Synopsis - Erebus
Wakely and Arkham
Very wealthy couple Terence and Laura Bristow drive to their stables where their derby-winning race horse has given birth to a foal. They, along with senior studman John Peters can only watch in horror as the mare goes mad and breaks a young studman's ribs then kills it's own foal.
Wakely is a small farming town and its nearest main town is Arkham.
Nick Daley, 29 is a new starter in the Wakely abattoir and Ken Hargreaves, 48 is showing him the ropes. While at work in the meat room three bullocks breaks out of their pens. One of them kills Daley and then Hargreaves before somebody shoots it with a shotgun.
Vic Tyler has returned from London, to the farm where he was born and raised after the death of his parents years ago. He talks with farmhand Jim Harrison about why the pigs are twice the size of other pigs their age. Harrison tells him that all animals fed on the new feed they get from the 'new company just outside town' grow as much.
Geoffrey Anderson works at Vanderburg Chemicals. From a lab he nervously checks that nobody is around then calls the 'Arkham Comet', a local newspaper, and speaks to American journalist Jo Ward. Sounding very scared, he tells her that they must meet tonight at 11.30pm.
Jo Ward waits in her car for Anderson to turn up at the location of a lay-by. When he doesn't arrive, she walks to a nearby phone box while a large unseen figure watches her. She calls Anderson but when it is picked up she only hears silence. She returns to her car to discover that somebody has ripped out the cars courtesy light. As she drives off the figure crushes the light under its foot.
Ronald Faber awakes in the morning to find bits of skins flaking off of him and he then urinates blood.
Jo Ward visits Vanderburg Chemicals to try and find Geoffrey Anderson. In the reception she is met by Martin Glendenning who tells her that Anderson left the company some weeks ago. She tells him that he called her from their the previous night and Glendenning says that all phone calls are monitored and there is no record of that phone call. Jo returns to her car and decides to visit Anderson at his home address.
Tyler and Jenkins have called vet Dan Hawley as a cow is having problems giving birth and is bleeding internally. Hawley arrives and assists, but the calf literally bursts out of its mother. The calf is four feet high at the shoulder and is grossly disfigured. Tyler kills it with a pitchfork. Hawley takes the calf away with him to do an autopsy.
Jo walks around an unusually quiet Wakely market. Of the few people she does see she notices how pale and flaky their skin is and that they have long pointed finger nails. She drives to Anderson's house and when there is nobody home speaks to a neighbour who says she hasn't seen him for a couple of days.
Tyler is drinking in 'The Black Swan' with Stuart Nichols, Reg Gentry, Ben Thurston and pub landlord Jack Vernon. They discuss the size of the newborn animals they are seeing when Jo Ward walks in. She overhears them talking about the new feed they are all using from Vanderburg Chemicals. She calls her editor Doug Clark and tells him she needs to stay a while longer. Tyler offers her a lift to the livestock market and she accepts.
At the market, Jo and Tyler stop by some piglets feeding from their mother when one of them rips off one of its mother's teats and the other piglets join in. Tyler and the market workers kill the piglets but the sow dies. Jo and Tyler head off to see Dan Hawley the vet.
They storm into his surgery but Hawley still has no answers for them but Jo notices his pale flaky skin. Jo asks for Tyler's help to find Anderson. They arrange to meet in the hotel 'The King George' that night for dinner.
Pensioner Vera Duggan, 68, kills her cat with her walking stick and laughs.
Jo arrives at the hotel and books herself in for a week. She notices that the hotel receptionist Mark Bates has pale skin that was peeling in places and hairy palms.
Dan Hawley talks to his receptionist and lover Mandy Potter then begins the autopsy on the piglet Tyler brought in.
Tyler and Jo meet at the hotel and have dinner. Jo tells him she plans on breaking into Anderson's house and wants Tyler's help. Tyler agrees and after the meal they drive to Anderson's house.
A figure in Anderson's house watches as Jo and Tyler pull up outside. Tyler and Jo break into the house and explore while the knife-wielding figure listens to them from upstairs. As they search upstairs it hides behind the shower curtain. At one point Jo enters the bathroom and the figure is about to attack when Tyler calls Jo into one of the bedrooms. On the bed are open suitcases with clothes packed in them. Thy decide to leave the house and call the police in the morning. The figure watches them drive away.
The figure in the house is Carlo Fanducci, an ex-mafia member. Three years ago he was approached by a John Stark and offered work in England for a new chemical research plant, Vanderburg Chemicals. Fanducci had moved to England was taking his orders from somebody called Thorndike. Fanducci recognises Jo but cannot remember where from.
Jo returns to her hotel but finds nobody about. She decides to go looking for someone and eventually finds Mark Bates in the hotel kitchen eating a large piece of raw steak with his fingers.
The next day Jo and Tyler drive to the police station. Jo tells Tyler about Bates and the lack of hotel staff. Tyler tells her that his farm hands didn't show up for work that day and haven't called in. Few people are on the streets and the ones that are move slowly. At the police station they tell Sergeant Don Mason that they want to report Geoffrey Anderson as a missing person and that they broke into his house. Mason, not impressed that they broke into someone's asks P.C Peck to drive to Anderson's house and check things out. While Peck drives out to the house they tell Mason about the suitcases on the bed. Peck informs Mason over the radio that he has just spoken with Anderson as he was about the go on holiday for a few weeks. Carlo Fanducci had pretended to be Anderson.
Back at Tyler's farm he shows Jo the abnormal size of some of his animals. Jo watches in horror as an oversize piglet suddenly starts eating a small dead pig before Tyler manages to lift the dead pig out. After noticing some animal feed labelled Vanderburg Chemicals they agree that they feed is to blame for the stock's accelerated growth. Jo insists that Anderson knew something. Tyler calls his two farmhands on the phone but still gets no answer. In the farmhouse Jo and Tyler have sex.
Nurse Jan Williams is at work in the General Practitioner's despite having a bad headache all day. While performing a blood test on a patient, she drinks from phials containing blood and smashes them with her hands while doing so. Ignoring the pain as the glass cuts into her hands and mouth, she just wildly laughs instead.
Dan Hawley had discovered that the bacteria samples taken from the dead animals were not dying but multiplying and creating spores. He calls Tyler. Jo and Tyler arrive and Hawley tells them what he has found, a new strain of bacteria that alters the DNA of unborn animals. He tells them that only an inorganic toxic agent could cause this. Tyler says the only thing inorganic his stock ate was the Vanderburg Chemicals feed. Hawley needs a sample of the feed to learn more. Tyler and Jo leave for Stuart Nichols's farm. Hawley stands in front of a mirror looking at himself and his peeling skin. He pulls some off of his chest and eats it.
Tyler and Jo drive to Stuart Nichols's farm where they discover most of the animals have disappeared, the rest are dead. In the farmhouse they find Stuart and his wife Bet lying on their beds, in a coma-like state. Tyler speaks to Stuart and opens the curtains and the sun immediately blisters Stuart's arms. Stuart pulls a shotgun from beneath the bed and demands that Tyler and Jo leave. As they leave the farm Tyler spots some Vanderburg multi-purpose feed, a sack of which he loads into his landrover. They arrive at Dan Hawley's surgery while Fanducci hides in his car watching them. He remembers Jo is the reporter with the New York Times who the mafia has a contract out on.
Helen Piper has finished tending to her garden and goes back into her house. She tells her five-year-old son Kevin to stop lying in darkness and go and play in the garden. While Helen looks out the window of her bedroom, she sees Kevin throw stones into Lorraine's pram, and as she runs out to stop him, she sees him kill Lorraine with a trowel and then drink the baby's blood.
Hawley examines the feed and tells Tyler and Jo it is the same protein as the one in the calf he examined. He tells them that the bacteria is man-made and is virtually indestructible and the spores are how it is spreading. Anyone who has eaten the meat with this bacteria will likely be infected. Tyler calls the Doctor's surgery but gets no answer, and does the same with Ben Thurston and Reg Gentry. He tries Ben again, this time he talks to Ben who tells him he's fine, but his two sons are not. Jo tells Tyler she has to call her office and tell them whats going on. Tyler thinks it's a bad idea but eventually agrees. Jo tries but the line is dead. She calls the operator who tells them that the number is no longer in use, and they will not connect them with anyone outside Wakely. Mandy Potter joins them and switches on the television but all channels only show a message saying that there has been a transmitter failure.
Gordon Thompson, 21, and Tina Phillips, 20, are having sex at their home when she bites his penis in half and drinks his blood.
Tyler and Jo drive to the police station but cannot find anyone around. They try and fail to use the police radio. In the rest room they find Don Mason, who is infected but able to talk to them. Together they use the police radio to contact Arkham Police Station. Tyler tells them that the people of Wakely are in danger but Arkham tells him that they have received no such formal report and ends the call. Tyler and Jo return to 'The King George' hotel and speak to a housemaid who tells them that only a few guests and staff are there, even Bates the manager is off and many people have left town. Tyler and Jo go to Jo's room and talk about how Jo thinks Geoffrey Anderson knew about the protein and was killed to silence him. They also discuss how the infected victims cannot come out in sunlight and how they themselves must be OK because they haven't eaten any meat. They decide they have to get inside Vanderburg Chemicals to find out more.
Four scientists, Sir Oliver Thorndike, Charles Muir, Richard Neville and Martin Glendenning, and John Stark, an American and chief financial backer to Vanderburg Chemicals, sit in a room at Vanderburg Chemicals discussing their new synthetic compound that is nearly ready. Charles Muir is concerned about the effects that the first additive had on about a quarter of Wakely's 4,000 population. John Stark demands that the town is sealed off from the outside, nobody is to leave, especially the two people they are aware of meddling (Tyler and Jo). Thorndike speaks to a minister in London telling him that 'Project Erebus' has run into difficulties. He puts the phone down and tells that that the town will be completely sealed off within 48 hours. The scientists leave the room and Stark calls in Fanducci, telling him to kill Tyler and Jo.
Tyler, armed with some shotguns and ammunition kills the rest of the animals on his farm, knowing they are infected. Jo investigates some of the hotel rooms and finds hair, blood and piles of human skin that appears to have been shed. Tyler abruptly appears startling Jo. She tells him what she has found, then Mark Bates appears in a doorway, with hairy palms and skin peeled from his face. Bates returns to his room and locks the door, Tyler and Jo do the same. Later they return to the room Bates was in which is open, but Bates is gone.
Tyler and Jo sit eating dinner in the restaurant of the hotel and discuss how they are going to break into Vanderburg Chemicals. Fanducci arrives at the hotel. Tyler and Jo are in a lift when the power is cut and they are stuck between two floors with the lights out. They manage to escape the lift into the first floor, just before somebody tears open the lift's maintenance hatch, and just as the power comes back on. Jo locks herself in her room while Tyler go outside to get a shotgun and some ammo. Fanducci sees him leave and armed with a sub-machine gun heads to Jo's room. Seeing two shadowy figures appear, Fanducci hides behind the desk in reception. Tyler enters the hotel and Fanducci is attacked by two infected hotel staff, a chef and a maid. There is a shoot-out in which Tyler is shot in the shoulder. Tyler watches as an infected man armed with a pike attacks Fanducci while a woman jumps on top of him trying to get at the wound. Tyler shoots her and runs upstairs, as the infected man kills Fanducci with the pike. Fanducci's attacker chases after Tyler, who drops the shotgun. Before he can kill Tyler, Jo grabs the gun and blows his head off. While in the kitchen tending to Tyler's wound, Mark Bates tries to pull Jo into a bathroom. Tyler kills him by pushing him into a bath, punching him in the throat and breaking his spine in the process. Searching Fanducci they find his Vanderburg Chemicals I.D. card. Jo takes Fanducci's Magnum.
Back in Jo's room she dresses Tyler's wounded shoulder then takes a shower. Tyler and Jo have sex and leave for Vanderburg Chemicals.
They cut through a wire fence and run to the main building of Vanderburg Chemicals, killing a guard dog with a knife and knocking out two security guards on the way. Using one of the security guard's radios, they trick Security into turning the alarm off. Security aren't fooled for long though and soon make their way towards Tyler and Jo. Jo finds and briefly reads some manilla files proving that Vanderburg Chemicals are behind everything, but she leaves them behind and escapes with Tyler. In the safety of Tyler's landrover, they plan to find anyone else in Wakely who is not infected, then leave town and call the newspapers and TV stations.
Tyler and Jo drag six corpses out of the hotel and into the car park, douse them in petrol and set them alight. In town they find corpses of uninfected people who appear to of had their blood drained. They drive to Dan Hawley's and find his surgery empty and wrecked. While searching they find Mandy Potter who tells them that Hawley trashed the surgery and had tried to kill her. They explain to Mandy what they know and tell her that they all need to leave Wakely. While they are searching for more uninfected people, Tyler and Jo are attacked in a butchers, but Tyler kills the butcher with a bacon slicer. Hearing the sound of a car engine coming from the hotel, they return to it.
Doctor Alec Clayton and his wife Maria are outside the hotel in their Capri. Jo and Tyler tell them everything that's happened. The Doctor and his wife have come to visit his brother who he hasn't heard from despite trying to contact for a couple of weeks. Refusing to come with them, they leave the doctor and his wife at the hotel, but Tyler gives him a shotgun.
They drive towards Arkham but are met by a patrolled roadblock so Tyler thinks of staying off the roads and driving through fields. Jo notices some freshly dug mounds of earth in the field they are driving through and Tyler tells them they have entered a minefield.
John Stark radios the troops on each roadblock for an update. He then discuses with Thorndike and Muir the progress of the new additive. Charles Muir says that the tests done on animals with the second batch is worst than the first, and Stark threatens to do to him what they did to Anderson. Muir leaves the room and has an idea.
Tyler reverses the landrover back out of the minefield with Jo and Mandy guiding him and heads back to the hotel. On the way people run out in front of them and in the panic Mandy gets out and runs off. Tyler exits the vehicle and eventually finds Mandy in a house on a bed, dead, mutilated and naked with her heart lying next to her. Back at the hotel they tell the Claytons about the roadblock, the mine-fields and Mandy.
That night, Stark and Thorndike look down on the town from a helicopter. The town is in darkness apart from the hotel so they assume Tyler and Jo are there.
Tyler, Jo and the Claytons are the only four people in the hotel. The lights out front are keeping the infected at bay, powered by a generator. They hear and see the helicopter circling above the hotel and Jo thinks she sees the Vanderburg logo on its side. The infected start to throw rocks at the hotel lights, then the hotel's generator runs out of fuel and plunges the hotel into darkness.
Tyler tells everyone to go upstairs while he runs into the cellar to refuel the generator. Upstairs, a group of the infected smash the window of the room where Jo, Alec and Maria are. One of the infected is Alec's brother Edward, who manages to kill Maria before Jo can fire off a few shotgun rounds. They leave the room and into another one using the shotgun to unlock it and a chest of drawers to keep it closed. Tyler continues to empty petrol cans into the generator, but it still won't start. Just as the infected break into the room Jo and Clayton are in, Tyler gets the generator to start, the lights come on and the infected rush out into the darkness again, burning and screaming. After a few glases of scotch between them, they decide that the only way to get outside help is by destroying Vanderburg Chemicals. Tyler will see to the townspeople, Jo and Clayton will destroy Vanderburg Chemicals.
In the morning, Tyler drives to Dan Hawley's surgery and picks up some equipment that doctor Alec Clayton asked him to get. They then bury Maria in the hotel garden. Clayton examines the body of an infected and says that it has an advanced form of porphyria cutanae tarda. This would effectively turn the infected into 'vampires', giving them a thirst for blood (to replace the iron their blood lacks), fear of sunlight, sensitivity to light, growth of nails and teeth, swelling of the lips, yellowing of the skin, hair on the palms of their hands, and eventually psychosis. There is no known cure.
Thorndike tells Stark the new protein additive is just as lethal as the first one. Thorndike says naming the project 'Erebus' was apt, as they have created their own little hell in Wakely.
Back at the hotel, they study a map of Wakely and think that the infected are all in the cinema. Tyler decides to head there, Jo and Clayton will drive to Vanderburg. Once they have done what they set out to do, they will meet back at the hotel at 8pm.
Tyler searches the old cinema but finds only the decapitated body of Ben Thurston, a woman's corpse and a dismembered hand. He suddenly realises where the diseased killers must be.
With Jo hiding in the boot, Clayton drives into the Vanderberg Chemicals using Fanducci's ID card to get past security. Clayton parks his capri and Jo climbs out of the boot and enters the main building, putting on a white lab coat she finds on the way. Jo meets Vanderburg worker Ruth Wicks and after bluffing her way through a conversation, heads to the labs on level 3, where Martin Glendenning works. Hearing a noise made by an animal she enters a room where many disfigured animals are kept in cages. She sees some files on a table and picks them up, but is spotted by Richard Neville who asks her who she is. She throws some hot coffee in his face and runs back towards the lift. Neville sounds the alarm. Clayton hears the alarm and starts his engine. Stark is told that a woman has stolen some files, he gives the command that nobody is to leave the building. Clayton sees security guards walking towards Jo and drives the Capri through the windows of the main building and crashing into the reception, knocking over a security guard in the process. Jo kicks the other guard in the groin and leaps into the car. Clayton drives out of Vanderburg Chemicals but is shot in the shoulder. A Range Rover chases them.
Tyler is in Wakely football ground and it's filled with the infected townspeople, Stuart Nichols and Don Mason included. He decides to block the exits and using the petrol he has in the landrover, burn them all. As he returns to grab the petrol, his torch goes out and the infected start to come after him. He shoots his way through them and ends up high above the stand in the floodlight control room. He turns the power on, but before switching on the six floodlights themselves he is attacked by Dan Hawley. Tyler manages to throw Hawley through a window and down onto the pitch below. He turns the floodlights on which kills the infected. Then he uses the petrol in the landrover to burn the football ground down.
Muir uses a computer terminal in Vanderburg Chemicals to overload the system and starts a meltdown. Stark tries to stop him but the office explodes and soon the entire complex is ablaze. A final concussion wave destroys everything within a 500 metre range.
Clayton tells Jo to get out of the car and take the files. Then he drives head first into the Range Rover, blowing both vehicles up. Tyler and Jo meet in the hotel and read the files. The one marked 'Distribution' shows that many major cities across the world have already been shipped the new batch of feed. Tyler and Jo are too late to stop it.
© Shaun Hutson 1984