Synopses - Breeding Ground

Main characters

Dr. Alan Finch
DI Ray Grogan
DS Martin Nicholson
Lisa Foster
Dr. George Bennett

Minor characters

Tommy Price
Paul Hilston
Howard Mallows
June Webber
Molly Foster
John Bateson
Harold Oldfield
Dr. Peter Benton
Ralph Patterson
Trevor Doyle
Mark Franklin
Denise Franklin
Roger Franklin
Len Pearson
Steve Pollack
Bill Lawrence
Michelle


Donald Robertson
Edward Dowd
Max Kelly
Irvine
Hamilton
Turner
Carol Mendham
David Macguire
Richard Crane
Keith Turner
Vicky
Private Terry Banks
Private Chris Granger
Private Pat Morrissey
Corporal Simon Johnston
Private Jenkins
Private Lewis

Setting

London

Prologue

A farmer delivers his lettuces to a market in London's Covent Garden. Some of them are discarded onto a pile of rotten vegetables. At the bottom of the pile is a lettuce containing slug larvae. Later that day the slugs emerge and grow at an abnormally fast rate.

Tuesday - the 11th

One

Tommy Price lives rough on the streets of London. Spotting the pile of discarded fruit and vegetables, he grabs and eats some, swallowing some slugs in the process. A few hours later Tommy is in terrible pain as he staggers his way through the streets, throwing up bile and blood along the way. Eventually he stumbles into a public toilet and dies.

Two

Skinheads Paul Hilston and Howard Mallows go into the toilet to sniff some glue. They discover Tommy's body and kick him in an attempt to wake him up, but only succeed in ripping open his stomach and allowing the slugs to escape his body and eat it from the outside as well. The skinheads run away and the slugs slip down a toilet and into the sewers.

Three

Detective Inspector Ray Grogan and Detective Sergeant Martin Nicholson are at the scene of the crime. Clueless about the tramp's identity, the motive and cause of death, they can only wonder what the slime on Tommy's body and the floor is.

Wednesday - the 12th

Four

Doctor Alan Finch arrives at his surgery in Bloomsbury Square but soon leaves to make some house calls. The first is to a boy in Clerkenwell with sore tonsils, but the second is to a flat where Molly Foster is in bed, her body covered in lesions. Finch examines her and decides to call an ambulance to take her to hospital. Molly's daughter Lisa who is also in the flat asks what's wrong with her mother and Finch tells her that he doesn't know and more tests will need to be done. Finch washes his hands in the bathroom and notices a rubber plant in the corner but not the slime trails on it.

Five

Two sewer engineers, John Bateson and Harold Oldfield are repairing a storm relief sewer when a gas warning light prompts them to leave. Oldfield climbs out and waits for Bateson, not knowing he's been eaten by slugs. Oldfield goes back into the sewer but there is no sign of Bateson.

Six

Finch visits Molly Foster in Middlesex Hospital. Molly has got worse and Lisa has sat with her all day. Finch meets Peter Benton who tells him he is running tests on Molly but says that her condition is deteriorating. Finch takes Lisa to the hospital canteen for a coffee.

Seven

Over coffee Finch tells Lisa he is divorced and has a son. Later he drives her home.

Eight

Ralph Patterson and Trevor Doyle are fishing near Westminster Bridge. Doyle walks into a sewer pipe to warm up, where he discovers the remains of John Bateson. They call the police.

D.I. Grogan and D.S. Nicholson inspect the body and notice it's in a similar state to the body in Leicester Square.

Nine

Finch sits at home thinking about his failed marriage and his son, after he receives a letter from his ex-wife Theresa about when and where to pick his son Christopher up from this coming Sunday.

Thursday - the 13th

Ten

DI Grogan speaks with Scotland Yard Pathologist George Bennett who tells him that the manner of the deaths of Bateson and the tramp are identical. No weapon seems to have been used, the wounds look like they could have been caused by an animal.

Eleven

Part Alsatian, part collie, Prince, ventures into an abandoned building which used to be a delicatessen. He licks some slime he finds on the dusty floor as slugs crawl out of a pipe.

11-year-old Mark Franklin follows his dog into the empty shop and finds the remains, which he touches then runs home.

Twelve

Mark explains to his Mum Denise what he found, and that somebody has killed Prince. Mark's arms are now very red and not being able to stomach anything to eat he goes to his room. Denise checks on him later to find that Mark now has pus-filled lesions on his arms and face. She calls a cab.

Thirteen

Bitter 58 year old and practically house-bound Len Pearson sits at his sitting room window watching the goings on outside. He then sits down on the toilet and is eaten by slugs.

Fourteen

Denise brings Mark to the surgery where Finch examines him. He tells Denise that Mark must go to the hospital, but Mark protests. Finch asks for their address then gives Denise his home phone number. She takes Mark home and Finch realises that they live only one street away from Molly Foster.

Fifteen

While his parents are asleep in bed, Mark Franklin takes a razor blade from the bathroom and attacks and kills his parents. Before dying, Denise manages to smash Mark on the head with a lamp. He falls to the floor, with his sores bursting open and dies.

Sixteen

At 3am, DS Nicholson telephones Finch and asks him to come to the Franklins' address. There he is shown the three bodies and is questioned by Grogan about what he knows, being the boy's doctor. George Bennett is also there taking skin samples and Finch asks him if he can attend Mark's autopsy, which Bennett agrees to.

Seventeen

At the autopsy, Bennett examines blood and brain samples under a microscope. They contain thousands of tiny snake-like writhing shapes. They have no clue as to what they can be.

Friday - the 14th

Eighteen

Finch goes to see Lisa and drives her to the hospital who have just called to say her Mother's condition has deteriorated.

During the drive Finch tells her about Mark Franklin who had the same symptoms as her Mum before he died. They rush into the hospital to find Dr. Benton and a nurse trying to restrain Molly who is going crazy. She grabs a hypodermic needle and stabs the nurse in the eye, killing her. She then moves towards Lisa, but she collapses and dies.

Finch takes a sample of Molly's blood and examines it to find the same snake-like organisms he saw earlier.

Nineteen

Finch drives a very upset Lisa home. Finch blames himself and wonders if other people are going through what Molly Foster and Mark Franklin did.

Lisa sits in her kitchen and cries.

Twenty

Squatters Steve Pollack, Bill Lawrence and his girlfriend Michelle are enjoying a threesome in an old flat above a disused Chinese takeaway. Slugs crawl up from the toilet and eat them all alive.

Twenty-one

Finch arrives home but is telephoned soon after by Bennett who tells him he has to come and see something at Scotland Yard.

In his lab, he shows Finch what he has found. The blood flukes from Mark Franklin's brain have doubled in size in less than six hours. The blood flukes and changed into cysts in Mark's penis. Bennett cuts one of the cysts out and puts it into a Petri dish. The cyst splits open and a slug crawls out.

Finch leaves the lab and rushes to Molly's body in the Middlesex Hospital's morgue. He is reluctantly allowed to see her body, but when her drawer is pulled out, all that's left of Molly is mainly bones. There are silver slug trails leading off to the drain.

Saturday - the 15th

Twenty-two

Donald Robertson, Edward Dowd and Max Kelly of the Thames Water Central Division look at a map of London's sewer system and discuss the locations of a recent spate of serious complaints. They agree that there must be a major blockage somewhere and need to send teams to investigate.

Raw sewage is causing chaos in buildings, on the streets of London and on The Underground.

Twenty-three

Bennett explains his findings to Grogan and Nicholson, who both think he is being ridiculous. Finch says that time is running out and they have to act now. Even if giant flesh-eating slugs aren't causing the problems, the raw sewage could cause an outbreak of cholera or typhus.

Twenty-four

Max Kelly leads a team of engineers - Irvine, Hamilton and Turner - to Bucknall Street which has been cordoned off by the police. Terry Atkins heads another team in Wardour Street less than a mile away. Kelly, Hamilton, Turner search the sewer and find huge numbers monstrous slugs blocking the filter. Kelly radios Atkins and tells him to get out of the sewer, then they turn and run for the ladder. Hamilton is killed first, followed by Turner. Kelly radios Irvine for help but gets eaten as he is two foot away from the manhole, while Irvine watches in despair and tries desperately to drag him out.

At the scene, Irvine tells DI Grogan and Irvine that he saw black slug-like things on Kelly.

Twenty-five

Finch drives to his ex-wife's house in Kensington and tells Theresa to take Christopher and leave London to escape a virus. He then drives away.

Twenty-six

Carol Mendham tries and fails to unblock her toilet. She notices some red bumps that have appeared on her. She kills her boyfriend Hugh Francis with an electric carving knife.

David Macguire looks at the blisters that have appeared on his feet while he waits for his wife to get out of the shower. They have sex but during it, he chokes her to death with a vibrator.

That night another 27 people are killed.

Sunday - the 16th

Twenty-seven

Finch attends a meeting at Scotland Yard with eight others - George Bennett, DI Grogan, DS Nicholson, Sir James Hughes (the Metropolitan Police Commissioner), Bryant and Bob Archer (officials from the Department of Health), Donald Robertson and Edward Dowd. They discuss what to do and eventually decide to evacuate where they can and bring the Army in to assist the police. Anyone infected is to be shot.

Twenty-eight

Bryant, Archer, Robertson and Dowd leave the building. Grogan and Nicholson wait in the commissioner's office while Finch and Bennett go to the washroom.

Finch telephones his ex-wife but her lover Richard Crane answers. Finch cannot speak he just puts down the phone and drives to their house to see if Theresa has taken Christopher out of London. Richard answers the door and angrily tells Finch that Theresa has taken Christopher away about two hours ago.

Finch drives to see Lisa and tells her all about the slugs then asks her to leave London. She tells him that she has nowhere to go and wants to stay and help him. She packs some stuff and they drive off.

Twenty-nine

Despite the evacuation trying to be kept as quiet as possible, by late Sunday afternoon it's national news. Over fifty bodies are found of the diseased and their victims. 'The Danger Zone' (as the problem area is dubbed) is sealed off by 1.06am Monday.

Monday - the 17th

Thirty

Finch wakes up and makes himself and Lisa breakfast. There is then a knock on his front door and a policeman asks them to accompany him to Scotland Yard. The policeman drives them there.

Thirty-one

Keith Turner is in a sex club, masturbating in a private booth while watching a girl called Vicky dancing. The club's bouncer is killed by slugs, his screams drowned out by the loud music. They then enter Keith's booth and eat him before Vicky can warm him. She is killed as she tries to escape.

Sergeant Derek Pagett and Martin Forbes, hotel manager, are making sure the Regent Palace Hotel in Piccadilly is empty of people. Forbes is killed when he reaches the foyer, it's entire floor covered with slugs, and Pagett jumps out of a first-floor window to escape.

Thirty-two

Finch, Lisa, Bennett, Grogan, Hughes and Captain Sean Maconnell of the Coldstream Guards discuss how to destroy the slugs. Bennett suggests luring the slugs to one central place using people injected with slime trails as this attracts the slugs, then poisoning the slugs with cyanide. Grogan cannot believe they are thinking about murdering men by using men as bait. Finch suggests electrocuting the slugs instead of using poison. Lisa asks which men are going to be used as bait.

Thirty-three

Groups of slugs are located by the Army. Bennett prepares three syringes ready to inject into men, knowing it will kill all of them.

Grogan watches as generators and cables are set up by open manholes. Twelve men of the Coldstream Guards draw lots to see who is to enter the sewers, not knowing that they effectively being sent to their deaths. Privates Terry Banks, Chris Granger Pat Morrissey and Corporal Simon Johnston wonder what they have just 'volunteered' for. Bennett injects them all then Maconnell lies to them, telling them that the injections are a vaccine and that they are to find two soldiers that have got lost somewhere in the sewers.

Maconnell and Bennett argue but both know it's the only way.

The infection sets in as the men enter the sewer tunnels.

Thirty-four

Finch, Lisa, Grogan and Maconnell listen to the first team of soldiers over an Army radio, as they are soon killed by the slugs.

Unit Two is made up of Banks, Jenkins, Granger and Lewis and they make their way through the sewer towards Piccadilly. Blisters have appeared on Granger. With his bayonet, he kills Banks and then Lewis. Jenkins makes a run for it and even tries attacking Granger with his torch but Granger kills him too. He climbs out of the sewer at Piccadilly and quietly walks towards the driver of an army truck.

Thirty-five

Maconnell is given the news that Unit Two has been lost. Johnston suddenly appears out of a manhole, screaming and covered in slugs. Maconnell shoots him then gives the order to switch on the generators. 30,000 volts of electricity is sent through the sewers for ten minutes. A lorry appears and is coming towards them.

Thirty-six

Granger has shot and killed the truck driver and stolen his truck. He smashes through troops, lorries and cars as Maconnell tries to shoot him. A stray bullet ignites Finch's wrecked Chevette's petrol tank and Finch and Lisa are thrown into the air. Grogan jumps in his Volvo and Maconnell in his Landrover and they both drive after Granger's truck. Maconnell shoots at Granger and misses, Granger shoots back and hits him in the shoulder. Maconnell fires again and hits Granger in the side. Granger swerves the truck and forces Grogan's Volvo into a through bus shelter, cutting open his arm. Maconnell fires again and hits Granger in the face and killing him. The truck and the Landrover lock together, crash into the Dominion Theatre and explode. Finch, Lisa and Nicholson soon arrive as Grogan passes out.

Epilogue

Theresa Finch is driving Christopher to her parents' home in Cumbria to escape London. After a stop at a Little Chef a couple of hours away from their destination, she notices her son's red skin. She doesn't notice the two blisters forming beneath his T-shirt.

© Shaun Hutson 1985