Nightshade's Requiem

Anthony Hains

Book Cover

GENRE

HORROR SUSPENSE/THRILLER

    Core Theme

    OVERCOMING FEAR AND SURVIVAL.

    TIME PERIOD

    1960s & '70s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM, A CURE FOR WELLNESS, STRANGER THINGS

    CHARACTER LIST

    • COLE: 12. INTELLIGENT, HEROIC, EMPATHETIC, COMPLEX, KIND, DEEP.

    • KENNY: 17. COLE'S FELLOW INMATE AND BEST FRIEND IN THE ASYLUM. HE POSSESSES THE SKILLS COLE DOESN'T, AND COLE NEEDS HIM TO SURVIVE.

    • NURSE STERN: 20S-60S. A NO-NONSENSE EMPLOYEE OF THE ASYLUM.

    • LAMBERT: 60S. AN INMATE WHO RECOGNIZES COLE'S "GIFTS" BECAUSE HE HAS THEM HIMSELF. HE HELPS COLE AND KENNY.

    • PLOVAC: 20S-40S. A WORKER IN THE ASYLUM WHO ABUSES THE KIDS.

    • CHAZ: 20S. A TOUR GUIDE AT THE ASYLUM IN PRESENT DAY AFTER IT CLOSES.

    Logline

    Twelve-year-old Cole is sent to a terrifying mental asylum that as a gruesome history. Unfortunately, Cole is cursed with the ability to see ghosts and how they died. Far worse, though, is The Creeper, a creature who preys on the kids in the pediatric ward. And, it's stalking Cole.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Mental Asylum, rural Virginia, 1962

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: PCNY Books

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    Before she died, Cole’s grandma taught him how to keep his demons from coming out of their hiding places. But these lessons prepared him for Saint Edwards Mental Asylum, where he’s landed after a bad foster-care home. Walls scream in agony, ghosts leap to their death again and again before his eyes.

    Ending Description

    Cole and another kid are trying to escape the asylum during a tornado only to be accosted by The Creeper in a tunnel. Wearing the tanned-skins of former patients, the Creeper captures the boys and attempts to kill them. An undercover cop shoots the Creeper who turns out to be a beloved nurse.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    978-1732388031

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Cole Nightshade

    Age: 12

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Heroic,Selfless,Empathetic,Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Kenny

    Age: 17

    Gender: Male

    Role: Mentor

    Key Traits: Masculine,Adventurous,Charming,Decisive

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Dale

    Age: 40

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Villainous,Charming

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Dale

    Age: 40

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Criminal,Villainous,Secretive

    Development Pitch

    Nightshade’s Requiem is a blend of coming-of-age horror like “It” with the unrelenting tension (and pathology) of “Silence of the Lambs”. The main character, Cole, has an uncanny paranormal ability to see the dead and how they died. When he is locked up in a mental asylum, Cole sees the cruel way former patients passed away. However, he befriends other kids on the pediatric unit, and they recognize his abilities as genuine. Unfortunately, Cole and the other kids have a bigger problem than ghosts. A creature known as the Creeper has been preying on kids in the asylum. Rumor has it that if you catch a glimpse of him, you die. And Cole has already seen him twice. Cole’s progression as a character is exciting. He adjusts well to his situation and grows in self-confidence. The interaction of the kids has a “Stranger Things” feel to it which seems appealing to audiences. The Creeper skins the hides of his kills within the institution, providing a gruesome subplot. The revealed identity of the Creeper in the climax is a shocker because the viewer/reader couldn’t be sure the character was real or something supernatural. The novel has considerable backstory which could make it an extended series on something like Netflix or Hulu. The novel is also the first in a series which follows Cole through adolescence to adulthood (the latter includes his deployment to Vietnam and his early career in the BAU division of the FBI).

    Brief

    Twelve-year-old Cole is sent to a terrifying mental asylum that as a gruesome history. Unfortunately, Cole is cursed with the ability to see ghosts and how they died. Far worse, though, is The Creeper, a creature who preys on the kids in the pediatric ward - and it's stalking Cole.

    What We Liked

    - The asylum and the period are great settings. A very spooky atmosphere builds consistently and comes to a terrifying conclusion. The characters are all interesting and the protagonists are empathic while the rest of the cast are unpredictable - which lends gravitas to the story since one doesn't know what could happen next. The supernatural element is even more unpredictable and scary, lending itself to an enticing trailer for the film.
    - It could be a great horror anthology since there are plenty of cliffhangers to keep viewers coming back. There is a strong "need to know" built into the story and its strong pace could keep an audience. The characters are empathetic and interesting and the setting is good for the small screen.
    - Key points: Ghosts; Mental patients; Brave kids; Death; Suspense.

    Synopsis

    1962. COLE, 11, is getting kicked out of his foster home by his abusive foster parents. They think he’s behind the scare their daughter is getting from a monster that terrorizes her at night. He is abused in every way, and then is sent to an asylum called Saint Edwards. He thinks about his dead Nana, who lived in the country and taught him how to hunt and fish. While being dropped off at the asylum, he sees a baby fly out of a window and splatter on the concrete, followed by a young woman. No one else seems to notice. He meets NURSE STERN and KENNY, 17.

    Present day. CHAZ and EVIE give a tour of the asylum/hospital. They allude to the idea that the place is haunted and have a gift shop and an inn on the “campus.”

    1962. Cole’s taken by Kenny and Nurse Stern to a room with a few kids in it, including CYNTHIA, 15, who flirts, and overweight BEATRICE. Cole is strip searched and given hospital clothes. He showers with no privacy. DR. SLAVER examines him. Cole remembers that Nana told him he could control the demons he sees. She said it runs in the family, and he has to replace them with good images. He relies on counting things. Even numbers are good, odd are bad. The doctor is intrigued by this and tells Cole that he won’t get medication now but will be observed for a couple of weeks. Cole eats with Kenny, Cynthia and TIMMY, who repeats stuff a lot. SKELETON GIRL barely touches her food. While cleaning up after dinner, Kenny tells Cynthia that Cole is a “seer” and he learned this from an older patient named LAMBERT, who is also a seer. A large girl screams and is injected with a sedative and taken to her room. Cole sees a face and hands come out of the wall but he counts the magazines and it’s an even number so the apparition goes away. Kenny and Cynthia are fascinated as Cole explains his visions and his ESP. They tell him the “Creeper” has been haunting the place forever - and if you see him you’re dead. Lying in bed, Cole remembers when he was with Nana and saw an older girl who had hair and eyes like his. Nana tells him it was his mother, who died young. She tells Cole he has a gift. In his hospital room, Cole sees a horrific figure who disappears - then hears screams coming from the walls and wakes up Kenny, who doesn’t hear anything. DALE, one of the staff members, sends them back to bed.

    Present day. Chaz and Evie continue their tour, trying to build drama and tension for the tourists. The building was originally a boarding school for boys but went out of business.

    1962. The morning arrives, and Nurse Stern and a younger nurse come into the boys room, wake them up, and examine their sheets. They find a “boy stain” on Timmy’s and say this will have to be corrected while Timmy pleads and promises not to do it again. Timmy will get shock treatment. Cole has a vision of a demon and runs to the bathroom, feeling queasy. After breakfast, they all have “group.” Cole learns that “Skeleton Girl’s” name is Laura Jean. Nurse Stern and another younger nurse named PEGGY sit with them in the circle of chairs. Nurse Stern notes that it’s Cole’s 12th birthday. He didn’t even remember. She chastises Timmy for masturbating, calling it unnatural. Cole sees a woman fall down outside the window and her guts explode. There is banging from the floor above and all the doors bang open and shut. Laura Jean turns into a corpse and birds start hitting the windows. No one else notices, they only see Cole having an episode. When group is over, Nurse Stern questions him and he says he saw ghosts. He tells Kenny and Cynthia what he really saw. They go outside for recreation and play basketball. Timmy is surprisingly great and wins. He tells them that the place used to be a high school full of football players but there were two suicides, including a male student and a girl, who threw herself and her baby off the roof. This rattles Cole. Lambert asks Cole about his visions and he tells him everything. Lambert is empathetic. A storm starts to roll in. Cole is taken to the basement for shock treatment. They put him under first, and he doesn’t remember it when he regains consciousness. That night, he dreams of the girl and her baby, except when they both go out the window, Cole looks down to see Timmy and Cynthia’s splattered bodies on the concrete below. Nana is there with him, and she explains that he’s like a radio tuner and he has to learn how to tune out the bad stuff. He tries, but hears horrible screams and noises from all over the building. When he opens his eyes, Nana is gone. In bed, Cole feels rough fingers on his skin. It’s the Creeper, at his bedside, and it flips him over so he can see its ghoulish face and all the rags on its body. It tells him that he will “do nicely” and then turns as if to pounce on Kenny. Cole wakes up and sees that Kenny is having sex with Nurse Peggy.

    Present day. Chaz and Evie come to the part of their tour where they show the tourists slides of the asylum with ghostly images - including one picture Chaz took that shows a girl’s head peeking out of a doorway.

    1962. Kenny wakes up alone in the room, groggy, and surprised that he was allowed to sleep in. Outside with everyone, Cole opts out of games and falls asleep under a tree. He wakes up to find Lambert there, and he asks Cole about his visions. Lambert thinks the evil comes from the bad things adults do and tells him to scream and run if he ever sees the Creeper again. Lambert disagrees with the kids who said if you see the Creeper, you die - who would be left to tell the stories? He tells him the rags the Creeper wears are actually the skin of children he killed. Tommy, Kenny, and Cynthia join them and ask Cole what the shock treatment was like but Cole doesn’t remember it. PLOVAC, a hospital worker, is outside now and Cynthia goes to him. Kenny explains that she performs sex acts on him for candy. Cole says his foster mother raped him and Kenny admits his English teacher did the same thing to him and he killed her. Cynthia comes back with jelly beans. She cuts up her face and the pain helps her since she was molested too. Lambert invites Cole to help him with his gardening as they head back inside, avoiding Plovac.

    Present day. Evie and Chaz tell the tourists the story of the woman and baby that fell to their death. Also, a nurse committed suicide after getting dumped by a doctor.

    1962. DANIEL, a hospital worker, shows Kenny and Cole a tunnel that was used to secret dead people out so the other inmates didn’t see them and get upset. Then they visit the woman’s ward, where there are only a few creepy basket cases, and Cole is the only one who sees a nurse running and screaming until she disappears. That night in bed, he asks Kenny how many people he’s killed. After a while, Kenny says 3. He killed his abusive father by rigging his truck to go off a cliff. Coles asks him if he’s having sex with Nurse Peggy and he says yes, but he’s 17 and she’s only 21 so it’s not a big deal. Kenny asks Cole if he’s been seeing demons still, and Cole says no. Just ghosts. Kenny says the demons are in Cole - and he has to just let them go. The next morning, the nurses catch Timmy with stained sheets again. The kids are all herded into the cafeteria where a teacher appears and hands out worksheets. Cole finishes his and they are told to grab a book to read. The next day they play football in the damp field and a photographer takes pictures of them; he is doing a story on the facility. Back in bed for the night, Cole explains his recent nightmares to Kenny and Timmy, then goes to investigate where the Creeper tried to push him out a window - but killed a nurse instead. Looking for marks, he sees that the frame has been painted over. In bed, he feels someone touch his chest and stomach and sees his sheets are on the floor. Then he hears a noise in the corner and the Creeper leaves his room. Cole hears wails, moans, prayers, etc. from the mens and womens ward until he finally falls asleep. Kenny and Cole help Lambert with the gardening and Lambert explains to Cole that the voices he heard the night before were all of the souls that died here wanting to be remembered. Cole is surprised that Lambert heard it too, and Lambert explains it sometimes happens - but Cole is much more powerful a seer. Timmy never comes back from his round of shock therapy. An aneurysm killed him and everyone is shocked and sad. Cole wonders what part of his shock treatment may have played in his death. Later, Cole sees Timmy’s ghost in a corridor, and Timmy points to the girls room. Cole understands this to mean that something is wrong with Cynthia.

    Present day. Chaz and Evie take the tourists to the boys room and show them the old picture of Cole, Timmy and Kenny. They say that a worker named DANIEL took a kid to the tunnel and raped and killed him. Also, if they roll a ball down the hall sometimes Timmy’s spirit would roll it back. The group is delighted for the demonstration even though the ball doesn’t magically come back. The legend of the Creeper is told. The group is told that males sometimes feel a hand touch them. Chaz tells a story of feeling a cold hand grab his leg.

    1962. Cole is in a straight jacket, tied on a gurney while next to him Kenny is tied on a gurney. Cole recalls how he got there: They found Cynthia, dead, wrists slit. As worker DALE calls for help, Cole and Kenny are sent to the common room to make sure Beatrice is okay. Plovac comes through and Kenny tells him this is his fault and they get into a fight and Cole joins in to help Kenny. They’re restrained by staff, sedated, and strapped to gurneys - awaiting shock treatment. Kenny tells him they’re going to pretend to be sedated, then make an escape. He tells Cole to let his demons loose. The staff come and take them off their gurneys. Outside, a storm is starting to rage. Inside, Cole sees screaming faces pressing from inside the walls - including Timmy and Cynthia. Cole grabs an orderly’s baton and hits the doctor on the head and and the fight begins - while the storm now howls through the windows - but Cole and Kenny are able to fight off the staff and escape the room. The building is torn up. Outside, cars and trees have been thrown. Lambert tells them they need to avoid the bad patients who are now on the loose and take the tunnel to get out. In the tunnel they find the brutalized corpse of Daniel as they creep through the dark. Cole hallucinates screaming kids who are being torn apart, until the vision abates when they see a faint light ahead. They fall into a room on the side of the tunnel. There are human skins stretched on hangers. Plovac catches up to them and attacks, but Kenny stabs him through the eye with a screwdriver.

    Present day. In the shock treatment room, Chaz tells the tourists about a mysterious kid called Twilight Eyes who had psychic powers and they tried shock treatment but people were hurt - and they don’t know what happened to them. He also shows them the tunnel and talks about the two staff members who were killed there.

    1962. With the tanning human skins that include Timmy and Cynthia, they find Nurse Peggy, chopped up into pieces. Something comes at them from behind the skins. It’s the Creeper, with human hides hanging off of it. It slices Kenny open with a knife as a terrified Cole tries to run. The Creeper catches him, and Cole fights him off and his mask comes off his head. It’s Dale. After almost choking Cole, Dale’s head explodes. Behind him is Roy, with a gun and badge. Kenny is alive. There is a storm of activity with police and hospital workers from another hospital. Lambert explains to Cole that Roy was an undercover cop, and tells Cole that he, even though he’s a seer too, couldn’t figure out that Dale was doing this all along. Nurse Stern takes Cole through the asylum, where people are busy cleaning up the horrendous mess. She asks Cole why he was talking to Lambert, since Lambert just died.

    Present day. As their tour ends, an old man stays behind. He reveals himself to Chaz - it’s Cole. He helps them set the records straight on their tour and gives additional information. Chaz is stunned as he writes it all down. On their way out, a ball spins in mid air then is tossed to them. Cole says thank you to Timmy.

    About The Author

    Anthony Hains is a professor emeritus of counseling psychology with a specialization in pediatric psychology. He retired in May 2018 after thirty-one years at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.