Degrees of Horror

Sweat Lodge

Episode 1

Cast: Dougie, Eugene, Markus, Red, Tommy

We begin our teaser with “moving day,” as the new freshmen get settled into their dormrooms. The students are assigned their dorms and begin the process of choosing their majors and selecting classes for registration. It’s established that Red, Markus and Dougie share the same dorm and live down the hall from each other, Some of the group meet their new roommates.

The main scene opens up with the freshmen attending the Sweat Lodge, a special orientation for incoming freshmen held in the Roost, the school’s multi-use indoor arena. James Nelson, President of East Texas University, is giving a motivating (?) speech to the assembly about school pride, the history of ETU, academic responsibility, and a host of other subjects. He goes on like this for about an hour until everyone splits off into groups for private small-group student-to-student mentoring.

The cast meet eachother for the first time in Room 12 and seem to get along, bonding over their mutual mistrust and confusion over Robby’s advice. Robby Niles, a senior at ETU, is here to impart his knowledge and experience on this group of incoming freshmen but his most important and passionate advice seems to be that its dangerous to stand out for any reason and that the group should stick together. “Individuality is over-rated,” he advises, “stick to your group and learn to blend in”. He suggests they stick to their academics and don’t get involved in anything they don’t have to, no matter how innocent it may seem.

Of course, at the first opportunity, the group ignores that advice and goes running toward the sound of breaking equipment. Outside in the hall, over the remains of a broken camera, they meet security guard Tyson August, Professor Maclanahan and his assistant, Jackson Green. The three are trying to determine who could have broken the camera. The group manage to acquire the camera tape while the others are distracted and they sneak back into Room 12, where they are able to repair the tape and play back the footage.

The footage reveals Tyson August finding the camera and purposefully shattering it. With a little technical working, the group also manages to uncover a strange sound in the static after the supposed end of the tape. When slowed down and played backward, a female voice says “You’re all going to burn.” Eugene seems to get excited over her New Orleans accent.

The group has made many other strange observations by this point such as the missing fire extinguishers, the lack of air conditioning, and the unusual amount of graffiti, and the arguments between the faculty and the janitorial staff over it. Much of the graffiti is older, but some of the new graffiti consists of similar-looking abstract symbols placed sporadically across all the walls. Tommy seems particularly interested in the symbols while Eugene keeps careful watch on Tyson, the security guard.

The group returns to the main basketball court area where the post-assembly party seems to be in full swing. A band called the Jury of Robots is playing techno-themed covers of country-western songs, people are forming into cliques and groups, and some employees from the local Pizza Barn have brought in dozens of pizzas. People seem to be having fun, but it’s not difficult for the group to find Jackson Green sitting alone on the bleachers.

The group confronted Jackson about some of what they saw and heard on the tape they had viewed, including the intentions of Professor Maclanahan to record signs of paranormal activity. While the rest of the group went with Jackson to see Professor Maclanahan, a young woman managed to get Red’s attention as she slipped away from the crowd and down the hall toward one of the empty classrooms.

Red met up with her and convinced her to accompany him, but she slipped away when he got caught by Tyson, the security guard and escorted back to the main area. When none of them knew at the time though was that Eugene had been tracking Tyson and trying to find Red, so after the two of them walked off Eugene went to question the girl that Red had been with Red. (Eugene’s motives are a little ambiguous but we’ll just assume “question” is the right verb here.)

Meanwhile, Tommy and Markus were saying goodbye to Dougie, who looked at his wrist and realized he had a WoW raid to get to (or something… who really listens?). Almost immediately after he left, Dougie noticed that someone closed the front doors and the security guards were gone. “That’s odd,” he thought to himself, and continued on to return to his dorm room and quickly forgot about it.

Markus and Tommy continued to interact with Jackson and the Professor, finally getting the whole story behind their activities and comparing notes on everything they say. The Professor and Jackson were setting up surveillance designed to catch ghosts — something the Professor referred to as “spirit photography”. Apparently, this was one of several places on campus with frequent reports of haunting and the Professor wanted to check it out first-hand. Markus and Tommy told him about the tape, about Tyson’s activities, and about the strange symbols they had seen painted on the walls.

Realizing that Red and Eugene may want to be part of this discussion, Tommy goes off to find them. He finds Eugene in one of the classrooms, in a panicked state. He is still pretty shaky by the time they all get back together with the Professor and Eugene recounts his traumatic experience. When speaking with the girl, Eugene realized her voice was the same as the one they heard on the tape. At that point, she said “you’re all going to burn” and then burst into flames. The fires spread across the room like an inferno, and Eugene couldn’t get out. He was banging on the door and trying to force it open, but it wouldn’t budge until Tommy came and easily opened it from the outside. Tommy said that there were no indication of a fire, but there was a strange symbol on the floor faded quickly — similar to the symbols he had seen on the walls earlier.

Jackson and The Professor seemed excited to hear the story, but were dismayed at the lack of physical evidence. They immediately began a plan for their next spirit photography shoot. The professor invited them all to meet up in his office this next day, and even offered to pay them a little for their time. The group went back to the main area where they discovered some of the symbols on the wall had begun to glow and were hot to the touch. There was even a rather large (though still dim) symbol beginning to appear on the basketball court where all the students were assembled. There was also a large and irate group of students near the main entrance, where the doors had been closed and locked.

People began to realize that they couldn’t leave, and even the emergency exits had been chained and padlocked. Most of the adult supervisors were gone at this point, leaving the security personnel in charge and they seemed to be missing. Markus was confident he could get the doors open, but couldn’t get through the crowd.

Meanwhile, the group was worried. They were fairly certain now that they understood the warning. While Tommy and Markus tried to handle the crowds, Eugene went with Jackson to a maintenance closet to find some kind of tool to break the chains. They discovered that someone had used a large metal pipe to sabotage the sprinkler system and two janitors had been knocked unconscious and tied up. After reviving the janitors, the group was able to fix the sprinklers and Eugene recovered the pipe.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group had managed to lure most of the class toward the emergency exit where Markus and Red were trying to get the doors open. Unfortunately, Tyson came upon them and tried to intervene.

Although no students had died yet, Tyson August had already reaped some of the benefits of his ritual sacrifice from killing the security guards. Utilizing a small crystal hung on a chain around his neck, he casually flung students around the room by unleashing waves of telekinetic force from his hands. While the others tried to evacuate the crowds of freshmen, Markus and Eugune went into direct physical confrontation with Tyson. At one point, Markus was assumed killed after Tyson magically flung him through a wall but Markus was able to shrug it off and charge into the thick of combat a couple rounds later. Eugene got some bloody hits in with his pipe, but Markus seemed to inflict some solid damage when he tackled Tyson into a wall.

After the sprinkler systems came on and started drenching everyone, Tyson realized this wasn’t going according to plan and attempted to flee from the aggressive freshmen but the four of them chased him down (although one lagged a little behind). Something else seem to catch up with Tyson before they could get to him though. As Tyson approached the second emergency exit, something grabbed him and bashed open the doors, attempting to escape. Eugene, staying on task, continued to bash Tyson who seemed completely paralyzed. Red grabbed onto Eugene’s body and seized the necklace with the strange crystal. The chameleon-like creature finally managed to get away, and darted toward the wilderness easily carrying Tyson’s paralyzed body with one hand.

Having several unanswered questions, the freshmen joined the rest of their class outside the Roost, where they were later questioned by faculty and firefighters. Although President Nelson seemed concerned that many of the witness testimonies identified the students in places where they shouldn’t be right before suspicious events happened, Professor Maclanahan assured him that he was with the students most of the time and they had been the ones to help evacuate most of the freshmen class. Evidence of several small arson fires were found in the main gym of the Roost, but most of the students had already been evacuated by that point and someone had promptly activated the sprinklers.

Two security guards had been found dead and one was missing. Based on some suspicious video tape that had been revealed, Tyson August is currently wanted for questioning by the Golan County Sheriff’s Department.

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