I have been a fan of the novels of
Graham Masterton ever since I picked up a copy of The Devils of D-Day
when I was about fourteen years of age. I only realised later that I had
been aware of his work through the film, The Manitou, which was
based on his first book and released in 1978. To be fair, it's not a great
movie, but it gives you some idea of the creativity in Masterton's work.
His books are very visual and conjure images that should be easily
transferred onto the big screen. For some reason, though, only his first
book traversed the divide between the printed page and the silver screen.
Below, I have published a full script treatment for The Devils of D-Day. I have reworked the story into the popular genre of 'found-footage'. The first-person narrative of the book lends itself well to that particular style of film-making, I believe.
So, have a read and let me know what you think. If Graham Masterton is reading this, I do not mean to bend any copyright. I am merely a fan entertaining a dream of seeing Graham's work on the screen once more.
Steve JC Johnson
The Devils of D-Day
A Full Script Treatment based on the novel by Graham Masterton.
Written by Steve JC Johnson
This movie is written as part of the ‘found-footage’ genre. Only one camera, operated by our protagonists, is used at any given time.
“The following footage was anonymously sent to the producers. The whereabouts of Dan McCook and Madeleine Passerelle are currently unknown.
“The authorities refuse to acknowledge any of the agencies that appear in this video document.
“The footage has been edited down for clarity.”
The Sherman Tank
A video camera flickers on and we see a cold, frosty landscape. It is northern France in winter. We hear the voice of Dan McCook, an American author researching the final days of World War II for his new book. He is using his video camera to document what he sees and also to record interviews with the local people.
A couple of elderly men saunter into shot, one of them pushing an old bicycle. Both are smoking cigarettes. They greet the cameraman (Dan McCook) in French and he returns the greeting, admitting his French isn’t very good. One of the men speaks English. Dan explains that he is collecting memories of World War II from the people of Normandy.
One of the men speaks in French, pointing across the frozen fields, but Dan does not understand. The English speaker translates that there is an old American tank nearby. Local myth says it is still haunted by the dead crew. Dan cannot believe it is still there, after nearly seventy years. The Frenchman shrugs. He says that the villagers don’t go near the tank at night because of the voices.
The camera flickers and when the image stabilises, we see a rusty, old Sherman tank embedded in a thick hedge. On one side is the cracked tarmac of the road to the village. On the other is a rutted field. Dan whistles, impressed at the condition of the old hulk.
He sets the camera down on the hull of the tank and we see him clamber on top of the vehicle. He picks up the camera and we watch as he inspects the ancient weapon of war. We see that there is a barely discernible white star on the side of the turret. Curiously, the turret lid is welded shut with a large, iron crucifix bolted to the top.
A car engine is heard and the squeak of brakes. Dan swings his camera round and we see a pretty, young woman sitting in the driver’s seat of a battered Land Rover. She is concerned about this stranger clambering about on top of the tank.
Dan jumps down and introduces himself. We find out her name is Madeleine Passerelle and she speaks excellent English, having being educated at Cambridge University. Now, though, she is helping her family on their nearby farm, which she indicates with a nod of her head in the direction of a jumble of farm buildings.
Dan asks about the tank and its reputation for being haunted. Madeleine tells him he should talk to Eloise, her grandmother. She tells Dan to visit the farm for dinner that evening. With that, she drives away, leaving Dan alone by the tank.
We hear faint whispering and Dan whirls, the camera struggling to focus on the tank. Then the whispering ceases. “Jesus,” whispers Dan and he walks towards his hired Renault, parked on the grass verge.
The camera flickers back on and we see that thick fog has descended. The camera is pointing at Dan’s face and we see him for the first time. He is about thirty, with handsome features and stylish spectacles. He speaks about visiting the Passerelle farm, but then curses and whips the camera around. We see a tiny, leaping, white figure, almost child-like, disappearing through the hedge by the side of the road. The tank is barely visible through the fog. Dan’s is breathing heavily. He searches with the camera, describing what he has just seen, but the figure has vanished. The camera shuts down.
Jacques Passerelle is standing by the door of his old, stone farmhouse, a pipe in his mouth. Dan is walking towards him and we hear a cheery greeting from the American. Jacques nods and invites Dan inside.
Madeleine can be seen removing plates from a large dinner table. She smiles at Dan, who compliments her cooking. She explains the meal was mostly the work of Eloise. Dan asks Jacque, who is just lighting his pipe again, if he can speak to his mother. Jacques explains that Eloise was his late-wife’s mother. It is clear that Jacques’ relationship with Eloise is somewhat strained.
Eloise enters and we se that she is about seventy-five years old, but lively and with a mischievous light in her eyes. Her English is broken, but understandable. Dan asks if there is somewhere they could go to talk about the tank. Jacques grunts and points a thumb through a doorway.
The camera focuses on Eloise and we hear Dan shuffling about as he sits down and turns the pages of a notepad. Madeleine is sitting next to her grandmother, an expression of protection on her face. Dan asks Eloise to tell him about the tank and what happened in this part of France in June, 1944.
Eloise explains that she was just a young girl at the time, but she remembers what happened clearly. The Germans defended against the advancing Allies, driving back the invasion forces. Many men died on both sides. For a few days, all was quiet and German reinforcements arrived. Then the tanks appeared on July 13th. Thirteen tanks on the thirteenth day. They were painted black, except for the white stars on their turrets. They didn’t stop and they killed everything that got in their path. Not only German soldiers, but any locals or animals that failed to get out of their way. All died.
The memories are clearly painful for Eloise and Madeleine asks if Dan can stop. Eloise says she is fine and wants to continue. As the tanks rolled through the village, one of them struck a landmine and came to rest in a hedge. Nobody climbed out and the other tanks continued on. The next day, after the German forces in the village had either been killed or had surrendered, American engineers and an English priest arrived. They welded the tank shut and the priest said prayers over it.
Dan is astonished. What about the crew of the tank? Eloise shrugs. Whoever was in the tank was sealed inside. She says that her father had asked the Americans about the tanks once. He was told they were a ‘special division’.
In one day and one night, the tanks killed hundreds, yet they didn’t fire a single shot. Men just burst into flames or withered to dust instantly. It was like the armies of Hell were rolling across the fields of Normandy.
Dan asks about the ghost stories connected with the tank. Eloise says she has heard stories, but has not experienced anything herself, despite living so close to the tank. A neighbour heard whispering voices in the tank one night. The next day, she was violently ill. All that has happened to the Passerelles is that milk has soured and eggs have gone rotten inexplicably. Madeleine says that, when she was a child, their dog died of a mystery illness.
Eloise tells of Father Anton, who was a young man at the time and is still the village priest. He complained to the Americans about the tank just being left there, but his arguments were ignored. Dan should talk to him. Dan thanks Eloise and Madeleine and switches off the camera.
We see a large, stone-built house, sitting on grounds shared by the village church. This is the home of Father Anton, an amiable, if frail-looking octogenarian. His housekeeper, Antoinette, opens the huge, oak, front door and eyes the camera suspiciously. She refuses to let Dan enter, until Anton intercedes and we enter the gloomy interior of his home.
We are in a dim room, with a large, unlit fireplace. Father Anton is sitting in a vast wing-chair, his crucifix glinting in the low light. The camera is set down on a table, the priest in the centre of shot.
Dan asks about the tank and the priest sighs, his breath visible in the cold. Anton asks what brought Dan to him and Dan explains that he knows the Passerelles. Anton nods and says that the family have been cursed by that tank for many years. The priest has been trying to have the tank removed for nearly seventy years, but nobody in the government will do anything about it. He even approached the American Embassy, but they denied all knowledge of the tank, despite it being right there for all to see.
Dan asks about the English priest who was there when the tank was sealed. Anton says his name was the Reverend Woodfall Taylor, a young cleric, about the same age as Anton. The Americans paid him handsomely, but swore him to secrecy. He stayed with Anton, but they have not spoken since.
Dan asks about the voices heard coming from the tank and Anton reveals that he has heard them himself. He says that anybody can hear them if they go to the tank after dark. Anton says that the voices he heard were not those of human ghosts or spirits. That they said depraved things, evil things. Demonic things.
The screen flickers and we see Dan in his hotel room. He holds up a small, electronic device, proclaiming that he has just bought this digital voice recorder. He intends to use it that night at the tank and see if he can capture any of the ‘demonic voices’. He shows us a bag full of tapes and batteries and tells us that he has decided to document everything he does from now on, excited that the story of this tank could make a great book.
We can see the tank through the camera’s night-vision capability. The night is misty and cold. Dan clambers up onto the tank, the camera jiggling about. He whispers that he is turning on the audio recorder and he sits quietly for a while.
Suddenly, a flashlight illuminates the area and Dan flicks off the night-vision. He trains the camera on the light’s source and we see Madeleine glaring up at him. She asks what the hell he’s doing and he explains that he is trying to capture the voices on the recorder. Madeleine says he is stupid to try such a thing. Dan says that he is just curious and that spooks and goblins can’t hurt anybody.
Madeleine yells that the tank killed her mother. We hear a very faint giggle, but Dan and Madeleine seem oblivious to it. Dan clambers down to where Madeleine is standing on the road. Madeleine tells of her mother growing angry at the tank one day and sprinkling holy water onto it and uttering the ‘dismissal of demons’. She died after vomiting blood thirteen days later.
Dan sympathises, but he’s sure that her mother’s tragic death had nothing to do with this hunk of rusting metal. He kicks the tank and a metallic clang echoes in the dank, night air. Madeleine shakes her head and calls him an idiot, in French, and storms away back towards her home. Dan flicks back to night-vision.
Dan whirls as we hear a laugh. This was no quiet giggle, but a husky, mocking guffaw. A dog barks in the distance. Dan holds the recorder up to the tank and asks if anybody is there. A faint whisper is heard and Dan steps back from the tank, the camera shaking. The quiet giggle is heard again and Dan moans to himself. He looks around with the camera. Madeleine is far away, the beam of her flashlight visible as she makes her way home. A light from another farm, even more distant can be seen and the dog is barking from that direction.
Dan approaches the tank again and asks if anybody is inside. He whispers that he must look like a fool.
“You can help me, you know.” The voice is clear, yet husky. Dan’s breathing quickens. Dan asks if anybody is trapped inside. "You can help me, you know. You can open this prison. You can take me to join my brethren. You sound like a good man and true."
Dan asks the voice to tap on the turret. The voice says it can do more than that. Suddenly, Dan doubles over and vomits onto the road. He cries out with pain and shock. The camera POV falls on the pile of sick and we see maggots squirming in the midst of it. The laugh echoes once more.
“You can help me, you know. You sound like a good man and true.”
The camera flickers back into life and we see that we are back in Father Anton’s study. The fire is roaring, casting eerie shadows. Anton hands a glass of brandy to Dan, who we can also partially see in frame. His hand is shaking violently.
Dan explains what happened at the tank and he plays the audio recorder. We hear the husky voice again and hear Dan vomiting. Then Dan’s eyes widen as the recording continues with something he did not hear at the time:
''Father Anton can take away the cross that binds me down, and cast away the spell. You can do that, can't you, Father Anton? You'd do anything for an old friend, and I'm an old friend of yours. You can take me to join my brethren across the waters, can't you? Beelzebub, Lucifer, Madilon, Solymo, Saroy, Ameclo, Sagrael, Praredun…”
With a burst of speed belying his fragile frame, Anton grabs a poker from by the fire and brings it down on the audio recorder, smashing it into a thousand plastic fragments. Dan protests, but Anton explains that the voice was summoning the demon, Beelzebub. If it had completed the list of names, the Lord of Flies would have been brought forth.
Dan muses if they should open up the tank and see what’s actually inside. Anton is dead against that. While sealed inside the tank, the demon is leashed, like a dog on a long chain. It can influence over a small area, but nothing more. If the seal is broken, it will be unleashed into our world.
Dan is adamant that something should be done. If only for the Passerelles. The tank has been a curse on them for decades. Anton shakes his head. The demon said it wanted to travel over the sea to its brethren. The priest is certain that it was talking about twelve other demons that occupied the other tanks in 1944. The world could not withstand such a force. We would all die as surely as those German soldiers all those years ago.
The Demon Is Freed
The camera sets down on the kitchen table of the Passerelle farmhouse. Dan appears in frame and sits next to Madeleine on the opposite side of the table. Dan tells her that he wants to open up the tank. Madeleine laughs and calls him ‘a naïve American’.
Dan is deadly serious and tells Madeleine that if her family wants to be free of the influence of that infernal thing, whatever is inside must be removed and dealt with. Madeleine is unsure.
Madeleine talks of the terrible dreams she has always had while at home. Cruel dreams, but also ones that were explicit and exciting while being gruesome and shocking at the same time. She never had those kinds of dreams when she studied in England. Only here, at home.
Dan mentions her mother and her eyes become like blue steel. He had no reason to bring up her mother’s death! Dan apologises, but reaffirms that if the tank is, well, cleaned, then her mother will have died for something.
Madeleine begins weeping softly and a pair of hands appears on her shoulders. We hear Eloise’s voice say that she will help them.
Father Anton is walking away from Dan, the camera jiggling as he jogs to keep up with the remarkably sprightly old man. They are in the pleasant, well-kept grounds of the church. Gravestones are dotted around, some new and straight, some ancient, weathered and leaning.
Anton refuses to have anything to do with the opening of the tank. It is a fool’s errand, not to mention extremely dangerous. He waves his walking stick at Dan threateningly,
Dan explains that he and Madeleine are going to open it up with or without the priest’s help. Anton stops and turns to camera. He says that they have absolutely no idea of the evil that lurks within that rusting hulk. Dan tells him that he is the only one who can protect them. They need him.
Reluctantly, Father Anton nods and agrees.
The tank lay still and silent, tendrils of icy mist embrace the hull, crawling across its cold surface like translucent, spectral fingers. We can hear Dan breathing and Father Anton walks into shot, still clutching his walking stick. Under one arm, he has a Bible and in the same hand, a large, silver crucifix. Madeleine looks towards us and asks if we’re doing the right thing. Dan says that of course they are. Madeleine looks down at a ring of hair in her hand. Dan asks what it is. She explains that Eloise gave it to her for protection. It’s a holy relic, from the firstborn sacrificed to Moloch centuries ago in Rouen. Dan whispers, “Jesus!” She offers it to Dan, who refuses, but she insists that he take it.
Anton approaches the tank and hands his stick to Madeleine. Then he holds the Bible and the crucifix aloft and recites the dismissal of demons in a loud, stern voice:
"I adjure thee, O vile spirit, to go out. God the Father, in His name, leave my presence. God the Son, in His name, make thy departure. God the Holy Ghost, in His name, quit this place. Tremble and flee, O impious one, for it is God who commands thee, for it is I who command thee. Yield to me, to my desire by Jesus of Nazareth who gave His soul. To my desire by sacred Virgin Mary who gave Her womb, by the blessed Angels from whom thou fell. I demand thee be on thy way. Adieu O spirit, Amen."
Then he steps back and nods to the camera. Dan hands the camera over to Madeleine, as she hands Anton his walking stick.
We watch as Dan drops a large, canvas bag onto the grass beside the tank. He then clambers onto the hull, a large mallet and a thick, steel chisel in his hands.
Dan removes the rusted crucifix from the turret with just a few blows of the mallet. Then he begins chiselling at the sealed weld around the turret hatch. After several hefty blows, he is through and he gasps as fetid air whistles out.
Anton explains that the smell is the odour of Baal. He raises the crucifix again and chants: "I conjure bind and charge thee by Lucifer, Beelzebub, Sathanas, Jauconill and by their power, and by the homage thou owest unto them, that you do torment and punish this disobedient demon until you make him come corporally to my sight and obey my will and commandments in whatsoever I shall charge or command thee to do. Fiat, fiat, fiat. Amen."
Dan shakes his head, sceptical that the incantations will have any effect. Madeleine says that they still have time to seal up the tank again and forget all about it. Dan ignores her and pounds with the mallet and chisel. He says he wants to find out what can make a man puke maggots.
The camera flickers and we next see Dan has cleared away all of the weld and is forcing a crowbar into the gap between the hatch and the turret.
Suddenly, the hatch springs open and Dan almost falls backwards off the tank. He crawls back to the edge of the hatch and peers inside. We can hear Madeleine breathing and Father Anton is just in shot, crossing himself repeatedly. Dan asks Madeleine to hand him the camera and soon we are looking into the murky depths of the hull. Dan flicks on the camera’s light and a circle of rust-coloured floor plates appears. The camera soon picks out a small, rough sack, lying in one corner of the turret.
The camera shakes as Dan climbs down into the tank and we see a close-up of the sack. It is dark and rough and ancient-looking. He calls out for Madeleine to climb up so he can lift the sack up to her. We hear Anton cry out that they should not do this. For God’s sake!
We hear clanging as Madeleine climbs onto the hull and then her face appears at the hatch. Dan sets down the camera on the floor and we see the sack lying still in between Dan’s feet. He lifts and we hear a faint giggle. Dan pauses and curses under his breath. Then he lifts the sack up to Madeleine.
He grabs the camera again and it shuts down, just as the hollow laughter is heard once more.
It is almost dark as the front door of Anton’s house creaks open. The priest steps inside and we see Antoinette inspecting him with genuine concern. He shoos her away, saying he is perfectly fine, in French.
Madeleine is carrying the camera and we see that Dan is clutching the sack, cradling it in his arms so the ancient, soft fabric does not tear. Anton and Antoinette exchange words and she scurries away. Anton explains that she is going to fetch the cellar key.
Dan sets the sack down on the wooden floor of the hall, saying that whatever is inside, it feels like bones or something. Anton nods sagely and explains that he knows of a ceremony for the disposal of demon bones.
Antoinette reappears with a large key and Dan picks up the sack again. They head towards the cellar door, but Madeleine calls out as she points the camera at the area of the floor where the sack had lain.
Burned into the floorboards is the hunched, foetal form of a small skeleton. Anton says they must act quickly and the camera shuts off.
We are in a room at the farthest end of Anton’s basement. It is a dank, musty space, with a thick wooden door. Anton tells Dan to set down the sack on the stone floor and the American does so. Anton tells him to open it. Dan is unsure, but Anton tells him it will be okay.
Dan rips open the sack with ease, the old cloth purring as he tears it apart. We see dust and bones. The bones are small, with angular points. The skull is beaked, with tiny horns. Dan cannot believe what he is seeing.
Anton crosses himself. The camera shakes and Dan takes it from Madeleine. She is terrified. Anton hurries them out of the room and slams the heavy door shut, bolting it from the outside. A whistle of moving air is heard and the faint, almost silent chuckle is heard
Anton crosses the door and says: “O devil, thou who hast touched no food, drunk no water, tasted not the sprinkled flour nor known the sacred wine, remain within I command thee. O gate, do not open that the demon within may pass; O lock hold thyself firm; O threshold stay untrod. For the day of the Lord is at hand, when the dead shall rise and outnumber the living, in His name's sake, amen.”
We watch as both Anton and Madeleine cross themselves. Dan says it’s time he ran Madeleine home, after which he will return and spend the night at Father Anton’s, and the camera shuts off.
The fire is blazing in Anton’s study and we can see the old priest sitting in his wing-chair, leafing through a dusty, ancient book. He makes a “A-ha!” gesture and points to a particular page. He tells Dan that the demon they have in the cellar is probably one of the thirteen demons of Rouen. They were acolytes of Adremelech, the Grand Chancellor of Hell. In the 11th Century, Rouen was plagued by thirteen demons. They were defeated by a medieval exorcist called Cornelius Prelati and sewn into thirteen sacks.
Dan asks what should be done now. Anton explains that the bones need to be scattered in a certain way and that he needs permission from the bishop to perform the ritual. Tomorrow, they must perform the seven tests that identify the demon as one from Hell or a mere earthly servant of the underworld.
Anton looks up from the book, firelight reflecting in his old, dark eyes. He asks Dan if he is afraid, to which Dan replies that he is terrified. Anton says he will pray for the American.
The camera pings on and we see Dan wiping his eyes, his head on a large, feather pillow. He whispers that he has just heard a noise outside his door. Dan quickly dresses, occasionally appearing in frame as he pulls on his clothes.
He picks up the camera and turns off the light, switching to night-vision. The image instantly becomes fuzzy with a green tinge. He creeps towards the bedroom door, his footfalls silent.
Dan reaches for the doorknob and a husky voice says, “Monsieur?” Dan breathes in, his hand shaking. Then Dan quickly turns the key in the door, locking it. He also slides the large bolt on top of the door into place.
He asks who is there, but there is no reply. Dan asks if it is Anton and the voice says that it is the old priest, although the voice is nothing like that of Father Anton. The voice says he has something to show Dan, but the American says it will have to wait until morning.
A faint tapping can be heard outside the door, like some hoofed beast is pacing back and forth. The voice asks Dan if he finds Madeleine attractive. Dan says that Anton would not say anything like that. The voice chuckles. The priest is a man. Can he not admire the female form? Dan says that he doesn’t believe the voice is Anton.
“Open the door and see,” says the voice. Dan tells the voice to go away. A chuckle is heard and then there is a loud bang on the door, causing Dan to step back.
A movement has Dan pointing the camera at the key. It is turning slowly. Dan’s breathing quickens. We back away from the door and the camera casts about, falling onto a large, metal cross. Dan scoops it up and we see it being held ready at the edge of frame.
The key continues to turn, clicking as the tumblers are set into place. The whole door is square in frame, the image shaking slightly, Dan’s breathing growing more rapid. The clicking stops and the handle turns, but the bolt is holding the door in place. With a bang, the bolt slides back and the door creaks open. We see Dan’s grip on the cross tighten.
Nothing is there.
Dan steps forward, still holding the cross. We peer out of the room and down the hall. Is that a movement at the far end, near the window? Dan whispers a curse under his breath.
We head out of the room and down the hall towards the window. Is that a small figure standing there, looking out into the lightening dawn? Dan croaks a faint, “Hello?”
As we step closer, a floorboard creaks and the figure turns, revealing glowing, slanted eyes above a beak-like snout. Dan trips backwards and the camera shuts down.
It flickers back into life, the light illuminating the hallway. Dan is breathless with fear. He swings the camera to the window, but the figure has gone.
Dan turns and approaches another bedroom door. He knocks lightly and whispers, “Father Anton?” There is no answer.
He turns the handle and the door creaks open. We enter and see Anton’s head on his pillow in bed. Dan whispers the priest’s name again and we see the eyes open. Anton sits up, somewhat unnaturally, stiffly, like a puppet. Dan curses again, terror clearly evident in the darkness.
Dan says he has made a mistake and turns to leave. The door slams shut by itself. Dan turns back to Anton and we see the old man standing directly in front of us. “Jesus!” says Dan.
“You are a good man and true,” says Anton. Dan backs away, Anton’s eyes following the camera. “You can help me join my brethren across the water.”
Dan asks what the father is talking about. Anton says he means the other demons. They were sewn in sacks too and taken to another land. Dan and the girl must find them. They need the girl.
Anton steps towards us, his movements mechanical and stiff. Dan says that Anton isn’t feeling well and he should get back into his warm bed. Anton chuckles, a giggle we have heard before.
Anton says that the human body is only a vessel. It can be possessed and controlled. Dan says, hoarsely, that he is speaking to the demon, isn’t he? The chuckle again. Anton says:
“From inside, I can manipulate his legs and his arms like a marionette. I can look through the sockets of his eyes, and breathe through the cavities of his nostrils. It's a secure home inside here, monsieur. Warm and bloody, and sweet with decay already. I could even seduce that shrivelled old housekeeper of his through his own dangling penis!”
Dan moans and asks, “Where is father Anton?”
“You are almost standing on him.”
Dan turns the camera down onto the floor and we see human entrails spread about on the carpet. Dan retches and Anton cackles.
Dan curses and thrusts the cross before the priest. “I dismiss you in the name of the Lord!” he yells. Anton slaps the cross out of Dan’s hand with ease and we hear it clatter somewhere in the dark. Another blow from the priest sends the camera flying to the carpet. It lands facing the pair, Anton’s innards in the foreground.
We see Anton reach out with a hand and grab Dan’s throat, lifting him from his feet. Dan kicks at the old man to no avail. Then his hand goes to his pocket and we see him produce the ring of hair that Madeleine had given to him.
Anton screeches and drops Dan. The door is flung open and a howling wind can be heard and seen, flapping the curtains and bed sheets. Anton is flung around like a rag doll as Dan takes cover.
Then all falls silent as Anton’s body slumps to the floor. Dan scurries over to the camera, avoiding the guts on the floor, and picks it up. He scans the room, now deathly silent. We hear rustling and Dan turns towards Anton’s bed.
In the dark shadows beyond the bed, a yellow pair of eyes blinks and the leathery rustling is heard again. The demon says if Dan and the girl help it, it will have its master, Adremelech, restore Anton to life. He has that power. Think how grateful the girl would be. Imagine what she would do for him. The sex.
Dan screams at the demon to shut up and it chuckles throatily. If Dan will not do it for himself, then he will help only for the lives of those he cares about. Dan doesn’t understand.
Suddenly, Antoinette stumbles into the room, groaning and wheezing. Knives, scissors and broken glass protrude from her bloody torso. She begs Father Anton for help before falling to the floor, expiring with a gurgle.
The demon says it can do the same with Madeleine. Every pitchfork or castrating knife in the farmhouse will fling itself into her right now if the American doesn’t promise to help.
Dan asks what kind of demon it is. The demon says its name is Elmek, also known as Asmorod, the demon of knives and sharp edges. It says that if Dan does as it says, it will have its master restore Anton and Antoinette to life and Madeleine will not suffer a gruesome death.
Reluctantly, terrified, Dan agrees. Elmek chuckles and the bed bursts into flame. It tells Dan to go to the cellar and retrieve a small chest that can be found there. He must put the bones in the chest and the go to the Passerelle farm for the girl.
The fire plumes, overloading the camera and we cut to…
…the Passerelle farm. It is early morning and we see Dan walking away from the car, the camera perched on the rear parcel shelf. We see Madeleine open the farmhouse door, a scarf tied around her head and her jeans tucked into Wellington boots. In the rear view mirror, we can see the reflection of an old, wooden trunk on the back seat of the car.
Dan’s mouth moves and Madeleine’s hands go to her mouth. Dan points towards the camera and Madeleine shakes her head. They argue out of earshot. Madeleine gesticulates, then re-enters the house, slamming the door behind her. Dan trudges back towards the car. The camera shakes as he climbs in and then it shuts off.
The camera pings on and we see a large, cross-Channel ferry looming through the windscreen. Dan turns the camera on the trunk and sarcastically tells Elmek that they are on their way to England. Dan finishes by calling the demon a bone-headed psycho. The car instantly stalls and the camera shuts down.
We are looking out over the rolling waves of the English Channel. The camera turns onto Madeleine, who is taking in the view of the distant White Cliffs of Dover. She sees Dan filming her and asks why he insists upon recording everything. Dan says it’s his duty to get as much of this on the record as possible. Madeleine sarcastically suggests it’s only for his book. Dan lowers the camera and we get an upside-down view of the deck and some passengers strolling along. We hear Dan angrily telling Madeleine that he is as terrified as she. He saw what Elmek did to Anton and the priest’s housekeeper.
The camera rights itself and we see Madeleine staring into camera sternly. She asks why they don’t just throw the box over the side and have done with it. Dan suggests that the ferry crew might have something to say about passengers dumping wooden trunks over the side of their ship. Plus they don’t know if it will have any effect. It is a demon they are dealing with after all.
A passer-by gives them a puzzled look.
A road sign tells us we are in Newhaven. Then the camera clicks off.
A computer monitor appears in frame. Madeleine is operating it. We are in a public library. She types ‘Reverend Woodfall Taylor’ into the search engine and there are only a couple of hits. Both are recent news stories from the local paper of Lewes, a nearby town. The stories relate to the imminent retirement of the Reverend Percy Woodfall Taylor. He is leaving his parish, in Strudhoe, in a few months, due to his failing health. Dan exclaims that they found him just in time.
Dan’s door slams shut and we see that the sun has set. Madeleine smiles grimly from the other side of the car and we turn to see an old vicarage with ivy growing in patches on the stone walls.
A faint, rasping voice says, “We are near, aren’t we?”
Dan ignores it and says nothing. Then he doubles over in pain and the camera falls to the damp gravel. “We are near, aren’t we?” Dan gasps and replies that they are near, yes. The cramps subside and Dan picks up the camera.
The image flickers and we see the front door of the vicarage open, revealing an elderly gentleman with a gaunt face, but bright, cheerful eyes. He smiles as Dan asks if he is the Reverend Taylor and replies in the affirmative. He asks about the camera and Dan says it is a hobby and will turn it off if the reverend prefers. The vicar shrugs and says he doesn’t mind and then asks what he might do for them.
Dan hesitates and Madeleine blurts out that they’ve come about the tank. Taylor asks if they mean the septic tank. That was cleaned only last week. Dan laughs nervously and says that they mean the tank in Normandy that he performed the sealing ritual over.
Taylor’s face manages to grow even more pale and he peers outside, as though scanning for people who might be listening. He ushers them inside and closes the door.
They are sitting on a worn, old sofa in front of a gas fire, which is on full blast. Taylor sits down in a wing-chair almost identical to the one owned by Father Anton. He asks what they want to know about the tank.
Dan tells him that Elmek is free and that it wants to rejoin its twelve brothers, the demons from the other tanks. Taylor says that he is bound by the Official Secrets Act, but Dan tells him that people have died – his old friend, Father Anton, for one. Taylor is visibly shocked and his hands begin to shake. Dan asks if he can tell them anything about how those demons got into the tanks in the first place.
Taylor explains that he is unsure how the Americans got hold of them, but he knows that the demons were brought over from Rouen during the Norman Invasion of 1066. It is said that they helped the Normans achieve victory over the Saxons and, afterwards, they were sealed in a vault in Lewes Priory, which was the largest in England at the time. In the nineteenth century, railway engineers excavated the site of the old priory and came across the vault with the thirteen sacks inside. They were taken away and sealed in a secret place by seven priests. Only seven priests could secure the demons inside their sacks.
Dan asks how they ended up in American tanks. Taylor is unsure. He only knows that he wrote an article about the Rouen demons a couple of years before the Allied Invasion of Normandy. "Shortly afterwards, a strange chap from the War Office visited me and asked me a lot of questions about the demons. The very next day, I received a telephone call from my bishop, ordering me to help the military in any way possible." They didn’t even refer to them as demons, but Assisting Non-military Personnel or ANPs.
A breeze blows through the room and Dan turns the camera onto Madeleine, who mouths the demon’s name, “Elmek.” Taylor blames the vicarage’s draughty doors and windows.
Dan stammers that they are short of time and asks how he alone could seal the demon in the tank. Didn’t it take seven priests? Taylor explains that the crucifix that was fastened to the turret was blessed by seven priests.
Madeleine angrily tells him that the tank has been a curse on her community for decades. What did he think would happen when they left the demon inside the tank? Taylor says that it was wartime and they didn’t have the time to think about what might happen in the future. Actually, he did suggest that the demon be retrieved after the war and sealed away with its comrades, but his requests were always ignored.
Madeleine gasps and Dan turns the camera onto her. She asks for the camera and Dan passes it over. We see that a line of blood is trickling down his face from somewhere above his hairline. Dan puts a shaking hand to the blood. Taylor stands, his fists clenched by his side.
“You brought it here with you?!”
The Final Confrontation
We are still in the Reverend Taylor’s home. Dan wipes the blood from his forehead with a handkerchief and retrieves the camera from Madeleine. Taylor tells them to get out. Dan beseeches him. They are in grave danger. The demon, Elmek, will kill all of them if they don’t take it to its brethren.
Taylor is furious. How dare they bring such an unholy creature to his home! Dan retorts that it was the church that endorsed the use of the demons on D-Day! He points at the blood starting to trickle down his face again, this time in two lines. Elmek means business!
“Now where are the others?” shouts Dan.
Taylor sits back down and gazes towards a large crucifix on his mantelpiece.
“Eighteen Huntington Place, just off the Cromwell Road in London.”
The lines of blood on Dan’s face disappear instantly.
Madeleine thanks Taylor and asks if there is anything he might know that they could use as protection against the demons. Taylor thinks for several moments and then his eyes widen and he heads towards a large bookcase near the window.
Before he can get there, the entire window shatters, sending shards of glass flying into the room, most of which pierce Taylor’s body. Dan grabs Madeleine and the image shakes as they dive to the carpet. Then all is silent. Dan stands up and we see Taylor lying on the floor, his arms stretched out and huge shards of glass pinning his hands and feet to the floor in a perverse imitation of Jesus’ crucifixion. His body, legs and face is cut to ribbons and his clothes are tattered and bloody. He moans, whispers “Invocation of Angels” and then his eyes roll back and he expires right there in front of us.
Madeleine begins crying and Dan is unsure what to do. The camera wavers about the scene. A pair of yellow eyes is seen briefly at the window and we hear the rasping cackle of the demon.
Madeleine dries her eyes and rushes to the bookcase. She searches it quickly and then pulls out a book. The camera shuts down.
Madeleine is sitting on a bed in a twin room in a roadside motel. She is flipping through the book from Taylor’s bookshelf. Dan is still shaken and the image judders somewhat. He places the camera on his bedside cabinet and we see him sit on his bed, fiddling with a small piece of electronic equipment. He inspects it and we see that it is a tiny camera, disguised as a Remembrance Day poppy, attached by wire to a small, black box. Dan wonders if the memory card will be large enough. Madeleine says that she doubts they’ll allow him to take his camcorder into a building owned by the government. At least he’ll be able to hide the camera on his jacket collar, as long as nobody notices the wire.
He sets down the gadget and heads into the bathroom. He wonders if anybody saw them leaving Taylor’s house after the window exploded. Madeleine doesn’t know. The fact that they’ve managed to reach London without any sign of the police suggests that nobody saw them or that Reverend Taylor’s body hasn’t been found. Dan suggests that the demon might have something to do with it. After all, it’s in its best interests that they succeed in finding its brethren.
Madeleine suddenly says she has found what she was looking for. Taylor’s dying words were “Invocation of Angels.” She has found it in the book. She explains that the incantation will summon an angel that will protect them from the demons, although, it warns that, sometimes, the angels themselves can be more terrifying than any demon from hell.
Dan exits the bathroom and suggests they get some sleep. He doesn’t like the thought of leaving the car parked outside all night with an angry demon on the back seat. He turns off the camera.
The camera turns back on and we see it is set for night vision. It turns slightly on the bedside cabinet and we see Dan and Madeleine fast asleep in separate beds. A quiet chuckle is heard and a shadow falls across Dan’s face and his eyes snap open. There is a rustle and a sound like papery bat wings.
Dan’s eyes look around, but he doesn’t move his head. He calls Madeleine’s name, but she does not answer. He reaches out and grabs the video camera, noting that it is switched on and recording already. He scans the room with the camera and in the corner, we see a pair of slanted, glowing eyes in the midst of an irregular patch of darkness.
Elmek whispers that the Invocation of Angels will not save them. They will awaken its brethren and Adremelech will put an end to this world. Dan tells the demon to go away and leave them alone. Elmek laughs hoarsely.
Suddenly, Madeleine sits up in bed, her eyes staring directly ahead, terrified. She calls to Dan. Dan shouts, ordering Elmek to release her. Madeleine’s hand goes to her pyjama top, ripping it open and exposing her breasts. She begins sobbing.
“Leave her alone!” screams Dan. The demon cackles as we watch Madeleine’s breasts being fondled by an invisible force. Scratches appear in the skin and Madeleine hisses in pain.
“You are rested,” says Elmek. “Take me to my brothers.”
A knock on the door is heard and Madeleine slumps, hastily closing her pyjama top. Dan sets down the camera and crosses the field of view. We hear the knock again and Dan opens the door, off-screen. We hear him apologising for the shouting, blaming a bad nightmare. The door closes and Dan appears again, sitting beside Madeleine and hugging her gently. There is a low, growling rasp and the camera shuts down.
We are looking at a row of whitewashed houses in Central London. The image isn’t quite as sharp as before and when Madeleine steps in front of the lens, we realise it is the secret camera, now fastened to Dan’s jacket lapel. She has her bag over her shoulder. She hands Dan the small tin that Eloise gave her in France. She says that, for some reason, she thinks he will need it.
Black, iron railings separate the buildings from the street and each door is uniformly glossy black. Dan turns the camera up and down the street and then back at one particular door, which has a small, brass number 18 screwed above the brass letter box.
We hear him say, “18, Huntington Place.” He then draws a deep breath. The camera turns on the car and we see the trunk on the back seat.
Madeleine suggests they get this over with and heads towards the door, with Dan in pursuit. Madeleine searches for a doorbell, finds none and raps on the door with her knuckles.
The door immediately opens and a young man in a dark suit peers at them. Dan asks if this building is still owned by the War Office. The young man says it’s the Ministry of Defence these days. Madeleine asks to see somebody in charge and the man asks about their business. Dan says, a little too loudly, that they have Adremelech’s thirteenth friend in the car. The man looks at the Renault parked by the kerb and ducks back inside. We hear muffled voices and then the man reappears and invites them into the building.
We enter and find ourselves in a dull, beige hall. A man in military fatigues walks down a flight of stairs, his footfalls echoing loudly. He approaches us and eyes Dan and Madeleine with suspicion.
He introduces himself as Lieutenant-Colonel Thanet and asks what they know about Adremelech’s thirteenth friend and Dan says flatly that it’s in the car. The officer’s face drains of colour. He stammers, asking if it is restrained in any way. Madeleine shakes her head, saying that its bones are in a wooden box, but there is no religious incantation keeping it at bay. It wanted to be brought here.
Thanet nods, mopping his brow with a handkerchief. He escorts Dan and Madeleine through a door into his office and offers them a seat. Dan says that Elmek will grow impatient if they are out of sight for too long. Thanet uses his intercom and orders for the box in the car outside to be taken down to the basement, Storage Room A. Dan says the car is locked, but Thanet waves away the offered key, saying “They’ll get in, don’t worry.”
There is a knock at the door and the young man enters, holding Dan’s video camera. He explains that a voice in the car told him to give it to the American. Madeleine suggests that Elmek wants the summoning of Adremelech to be captured on film. Dan asks if that is even possible and she shrugs.
Thanet is strongly against the idea. A letter opener on his desk flashes across the office and sticks itself into the young man’s forehead. He flops to the rough, cord carpeting, quite dead. The camera clatters and Madeleine scoops it up. She hands it to Dan, who turns it on and we switch to the better-quality camcorder images.
Thanet rushes to his fallen colleague and calls for help. As we watch, we see the trunk being carried by uniformed soldiers towards a metal door down the hall. Dan asks if it is wise to just take the trunk down to the other sacks of bones. What if Elmek instantly awakens his demon brothers?
The colonel shakes his head. That isn’t likely. The other sacks were each sealed by seven priests. It would take a very powerful entity to breach such a talisman. Dan explains that they’ve seen Elmek disembowel a priest and make Swiss cheese out of another two people.
Thanet suggests they go down and see what happens. He eyes the camera and mutters that he’s unsure about filming all this. His superiors will have his balls for breakfast.
They head down the hall to the metal door. We can see a crucifix inscribed into the steel. Thanet explains that the door is re-blessed by seven military chaplains every year. Just to be on the safe side. The door is opened and we follow Thanet inside and down a flight of steps. The cellar is surprisingly well-lit and sterile-looking. At the far end is a room with another metal door with a crucifix bolted to it this time. The crucifix is identical to the one that was welded onto the tank in France.
The door opens as we approach and the men in uniform file out, saluting Thanet as they leave, somewhat hastily.
A deep rumbling is heard and the light fittings sway slightly. Thanet explains that the Tube runs directly beneath the building. “Damn pain in the arse,” he growls.
They enter Storage Room A and we see it is spacious and clean. At the far end, a large table supports twelve ancient sacks, identical to the one that contained the bones of Elmek. On the floor in front of the table was the wooden trunk that contained Elmek’s bones. The lid is wide open.
Another rumble is heard, but this is deeper than the first. The lights flicker and we see the breath of Madeleine and Thanet in the rapidly cooling air. Thanet asks what is going on and Dan suggests that Elmek is going to try and awaken his brothers.
Madeleine reaches into her bag and pulls out the Taylor’s book. She flips through the pages until she reaches the relevant passage – The Invocation of Angels.
Thanet starts to protest, arguing that the ANPs are government property. Dan tells him to shut the hell up and Thanet orders his men inside. Before they can arrive, the metal door clangs shut and the lights dim. The rumbling grows louder.
Soon, the room is almost dark and Dan switches his camera to night-vision. The twelve sacks are clearly visible, as is a pair of glowing eyes amid a broiling, smoking shape on the table.
Dan tells the demon that they have performed their part of the bargain. Now bring Father Anton and his housekeeper back to life. Elmek chuckles and its rasping, androgynous voice reminds Dan that only Adremelech can raise the dead.
Thanet is terrified. He calls for his men again and we hear pounding on the door, almost drowned out by the terrible rumbling in the room itself.
Dan asks what the demon wants and the hoarse reply is short and terrifying: “The girl.” Madeleine gasps and looks into camera, her eyes wide. Dan asks why it wants her. The demon replies, “You don't know why? You can't even guess? Don't you know what that poor girl Jeanne d'Arc did for the benefit of our help in battle? Can't you imagine what befell poor Gundrada, the wife of William de Warrenne?”
Dan has no idea what the demon is talking about. The rumbling continues to grow louder. Suddenly, we hear screaming outside the door and the pounding stops. Elmek giggles. Thanet draws his sidearm and aims it at the glowing eyes only a few feet in front of them.
Elmek tells them that Madeleine must open each sack in turn and say the words of conjuration. Dan protests. Why her? The demon screams that it is so because it is so! Madeleine says, in a terrified, wavering voice, that she doesn’t know the words.
The book flies out of her hands and lands on the table, the pages turning by themselves. When they stop, Elmek sings, “The words are there for all to see.”
The rumbling is almost deafening as Madeleine steps towards the table. Dan calls to her, but she continues. She rips open each sack and raises a skull over each one, before setting it down on the table in front of its relevant sack. Each is similar, but different. All are horned and most have sharp, savage-looking teeth. Some are beaked, like Elmek’s skull.
When she is done, Madeleine steps back, picking up the book and reading aloud the words of conjuration: “I summon thee, O beings of darkness, O spirits of the pit. I command thee to make thy most evil appearance. I order thee to come forth, and I nullify all seals upon thee, all ties that bind thee. Venite O spirit.”
The rumbling is joined by a buzzing sound, like a huge swarm of bees had materialised in the room. More pairs of glowing eyes appear over the table, each forming in a dark, writhing mist above a sack.
Thanet exclaims in terror, his finger tightening on the trigger of his pistol. Madeleine shouts Thanet’s name, but the colonel opens fire. The shadowy forms react, surging across the room as one and enveloping the officer. He falls to the floor, screaming and thrashing, the pistol sliding towards Dan. The camera looks down at the gun, then up at Madeleine, who shakes her head.
We turn back to Thanet. He is being dragged towards the table, his body cut and bleeding. Several bones have been broken and he moans in agony. The demons drop in and he lands on his back, crying out to God.
The demons cackle in unison and it is a terrible sound. Elmek’s voice is heard, telling us that the soldier will be a fine sacrifice to Adremelech. “It is time!”
The demons begin wailing, if they are speaking words, they are unrecognisable. The light bulbs explode and the buzzing and rumbling increases. Dan has trouble aiming the camera. Madeleine is standing, as though transfixed by events.
Slowly, a dark shape begins to appear between Madeleine and the table. It is much larger than the other demon-forms. Dan gasps, commenting on the foul smell in the room. A pair of eyes appears over Madeleine’s head and we hear a mighty, terrifying roar of exultation.
Adremelech towers above everything in the room, his shape writhing and fluctuating in the night-vision lens. The eyes look down at Thanet and we hear Elmek’s voice screech, “A sacrifice for our master!”
A voice booms, “Asmorod. Cholok. You have all done well. I share the sacrifice with each of you.”
Thanet’s body suddenly rips apart and chucks of flesh fly in all directions. The demons fall on the flesh and we hear scratching and tearing as they devour what is left of the colonel.
Madeleine steps into frame and begins talking loudly, “O angels, I adjure thee in the name of the blessed Virgin Mary, by her holy milk, by her sanctified body, by her sanctified soul, to come forth. I ask thee by-all the holy names.”
Adremelech roars and what looks like a clawed hand reaches out for Madeleine. As its fingers close around her, a brilliant pulse of light overloads the camera and we hear Dan cry out. The rumbling stops and all is quiet.
The camera comes back on and Dan switches to the normal recording mode. Where Madeleine was standing is a pillar of light. Adremelech cannot be seen, but we can hear him wailing along with his cohorts, somewhere at the back of the room. He calls out the name of the angel, Hod.
A voice chimes. It sounds like Madeleine, but also different. It is echoing and wondrous. Like a choir. The voice speaks to Adremelech, telling him that he must return to the Pit. The demon shrieks.
Suddenly, brilliant points of light appear in the cellar. They whiz around and then explode. With each eruption of light, the wailing decreases, until only the light pillar remains.
Adremelech roars again. He rages that Hod cannot dismiss him and the pillar of light agrees. Only proof of faith can banish a demon.
The camera moves down and we see Dan pull the tin from his pocket. He flicks it open and we see it contains only dust. The camera moves towards Hod and, beyond, we can see the writhing form of Adremelech.
“I dismiss you, Adremelech,” whispers Dan and the demon guffaws. The Grand Chancellor of Hell booms that only proof of faith can banish a demon back to Hell. Dan shouts that the dust is the remains of the robe that shrouded Jesus at Calvary. The demon shrieks, calling Dan a liar.
Dan shouts that it is the robe and throws the tin at the glowing eyes.
There is a brilliant flash and we hear the tin clatter to the hard, basement floor. All is dark and silent. We hear Dan gasping for breath. He flicks on the camera’s light and casts about the basement. The sacks are gone, as are the bones of the demons. Adremelech and Hod are also gone. Madeleine’s bag lies on the floor, but of her, there is no sign.
Dan calls out her name, but there is no reply. He pushes open the metal door and we see the charred, smouldering remains of four soldiers on the tiled floor. Dan continues calling for Madeleine, the final time echoing as we fade to black.
A title card fades in:
“The Ministry of Defence has continuously denied that any of the events you have just witnessed actually occurred.
“Daniel McCook and Madeleine Passerelle continue to be classed as missing.”
© Steve JC Johnson - 2011
Updated 30th July 2012