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Necropolis (An Original Story)

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An excellent plot for a horror film congealed in my mind one night while I was dozing. Basically, it’s City of the Living Dead meets Poltergeist meets Salem’s Lot meets the trailer for Mortuary, with imagery from my own dreams thrown in for good measure.

TRANSMODERNISM > POSTMODERNISM > MODERNISM > PREMODERNISM

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 (Edited)

FADE IN

On a panoramic shot of a desert ghost town.

SUPERIMPOSE: SUNSIDE GHOST TOWN, ARIZONA — 1998

SUNSIDE — MONTAGE

We pass through Sunside. The roads are paved, but deep cracks crisscross the asphalt, obscuring it beneath a webwork of brown grass. The town buildings — the houses, the shops, the school, the courthouse, and the town hall — stand deserted, their coats of paint bleached shades of off-white by the harsh sun or stripped nearly completely away by erosion, their windows and doors damaged/destroyed by vandals, lifeless.

EXT. SHERIDAN’S COTTAGE — DAY

On the outskirts of Sunside stands a cottage. The cottage is of the same vintage as the abandoned town and bears similar weathering. Unlike those dwellings, however, this small home has escaped abandonment. A well and flower garden are located in the front yard, a tool shed and chicken coop to the side, and a vegetable garden and outhouse in the back. Under the porch, past a mahogany rocking chair, in the threshold of the open door, stands SHERIDAN.

Sheridan is a woman of medium height, attired in an old-fashioned brown dress and hooded black cloak, her blond hair worn in a long braid down her chest. That is all that can be said with certainty about her. In the gloom of hood and home, age, facial features, etc. cannot be made out. What we can see of her skin is dark, and her eyes seem to glow red with reflected light much like a cat’s.

From her vantage point, Sheridan can view almost the whole of Sunside, sprawled out, tiny, almost the size of a toy playset from this distance. Vision keen, she can make out the caravan of vehicles heading into the derelict town like so many black ants.

EXT. ROAD — DAY

The caravan consists of a large array of different vehicles — trailers, flatbed trucks, water trucks, dump trucks, bulldozers, loaders, and a crane.

SUNSIDE — MONTAGE

The crew and equipment unloaded, it isn’t long before demolition begins. The bulldozers make short, easy work of the small houses, but for larger, sturdier buildings such as the school and town hall, explosives are used. Inside a day, Sunside — which had preserved against the elements without a human hand to maintain it since 1931 — is reduced to a debris field of splintered wood and crumbled brick.

EXT. SUNSIDE CEMETERY — DAY

Just beyond Sunside proper, on a low hill which overlooks the town, identifed by the iron gate in front, is Sunside Cemetery. A large unfenced cemetery — nearly a third the size of the town itself — headstones and crosses rise from the arid soil, encrusted with lichen and grime, tilted, fallen over, many of the plots they stand over sunken after the long years. From the dates still visible, we can discern not a single person buried here was interred later than 1897, though with all the available space remaining, it isn’t at all clear why Sunside Cemetery was abandoned so long before Sunside itself.

EXT. SUNSIDE CHURCH — DAY

Past the graves, towards the front of the cemetary, stand two buildings: a rather modest mortuary, and adjacent to the mortuary, rather anomalous in this part of the country, a prodigious Gothic-style church. Atop the tall spire is a combined Celtic/Patriarchal cross of green copper.

INT. SUNSIDE CHURCH/CHANCEL — DAY

Passing through the nave, we come to the chancel, the central section of the church. The walls and floor are of greenish-black, gold-flecked soapstone, unfestooned, but bearing intricate engraved designs of religious and occultic significance. There are no pews or altar present in the space, but in the apse stands a titanic statue.

Cut from immaculate white marble, the statue has been shaped to represent the Christian God, but it’s a most unorthodox representation. The statue has three faces, one for each Person of the Trinity. The dextral face is masculine, bearded — the Father; the sinistral face is feminine, beautiful — the Holy Spirit; the central face is androgynous, youthful — the Son. Their hands frame Their belly, which is pregnant with creation. Creation is represented by a painted bas-relief divided into four distinct spheres. The first sphere: the spiritual world, domain of angels; the second sphere: the material world, domain of animals; the third sphere: the infernal world, domain of demons; the lowest sphere, as represented by an inset disk of featureless black onyx: oblivion.

INT. SUNSIDE CEMETERY — DAY

The wrecking crew has arrived. Several trucks pass through the gate while the heavy crane rolls in around it.

INT. SUNSIDE CHURCH/CHANCEL — DAY

The church shudders at the crane’s approach.

EXT. SUNSIDE CEMETERY — DAY

With the wrecking ball attached, the crane is erected. Swiveling the cab right, then left, the operator casts the ball smack-dab into the spire. The spire disintegrates, sending the tarnished cross to the ground with a harsh clang.

INT. SUNSIDE CHURCH/CHANCEL — DAY

Spread out through the nave and chancel, the blasters get to work fitting dynamite into boreholes drilled into the load-bearing pillars earlier. One of them stops momentarily to gaze upon the statue of God. The man isn’t a churchgoer, not even a believer, but he is still held in awe by the magnificence of the statue and the chamber it’s in. He shakes his head, unable to grasp the motivations underlying this artless demolition, but a job’s a job; he resumes the task at hand without complaint.

EXT. SUNSIDE CHURCH — DAY

Explosives in place, interior vacated, perimeter cleared, the signal is given. With a burst of light and sound, Sunside Church implodes, joining its namesake in nothingness.

EXT. SUNSIDE — SUNSET

The vehicles and wrecking crew have vacated, and with them the refuse of Sunside. Where the ghost town had stood are now vacant lots; not even the foundations of the buildings or the cracked roads which connected them remain. Beside the road which disappears into the vanished town has been erected a billboard. The billboard sports a picturesque rendering of a modern town situated beneath a starry night sky, emblazoned in large white letters at the bottom: “COMING SOON - - STARSIDE”.

CROSSFADE TO

The same shot after nightfall.

A pickup truck comes speeding along the road. It barrels past the Starside billboard, en route for the cemetery.

EXT. SUNSIDE CEMETERY — NIGHT

The truck pulls through the gate, entering the graveyard. Though the rubbish of the church/mortuary has been cleared out, the headstones remain in place, undisturbed for now.

Climbing out of the truck, the TWEEDLE BROTHERS go around back. Opening the tailgate, they fish out their tools — a pair of shovels, pair of mattocks, pair of sledgehammers, a metal detector, an electric lantern, and a flashlight.

CUT TO

The grave robbers wandering deep into the graveyard, the brilliant stars and moon in the sky overhead their only companions.

TWEEDLE BRO. #1: Quiet out. I mean, it’s too quiet.

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: (noncommittal) Too quiet.

TWEEDLE BRO. #1: I mean, where’re the crickets and that, yeah? It’s the desert; there’re always crickets.

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: Always.

They continue. The first brother turns his lantern this way and that, examining graves.

TWEEDLE BRO. #1: Lotta these graves sunk into the ground.

His brother says nothing.

TWEEDLE BRO. #1: (cont’d) I don’t wanna fall into one. You know what I mean?

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: Then don’t walk into one. (sarcastic) You know what I mean?

The grave robbers find themselves in the oldest section of the cemetery. The second brother stops before a large, prodigious tombstone, possibly the grandest in the cemetery. Chiselled from granite, an angel kneels atop the base, hands clasped in solemn prayer. The inscription on the face reads:

"LÁZARO MUÑOZ

VILLAGE FOUNDER

BORN

MAY 1, 1813

‘THAT IS NOT DEAD WHICH CAN ETERNAL LIE’"

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: He was loaded, for sure.

Setting their equipment down, they start to work. They begin with shovels, but once the stoniness of the soil proves a bother, they switch to the mattocks, using them to cleave into the dark earth.

Minutes pass. As the brothers clear the last of the dirt away, the lid of an old brick burial vault is exposed.

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: (raps on lid; grins) Still loaded, heh?

Tossing the mattocks aside, they take up their sledgehammer. The following work is sweaty and exhausting, the brick is thick, but the brothers’ tenacity wins them through. The lid cracks, releasing a blast of fetid air from inside. The first brother leaps out of the hole, the second recoiling, both from disgust.

Once the stench has cleared, the second brother retrieves his mattock and sets about knocking and prying loose the broken brick; a fist-sized hole is opened into the vault.

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: (holds out hand) Flashlight. Gimme.

The first brother hands the second the flashlight. Switching it on, the grave Robber casts the beam into the hole.

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: Somethin’ in here. (beat) Glittery red.

That’s when glossy black spiders — the shape and size of black widows, with glowing red eyes, numbering in the thousands — emerge from the violated burial vault. It is already too late for the second brother; the spiders engulf him before he can climb out of the grave.

TWEEDLE BRO. #2: AAAAHHH!!!

The grave robber disappears beneath a torrent of tiny, living black bodies as the arachnids scamper up the walls of the six-foot pit for his brother.

TWEEDLE BRO. #1: Holy fuck!

The vicious spiders race up the remaining brother’s legs, over and across his torso, onto his arms and face, biting, drawing his blood, visibly swelling as they absorb it into themselves. He frenetically brushes and slaps at the critters, popping them like great black blisters, drenching himself in a mixture of their black ichor and his own red blood. He turns, tries to sprint away, staggers, weak from exertion and blood loss, and collapses onto his knees then his chest, spiders still clinging to him, more emerging from the grave to join in the feast.

As the lone Tweedle lies there, tick-like spiders latched onto him, growing in size as they drain him dry, he gazes up. Standing before him, eyes aglow with baleful red light most certainly not reflected, is the cloaked Sheridan, in her tight gray fist a razor-edged tomahawk.

TITLE: NECROPOLIS

TRANSMODERNISM > POSTMODERNISM > MODERNISM > PREMODERNISM