotti. He is not a made man, he just wants to be one. He is part of a crew that runs several strip joints in Brooklyn and Queens as well as running numbers, offering protection and overseeing a group of street drug dealers. Jack and Diane were just two lowlife drug addicts that he contacted though his dealers to do the hit in exchange for drugs and money. They never even knew his name until he found Jack after the screw up on the beach. Ah well, the bitch is dead. Let sleeping dogs lie. As for Jack, hell, lets simply drop him where he usually sleeps anyway, the trash. Good thing the Jeep was rented by Diane.
Detective Joseph Seranino of the Southhampton/Suffolk police dept. investigates the report of a young woman (Melanie – we see at last) who was spotted by the driver of an old pickup truck. The man driving was dressed in chest waders and was a beach fisherman trying for some late night striper action on the beach. He calmed her down, draped her with an oversized hooded sweatshirt and drove her to a nearby hospital. Other than being covered in blood (her own they discovered) she was perfectly healthy. The cops went back to check for Diane’s body at her urging, but they couldn’t find it. They didn’t find a body but they found the stuck jeep, lots of animal prints, including fox and dogs which was strange. Also, there were drag marks to the edge of the water and lots of blood (not Melanie’s they discovered). It looked like animals attacked someone and then dragged the body to the ocean’s edge. That coupled with the strange story the girl told did not add up. NYPD at the 101 pct had responded with the vehicle info. The jeep was rented by a Jane Miller in Far Rockaway but no one knew the whereabouts of Ms. Miller and the address and id she had given to rent the car were phony. The clerk had only remembered her because “she wuz a muscular white bitch…looked all jumpy like, she paid cash tho’ with a credit backup.” The credit card was stolen it turned out. Stranger and stranger. A missing body who, it seems was someone sent to hurt (kill?) this hysterical but pretty young girl, there had been a man present as well, it seemed because they found the broken house and bloody footprints in the frozen marsh grass. Was there a falling out between attackers, or did the man come along afterward and try to help the girl. He needed more answers. He talks all of this over with his partner Det. George Vasilios, a Greek from Astoria who commutes to work all the way from Bayside Queens. This chapter may need to be broken in two and moved in order to get on with the story. (aka we know what happened so don’t spend too much time, but DO introduce these two characters…and make them REALLY interested in this case).
We meet Melanie’s benefactor, John, who owns the house she is staying in. He’s such a nice guy he comes to see if she’s ok after her ordeal and to see if there is anything he can do. Melanie tells him of the weirdness at the beach about waking up with skinned arms, etc. He looks thoughtful for a moment and then launches into John’s Tale.
Chapter 6 – Johns’s Tale
It seems that John is an amateur explorer cum archaeologist. He has traveled the world since he was a young man. (He is now apparently in his 60’s) and has visited many strange places and met many strange people. Some of the strangest he has met have actually lived in some of the worlds largest cities. For instance the old woman he met in Jakarta, Indonesia. She was Tongan from the Kingdom of Tonga in the south Pacific by descent but had also moved around a lot in her lifetime. She told him of ruins she had seen when she visited Inda, China, and curiously enough Australia. Australia, you exclaim, I have never heard of any ruins in Australia. You are right, there are none that the white man knows of, nor any that the living aborigines know of, for these ruins were not built by any from that race. These were placed there by Polynesians and then all mention of them destroyed in Polynesian lore. Considering that oral traditions passed from generation to generation of Polynesian witch doctor, it wasn’t too hard to forcibly forget the events that led to the creation of the Autstralian ruins. The old woman had learned of them from her father’s father who had the story from an ancient Polynesian shaman who had straggled ashore in Tonga after a bad storm had capsized his canoe and left him drifting helplessly for two weeks in the Pacific currents. The shaman it turned out, was the last of a line of great shamans that were charged with the secret of the ruins. He was nursed back to health by the old woman’s grandfather and his family but he never truly recovered from his ordeal. Before he died, he spent time teaching the woman’s grandfather his magic and lore lest it be lost to his people and made the man swear to try to return to his people and train a proper replacement shaman for his tribe. The woman’s grandfather took pity on the man and learned his stories and listened to his tales of gods, magic and monsters. Many were tales that were common with his own tribes’ legends but a few were different and this was interesting to him. Especially about the temple on the “super island/mainland” to the southwest.
The story went as follows: Many turns of the sun ago (years) large groups of men had come sailing from the east on flying mats that floated over the waves of the Pacific like the wings of gulls. These men were unlike any the people had seen before. Among them was a great chief known as Tiki. He had two brothers named Mowwee and Ka-Hun. They brought with them strange and wondrous plants and animals that the islanders had never seen before. The plants included the taro root and the coconut palm and the animals included pigs and goats. Until this point, the islanders had lived mainly off the sea by hunting fish and gathering seaweed and shellfish, etc. (Note: to self: flesh out this a bit better and more accurately) The great chief Tiki was looked upon as a god as were his brothers and many others in their retinue (those are other legends however) and many stories were told of their exploits while they stayed among the islanders, which was quite a long stay, I must add. About twenty turns of the earth about the sun after the “gods” arrived a great quarrel arose among them. It seems that they had held a secret for all that time and that one among them discovered the secret. In a small jar that Tiki owned lived an evil spirit. This spirit had been known to corrupt men by giving them extraordinary powers of control. Control of the animals of the earth, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea and lo down to the insects that eat us after death. The control also was effective on oneself giving the user’s body great healing powers and great stamina. With these powers a man could harrass his enemies and help his friends. As with any great power there is a price however. The evil spirit only lends the power to the individual who frees it for the price of his life’s essence. Each time the powers are used a bit more of the spirit of the man is consumed by the greedy evil spirit that lives within him. Now all know that a man’s spirit is his own and cannot be totally destroyed, but it can be enslaved to the will of the evil one. The evil one would consume all but the central husk of a man’s soul. That husk it would swallow whole and incorporate into its own being thus making itself more powerful than before. The body of the man would now belong to the spirit who would talk like the man and look like the man, but was not the original. This process could take years but the evil one had nothing but time. The man who accepted the evil spirit into his soul would live far longer than ordinary mortal men due to the healing powers the spirit granted. Even old age could be erased with practice to make the host seem younger or older or to take the outward form of some other type of animal if one so desired. Upon finally taking control of the body of the host, the evil one would inherit a body it could not keep however. This would soon become apparent as the man’s body would begin to decay while he still moved. You see, no matter how powerful the spirit was and however many souls it enslaved, it could never keep a host body alive for more than a few minutes after it engulfed its host spirit before the body would begin to die. Due to the extraordinary healing powers of the spirit and the degree of control it had over the flesh of its host body, the death of the host was not apparent for many moons and would not truly be noticable for at least a year. Desperate, the spirit would try to reach out offer its seductive powers to others before it was trapped in the decaying flesh sometimes splitting itself among numerous hosts until such time as its “main” body was no longer of use. At that time, the spirit would jump to the nearest part of itself that had “infected” another host. There were always several that were “empowered” by the spirit at once as a pantheon of “gods” for their people. At the time of the telling, Tiki and his people were the hosts for the dangerous spirit. They had been driven from their homes in the east after living there for centuries. The people there had been afraid of what they carried. Before living in the east, Tiki’s people spoke of a land even farther east across a great sea. An archipelago of islands in a warm shallow sea and the spirit whispered to them of the great river that flowed through deserts to the south of the archipelago that it had conquered at one time as well as a land to the east of that that lay between two rivers only to be driven out again and again by frightened populaces. It seemed that when the powers of their gods became too capricious or too invasive into their lives, the people would turn away and refuse to accept them or their ilk to walk among them. Elaborate priesthoods would be erected to contain the “gods” and refuse the power offered to them protecting their peoples. Offerings of blood were made to sate the hunger of the spirit for souls, but these offerings were not enough. If humans could not be freely sacrificed to become gods through fear or through avarice, thus the spirit would force his people to move on to other places where the people knew naught of their powers or whence they came. It usually took care to hide its true cannabalistic nature even from its own hosts.
Tiki however was a sly one it seemed and had tricked the spirit into revealing more of itself to him than any before. Preying on the spirit’s own vanity in its power and age he trapped the spirit that rode within him inside a stone jar by promising it immediate control of his body if he could have but one night to make love to his wife alone before being consumed by the spirit. The spirit looked into Tiki’s soul and saw that he did not lie. He truly wanted one night of passion with his woman without being ridden by the spirit and then he was more than willing to give control of his body and control of his own soul to the evil spirit forever more. Sensing that there was no harm in doing this , the spirit agreed to leave the body of Tiki and enter that of an insect that would be trapped in a jar till morning. At that time, if Tiki did not open the jar and allow the spirit to flow back from the insect into his body, the spirit promised that it would call out to its other parts among his tribe who would force Tiki to open the jar and reunite parasite with host. And also mete out terrible punishment upon all whom Tiki loved. You see, the spirit could only enter a willing host. A host who lusted for power, or a host who cried out for fear of death to be saved by anyone one who articulated in heart and mind a wish for MORE, or a host who knowingly accepted the spirit by its ancient and un-pronouncable name. Tiki agreed and when the spirit had left his body and entered into the insect in the jar he went to his wife and made sweet passionate love to her. Afterward while lying with her he gave way to grief and began to weep. His wife was perplexed. Here was the great god Tiki weeping after making sweet love to her. “Why O husband do you weep?”
“Because dearest mortal wife, I shall never see thy eyes again gazing up to me with such love.”
Frightened and dismayed, his wife asked, “But why Lord would you cast me aside, have I not been good to you? Have I not followed you over the trackless sea from our homes among the Olmec and the Maya? I am old now, true, while you still remain as youthful as the first day we met, but I thought you cared more for me than looks”
“No, my dearest, no, I would not cast you aside but for the evil spirit who have given me my godlike powers will own my body and have eaten my own spirit and take it into itself come the morning. I have bargained with it for one last night alone with you without its evil presence riding my soul.”
Tiki’s wife having been the wife of a god was more worldly than many women and therefore more prone to think of solutions to problems to help Tiki care for his people than other women would be. She had never wanted power for herself. She was content to care for her beloved Tiki and to help him with each and every problem that he confronted as a good wife should. She knew that Tiki’s father Quenzacoatl had been a god just as his father Zeus had been a god and that Zeus’ father Ra had been one as well. This business of the god powers being bestowed by an evil spirit was news to her but upon questioning her husband as to how the arrangement worked she grew more and more horrified. Fearing her own child Lahanakai would be the next target of this spirit that consumed souls she turned on Tiki and shamed him into telling her the whole truth of the arrangement. Tiki told her of the spirit and told her which of his brothers and sisters and fellow tribemates were infected by the spirit’s power. The main powers of the spirit were his however and right now they were in the stone jar about his neck. It was no use to fight he told her. If he refused to take the spirit back into himself to be consumed now at last when his own spirit was too tired to resist anymore after all these years, then the spirit would call it other parts in to open the jar and force him to accept it back anyway as well as to exact retribution on his family.
“But wait O husband, do not let yourself give way to this evil thing that has infected our people and has destroyed our ability to rule ourselves. Did you not say that this thing split itself into many parts to avoid one part from being the last one in its line?”
“Yes, but what…”
“Wait and be still and listen now to one who loved you as a wise god and loves you still even as a foolish mortal. We must quickly go and contact others who are close to the other parts of this spirit yet who are not of it. We must make the spirit be tricked one part at a time to be encased in stone jars just like yours and yet not let each part be aware of what the other parts are doing. Is this thing possible O husband?”
Surprised at his wife’s tricky mind and at her obvious love for him despite his mortality hope sprang from his chest. “Yes!”, he exclaimed, “This is what we shall do, you will contact those closest to each of the gods in our camp and convince them of my story and the manner in which their loved ones will be saved. The parts of the spirit that have been left in the old world are all contained in their old temples and in ancient tombs below the sand of the deserts. The only active hosts are among us here on these beautiful islands. Already war and strife have been brought here as we quarrel among ourselves to show our powers and to impress the locals. Perhaps it is best that this curse stop with us in this generation. You must be done before the spirit wakes in the morning and wants my body back, for by then it shall be too late! Go quickly now and my blessings, such as they are, go with you my love”
Swiftly, Tiki’s wife traveled to Mowwee’s campfire and found his youngest daughter and middle son engaged in a game along with a friend of theirs from another family. Mowwee was not there at that time, he was with his wife who stylized herself a sea goddess. They were engaged in playing with the dolphins and fish and imposing their will upon the creatures of the shore. They were due back soon for rest so she knew she hadn’t much time. She convinced the children that there was an evil monster hiding in their parents and that they needed to trick the monsters into the small jars she provided. The best way to do that would be promise to accept the monster into themselves if their parents could prove that their god powers could be placed in the jars, only they weren’t to call the monsters that, they needed to call them, the Shining Wise Ones. Also, they needed proof of the god powers being in the jar. Their parents must make a cut on their left hands and if the wounds closed over immediately, they would know that the spirits had not left them. Once the spirits were in the jars, they were to grab the jars and run to Tiki’s fire and he would protect them and save their parents. The other young boy she took aside and hurriedly explained her plan. He agreed to recruit help. The list of the remaining five spirits would be divided amonst them. With pleas of speed and prayers to some true good spirit of the creator above, Tiki’s wife went off to her last stop of the evening, Tiki’s other brother Ka-Hun.
When Tiki’s wife entered the ring of his fire, Ka-Hun ringed her about with a wall of stinging flies and crawling insects with large mandibles. Tiki’s wife grew afraid and cried out “O Brother-in-Law why are you bringing your awesome power to bear on the beloved of your brother?”
“I know for a fact that you are supposed to be lying under your husband right now giving him his heart’s desire. Why are you not there wench!? Tiki told me this afternoon that he wanted to be left alone all night with you and not to sit by my fire and play with our powers as we have of old.”
“He is asleep and for some reason his godlike powers of stamina have deserted him. I will be back before he wakes and wants me again.” she replied quickly thinking on her feet.
“That does not explain why you are here.” said Ka-Hun, slowly dispersing some, but not all of his insect horde.
“I come to ask you brother of my husband if you would come with me to Tiki’s fire to visit. You have not visited us in many a moon and Tiki pines to speak with you before morning. Yet, strangely, he said you were lost to him and he also would soon be lost.”
At this Ka-Hun relaxed and understood, wrongly, that his brother, who had always been weaker than he, was about to give in to the inner spirit and wanted to talk with him brother to brother without the spirit interfering. Throwing his head back, he laughed bitterly and replied, “Ah if I could but meet him without fear of reprisal and regret of what is to come, I would sister, but my power waxes as his wanes therefore it will be impossible for me to come to his fire without my power slip my grasp from grief and wreak its own vengeance upon this island and all islands near us.”
She appeared lost in thought for a moment and then hit upon an idea, “What if you placed your power within this stone jar for a while and hung it around your neck. Could you then see your brother in his melancholia and not be moved to cause harm in sympathy?”
Ka-Hun thought this an excellent idea and since he was still in control of his spirit rather than the other way around, he was able to wrestle it into the jar riding on the body of a mosquito plucked from the surrounding swarm. Ka-Hun, though sad of his brother’s eminent demise felt no compunction to give up his own spirit permanently, he liked the power it gave him and looked forward to centuries of life as a god. If at the end of that time, he succumbed to the spirit, he believed that a long life well spent was worth eternity as part of a being as great as this godmaker. The evil one had become his own god to which he pledged himself. He felt that his iron will would always be able to sway his god to his own thinking. Turning to Tiki’s wife, he asked her to accompany him to Tiki’s fire.
Tiki’s wife, seeing no way to grab the jar that hung around Ka-Hun’s neck acquiesced nervously. Trusting her husband to think of something, she led her brother-in-law to Tiki’s fire.
By that time, the children who had helped Tiki’s wife had gathered their stone jars containing various insects and small animals that carried the evil spirit within them. There was a beetle, an ant, a spider, a finch, a mouse, a lizard, a hermit crab, and a small lobster. Each contained a portion of the spirit that had once inhabited a tribesmember. They had run back to Tiki’s fire with the jars hotly pursued by many of their fathers and mothers and kinfolk from whom they had stolen them. As the jars came closer to each other, the various pieces of spirits realized that the entire spirit was trapped outside a human host for the first time since humanity had learned to use tools. The various pieces of the spirit cried out to their prospective hosts to come save them.
Ka-Hun arrived in Tiki’s camp just as this great cry went through his skull emanating from the jar around his neck. Hastily he fumbled at the jar to uncork it and receive the spirit back within him, but Tiki’s wife, ready for this spun around and slashed at the cord holding the jar with her stone knife handed down through generations of women from her greatest grandmother’s grandmother unbroken through a thousand years to her. The knife cut the plaited vines easily and the jar’s weight dropped it to the sand through Ka-Hun’s grasping hands. In a flash, Mowwee’s youngest daughter grabbed it and ducked away from her uncles wrath towards Tiki who was already running towards the beach. At the beach, his boat was afloat and ready to sail with four men and supplies already aboard. Tiki carried the basket filled with stone jars himself. Ka-Hun led a pack of seven ex-gods who howled in terror at the aspect of losing their powers and their influence and in fear that the spirit would punish them if it got free again without them. Grabbing Mowwee’s daughter as he leaped aboard his craft he waved farewell to Polynesia and set his sails west and south away from the islands and into the dark of night. Tiki’s wife grabbed a canoe and followed her husband and niece in turn being pursued by her other kin. The canoe did not have a sail and soon her arms grew weary of paddling. Her kinsfolk passed her by in their pursuit. Tiki sailed on and did not return to Polynesia. He succumbed to sickness shortly after going to sea and charged his sailors and his niece to hide the jars away in a temple ringed about with prayers to the creator and never ever go back. To hide the temple in a dark cave and enclose it with stone to insulate the cries of the spirit. To picture dire warnings on the doors to the temple warning those who enter and to never tell anyone of what they knew. Thus they swore and thus they did.
Years later, Mowwee’s youngest daughter returned to Polynesia from out of the West. She returned to find Tiki’s wife and tell her of her husband’s peaceful end on the ocean that he loved. One promise she did not keep however. On her own deathbed, she told her granddaughter the story you have just heard and admonished her to tell no one but her own granddaughter. The story described the great temple that was built by the sailors.