Everybody loves vampires. But they’re sort of the old thing now. Zombies have and will always be a big thing because zombies keep … uhm, you know where this sentence is going. I could do zombies – intelligently, mind – but I’m already doing that and that project is kinda secret. Superheroes are on the rise. So, no-one will see this one coming. Ghouls.
Wait, no, don’t leave yet, hear me out, okay? The elevator pitch goes like this: Vultures disappear*, corpse-eating ghouls take their place in the ecosystem, let us monitor them really close to prevent panic and actual zombie invasion and stuff.
Okay so it’s still zombies. But it’s … ghouls. You could make an argument for vampires being zombies and no I’m not getting defensive at all. The main difference between my ghouls and the various kinds of zombies is that the ghouls don’t want living humans. Sometimes they attack each other and it’s kind of sad to watch.
So. What kind of characters would be in this thing? First, let’s look at what organisations would face off. There would be the government. Something with ties to the government that funds this whole deal, at least. There would be the team of mostly scientists, and there would be the moral opposition to all this, those who think they should let nature be nature, or at least use pigs’ or cows’ cadavers instead of humans. Who think this’ll all go terribly awry, for some strange reason.
The setting would be an unnamed English-speaking country somewhere around where Greece would be if Greece still existed, somewhat contemporary but a bit warped – there’s futurelike stuff and then there’s some not-so-futurelike stuff. It should not feel like home to anybody, is all.
So, the main cast:
* June. Responsible for Public Relations in the Vulture project. Sleeps poorly; needs sunlight 20 hours a day due to a condition. Wears sunglasses constantly.
* Mischa Dedersen. Head person in the labs. All around genius. Seems baffled by everything even if he understands it. Not baffled in an excited or happy way.
* Larusa Kierke. Responsible for Communications between all parties. She once filled in a ‘request for permission to kill’ form because she was bored, and it got approved.
* Akuoa Toesch. Another lab person. Does exciting things with corpses and biospheres.
* Ty Menner. Spy. Genderfluid. Works below June. Well, eventually. Inside Kolshov’s organisation. Paranoid. Easily offended. Long, long, long fuse.
* Emil Kolshov. The head of the anti-ghoul social movement. Charismatic and violent and always has a point.
* Ayne. Emil Kolshov’s spy inside the Vulture project. Mostly muscle.
* Veder Shang. Camera guy. Fills a role opposite Larusa’s – feels responsible for breaking down communications between everybody.
Episodes would be about an hour long each, I would say. Nine episodes to a season. Break everything down into threes to satisfy people with that flavour of OCD, and because I think it would be pretty. First three episodes would be about getting the program to actually work, despite time constraints, moral opposition, budget cuts, and acts of violence. Next three episodes would be about preventing or stopping damage, getting an inside look of Emil Kolshov’s organisation, and understanding that maybe June is better at planning things than he seems – it all seems to be running the way he wants it. Last three episodes would be about aborting the mission and stopping the
zombie ghoul apocalypse from happening.
Act 1: Scramble to set everything up. A slow funeral is the main scene in this act. Repeated fails at reanimating a corpse correctly. Vulture thing gets explained. At the act’s end, June, who attended the funeral, asks the deceased’s son (Kolshov) if he could buy the corspe, and gets a black eye.
Act 2: June had already kind of stolen the body and the thing in the coffin was a fake. He tells him he was just checking if that was okay; it was not. Successes at reanimating corpses braindeadlike, but getting them to eat other corpses is tricky. Ghoul thing is explained. Main scene is June negotiating with Larusa, who passes everything on almost verbatim to whoever the government is.
Act 3: A corpse actually eats a dead badger. It’s amazing and they’re all happy about it. June smugly reports success to Larusa, just as Mischa and the others change their minds – there’s some rumination going on; the ghoul throws things up and eats them again, and there’s some awkwardness, but eventually it’s deemed a real success, only three weeks after they were supposed to have done it. In the meantime, Emil Kolshov is obsessed about the vultures.
Act 1: The deployment of ghouls into the scrapheaps and wildernesses. Camera team (led by Veder) follows some of the ghouls and taunts them. Mischa gets upset at them, this makes great TV.
Act 2: Veder keeps his stalking of the ghoul up, taunting it every now and then. It dies, eventually, of starvation – having uttered some random (as in seriously, use a random word generator) words before dying. In the meantime, Larusa is in negotiations with Emil Kolshov in regards to him starting an organisation against this whole ghoul thing. Mischa’s still upset and does drastic things (deleting himself from the Internet).
Act 3: Mischa’s less upset but not because anyone talked him out of anything, he just succeeded in mostly removing himself from the web. Toesch is busy tracking what happened with this ghoul that stopped moving. He really expected someone to talk him out of it. Emil Kolshov holds a meeting. June confronts Veder on his way back from the filming and destroys the camera and strips him and leaves him in a field full of ghouls who don’t want to eat him but are nonetheless scary. Toesch gets there, sees Veder.
Act 1: (unlike the other two episodes so far, this one takes place during a single day) The first official protest. Some tension between June and Larusa because Larusa helped stage the process. Veder has decided not to press any charges, but has a camera on June at all times now. Veder interviews Emil about the opinions, tilting it to make Emil look a lot better than he otherwise would have. Mischa’s only comment on the matter is ‘things smell nicer now’.
Act 2: Ty gets into Emil’s protest thingy and some sexual tension develop between them immediately, Anye gets into the Vulture project. Ty proceeds to throw an egg at June, more because ze has wanted to do that for a while than to start a ‘throw things at June’ kind of thing. Anye helps herding the other ghouls away from the ghoul that swallowed the one that Veder taunted and goaded into dying.
Act 3: They bring that ghoul in, with a helicopter, and the protesters throw eggs at the helicopter. Toesch and Mischa kill it and examine it. Veder figures out who the ghoul they brought in used to be and figures out that it’s Emil’s mum. Kolshov has a breakdown and it’s great TV.
Act 1: Anye starts stealing information and reporting it back to Emil. Emil develops a friendship with Veder, there is some sexual tension between them. Mischa and Toesch autopsy the ghoul-inside-a-ghoul and find out it has syphilis.
Act 2: June reports to Larusa that hygiene in the city is so much better and he has so many papers to prove it. Emil blows Ty off for Veder instead, and decides to make a move on him. Mischa and Toesch ponder the possibility that it ate a dead badger that had syphilis. Ty decides to become acquainted with one of the few living vultures.
Act 3: Ayne reports to Emil. Emil makes his move on Veder, who is disgusted. June gives a speech about how good the ghouls are for health in this city, demonstrating that the hospitalizations lately have been going way down. Someone throws a shoe at him. “Very funny.” Veder portrays June as a victim now, which surprises June and everybody else who isn’t Ty or Emil.
Act 1: Anye steals a vial full of worms and June catches her red-handed. He just shatters them in her hands and walks away. Later, she gets a text saying ‘by the way you’re fired.’ or something classy to that extent. He knew she was stealing allll along. Emil decides to get a sample of them worms. Veder and Ty find Larusa at the same time, thinking they have business with her (Ty wants information about June, on behalf of Emil; Veder wants juicy gossip), but she leaves them in an elevator with just themselves, and shuts the elevator down.
Act 2: Mischa and Toesch hire a new person to be their carry-stuff-and-help-around-the-lab, and ze is ‘clumsy’ and breaks things. Emil and a gang of people go dressed in gas masks to find the worms. They kill a ghoul to get them, and alarms don’t go off because of the ‘clumsy’ ‘help’. Veder and Ty decide that their plan is going to be to press charges against Larusa, because they caught it alllll on tape.
Act 3: June is in Emil’s home and taunts him about the worms. Another ghoul starts eating the ghoul that Emil & co killed. When it has eaten it, it exclaims some random words. Veder and Ty wake up in the hospital and get told they are very lucky to have survived. Unlike the footage, which all died. But Veder was recording things with his new fake eye! Larusa reports to the government or whatnot that she’s successlike. Emil attacks June and June laughs through it until he can barely breathe, when Emil stops. (Veder always had a camera on June, remember?)
Act 1: Veder and Ty get released from the hospital. Ty goes to find comfort in hir animal companion, the royal vulture ze has befriended. Veder decides to go with the Emil-footage for headlines first, and wait with the Larusa being evil things for a little while. He tells no-one of his cybernetic eye. Emil becomes a pariah and most but a loyal few stay with him. Ayne and some of the people who followed him to the ghoul. June still demagogues, and is loved by the people, and so is his creepy vulture ghoul plan, which now surrounds the entire city, comfortingly and environmentally.
Act 2: Mischa and Toesch are getting worried about the worms and everything. There seems to be diseases out there strong enough to go through the immune system of the ghouls. Anye is analyzing them worms with tools she stole from Mischa and Toesch.
Act 3: Larusa kills Veder in some very personal way.
Act 1: Slow funeral for Veder. Larusa isn’t there. June is. Emil is. No-one talks to them, not even them. Mischa and Toesch bring a ghoul in for a regular check-up and it starts babbling. Toesch gets freaked out, Mischa too but he tries not to show it. They do brain scans and it has brain activity and ohhh shit.
Act 2: Ty reports back to June that Veder had a cybernetic eye and they should dig up the corpse to get it. June produces Veder’s corpse and picks the eyeball out carefully. Thinks it’s cool. (He had replaced the body in the coffin with a fake one and was planning on making Veder a ghoul.) Anye finds that the worms have adapted to eating live flesh too (which explains some of her scars from what June did).
Act 3: Larusa reports a maybe problem to the government. June watches the public start to turn on him but stops it by showing the footage of what the dead man saw right before he died. The ghouls start rising and walking toward the city.
Act 1: CARNAGE. Mischa and Toesch hiding out in the lab, with their new incompetent but silent and not-moving very much assistant. June and Larusa hiding out in the same place. Some people get eaten. Others ask how dangerous it is. Like, seriously, how much danger?
Act 2: After the initial fear, the retaliation. Protesters turn to warriors etc. Ty rushes to where ze thinks Larusa is (rushing past Anye who is packing heavy heat and is badass). Protesters try to get into Mischa and Toesch’s lab. Ty finds Larusa and June. Ze’s confused by them being in the same place but starts beating Larusa to a pulp. June just watches.
Act 3: Anye rescuing Emil from some terrible fate and them ganging up with weapons and anger. People breaking into the lab and killing Mischa and the assistant, dragging Toesch out for a public hanging. Episode ends when they start throwing the rope around a tree-branch.
Act 1: Larusa is unconscious. Ty keeps beating. Ty gets about fifty crosshairs all over his body as the military shows up everywhere. They rescue Larusa and June and leave Ty in the midst of ghouls. They go and calm people down elsewhere. Turns out the hospital, not the morgue, is where June gets most of the corpses that become ghouls. He kills the healthiest people to ghoulify them.
Act 2: The military rescue Toesch as well but it is too late for Mischa and the assistant. The military capture Anye and Emil, who give up as well they should. In the back of an army vehicle they all talk, all the survivors except Larusa (who is magicked away or summat?). June plays it up as his and Larusa’s little game. They had evvvvverybody wrapped around their fingers the whoooole time.
Act 3: Ty has been filming this the whole time with the cybernetic eyeball of Veder. Ze puts the eyeball in the vulture and the vulture flies away. The military are NOT allowed to shoot a fucking vulture because they’re bloody almost extinct goddammit. June tells them to anyway, but they don’t obey him.
Miscellanea I couldn’t/didn’t put elsewhere in the post:
swallowing: the ghouls swallow corpses whole. When it’s humanoids, it takes … a while. They bloat, like horrible toads.
syphilis: There would be a fantastic recurring joke about syphilis fucking everything up. Starting with the story of how there is no known perfectly healthy set of human remains; the last person to try to qualify was thought to be alright but turned out to have syphilis. Leading to ghouls going wild in case they get reanimated if they’re syphilitic. Hilarious, I tell you.
worms: The intestines of ghouls are filled with worms so that they can excrete purest dirt. The ghouls are very fine-tuned biospheres in themselves, you see.
Okay, that was about 2000 words longer than I thought it would be. Huh.
*Have you heard? http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1925&Itemid=404
Awesome idea, I like how you focus on a slightly different angle than most would (for a zombie apocalypse [Most would just do lame and uninspired survivors]) and how the actual apocalypse event doesn’t occur till right near the end.
Thank you! As the address of my blog tries to imply, I’ve lied down for many many half hours and thought about the zombie apocalypse, and I believe myself to have come to some interesting conclusions. For example, I know many slightly-more-believable-than-the-standard-explanations explanations for why on Earth something so silly as a zombie apocalypse would happen.
I mean, nothing can top “Hell was overfull so people got shoved back up to Earth, but the pains of their brief visit to Hell were so searing and blinding that they are now mindless, evil creatures that walk the Earth without redemption; they will never stop moving but you can bury them better/dismember them with trowels/what-have-you, except that there are too many of them.” Nothing can even compare, but we can damn well try.
Exciting stuff but I think we need to know more about what is going on in episode 1 as its a very brief pitch.
A corpse actually eating a dead badger sounds like great TV. Or is it a Ghoul?
Corpses can be bought from the great unwashed massess. Or stole from grave sites.
I suppose the Worms could also evolve into a Super Worm ( Starship Troopers style)
Anyway good stuff and some great names but it does need to be “Fleshed” out a bit more. Must be room somewhere for a [CENSORED] to
Not sure which of your comments you would’ve liked me to approve, so I approved both, Frank. :P
Edit: fixed it, also censored a word in your post because it was funny and adds a level of mystique to the whole thing.
Thanks for the feedback. I will try and flesh out episode one in a post next week! The corpse-stealing bureaucracy is actually really amazing; they need the bestest, freshest corpses, so they steal them from the morgue and make wax copies of the bodies.
Ghouls are the coward type of undead. They will only greedily devour a corpse, but will never harm a strong human being. But still they can brutally murder children or weak human. Zombies and Vampires are just more brave.
So, what you’re saying is ghouls have self-preservation whereas zombies don’t? That is an interesting definition. I like it.
Ghouls are still severely underrepresented!
Ghouls underrepresented in fictional movie because the nauseating fact about them is that they subsist by feeding on corpses. And definitely nowadays no one likes violence and gore. So they use vampires and zombies in fictional movies
What if the reason no-one uses ghouls is a more subtle one? Perhaps corpses are seen as still being the person the body belonged to, and eating defenseless people like that is … sacrilege? It’s only when you turn them into monsters that they stop being Grandma or Professor Daniels, and turn into beasts from hell one can beat the Freudian shit out of.
Ghouls are worst and most fiendish type of undead.