Supernatural events befall a small mining town when the mining company leaves the area abruptly after a mining accident, dooming the inhabitants of the town to deal with the aftermath.
Cast Roles Edit
- Clarity Anah (Kate Elliott) - Daughter of the minister, Shiloh. Strange visions plague this young woman.
- Henry Winchester (Mike Ginn) - Town doctor, his wife is the nurse. Or is she?
- Fredrick Jager (Bert Jennings) - One of the mining crew who was supposed to be in the mine at the time of the accident.
- Reginald Butner (Gil Ramirez) - ...the blacksmith, a simple man who gets caught up in a murder.
Chapter Summaries Edit
Clarity dreams of darkness, she feels an immense pain. As her heart's beat rings in her ear drums, from the darkness She sees light. Lights. More than she can imagine. They are the starts and she is among them. She recognizes that she is dying, her heart calms, she catches her breath, but feels no air, hears no sound, there is just pain and emptiness. She reaches for something, nothing in particular, but something. Only to realize that she has nothing to reach with, and the panic returns. She flies past a sphere, a globe, solid red and churning. A bright light blinds her as she passes a star, the Sun. The blindness recedes and colors return as before her lies another sphere, filled with green, white and the deepest of blue.
Her breath becomes short as fear overwhelms her, sound returns, but it is the panicked beating of her heart. Her body is overwhelmed by fear, and fire, a deep agony. The green surface of the sphere grows closer and closer. Clarity's home town comes into focus as she descends, her house where she sleeps, her fathers church, and then the mine, which fills her vision until impact. Death. The cries of the families, the emptiness and decay, all flash within an instant as Clarity awakes to silence.
It is a cold morning, she hears her father in the other room stoking a fire. She looks around her room and sees ten glowing candles that were not there when she went to bed. She hears a loud boom in the sky outside.
Her father runs into her room and asks if she is okay, then looks down to the candles and back to his daughter and a bright light overtakes the room, they feel the ground shake beneath their feet.
Chapter 1 Edit
1 year later...
The townsfolk have gathered at the church for a town meeting, most of the people in the church are women, as the majority of the men were in the mine at the time of the accident. Company man Jason Grall stands before the angry mob. “This town is Godforsaken, ever since the rock fell from the sky and closed the mine, which we have not been able to unearth. Not for a lack of trying mind you, live stock has continued to disappear, disease has run rampant, and it...it's not profitable. Hammer and Sons will no longer be the benefactor of Stone Valley! Effective immediately all company executives are advised to collect their belongings and rendezvous outside the library for carriage to the nearest town. That will be all.”
The man immediately leaves the stage as two large men step in front of him and escort him out a side door while the townspeople throw things at him. He scurries outside and the two men stand in front of the crowd, hands on their guns.
Henry Winchester and some others shout questions after the retreating man and Fredrick Jager runs up to the two men and tells them to move aside. A thrown bottle from the crowd causes the men to duck aside and Fredrick darts by them and catches up to Jason. He confronts the man about the company leaving and Jason tells him that this was always a possibility, the agreement they signed with Hammer and Sons covered this eventuality and this is now no longer of his concern, he is just a messenger. When asked about compensation the man throws Hammer and Sons scrip onto the ground in front of Fredrick and leaves, Fredrick pockets the now worthless scrip.
Back in the church the two hoodlums are now waving their guns in the air and shouting for the people to calm down. The blacksmith, Reginald Butler, calmly, with his hands in the air, asks what they want the people to do. They reply that they don't give a damn what the people do and when Henry asks them how they are going to get out of here, they look at each other and start to back towards the back door.
As they do, Shiloh Anah, the preacher in training, who moved here with his daughter about six months before the Great Impact, imposes himself between the two men and the townspeople. A couple of people hit him with things, but he just allows it to happen, pleading for calm and civility.
“What do we do? Huh? We got these worthless papers!” Henry pulls his scrip from his pocket and tears it up, Reginald follows suit, “And now they're leaving? We're gonna starve!”
“Without the company, what are we going to do with money?!” another townsperson shouts.
“We can try to keep to some form of currency regulation,” Shiloh pleads, “at least until...goods run out.”
Shiloh pushes for making a plan for the future, because, like them, he has nothing else. He couldn't afford to take his daughter to another town, he also reminds them that this was a risk they all took, while they didn't necessarily know that this exact thing was going to happen, they were all here for a chance at a better future.
“Really what are we going to do? Starve or...?” Henry asks.
“I believe God has a plan for Stone Valley,” Shiloh says, “Since the rock fell from the sky, it has not rained once! The clouds have parted over this valley, and the crops still grow. Just last week grapes were spotted growing on the east side of town. We haven't had a snow, our winter, last winter was extremely mild. I take that as a sign.”
“Did God also kill my husband?” A woman asks from the back of the room, “So we could have sunshine!”
“I understand that we are all afraid, but we can't let fear get the best of us, with faith we can pull through this.” Shiloh says.
“We become a barter town? Just trade goods with each other?” Henry asks.
“It's a fine lifestyle if we can make it work. Company towns are built on this principle, we all have skills here.” Shiloh reasons
Reginald reminds the man that his skill relies on the coal from the mine.
Henry argues that this won't all work on just faith, what happens when people start to starve?
“Why do you think we will all resort to chaos? We are all civilized people here. Let us think of the good that the company brought: the church, your doctor's office, your blacksmithing practice, it brought structure when just five years ago we were just a brothel and coal miners.” Shiloh tells them.
“The company left because they knew what was going to happen, this town is doomed,” Henry laments.
Fredrick re-enters the church and reaffirms Henry's doom-saying.
“We can trade between each other for now. Many of the women have already begun pitching in. There are things a blacksmith can make with a short supply of metal, carriages perhaps.” Shiloh offers, and Reginald considers this.
As they argue, Shiloh always brings it back to faith, they must have faith.
Overlooking the town at the top of the hill is an impact crater where the mine once stood. Standing at the edge of the crater is Clarity Anah, she comes out here often as she hears voices from the mines. She has told no one, but it has been increasing as the one year anniversary of the event approaches.
Help me, I'm here. the voice whispers, Down. Down here. I just need you, I just need you. Your help. You can hear me can't you. I feel you. Up there. Again and again. Why won't you help me?
“How can I help you?” Clarity asks.
By letting me out, we're still down here.
“You're trapped?” she asks.
Yes, trapped. Help, we're trapped here.
“I'll tell father,” Clarity tells the voice.
Yes, tell them. Here. Help, the voice says.
“Don't worry,” Clarity says, “It will be okay.”
I know, because of you. You. Help.
Charity runs down the hill, past the trees that were halved by the blast, their stumps sitting in the dead earth around the crater. She passes a dividing line, as if the blast had contained itself, a line of dirt and debris and then the green continues. No one questioned this, the company spent a lot of time and effort up here trying to dig out the mine and rescue the miners, and none to question the blast zone.
As she makes her way down, she sees a line of carriages leaving the town and a line of people leaving the church to return to their houses.
Clarity returns to her house to see her father kneeling in front of the ten candles. She tells him she heard people in the mines. Clarity tells her father that they must stop people from leaving town, they have to dig the people out. He searches her face for any tell of lies, telling her that this happened a year ago, and as he does he looks back to the ten candles, still lit without an ounce of wax dropped since they appeared one year ago, and tells his daughter he believes her.
He is nervous about the townspeople's lack of faith, he debates with himself that if he shows them this act of God, this sign, that they will see it as a farce, or worse, cast their suspicions on his daughter. They ultimately decide to tell the town about this, but Shiloh tells her to let him do the talking.
Fredrick approaches Reginald as they leave the church and tells him that they should check the blacksmith's shop to see if all his dangerous implements are still there. They tell Henry to check his office as well.
The town is in a deep valley, surrounded by mountains, divided by a river bend, a makeshift bridge separates the town into two parts, one side for the company executives only and the other for the workers. The carriages left from the company side of town, the meeting at the church seemed to be a way to keep a clear path out of town.
Henry, Reginald and Fredrick are talking about keeping the resources they currently have safe, when Anna Hillary, a prominent fixture of the town, walks up and inserts herself into the conversation.
She sees this as an opportunity for democracy, perhaps there should be a town meeting to elect a leader or a council. In company towns, there were no local leaders, the CEO of the company decided everything, if you signed up you agreed to live by the company rules. They decide to call a meeting later that day as there is already talk of re-opening the brothel.
They arrive at Reginald's shop and discover that the door is wide open. In these dark times, with all this uncertainty ahead of him, Reginald feels his resilience start to fade, and a weakness grows inside him. As he enters his shop, Reginald sees the body of Preacher William Devin, his throat slit, blood staining the wooden floors. On the ground next to him is one of Reginald's fire pokers.
- Discovery: Henry’s wife is a Wiccan healer. A secret to his success as a doctor. (Zac modifies this to: Henry's wife is the real doctor. Henry is a sham.)
- Discovery: Clarity discovers a trunk that her father used to stash some dried food, some of the more valuable relics of the church, and a shotgun. It seems that he has been preparing for the company to leave for some time.
- GM: Edgar Jenkins was the manager of the general store. He was delivering goods to a farm on the outskirts of Stone Valley the day of the impact. He's since risen to prominence within the community.
Chapter 2 Edit
Shiloh reminds his daughter to allow him to do the talking and hugs her to him, over his shoulder Clarity sees one of the candles go out. These candles have remained lit and unwavering for a full year, until now. Clarity tells him she has a bad feeling and he reassures her that no one will think anything bad of her if it comes from him. As they leave the house, they are greeted by Edgar Jenkins, who compliments Shiloh on his speech. Shiloh explains that he was just trying to keep people calm. Edgar smugly assures Shiloh that he can see through such things. Then mentions that he saw Clarity running through the woods, and when she tells him she was just running for the pleasure of her cape in the wind, he creepily reminds her she is of age to be wed. Edgar also informs them of the forming of a council later, and tells him that he expects the church to stay out of it.
“We'll see what the town thinks,” Shiloh answers.
Edgar leaves and Shiloh and Clarity head to the mine so that Shiloh can hear these 'voices'.
Back at the blacksmith's shop, Reginald freaks out, drops to his knees and pleads innocence to Henry and Fredrick. Henry is convinced that Reginald wouldn't have invited the two of them back to see this if he had done this.
Reginald notices footprints in the dust of his shop that are not his own or the priests, they have a spur mark at their heel and the only cowboys in town were the two men who were brandishing guns at the meeting. Fredrick asks Henry his medical opinion, it turns out that Henry is a fraud, his wife is the actual doctor, and he just says that the fire poker is covered in blood and is clearly the murder weapon.
They hear Edgar walking up outside and Henry goes out to talk to him. Edgar talks to Henry about the approaching vote for town council, Edgar runs the general store and, after the Great Impact, he has risen to greater importance in the community. He asks Henry and Reginald, who comes out to speak to him as well, if he has their votes. They tell him that they were also thinking of throwing their hats into the ring for council. He also asks about Fredrick's religious beliefs as “the last thing a good, Protestant town needs is a Catholic bringing Hell to their doorstep.”
As Edgar leaves, Reginald notices a lining of familiar dirt around the edge of his boots and confronts him about it as he is retreating into his shop. Edgar asks how long they are going to hide the body in the shop before Reginald closes and locks the door.
Up at the mine entrance, Clarity and a winded Shiloh stand outside the rim of the crater and Shiloh asks if this is where she heard the voices, telling her that there is no way she could have heard anyone in the mine from a quarter mile away.
The voices start again, but Shiloh can hear nothing.”Are you still feeling pain in your stomach?” he asks her.
At that moment her eyes roll back into her head and Clarity collapses into a dream. She sees all the men lost in the mines standing before her, and a circle of ten people. Jimmy Bobby, Ashley Jewel, Anna Hillary, Emma Ronnie, George Evelyn, Charles Cedar, Kelly Hadley, May Jenkins and her father, Shiloh Anah. The candles from her room sit between them, their flames are not yellow or white, but a strong pulsing orange. The group, almost as if they are aware of her, turn and look at her. The lost men form a line behind them, “We're trapped. Help. Release us. Only you. Only you, you're special. Just you.”
She awakens to her father yelling her name, she was talking to herself, saying names. They head back to town for the meeting.
Henry, Fredrick and Reginald are discussing what to do with the body of the preacher. They hear a more insistent knock, and Edgar's voice again. Edgar has brought the remaining men in town with him this time. Reginald goes out to confront him over what Edgar told the others. Edgar says that he, along with Clara Tristen and one of the company men discovered a body in the shop on their way to the town meeting. Not wanting to frighten the women any further, he brought the others to confront Reginald. Now it appears that the three of them are conspiring to hide the body.
Henry offers their story about the three of them discovering the body of the preacher. He brings up that he is the town doctor, he has treated the other men and their families and in his expertise, he believes Reginald innocent. Edgar notes that bringing two witnesses to 'discover' a body sounds like a good way to make an alibi. Henry offers that they retire this matter until after the council has been elected and Edgar agrees if, and only if, Reginald goes into custody. Reginald opens the large barn-like doors to his shop, letting in the light and revealing the body. A woman screams and the other men rush Reginald. He kicks one of the men in the knee, dislocating it, and the man crumples to the ground. Reginald tells the others to stop and Edgar gets between them.
As Henry goes on about his medical expertise and a sharp weapon being involved, his wife Sarah approaches and steps up to him, giving him a shut-the-***-up look and moving to examine the body. As the real doctor, she determines that it was the fire-poker that killed the preacher.
Clarity and Shiloh arrive as Henry is calling for cool heads to prevail until the town council can be formed. Clarity screams and weeps over the murder of Preacher Devin. Shiloh pushes through the crowd and Edgar brings up that Shiloh had said that he was looking for Preacher Devin earlier and asks if he did not find him.
Shiloh stammers and looks to Clarity, “I was having nightmares!” Clarity shouts.
Clarity sees Father Devin rise to his feet and scrambles back from him, the man takes the fire poker and jams it into his own neck, dragging it across and opening his throat. Clarity screams and her father comforts her, murmuring to her not mention the dreams.
Fredrick takes two of the other townsfolk to look after the preacher's body. Henry pleads again for electing a council swiftly to deal with all the things happening.
Shiloh stands up from comforting Clarity, “Fear not everyone! Though I do not understand what God has planned for us, and though God can work in mysterious ways, I do believe that we are chosen, by God himself, here in Stone Valley. And I have proof. I have proof of the divine. Ten candles appeared on my window, they have not wavered, have not dropped but an ounce of wax. For one year they have remained lit. To this day, ten candles burn, uninterrupted. And I believe it is a message from God! He has great plans for us.”
Clarity whispers to him that she saw one of the candles go out. Reginald asks if he is speaking in parable. Shiloh says that he is not, but tells them that his daughter has just told him that one has gone out. Perhaps it went out with the death of the preacher.
Henry and Fredrick remain skeptical.
“These candles have never faltered. Do you know of anything that can burn indefinitely besides the sun? Besides God himself in the sky? Do you know of any fire that remains lit eternal?” Shiloh asks. When Clarity whispers that they should tell them about the voices, he shushes her and goes on, “I can show you these candles. You can watch them for as long as you like. This is no trick. There are no gas lines in this town, we have not received such services yet. These are merely candles. You can move them, you can blow them and they will remain lit!”
The townspeople agree and they go off to see the candles.
Edgar tells Reginald that they are not done with him and Reginald asks what it will take to prove his innocence. “Guess you're just gonna have to convince me, so that I can convince everyone else.” Edgar says.
“What are you going to do shackle me?” Reginald asks.
“No, just have a seat,” Edgar tells him.
Fredrick takes Henry aside as they travel to Shiloh's house to talk to him about their situation more. When they arrive at Shiloh's house, he brings out the candles, he tells them he has done them a disservice by hiding these candles from them. “I had little faith that my fellow townsmen would believe in such a divine thing. For so few have I seen at the preacher's sermons and I let fear control me. I will not do that any longer! I want you to look upon this and understand that I hold God in my hands. And we are all in the presence of a great power.” He holds up one of the candles and waves it in the air, it remains lit. He puts the other candles down and places his hand over the flame, his hand starts to burn and he removes it, revealing the flame remaining on the candle.
Shiloh asks for a match and Fredrick offers one, lighting it. Shiloh asks him to hold it to the wax of the candle, which begins to melt and drip.
“See, it is just a candle,” Fredrick says.
“But why does this flame not melt the wax?” Shiloh counters, gesturing to the candle's own flame.
Henry is still skeptical so Shiloh hands him the candle and tells him to put it out. Henry tries to put it out on the ground and every time he lifts the candle it remains lit. Clarity gets the water bucket from behind the house and Shiloh puts them all in the water. The townspeople gather around to see them all still lit, under the water as it begins to boil and steam.
“For the last year ten of these candles burned without waver, through wind, through water. And only one went out today when we lost our dear Father.” Shiloh says.
“So, you're saying that nine more of us will die?” Fredrick asks.
“No, I'm saying we are chosen, have a purpose. This town, us, we are God's chosen.”
“But what about our husbands?” a woman asks.
“What about the mine?” Fredrick adds.
“I believe that everything that has happened is God's plan.” Shiloh solemnly says.
“And God gave you candles that won't go out,” Henry says.
“These are more than candles, they are eternal flames you buffoon!” Shiloh yells.
When he says that everything is part of God's plan, the others can feel the angry energy coming off of some of the women, those widowed in the Great Impact.
“You need to understand, you need to have faith that God has a plan for us. That God has a plan for everything that is happening, you have to understand that this is all supposed to happen. And I know that sounds terrible but God works in mysterious ways...”
“The priest was supposed to...” Henry starts.
“No, no, the priest wasn't supposed to die. His candle went out, he was a messenger of God, he had faith in his heart. And his death, his death...” Shiloh trails off, putting a hand on his head.
“Preacher, it seems like you've been under pressure but we need to decide how to move forward and it involves a lot more than candles...” Henry says.
Fredrick walks up and picks up a candle, asking the preacher where they came from.
“They just appeared, I had no candles like these in my home and I heard the boom in the sky like you all did and I ran to check on my daughter and I saw these candles on the window sill above her before the light came flooding in, before we lost all of our brothers.” Shiloh answers.
“Was the window open? Did someone give you these candles?” Henry asks Clarity.
“I can speak for my daughter, you think some mere peasant would reach in to my daughter's room, just moments before the boom in the sky, and that the candles would stay lit forever.” Shiloh says.
Fredrick would like to hear this all from Clarity's point of view, and when they press her, she blurts out that the men are still trapped in the mine. She says she heard their voices, they said they were trapped and needed help. One of the women in the crowd takes off her shoe and charges at Clarity. Henry gets between them a pleads for sanity. He says that they have bigger things to worry about right now, the murder at the blacksmith needs their attention, the town council vote needs their attention.
“There's no way you could hear them, it's been a year since it happened. There's no way these men could have survived. And you know this too Fredrick, I know you lost people who were close to you, sorry.” Henry also addresses the woman he is holding back, “I'm sorry. Now please don't take it out on the girl.”
May Jenkins approaches through the crowd, the local librarian, whose husband was lost in the mine as well, she kneels before Clarity. Remembering her vision from earlier, Clarity freezes up. May addresses her, “Clarity dear, you remember my husband was in the mines. You know how much hurt it can cause to say these things.”
Clarity stammers and then says she wants to go to bed.
May puts a comforting hand on Clarity's shoulder and asks, “What makes you say something like what you just said?”
“No one would listen,” she whispers, “No one listens to us women.”
“I'm listening,” May tells Clarity.
“I'm telling you the truth, I promise.” Clarity pleads.
“My husband is dead. No man could survive a year in a mine.”
“I heard them, they said they were trapped. We cannot leave them if they are trapped. I was awake. I was not dreaming.”
“You believe you hear the voices of the dead, what else do you see, Clarity?” May asks.
“Nothing? Only the voices of the dead but nothing else?”
Clarity, overwhelmed, responds, “I must be having nightmares, none of this is real, I don't want to talk about this anymore. Father I want to leave.”
Shiloh gently pushes May back to the crowd, “Now leave my daughter alone, she's had a very bad day,” he turns back and lifts Clarity up, “She has nothing to do with the candles, she's very stressed, she probably heard wind coming out of the mines at the crater...”
Fredrick makes the connection between Clarity hearing the voices and the candle going out, but Shiloh insists that it was because of the preacher's death.
Back at the blacksmith's shop, Edgar is questioning Reginald. “So I'm to believe that someone else came into your shop, with a key no less, and carried the father in here against his will, and nobody saw this happen, murdered him to..frame you? And why would someone do that to you? What kind of secrets does a man have that would drive someone to do that to him?”
Reginald flashes back to a time, about three years prior, when he was working in his shop, father Devin walks up to the open barn doors when Reginald is working on a set of mining equipment. The equipment was flawed, he was rushed, and he knew it, but he had already been payed. Reginald gives the father his extra key for safe keeping and takes the faulty products up to the mine. The faulty products were never discovered, or, if they were, it wasn't in a way that was tied back to him.
Reginald admits this to Edgar but says he no longer does this, he makes sure he has ample time for all projects now. Edgar turns and nods to a man Reginald hadn't seen, the man runs up and slugs Reginald in the face.
“Ya know, that's a pretty good reason to think you might have some enemies out there,” Edgar says, “the amount of accidents that happen in the mine that could be a result of your craftsmanship. Somebody find ya out? Was it the good father here that found out?”
“He was there, yes.” Reginald admits.
“So the father knew about your faulty work and ended up dead on your floor, and the company left town. Seems like you'd be scott free for anyone to know how bad you are at your job. All the pieces out of the way. I know you were sitting here trying to give me a reason you didn't do it but it seems the opposite has happened. You have two minutes to convince me otherwise.” Edgar says.
Reginald tells the man to search him for any sign of the preacher's blood on him, it would have had to have gotten on him somehow if he was the one who had killed him. Edgar does so, moving Reginald's clothes aside, looking for any splatter of blood.
“Now look Reginald, I know you've never caused any problems in this town.” Edgar stops mid-sentence and freezes, one of the other men call out to Edgar and he topples to the ground and dust billows out from under his stiffened body as it hits the ground.
The candle in Fredrick's hand goes out, he quickly hides the candle and goes into the preacher's house. “Shiloh, I have one question I need to ask: One of these candles went out and you said...?”
“It was likely because the father died, a man of God...”
“Then can you explain this?” Fredrick holds out the snuffed candle.
“What did you do?” Shiloh asks.
“Nothing, you said it yourself, they burn forever bright and yet...what does this mean?”
- Feeling: Clarity has never trusted the men in the town. She was taught at a very young age that others would be there for her but it wouldn't be the men. Maybe deceiving them is simply the "best way" to survive.
- Feeling: Fredrick feels less and less like a council will work for the town. He doesn't think the people can do it. It needs someone to run it with a firm hand and to have complete control. Maybe the right person would be....himself.
- Feeling: Henry is attracted to Fredrick... and his forethought to get supplies locked down.
Chapter 3 Edit
Reginald is left standing over two dead bodies. “What did you do?” the man who hit Reginald asks. “He walked around you and then fell down dead. What did you do?”
“You all saw it,” Reginald says with his hands up, the men call for the doctor.
“I know where he is,” Reginald says and goes to leave. One of the men goes after him, but the crowd running up at the calls for a doctor stops him from following him. Several of the townspeople see him fleeing from a crime scene and he shouts that he is going for a doctor.
Reginald finds Henry and Sarah and brings them back with him.
Shiloh, Fredrick and Clarity stand in Shiloh's house, hearing the screams for a doctor.
“Someone else has died, a man of God,” Shiloh says.
“It is counting down father,” Clarity says, “there were ten and now there are eight. Father I need to be honest with you, I haven't been before because I didn't trust you. I found your suitcase, I found all the stuff in it, you were packed up and ready to go, you were going to leave me!”
“No I was not going to leave you,” Shiloh insists.
“Listen, I saw all this happen, before it happened. Something came here, I had a dream, I was full of pain and fear and I was floating without a body, within the stars. I didn't understand but I saw this thing, it was glowing and it was on fire and I felt such fear looking at it. And it was coming here and then the impact happened, I thought it was just a nightmare but now, something is going on here and you must listen!”
Shiloh is looking at Fredrick, judging his reaction to all this, wondering what he might do.
“She knows not what she says, it has been a stressful day. I believe these candles are a message from God himself, and this is the first I've heard of this...”
“Father, I do not think this is holy and I do not think that the people here are all good. Earlier when we were there,” Clarity gestures to the crater, “I saw something, it was down in the mines, it was people here.”
“You just fainted because you were tired, you ran up the mountain and you fainted...” Shiloh begins.
“What did you see? Let her speak!” Fredrick shouts.
“I saw people from the village, they were in the mine. I thought I could hear the miners calling out to me,” a she speaks Shiloh exits the room with his hands on his head. “Everyone's going to think I'm crazy and they're going to want me killed, but I think something bad is going to happen.”
“Something bad has already happened,” Fredrick tells her.
“Worse. Something worse than this. This won't matter soon.” Clarity insists.
The hear a cocking sound as Shiloh comes back with a shotgun pointed at Fredrick. “Fredrick you need to leave.”
“Father what are you doing?! He believes me! Right?”
“If he believes you, that is the first of our problems.” Shiloh says.
“I think there is something going on here that is greater than all of us, I think that is the closest we have seen eye to eye on anything in quite some time.” Fredrick says.
“I saw May,” Clarity says.
“Who else did you see?” Fredrick asks.
“Jimmy and Ashley, and Charles and May, and you father,” she blurts.
Shiloh rests the shotgun on his shoulder and asks her what they were doing when Clarity saw them.
“Candles, and the people in the mine. Father, I felt like they saw me too. I'm not crazy but something's wrong...”
“We'll speak of this later,” Shiloh says, turning to Fredrick and telling him to leave again.
“I will leave, but I wanted to leave you with this last thought, if this truly is the will of the Lord, and those who are, as you say, burn with the fire for Him, why would he be the that is ending their lives?” Fredrick asks.
“That is the work of man.” Shiloh affirms.
“So it is not God's plan?” Fredrick presses.
“We have to follow his plan, have to have faith, know that we are doing the right thing. Get out.”
Fredrick leaves and Shiloh addresses his daughter, pressing the gun into her hands, “Clarity, I need you to stay here. If anyone tries to come into the house...” he looks down at the gun, “I would never have left you. The bag was for both of us, I thought after your mother died...” he trails off.
“Father, you don't know what's going on here do you? I saw you...”
“I am going to get the other nine. I will bring them to you and you will tell them what you saw.”
“I don't want to do that. I don't know if that's a good idea.”
“Your thoughts are out there now, I cannot guarantee that Fredrick would tell no one unless I killed him and I am not going to do that. So we are going to get ahead of this, you'll tell them what you saw.”
“I want to speak to May first. Just her.”
* * *
Seven pairs of dirty hands, black from the earth and blue from the bruising, red from the blood seeping from countless small cuts. These hands have been moving earth rock, by rock, by rock. Seven women dressed in dirt covered nightgowns, feet bare they dig with purpose, rock after rock. They dig with purpose.
We pull back to reveal a pine covered mountain side, nearly fifty feet in, the women continue to dig. Moving down into the town proper, we see Clarity sneaking out of her window, escaping a hostile home. It is a bright night, the full moon high in the sky, plenty of lights remain on in the buildings of the town. On this side of town, the worker's side, houses are built right on top of each other, but as Clarity gets nearer to May's home, on the side of town built before the company came, they are spaced out more.
May welcomes Clarity in and ushers her to a chair by the fireplace. May kneels down next to her and asks what troubles Clarity.
“Please do not think I have lost my mind, but I have been having visions, I thought they were dreams, and maybe they are just dreams, but I did hear a voice from the mines, I told father and he said I didn't hear it, but I did, and it was real. And I thought it was bad, but maybe now it's good and father is bad, or maybe everything's bad. Maybe I'm just confused and maybe I heard God, I'm not sure...bu-but-but...”
“What do you mean you heard God?” May asks.
“I thought it was the men in the mine, I went to the mine and I could hear someone talking,” May tries to interrupt at the mention of the men, but Clarity continues, “but if it is not them and it is not God, then who is it? Could it be one of the men messing with me now that I am of age?”
“I don't think the men are putting these thoughts in your head, but what you say troubles me greatly, you say you are hearing things...” May says.
Clarity tells May that she was in one of her visions and May asks what else she has seen.
“I saw the Impact before it happened, but I didn't tell anyone and now I wish I had but I thought it was just a terrible nightmare.” As Clarity says this, May leans back from her, fidgeting with her hands.
“You saw the event happen, and you saw me in a vision...” May muses.
“I really don't want to speak ill of my father, it seems wrong, but he's acting strangely now, I don't know if it's just stress, and I came to you because you told me I could trust you and...” Clarity trails off.
May takes Clarity's hand gently, and says “Come now,” pulling her to the door and out into the street, asking Clarity to tell her more of these visions. Clarity, focusing on relating her tale to May, pays no attention to where they are heading. Clarity tells May of all of her visions, including the one she saw when her eyes were open, the one of the Father killing himself with the fire poker in the blacksmith's shop. May's hand clasps tighter upon Clarity's.
“You saw destruction rain down on this town, and you hear voices of the dead from the mines, and you saw the Father kill himself, conveniently clearing the blacksmith...”
“I have no relation to him, I have no reason to say this, it was just what I saw.” Clarity pleads.
“No reason, other than that thou are wicked!” May hisses, pulling Clarity in close, “Your father was right to punish you. Now we will see an end to this.”
Clarity looks up to see that they are standing outside her home. She rips her hand free of May's grip and takes off through town, looking for Fredrick. As she runs away, she notices that the door to her father's home is open, and some things are scattered on the ground, there is no sign of her father within. Clarity assumes that her father had a fit of rage and scattered their belongings, she runs out into the forest towards the mine.
Henry and his wife are talking, arguing about the charade they live under. Sarah is tired of watching Henry fumble about, now that the patriarchy is gone, she tells him she is done with him. He tells her that they are married, and she will keep her mouth shut just like she always has. She tosses his bag out into the street, telling him that he is a fool, that he will bring harm to others through his ignorance, she swore an oath, not only to Henry, but one to help others.
“First thing in the morning I will tell the town of the lie we made together, but I will vow to them that I will help them and do everything in my power to keep what happened today from happening again.” Sarah tells him.
“You think I'm not gonna fight you on this, I'm just gonna roll over and take it? You got another thing coming!” Henry grabs his bag and storms off. Looking through it as he walks he finds: Ether, chloroform, syringes, scalpels, and surgical saws.
Fredrick is walking towards the town bar when he sees a flash of white, in the distance he sees Clarity running towards the mines. But closer to him, in the middle of the street, are a pile of stones, balanced upon one another in a small tower. At his approaching footsteps, the stones begin to tremble more and more the closer he treads. He sees what appears to have been a name carved in the top stone, but it has been deeply scratched out and is no longer legible. As he takes the top stone for a closer look, the rest topple to the street, being unable to read the name upon it, Fredrick drops the stone and turns around.
Behind him is a pile of stones, the one on top had a name carved into it, but it has been scratched out. This time he moves on past the stones, hearing them fall behind him he puts his head down and enters the bar. The bar is empty of anyone, including the women he is used to seeing there.
Ashley Jewel, the owner of the bar, looks up from cleaning a glass as he enters and asks, “Where are they?” she has already poured him a drink.
Confused, Fredrick pulls out the company scrip from his pockets and puts it on the bar, “Here, you can have them.” Ashley tosses the worthless paper aside.
“You know these are worthless now right? Just like I assume you knew my other business was going to be useful so... what did you do with them?” when he hesitates she continues, “Fredrick, where are the goddamn women?!”
“What are you talking about?” Fredrick asks, “Zat is why I am here. I get it that maybe this isn't the right time but I needed a drink and to see what everyone else was doing. You know that I am one of the only people that comes in...”
“You are my only customer Fredrick, so you can understand why I would assume that when you knew for sure that I could not keep this operation going, and with your money having no value, that you would drunkenly do something stupid.”
“When have I ever done something drunkenly stupid this week?”
They chuckle over this joke and then Fredrick questions her about the missing women.
“They were at the town meeting today, I saw them this afternoon, but since this evening...”
Fredrick offers the theory that they left with the Company.
“You know that the Company wasn't a fan of my quality. They were around this afternoon, then the sun went down and I lost track of them. Maybe you convinced them to leave with you.”
Fredrick assures her that he wouldn't do something like that to his friend.
“I can't do this anymore Fredrick, not just the brothel, the whole town, I'm done.”
He tells her about the town meeting to elect a council and she tells him that she can't stay here, she told the girls that she was leaving town and it seems they had other plans. “What do you want me to do, Fredrick? You're one of the only ones who participates in both my businesses and with the men gone, I'm just not selling enough.”
Fredrick flashes back to the day of the Impact. Everyone is getting up early and heading to the mines. The Company doesn't look too finely on anyone taking sick time, but they also don't want people spreading sickness and disease. He used this as an excuse to go spend some 'quality time' at the bar. Just as he was thinking he had outsmarted the Company, the Great Impact happened and he quickly dressed himself and joined the crowds. It wasn't until after, when everyone realized the people in the mines were trapped, when the Company started to read of the names of the lost, that was when everyone realized that Fredrick's name was not on that list. To this day, he uses the same two things to forget that he was supposed to be with the men who were lost.
As Fredrick gradually comes back to himself, Ashley says, “I know you think you shoulda died that day, but Fredrick, I'm done. I've had enough of this godforsaken town. And I think anyone in their right mind would leave.”
Fredrick says goodbye to her and wishes her well, taking a bottle of alcohol with him, and if she sees the girls, give them his best. As he exits the bar, Fredrick sees a stack of stones.
Reginald sits in a holding cell in the town jail, an older gentleman, Sammy, and Bob, the town teacher, brought in by the Company stand guard. Reginald is bruised and beaten, his clothes ripped. Sammy asks if he is thirsty and drinks a glass of water in front of him, telling him to get comfortable in there. He starts to tell Reginald about the last time they caught a murderer in this town, they shot him, sending a clear message about what not to do. Reginald listens to the two men gossiping about the candles that won't go out, Bob thinks that the Devil is in this town, he wanted to leave but the Company wouldn't take him.
The door bursts open and one of the townswomen tells the two guards that May has something to say to the town. While they are gone, Reginald, as the one who built the cells, knows where they are weakest. In fact, he built a fail-safe into the lock that allows him to open it easily. He rummages through the cabinets and desks in the jailhouse and all he finds is the fire-poker, which he does not take. Looking out the open front door, he sees people moving toward the Anah house, many of them carrying torches. Reginald decides to retreat to the cell and wait there.
Henry also sees people amassing near the Anah house again, he approaches and sees May standing there, holding a torch and waiting for the people to gather. Shiloh pushes his way to the front of the crowd and calls out for Clarity. Shiloh runs in and discovers his ransacked house, the lit candles are strewn around the living room.
“Come, come! We must speak of a heretic!” May shouts.
Henry sees Shiloh gathering and counting the candles, he stops at seven and looks up at something, shouting, “Who did this?!” Painted in red on the wall of Shiloh's house are the words 'WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW'
A light goes out and the loop continues to spin.
- GM: When Clarity returns home, she finds the door kicked in and their belongings vandalized. The always-lit candles are strewn about the main room, and one is missing. Carved into the wall are the words "WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?"
- History: Frederick is notorious for his love of women and booze. He was not at the mine at the time of the accident because he was at the brothel. He uses booze to assuage his guilt over being a survivor.
Chapter 4 Edit
Shiloh is on his knees, holding the seven burning candles. “This man, I believe is a victim,” May tells the town, “Strange things are happening today, tonight. Two of our greatest men have died, leaders of this community. I believe we hold one of these who is responsible. Who will pay for their crimes. But he did not work alone!” She drops her voice, “Shiloh I'm sorry,” she whispers, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Shiloh's daughter came to me tonight, I believe, to confuse me, to trick me, to have me do her bidding!
“Shiloh, I am sure you're aware of this but because she is your daughter, I can see why you are confused. Clarity told me of visions that she had, visions that included myself that I have no memory of. These things that she saw, these voices she heard from the mines, voices of those we know to be dead! She also spoke of the Great Event, that she knew it was going to happen. Upon that realization came these candles, and like the Devil's flame, burn eternal. Like the flame of the blacksmith, she even tried to exonerate him. She told me that she saw the Father, a man of God, kill himself. Which we all know to be ridiculous. A man of the cloth would never deny himself entry into Heaven.
“I believe this was a ruse, by Clarity, to clear her accomplice! She knew of the murder weapon. She claimed that he killed himself, that it came to her in a vision. Upon confronting her with this, I brought her to you, Shiloh, to you. I know not who vandalized your home, they will be held responsible too. You are still a man of God, and I can only imagine how hard this is for you.”
“I have something to add!” Henry shouts, walking up to where May stands and addressing the crowd, “It pains me and saddens me to say that my wife, Sarah, has confided in me the same things. She speaks in the Devil's language, in tongues, when she thinks I have closed my eyes for the night. She has mentioned the Father's name, Edgar's name as she speaks in these tongues. And she has confided in me of the same thing and has tried to enlist me too!”
The crowd parts to reveal Sarah watching from the edge of the crowd, “What? N-no! Henry's not a doctor! He's lying! I'm a doctor, I can help you!”
“Now she lies! The town knows that I'm the doctor, Sarah!” he shouts.
The crowd pushes Sarah forward and Fredrick takes this opportunity to follow a hunch and run to May's house.
As Sarah is brought forward, pleading that she is the doctor not Henry, she is thrown to the ground in front of May and Shiloh.
“We have evil in this town,” May says, “Evil that most likely drove the Company out of this town and put us in this situation, and apparently brought the heavens down upon us! They spoke of this! They, they knew of it and they said nothing. That blood is on their hands. Sarah, you will pay for your sins. As will Clarity. As will that blacksmith.
“Members of the community, as only to solidify her guilt. Upon confronting Clarity, she ran to the mines, up the hill. Those with torches, you are with me. The others, tie the blacksmith and Sarah up. We will burn the evil out of this town tonight! Doctor Winchester, see to it that it is done.”
Henry tries to weasel out of it, but May stands firm, “Just as it shall be Shiloh who lights the flame and cleanses his family's name, it shall be you as well.”
“If that is the will of the town,” Henry acquiesces.
“So be it. Godspeed doctor Winchester. Let's end this tonight. Thought it pains us, to the mines we must go, now!”
Those townspeople who had torches head off to the mines.
Fredrick breaks into May's house looking for Clarity, who is not there. He then runs to the jail, as he does he sees the mob heading there as well. Fredrick warns Reginald that the town intends to burn him. Reginald lets himself out of the cell and Fredrick tells him to punch him. Reginald knocks him unconscious and bolts the front door closed, then he takes the fire poker and breaks the back window and jumps out of it. He runs off through the woods toward his shop.
Fredrick regains consciousness and opens the door to the jail, telling the townsfolk that Reginald has escaped. Sammy tells him about the people heading to the mines to get Clarity and, in the confusion, Fredrick takes Sammy's gun and makes for the mines.
“We'll find the killer and you get that girl and we'll meet back here,” Sammy says.
Clarity runs through the woods at full speed. She hears in her mind, “Come. Please. Help. We're trapped, we're going to die. We'll never ever be whole again. All dead. All die. Even we.”
She makes her way to the edge of the mine, as she nears the voice gets louder, looking back the way she came, Clarity sees the line of people with torches coming up the hill. She drops to her knees and starts digging, she pleads with the voice, “They're coming, we don't have much time, how do I help you?”
“No, no, wrong, please join us. Please, join us.”
“How?” Clarity asks. She feels a force drawing her, she looks up and closes her eyes. Behind the dark of her eyelids she sees a pulsing glow in the distance. She veers off of the trail, following the heartbeat to the back side of the mountain.
The town rallies around Henry as Sarah is dragged into the town square and the people start to set up a stake to burn her at. Sarah, her hands bound, sits on the ground sobbing as Shiloh pleads with the townsfolk, “Please, please stop, this is all a misunderstanding,” he holds the still burning candles clutched to his chest, “These are a gift from God, not the devil's doing.”
Henry picks Sarah up off the ground and she curses at him as he drags her to the stake, binding her there as she spits hatred at him. He slaps her and shouts, “Stop speaking in tongues! You brought this on yourself.”
“Maybe you're right Henry, I brought this on myself by ever thinking that you were a kind man, a passionate man. I was- I was the fool. For thinking you were different. But you're just like everyone else, small and afraid.” She locks eyes with Henry and he drops his gaze, calling for more hay.
Shiloh takes Henry aside, and Henry, needing an escape, goes willingly, “I don't know what's going on between you and your wife, it's not my business. But I-I-I don't believe...if your wife saw the things that my daughter saw, th-then she would know, you would know that this is a gift from God. This is the light itself, this is the eternal flame. This is not the devil's doing. This is a sign from God that we have a chance to d-do something. To be something, to d-d-do better, to be better! When the flame goes out, men of God die, that, to me, that's a sign...”
“A sign of what? What would you have me do?” Henry asks.
“Stop this.” he gestures to Sarah, “Stop this, this madness! She doesn't know what she speaks of but she speaks the word of God.”
“All I know preacher, is that witch,” he gestures to his wife, “needs to burn. I can't say anything about your daughter, I have nothing against you or her, but if you're asking for help, I'm sorry, this is out of my hands...”
Shiloh jams a candle into Henry's left eye, burning it shut. While Henry shouts “Heretic! He attacked me!” Shiloh somehow takes Sarah, who was tied tightly to the stake, and absconds with her into the darkness.
Reginald diverts from his path to the shop and stops at Preacher Devin's home. The door is unlocked and he goes inside, closing the drapes and lighting a candle, not knowing that the preacher's wounds were self inflicted, he searches for any evidence that could exonerate him. Upon opening the door to the preachers bed chambers, there is no bed within, but there is a symbol drawn all over the room. Covering the walls and the floor. Brackets containing what looks like a backwards one, followed by a dot, followed by two more lines. The symbol repeats itself hundreds of times. A notebook, filled with the same symbol, sits in the corner. Reginald takes it, then goes to look for Fredrick.
Fredrick is running through the woods towards the mine, he sees the torches of the townspeople just east of him, following a parallel track. He manages to beat them to the mine entrance but there is no sign of Clarity.
Help. Please help us. Fredrick hears, Help, we are broken. We are dying. We need help, we are trapped.
“Oh my God, she was right,” Fredrick mutters, “You are in the mountain?” he asks the voice.
“Who am I talking to?”
Us. We. We are what you fear. We are fear, the voice responds.
“What have you done with Clarity?”
We have done nothing to anyone. We don't do. We don't act, we react. We protect.
“Are you what's doing these things with the candles?”
“Just as ambiguous as the real God I think,” Fredrick mutters.
God? You are not the first to speak of God. Are we God?
“I don't...can you do something?” Fredrick asks.
What do you fear? it asks in response.
“Honestly, I fear people who believe in God.”
Then yes, we are God, the voice responds.
Overwhelmed, Fredrick sits down in the dirt and the mob of townspeople arrives. May asks him what he is doing here. “When Sarah was called to the front you ran away. Is that Sammy's gun?”
“Yes,” he says, “Would you like it?”
“Yes,” she responds. He empties the shells onto the ground and hands her the weapon. She questions him on his 'taste for the flesh, his sin'. “Why don't you share with the others why my husband lies dead beneath you, yet here you stand.”
He takes a drink of the booze he took from the bar and says, “You seem to know already, why don't you tell them.”
“The day the Devil brought destruction to our town, this man lay with a whore. This man who I've not seen in our church mind you, not once. But many a time seen going into Ashley's bar and stumbling out late at night. You think I don't know, that the other proud members of this town don't know, oh, and you can rest assured that Ashley will be dealt with. I bet you didn't know she was giving a little to the company on the side to keep them off her back. We couldn't do anything about it then, but we can now. And your sin is part of the reason we have been damned.”
“I have heard a lot of talk lately from people about God's plan and the thing that are happening are his will, and I don't quite know what to make of it.” Fredrick says.
God, the voice in the mine says, You see, they see God as an answer to a question. You don't see God.
“Nein,” Fredrick answers the voice.
“Nein what?” May asks.
“No, I don't think that you are in the right place to judge. Because if you truly think God is in control of all this, then I am here for some reason.” He sees the rock flying toward him and ducks out of the way before it hits him, more rocks sail toward him and he flees down towards the opening of the mine, into the crater.
The voice speaks: They fear you. Or is it me? I, we. You fear them.
“Ya, I am very afraid right now.”
Yes. That is we. Hello, pleasure to meet you, says the voice.
“Wish I could say the same,” Fredrick tells the voice. “So they are going to free you then? That is what I am hearing.”
We are dying, we protect. We are trying to survive. Wouldn't you?
“Honestly, that is the most sane thing you have said inside my brain all day. I too would like to survive.”
You would like to survive? You fear death? Hello, pleasure to meet you, that is we. We are what you fear. What language is better to control, than fear. What better way to self-preserve than to install fear into those who threaten you. Fear is survival. Like a dog showing its teeth, a plant with thorns. We are not malice, we are survival.
“Then perhaps we shall survive together,” Fredrick says. As he says this, he feels the ground give out under him, his face hits the hard, stony earth and he finds his knees trapped in the dirt. Blood pours from his broken nose and he sees something traveling through the dirt, just below the surface, as it nears him an orange light begins to seep between the displaced pebbles. A vine, leaves sprouting from it as it hits the air, moves toward Fredrick's face, following his head as he moves to avoid it. It mimics his movements until finally it lashes out, wrapping around his face, slithering across his body.
It begins to squeeze and Fredrick feels a burning sensation on his skin. He feels his arms grow stronger, his muscles pulse with his heartbeat as they grow. His back hunches as his spine grows and cracks. He feels horns begin to burst from his skull as a light goes out, and the loop continues to spin.
Chapter 5 Edit
Every time she closes her eyes, It leads Clarity, pulls her. She starts to feel a pain in her fingers, they feel cold in the wind, raw, sore, bruised. She holds her hand up to the moonlight and it glistens, as if wet. As she gets closer to the light source, Clarity hears the sounds of digging, clawing, the sound of rocks rustling as they fall down the side of the hill. She sees a large cavern in the side of the mountain, from which the rocks descend. She sees shapes of people within the cavern, the orange light also pulses from them when she closes her eyes. Clarity looks down to herself with her eyes closed, not seeing any orange light within herself. She looks back up and strides over to the digging women, they are the people her father told her never to speak to, they always traveled together. She doesn't know their names, just of them, and what they used to do. They don't respond to her, they just keep digging.
Clarity sits down within the cavern as the women continue to dig.
Dig, the voice says to her.
“Are you in here? You said I was special, I was the only one, and there are people here.”
The voice says: I told you what you needed to hear to get you here.
“You tricked me.” Clarity says, “Everyone is false.”
False. Yes. You are false. We do not want, we desire to survive. Like you.
“People are coming here.”
Yes, I brought them.
“What will you do with them?”
What do you care?
“I just want to know what's real.”
Clarity awakes in her bed, she hears her father cooking in the kitchen. The candles are gone from the window sill. She ignores her father and walks to the door, opening it to see everyone she has ever known, the Company men, the miners, a full, bustling town.
She asks her father the year, “1898,” he responds.
She begins to babble at her father about all that has transpired, how they must warn the town. He tells her it was a bad dream, is she ill?
“I am well but I am not okay,” she tells him.
Clarity tells her father to go to the bell, or the man who whistles, the man that stops the miners from going to work. They hear a boom in the sky and her father looks up. When he looks back at Clarity his eyes are melting from his face. Clarity runs outside and all the people stop and look at her they begin crumbling away, bit by bit, they look at her and point.
“What do you want from me?!?!” she screams.
You, they all say, Your fault. You brought us here. You. You did this to us. Clarity throws rocks at the people, each person hit crumbles to dust, You, Clarity Anah, did this to us. We felt you. You brought us here, you drew us here. You were inside us, we were inside you. You saw it happen, we saw you. You did this. This is your fault.
She wakes up again, inside the mines. A long tunnel stretches before her, lights flicker as a little bit of electricity runs through them, leading her down a path. Clarity walks deeper into the mines. An echo returns each step to her a moment later, there is a great opening ahead, but she cannot see it yet. As it gets closer, she sees the form of a man standing at the end of the tunnel. Fredrick turns to face her, he is larger, his clothes hang in tatters from his enlarged form. Horns grow from his head, out to the side then curving forward and up, like those of a bull.
Fredrick awakes, inside of the mountain, seeing before him the insides of something alive, something unnatural to him, yet he understands it. It is a part of him, and he a part of it. Fredrick has seen a lot in his time, accidents in the mines, this thing before him resembles a human heart, but the size of a great beast. The rib-cage around it, he is inside it, vines curve around the inside, carrying its blood out into the mountain.
You are alive.
“What is going on? What have you done to me?” he asks.
You survived. You will help us. If not, we will take from you what we gave you. Which is life. You. We will protect, we must protect.
“That is what I have been trying to do to everyone in this town and it seems like no one is listening. What is it you would have me do?”
Protect. We. We are broken, lost. We don't know why. How. But we are here. She brought us. The girl, Clarity Anah. She killed us. Destroyed us. I am, we are unfamiliar with your biology. We are learning. Trying to understand. Adapt.
“I can tell you that none of us have horns coming out the top of our heads, but I kind of like it.”
Noted. We see, representation within your culture, of great strength in this species. We needed protection, we interpreted and acted on that interpretation.
“And what do you need protection from?”
You. Them. Until we can be whole. We are broken, and, we want to go home. She comes to us. She, the destroyer, you must protect us.
“You say that she caused all of this?”
Yes but it's...do not kill her, we must know more. Protect. Survival. Fear is powerful.
“I will do what must be done,” Fredrick says.
Clarity arrives and speaks to Fredrick, who reiterates that he believed her, but he wishes she was telling the truth. He advances on Clarity.
Henry has bandaged his eye as well as he can. The rest of the townspeople are milling about, waiting for his orders.
“It appears Shiloh has been influenced by the Devil now! I've been told that the blacksmith and Clarity have gone to the mines. That's where we'll go, meet up with May, and resolve all this. Gather any tools or weapons that you have and we will meet back here and go to the mine. We end this tonight!” Henry tells them all.
Reginald arrives at the church, he finds a bible overflowing with pages of notes. Ramblings and visions, the father speaks of voices and things he sees in his head. One of the pages is the man's farewell, it states that he wishes to end this as he fears the Devil is already here.
“Blacksmith, you in here?” A voice calls out, “If anyone is here I suggest you come on out, I'm itchin' to pull the trigger!”
Shiloh and Sarah flee form the center of town, light only by the six remaining candles. They pass through the new growth of grape vines in Evelynn's farmyard and pull up short at a cliff's edge, yards away beyond the vines, leading to the river below. There is a smell of death and decay here, the stench so thick that it is as if oxygen has no place left in their lungs. They hear the panicked mewling of a kitten nearby, holding the cloth of her nightgown over her face against the stench, Sarah looks over the cliff edge, she sees hundreds of eyes reflecting back at her, she waits for them to move, to blink, to shutter. They do not, they continue to glisten. Shiloh drops a flaming brand over the edge and the light reveals mounds of animal corpses, and one small kitten trying to claw its way back up.
To the left and right of them on the cliff's edge are two stacks of stones, Sarah whispers, “The Gate.”
The stones begin to rattle like chattering teeth, the ground begins to tremble. The hear cries coming through the vines. “They're coming through the vines.” Sarah says.
“A sacrifice,” whispers Shiloh.
A wave of vermin burst from the vines: coyotes, dogs, cats, raccoons, small woodland creatures. Those that can are carrying their young in their jaws. They run towards Shiloh, Sarah, the cliff side, and the Gate. Shiloh, frozen in awe, looks down to see a candle snuff out. In his distraction he misses the grasping arm of Sarah as she is stampeded off the cliff by the vermin. He turns to see her body fall and slam into the corpses below. The burning brand illuminating the last light in her eyes before she is covered by the wave of animals.
Chapter 6 Edit
“Come on out blacksmith! I know you're in here. Your perversions will go on no longer. First you kill the man, then you desecrate his place of worship. Come on now.” Sammy says. Reginald calls out, “Yeah, yeah I'm here.”
Reginald can hear the man taking creaking steps down the aisle of the church, “I'm not looking to kill you, blacksmith, you can easily come with me peacefully back to the jail and rot there.”
Reginald again states his innocence and asks if the man can see the possibility of his innocence here.
“I know you're new in town blacksmith, but have I ever been a thinker?” Sammy continues, “I follow orders. The man who gave me orders died upon touching you, and I just can't let that go, I know what I saw, I know something is cursed in you.”
“It's not me, it's this town. This entire damn town and you know it. Look around you. Look at the room,” Reginald gestures at the ceiling from his hiding place behind the pulpit, he hears Sammy lift the gun but he continues speaking, telling Sammy of the proof he found here, he slowly stands, hands held high.
Reginald places the books he found upon the altar and slowly backs away from them, allowing Sammy to look at them. One hand holds the gun on Reginald, and the other flips through the father's journal, all Sammy sees are notes for the coming Sunday's sermon. Reginald tells him to check the bible for the father's final note, but he doesn't find it there.
Reginald continues to speak softly to Sammy, and when the man looks away from him, thinking, Reginald takes the opportunity to charge the man. He grabs the end of the gun with his callused hand and pushes it aside. The shot goes off and Reginald's ears ring, but even so his next blow lands, his elbow connects with Sammy's head and the man loses his grip on the gun. Reginald scoops up the gun and crunches it into the man's nose.
Sammy scurries back from Reginald down the aisle, Reginald notices that the man has a piece of paper gripped in his hand. Reginald draws out the fire poker he had hidden behind him and jabs it into Sammy's arm, pinning the arm to the floor of the church. Sammy goes for the paper with his other arm, Reginald drops the fire poker and jams the barrel of the gun into Sammy's face. The man slowly puts his good hand up and claims the note to be a forgery.
Sammy protests that he saw what Reginald did to his boss, Reginald tells the man to look hi min the eye and shoots him in the head. He props the dead man up against a pew with the gun in his lap, pointed at his head. Reginald goes to find a source of fire, he sees the candelabra he made for the church and lights it, then uses the candles on it to light the church ablaze. He grabs the suicide note and the journal, takes the fire poker from the dead man's arm and leaves the blazing church. As the flames reach the carved symbols begin to glow with orange light, illuminating the back of the church before the fire even reaches it.
Henry sits on a stump in the center of town as Ida Riley fixes up his eye, placing an eye patch over it. Another townswoman runs up to Henry gingerly carrying a box, it is filled with dynamite. They begin to feel a trembling in the ground beneath them, and screams sound from upon the mountain. Henry looks up to the mountain to see the torches of the townspeople descending in a rush, and one by one as he watches, they are snuffed out.
He hears, from the other side of town, a flood of vermin leaving the woods and heading off in the direction Shiloh and Sarah had gone. He sees a bright orange glow from the cliffs near the farm, and a billowing smoke plumes there. On the side of the hill, he sees orange light pulsing up the side of the mountain, pulses flow up towards the mine. Henry struggles to find the meaning of this, struggles to decide where to go, when he sees five flickering candles moving in his direction, he hears Shiloh's voice.
“It's not the Devil, doctor, it's an act of God.” Shiloh looks to Henry, “Your wife is dead. Do you feel no remorse? She is dead. Not by your hand.”
“How?” Henry asks, “How did it happen.”
“It was the will of God. A candle went out. The beasts were a sacrifice, and she became one of them.”
“She became a sacrifice for God, is that what you're saying?” Henry asks.
“On His terms, not yours.”
“Where is this God, huh? Why does he keep killing people?”
“I believe that if we find my daughter, we will know.” Shiloh tells him. “But the rest of you,” he addresses the gathered crowd, “chose to see this as some evil deed, I do not. I feel that we are on a time limit right now, and we have been given a chance. For every light that has gone out, a great community member has fallen and I do not want to find out what happens when the last candle drops.”
“How do we make it stop?” Henry asks.
“We follow the signs,” Shiloh answers.
“The glowing pulse? Up to the mines?”
“Is that not where this all began? I am sorry about your eye but I needed you to see the truth...” Shiloh begins.
“I don't care about my eye, Shiloh! I want this to stop, I want to know what is going on!”
Henry lifts the crate of dynamite and his doctor's bag and walks toward the mine.
Shiloh walks alongside him, speaking of the death of his wife, telling him she spoke of 'the Gate'. Henry tells Shiloh that she was the smartest person he ever knew, he would believe her too.
“Let's go meet God,” Shiloh tells him.
Clarity stands staring up at Fredrick's looming, warped form. Clarity, reminded of her father's tales of the Devil, backs away from him, the digging women are behind her, their eyes open now, and staring at her. They sway in unison and speak in unison as well, “They tell you that they can see your future. They tell you that you have a great purpose and that you will bring great things to this place. That it is your destiny.”
Panicked, Clarity drops to the ground and tries to scuttle through their legs.
Fredrick steps forward and puts a hand on her shoulder, a much stronger hand than she remembers it to be. He speaks to her of the thing that has awoken in the mine, that she has known has been here. He is now connected to it as much as she appears to be.
“What are you?” she asks.
“I am still Fredrick,” he says, “I tried to save you, save this town, and my fears have come true and everyone has lost their minds. It appears I have been given another chance to save the town though.”
Clarity again scurries away, running into the mine and looking for a way out. It is dark in the mines, though sometimes the lights still flicker. She takes a branch to the right and runs down a long hall that ends abruptly, but there is a crack in the wall that could fit a tiny girl like her. She squeezes through the tiny space, she can see that on the other side there are no lights, and she begins to hear the beating of a heart, loud, like it comes from the mountain itself.
She steps out of the crack and into a cavernous room that resembles a chest cavity, complete with a beating heart in front of her. She sees ten burning candles on a frame like the one that appeared on her window sill. They do not glow like the ones her father has, they burn with the inverse of light, as if absorbing the light from the air around them. Five of the candles are lit.
Hello, Clarity, thank you for agreeing to see me. Us.
“What am I seeing?”
All that is left, that we know of. You did this. You brought us here, to this place.
“That vision, was it real?” she asks.
We are connected. Linked. Through time and space.
Because you killed me.
“I would never...I don't know what you're talking about.”
What are you afraid of?
No, try harder.
“I'm afraid I'm evil...”
No. You are afraid of being alone, that you'll die and you'll be alone. That if you're evil, they'll shun you, cast you out.
“What do I do?”
Are you alone now?
“I don't know who to trust anymore...”
You can trust us.
“And what would you have me do?”
I would not have you do anything. But I would like the truth. You did not kill us, no, apparently not. If it was not you, someone like you. Your...form, your shape, what defines you. It is familiar to us. We have met before, we will meet again. You owe us a debt.
On the side of the mountain, Henry and Shiloh stride up the hillside, passing some of the injured women that had been stampeded by the animals. They are asking Henry to see to their wounds. As Henry prevaricates, Shiloh offers them comfort, telling them that soon all will be okay.
Shiloh tells Henry of the time he and his daughter came here, to the mines, and she blacked out and began to speak. “She spoke in a voice I had waited my entire life to hear. She has no memory of it. I do not believe we will find the men in the mines, but we will find answers.”
“I think we should follow these pulses to the mine, and possibly use the dynamite to get in past the collapse. We use the dynamite and we find the answers to end all of this!” Henry says.
Reginald sees the aftermath of the animal stampede, the town is empty and the dust of their passing hangs in the still air. Most of the doors in town are open, and he hears the sound of rummaging inside one of them. He sees through the window a lit candle and creeps closer to investigate. He sees an individual with a brush in hand, painting the words 'Where is your god now' upon the wall, it is the librarian, Carson Lee.
“Carson! It was you, you killed the priest didn't you! What is going on here Carson? Where is everyone?”
“Father came to me. He needed books,” the librarian stammers in a manic voice, “He-he-he needed answers, answers God couldn't give him, because God left.”
“The Devil?” Reginald asks.
“Maybe, but what's, what's more frightening? The Devil? Or that God left? The, uh, Father, I saw him. He had a key to your shop. He stabbed himself in the neck, he couldn't find the answers.”
“Did you?” Reginald asks.
“Oh, no, no. There are none. Sometimes, there are none. Or, we just don't have them. No, there are no answers. There's...he's gone, and they're gone, and this'll crumble and it won't matter. And years from now you won't matter and I won't matter and this house, i-it won't matter..”
“Carson, that's enough, set the brush down and let's walk. Take a walk with me huh?” Reginald tells him.
Carson places the brush on the ground and looks down at the candle in his other hand.
“That's not one of those 'magic' candles I've heard about is it?” Reginald asks him.
“I stole it,” Carson looks up at him and smiles, “to prove a point. That he's a fraud! We're all frauds. All of us Reginald. We're just, pretending to be okay, like we know what's going on.. Father couldn't find it, couldn't explain the voices. Or the new language.”
“Like this?” Reginald offers him the note he found in the priest's bible. “Can you read that?”
“If I could, I don't think he would've killed himself. We don't know. There's no history. No knowledge. God couldn't answer it, I couldn't answer it, so he left. They all left.”
“I hear you, Carson, where did they all go? There's no one in town right now.” Reginald calmly tells him.
“There's no one here?” is his confused reply, “Where did they go? I guess they left too.”
“I did see something, maybe you can explain it to me, let's take a walk,” Reginald tells him.
Reginald tells Carson he needs him alive to tell people something, and Carson scoffs at the idea that anyone would believe him. He takes the candle in hand places the lit end into his chest, smoke drifts up and he lifts the still-lit candle to reveal a hole burned in his shirt, “It still burns.”
“Point proven, Carson, now let's put that down too,” Reginald gently pleas.
“I can't” Carson says, “This is the knowledge, though. This is the answer. It's a start.” He laughs softly to himself as Reginald tries to convince him it's just a candle. “I, uh, I did bad things. Do you want to know what I am afraid of? The same thing we all are: not knowing. Unanswered questions, the what if... what if...” Carson shoves the candle into his mouth, into his throat and he stops, smoke starting to billow from his mouth. The inside of his stomach begins to glow as Carson falls to his knees
“How are you still alive Carson?”
“I'm not,” Carson whispers as he collapses onto his back and the candle starts to burn its way our of his stomach, until it stands in his corpse, still burning.
Reginald intends to use the fire poker to put the wick out in the molten wax, but he sees that though the candle is burning, the wax does not melt. He lifts the candle out of the charred remains and hears a sound from the hillside.
Henry and the others have made their way to the top of the hill, he begins to lay out the dynamite and then they all step back and Shiloh uses one of the candles to light the wick and they watch the hillside explode.
Inside the mine, Clarity and Fredrick hear the explosion. Fredrick is closer to the surface and must flee the explosion, shielding the women with his enlarged form, though not all of them survive. There is an opening in the hill now, and Fredrick emerges through it.
Shiloh and the others see a large silhouette through the smoke and Shiloh clutches at Henry in fear. “What are you doing, you idiots.” Fredrick asks.
Shiloh runs up and grips his arms, “Where is Clarity, Fredrick?”
“Let me ask you something, and then I will take you to her. What do you truly think is going on here?” As he asks Shiloh this, Fredrick hears the voice in his head.
Let him believe, what he needs is belief. It is his greatest fear, I can feel it. He needs all of this to be true.
“I knew Clarity was here, I could feel it. You, something's changed, you've seen it. And Clarity, you said you could take me...I was right...I was right.”
“There's a God...” Henry murmurs, awed.
“Indeed, it seems you were right all this time and I was wrong,” Fredrick tells Shiloh, “but as you can see I have looked upon the face of God and been imbued with his chicane-glory.”
“You are...there's something glorious and beautiful about this. Shiloh, you were right, you and your magical candles. Please Fredrick, can you show us what you've seen.” Henry asks.
“The candles,” Shiloh interrupts, “I want to return them, before it is too late. I know that it's my purpose, my mission. I do not have all of them. Henry. Someone took something from me, from all of us. Can you find the missing candle, it has to be somewhere, still burning! Can you find it?”
Henry takes the rest of the townsfolk to search for the candles back in town.
Clarity walks up to the Heart and places her hand upon it. Before her hand touches the heart she feels as if it is reaching toward her as well. When her hand rests upon the Heart: silence. She is in a white room surrounded by nothing.
She begins to see images, memories not her own. Clarity sees herself, and herself, and herself. Versions of her, copies, she has no recollection of these memories, nor this space that her copies reside in. They are frantic, and they are moving, and they aim to kill. She sees it in their eyes, tastes it in the air, but they are just in a room. A tight closed in space, steel and cold, then the room fades back to white. And there is the vision of floating through the stars as a great pain tears at her, rips her in all directions.
Clarity rips her hand back from the Heart.
You saw it. Did you not? You. You killed me. Why?
“I don't know,” Clarity collapses to a seated position on the floor, thinking.
But it was not you, I recognize that, we recognize that now. You owe us a debt. We wanted nothing to do with you. I just wanted to live, as I've learned that all things here, want to do as well. I apologize for what I've put you through. I feel your father, we have a history, I feel that I know him well. Did you know, your death can keep you from ever being alone.
“I want to see my mother again.”
We can give you that.
“I don't know who my father is anymore, I don't know who I am, the last time I felt good was when she was alive.”
“Clarity.” Her mother says from behind her. Clarity leaps into her arms.
“Mother, so much bad has happened. You said everything would be alright when you left. But it's gotten worse,” Clarity cries, “I am lost mother.”
Fredrick enters with Shiloh, and they see Clarity embracing the air, swaying slightly back and forth.
Shiloh drops to his knees and reaches out to Clarity. “What is wrong with her?” he asks Fredrick. “What is this?”
“I think this is your God, I think. Our God, I think.” Fredrick answers, draping Clarity's cloak over her shoulders and stepping off to the side.
Clarity buries her face in her mothers hair and turns from her father. “Mother, he's come for me.”
Shiloh Anah, you've searched a long time for me have you not? But you come empty handed. Not a part of a whole.
Clarity feels a pull with each pulse of the Heart, pulling her back, away from her mother.
“Wait! I sent Henry back to get the candle, we will find it! We will not come empty handed. I was witness to the great sacrifice, the blood that I am certain now powers your veins, and led me hear to you. Please, whatever you need, this town can provide it for you. If the crops continue to grow, if the storms continue to pass by, if the valley remains lit with its boundless sun. We will do whatever it takes”
What about your daughter? She is of great power to me, everyone in the room hears this.
Fredrick steps forward, “You tasked me to protect you and this town. Is Clarity not a part of this town?”
To protect this town, I need her, and she will live on, through me.
“I-I-I, th-this is too much to ask from a father. I don't understand. Was the, were the vermin not enough? There were so many, and each candle that dropped, felt like something went missing. Was that not enough?” Shiloh asks.
Reginald is in the kitchen of one of the homes, rummaging through the drawers, searching for a knife, losing a battle with madness. Images of the candle burning out form inside Carson, him taking his own life, the Father taking his own life, as a light goes out and the loop continues to spin.
- Discovery: Frederick finds a dagger with a handle shaped like a bull with red jewels for eyes.
Chapter 7 Edit
While he rummages, desperate in his madness, Reginald does not notice the light of the candle he holds wink out.
Henry sees the commotion Reginald is making and goes inside the house. Several of the women with him recognize the blacksmith, and begin to murmur about him killing the Father.
“I never fully believed that Reginald murdered him, it was the will of God that he died. Reginald, give me that candle, I need that candle! Why is it out?” Henry says.
The women press Henry to do something about the blacksmith, but he just wants to get the candle back to Shiloh. They discover the priest's suicide note clutched in Reginald's hands, the church that was burned down, and Henry addresses the women, “I don't fully understand everything, but perhaps this is the will of Shiloh's God, not that of the Father. We have seen animals that are predator and prey running together, strange orange lights underneath the ground, we have seen the disciple of God, in Fredrick. I will be honest I do not understand fully.”
“Why?” Reginald repeats “Why? He ate the candle, why? He killed himself.”
Ida kneels down next to him and tells Reginald, “Because he asked why. It may be best not to ask, just to accept things. Come with us,” she holds out her hand to him, but he is wary of her. He takes Henry's hand instead. He unburdens himself, telling Henry what he saw happen to Carson.
Back in the mines, the four remaining women all hover around Clarity and whisper “Destiny.”
Clarity is following the vision of her mother towards the Heart when Shiloh intercepts her, “Clarity wait, it's your father,” she shrinks back from him.”Your mother's not here Clarity, she' been gone a long time...”
“I don't trust you, I have something to do. I have to do it. You tried to trick me before, I have to help it is my destiny.” Clarity murmurs.
Fredrick reaches out to hold Henry back, and a knife forms from the air into his hand, it is in the shape of a bull with red rubies for eyes. He keeps the knife pressed against Shiloh as he holds him back with his other hand.
“Okay, okay,” Shiloh puts his hands up, “What do you want Fredrick?”
“I want to see what Clarity wishes to do,” Fredrick answers.
“But I am her father, I speak for her, she is just a child,” Shiloh protests.
“I make my choices now!” Clarity shouts, running and leaping upon the Heart as a bright flash blinds Shiloh and Fredrick,
The town below sees a great light flash from the mountain top.
As their eyes adjust, Shiloh and Fredrick see Clarity's body lying upon the Heart, connected to it, sinking into it. Every fear, every horror that the town could imagine pulses through her, she sees all of it. Their secrets, desires, their anguish. She feels that this being doesn't care for her, for humanity, for the town. She feels its indifference, its frustration with even having to use her. But she cannot speak, no sound comes out when she tries to form words.
Fredrick watches Clarity sink into the Heart, tears streaming from her eyes.
“Let me go Fredrick. What is happening?” Shiloh asks.
“It is the will of the Lord, I think,” Fredrick says.
“I don't understand, we've sacrificed so much,” Shiloh wonders.
“Is it not something that you have said to me, 'the lord works in mysterious ways,” Fredrick tells him.
“Why am I here?” Shiloh asks.
“Why do you believe you are here?” Fredrick responds.
“I believe I have a purpose. Was my purpose Clarity? Is that what God wanted of me?” he stares at his daughter sinking into the Heart.
Clarity reaches out to her father's mind, “I made a mistake. I thought I was doing the right thing, I was helping. But all I feel now is fear, and pain. I'm so sorry father. Mother's not here anymore. I think this is it.”
We can give you mother, if mother is what you want. Whatever makes this easier for us.
“Save them...” she whispers.
For now...for now. Shiloh Anah, your daughter is safe here. She will live, for as long as her body will allow it. But I need her, and I need you to remain faithful, to spread the good word. To keep God strong in their hearts. Fredrick can help you. You can find others, and I will give them the power they need for you to complete your job. We are not done, Shiloh Anah, we know each other well, we will continue to know each other for years to come.
Henry, seeing this light burst from the side of the mountain, brings the townsfolk up the mountain. Reginald jabs the fire poker into his own arm, carving out the symbol he saw in the Father's church, and as he carves, the blood glows as it seeps from his arm, pooling on the ground around him, as a light goes out, and the loop continues to spin.
Chapter 8 Edit
Reginald's body lies before Henry, and Henry recognizes the symbol he has carved into his arm. He recognizes it to mean 'the Voice', and that it means that he, Henry, is the Voice of God. “One year ago we were blessed by the most glorious event that was bestowed on our town. God chose all of us, and now he has finally chosen to show himself to us. We are blessed. This town is blessed. For it is His will for the Company to leave so that He may speak to us!” The people gather around him, some getting on their knees and praying, for forgiveness, for acceptance. They believe that it is their fault that their town has ended up like this. Henry tells them that this is a rebirth phase where a some things die, that others may grow anew. It is the will of God and they should not feel bad about it. “We were given a task to retrieve God's candle, and though it is out, that is still our duty.” He leads them back up the mountain to deliver the doused candled.
“Is this what you wanted to happen?” Fredrick asks the voice.
What do you want to happen?
“I think that there is time, as you said yourself, to protect, to guard. There is plenty of work to do.”
Yes, plenty of work. Shiloh will need your help, you will need to be kept in line.
“The people of this town have been talking about forming some sort of organization, a council. I think that, as the one who keeps them in line, perhaps, I am best suited to do your will outside them.”
Whatever makes them feel like they are in control, is fine.
Fredrick lets go of Shiloh.
“You don't have to worry about me anymore,” Shiloh tells him, “I understand, I don't like it, but I understand.”
“There are a lot of people who don't understand, and they will looks to you,” Fredrick says.
“I didn't ask for this,” Shiloh mutters.
Clarity, subsumed in a world of pain, horror and agony, gives in and accepts her fate. A light goes out, and the loop continues to spin.
Chapter 9 Edit
Henry arrives with the candle and Shiloh tells him it is no longer needed. “Is everything okay?” Henry asks.
“It will be,” Shiloh tells him, “We three need to start something, we have a purpose now.”
“The council,” Henry assumes.
“Yes, can you bring them all together?” Shiloh asks.
“Should they see me like this?” Fredrick asks.
“I think they must,” Shiloh assures him.
“Everyone! Gather around! Now will be the first council, the first meeting for our town now that the Company has left!” Henry tells the people.
“What you are witness to now, in this moment, is a birth,” Shiloh takes over for him, “Ours. Our birth. We have been granted a gift. We will no longer have to worry for food, or safety, shelter. We are protected. But not without sacrifice. The vermin will not be enough. God expects more from us. Fredrick, is our enforcer. You will do as he says. He means only to protect us. Henry, I will train you, I will teach you the word of God, so that you can spread it.”
“As his Voice.” Henry agrees.
“The rest of you, will be joining a council, those that are worthy anyway. Who we believe can birth this town, into the correct path moving forward. My daughter prophesied this, she knew who it would be before it happened,” Shiloh tells him.
Chapter 10 Edit