Episode 11: The Education of Ellis
Host Jon's Pitch notes for Ep 11:
It is one week to Halloween and a teenage girl frantically pulls food stuff from the kitchen cupboard, she is obviously terrified. The scene is underscored by a very faint but high pitched noise. As the girl empties more and more cupboards, the sound intensifies to howling screams. The screaming becomes deafening as the teenager finally finds what she is looking for…a container of salt. She turns with a defiant smile, only to be confronted by a screaming woman whose face we cannot see. There is now a gale of screams, more than either woman could make together. The woman grabs her face and the screen cuts to black.
Our main character is a 15yr old boy called Ellis. It is a reasonably religious community with various different faiths being represented, all however are in agreement that Halloween is not an appropriate holiday to celebrate. Because of this very little is made of the holiday, some newer families do put out some pumpkins and a few very mild decorations. Sometimes the little children of the town are able to wear costumes but only non-scary ones. But even these small signs of the holiday are frowned upon by the town at large and newer families tend to drop them altogether after a year or two of the towns judgement. This local community is reeling from the death of young girl from Ellis’s class (Abbey, the girl in the prologue) who was found with her jaw crushed and her heart eaten. His whole school is abuzz with speculation about what could have done this to her. There are rumours of her absent father maybe being a suspect or that she was sleeping with an older man who did this. All baseless gossip, but the case has many unanswered questions. Most of the children in the school have been complaining of nightmares recently and faint buzzing sounds. The adults dismiss these as stress related symptoms due to the Abbey’s death. Ellis’s parents, Alison & Patrick, are decent if a little distant and are unsure how to console him through this. This is true of a lot of the parents of children at the school. The teachers at the school are just as ill-equipped to deal with this. Ellis’s teacher Miss Ashling is one of the few teachers who try their best to comfort the children, she is a young woman who kindly tries to reach out to the kids. Increasingly large numbers of students are hanging out to console one another. New friendship groups are forming between children who had never previously spoken, particularly Ellis and a younger boy called Ben who have bonded over their interest in things like Halloween and are equally frustrated by their town’s lack of fun with the holiday.
Act 1 ends with a school swimming team in the changing room. There are fifteen or so children and they have all chosen lockers close to one another. They have all gotten changed and are just packing up their belongings. When a cloaked and hooded shape moves between the lockers, it grabs all of their attention. The faint buzzing sound starts again and increases to a faint scream. A couple of the smaller children cover their ears to no effect. The figure appears behind them all at the opposite end of the lockers, with her hood down. The children all face her and scream. The background noise rises to loud hellish screams again. She reaches out to grab the first child and crushes their jaw, causing thick blood to cascade down their chest. Most of the other children panic and go to escape but find the other end of the lockers is blocked by criss-crossed interlocked arms coming from nowhere. A couple of the braver children go towards their attacker only to be flung aside. We pan back as sounds of breaking jaws and chaos come from the changing rooms. Blood starts to run over the tiles. All of this is underscored by howling screams which stop dead, only leaving the faintly sticky noise of pooling blood. Once again the town is rocked by tragedy as the children’s bodies are found soon afterwards as their parents were waiting outside the school for them. The police are immediately
called. As they look over the horrors of the changing room, they discover a finger painted scrawl in the blood. It is of a woman with an upside down face.
Ben hears about the upside down faced woman as his mum is a cop and was on the scene. She tells her husband of what they found there, but their son overhears them. This spreads quickly around the school. A lot of the children are now hearing the faint noises of scared or screaming voices and are beginning to get increasingly hysterical. The school is immediately closed and there is a lot of extra law enforcement present in the town as they believe that some kind of satanic/pagan based cult is behind the murders and is working towards something grander for Halloween. In response to this, the town decides to round up all of the pumpkins and anything Halloween related to be destroyed, mainly as a futile gesture of defiance to the imagined cult attacking their town. There is a feeling of shame amongst the families that had carved pumpkins and put out decorations. They are only too eager to destroy these things to show solidarity with the town. Small acts of violence break out across the town as fear and paranoia begins to grip the townsfolk. The single bar and both churches are full of families seeking comfort in any way they can for the remaining few nights running up to Halloween.
However the children are still suffering and many of them are saying that they have seen the upside down faced woman watching them throughout the day as the screams get louder. The more they complain about this, the more the townsfolk believes that the stress of the ‘cult attacks’ is effecting them. So they decide to move all of the town’s children in to the meeting hall for Halloween night where they can be watched and protected. The town’s sheriff (Pertwee) puts most of their force to the task of watching the children. Whereas the extra law enforcement is trying to hunt down the murderous cult they are convinced are hiding somewhere close to the town. The teachers from the school are mostly moved to the town hall to help watch the couple of hundred children of the town. Although the large adult presence seems barely necessary as all the kids are acting increasingly distracted and subdued. We feel most of this through Ellis as he tries to reach his close friends but struggles to do so because of the now constant sound of distant screams ringing in his ears. He withdraws to his cot and drifts to sleep.
He is woken by talking close by, it is now Halloween night. Most of the children and adults are in various stages of drowsy sleep. He looks up and sees Miss Ashling standing close to Ben. Ellis looks bleary eyed at the two people until he realises that Miss Ashling is grasping Ben by the jaw and blood is running down her arm. He jumps up with a start to see Miss Ashling’s face slowly turning upside down, her mouth becoming a s razor toothed black maw as she does. Her skin pales and stretches oddly as her frame widens and heightens. She collapse’s Ben’s jaw as Ellis screams. This causes everyone in the hall to jolt in to alertness.
The same blackened arms from the locker room stretch themselves across the doorways and windows, trapping everybody in the centre of the town hall. Those outside try in vain to tear at the unnatural limbs but to no avail; any injury to one of the arms causes another to crawl out of the wall. Back inside the larger hall cloaked black figures step out of the shadows, all with the same grinning upside down faces. The screaming begins to sound more like riotous laughter as they move between
the camping beds to stalk the terrified panicking children. Ellis cries out and runs as the former Miss Ashling, who turns and effortlessly throws the young boy aside and then grabs and crushed the face of another passing child. A few of the parents are valiantly fighting the cloaked monsters but are shoved, although no real harm as come to them. Ellis’s mother grabs her child and like many other parents has taken refuge in the corner. Many of the fathers, including Patrick are trying their best to save as many of the other children as they can. The upside down faced figures dispatch the last few stragglers and turn to the corner which now contains the surviving children, with a ring of adults surrounding them. Miss Ashling steps forwards, flanked by the other dozen cloaked figures, and hissing through her black mouth explains that they only want the town’s offspring. Once they have collected all of them then they will depart. Ellis’s mother steps forward defiantly to tell her that they will not allow that to happen. One of the other adults also asked why are they doing this, Miss Ashling cruelly laughs and replies that nothing tastes better than a heart seasoned with innocence and youth so she and her kin have come to hunt and gorge themselves as they know may do on Halloween night.
As the demons begin to advance, Alison and the other parents charge to meet them. They use everything they can to beat at the howling demons, bits of furniture, keys etc. Miss Ashling and her brethren push and wail at them but seem unable to really fight back against the adults. They push and strike but their strength seems sapped against the army of adults. Alison realises this and calls it out to everyone present. The demons realise that that they have lost their advantage, begin to back away. Miss Ashling screeches in frustration that this is unfair as they are only there for the children as they are not strong enough to fight against the adults. Some of the demons also appear to be injured now, with black blood seeping from a number of small wounds sustained.
Outside the hall, most of the police and FBI has now returned but are being blocked by the hellish arms blocking their path. But as the fight turns within the hall, the barrier begins to weaken. The arms bleed profusely when wounded and no more arms grow from the wall. The armed law enforcement tumbles in to the hall. Now the town’s adults and surviving children advance on the injured and visibly scared demons. Their upside faces now streaked with panic. With multiple guns pointed at them, they begin to melt back in to the shadows. Miss Ashling begins to threaten that she will be back next year to devour their children, until Ellis steps forward with his parents holding a broken piece of bed frame. Then as a family, they drive in to Miss Ashling’s face, sending arches of ink black blood splattering the wooden floor. Her body twitches violently like a wounded animal before she falls still and melts away in to the shadows.
It cuts to the next years Halloween, many house lay empty including Abbey’s and the rest of those that lost children that night. But many have stayed, including Ellis and his family. They are getting ready to go out and meet his friends outside. The children are carrying pumpkin bags but are wearing no costumes, but they are carry makeshift spears. They laugh and joke as they walk to the first house and ring the bell. An adult with a crudely done upside down face makeup answers the door and then shrinks back in fake terror and comments on how scary they look. They then hand the children handfuls of sweets and candy.