A New Day

A new day approaches.

We are in preparations to launch Episode 4 of “They Live Among Us.”

Episode 4 picks up where Episode 3 left off – Ted, a lonely park ranger, encounters a frail young woman atop the Hollywood sign, on the verge of suicide. Being the romantic that he is, he falls in love… only to discover that she is a ghost.

He seeks advice from Buer, who is having troubles of his own, for Lucian and Beliala have risen. Buer’s plan is to return to Elysium through acts of grace; Lucian yearns to take it by force. Beliala longs for Elysium, too… and Buer’s touch.

Caim has returned to his warehouse home, only to discover that Serfina has fled, once again, to the streets. He searches for her, flying above the streets of Los Angeles, and lands nearby. He finds where she lives… and discovers Rocco there.

Soon, we’ll all once again be in this world of fallen angels, suicidal spirits and the humans that they love, all struggling to find grace in the place known as the City of Angels. I look forward to seeing you there. Reach out in the dark; I’ll take your hand, and together we’ll walk through this Paradise Lost.

To see stills of Episodes 1-6, please visit our Pinterest page. And so we may continue to keep bringing you this rich tapestry of gothic supernatural romance, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, where you can also view episodes 1-3.

“The mind’s its own place, and in itself, Can make a heav’n of hell; a hell of heav’n” ~ John Milton, Paradise Lost

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The Story Begins

Today is All Soul’s day. What a serendipitous date to premier Episode 1 – “Pull My Strings” of They Live Among Us.

You’ll meet Craig, a guy who is having a really bad day. You’ll watch Jimmy and Beth exchange not-so-secret glances, and you’ll hear Caim and Buer as they begin their eternal discussion… and you’ll meet Lillith. A lovely stranger – from a very strange land.

Original music by Brent Heflin McHenry

“Mary Annette”  courtesy of The Hushdown

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n. – John Milton, Paradise Lost

Like what you see and want to see more? Support our Kickstarter campaign for Episodes 4-6!

A Place Called Paradise

I spent Sunday night in Paradise.

Urban sprawl provides one with anonymity, as if the masses surrounding you form a shield of invisibility. You are indistinguishable amongst the masses. You cannot be seen for who – or what – you truly are.

It was under this protective veil that I entered the Paradise Bar.

There is no measure of time in Paradise, for there are no windows with which to gauge the hour of day. It is eternal midnight within its dark walls. A few mismatched bar stools, a couple of small seating areas – this is the sum of Paradise. It is a place where troubled souls venture, in order to numb the pain within.

Across from me were two men engaged in debate. One of them, the older, wore the clerical collar of a priest; the other was cloaked in black. Their discussion, barely audible, had the sense of a lifelong debate between the two. I wondered why the priest found such pleasure in his whiskey… what horror he was trying to forget… and yet, he seemed hopeful. Ebullient, almost, clinging to idealism the way a drowning man might clutch a water-logged seat cushion.

His companion was of a different ilk; dark, beautiful, intense. Detachment was his defense… and yet, a glimpse of something else. An offhand remark; a rare smile, a bit of self-deprecation… and pain. I watched as the mask was dropped. Anguish wrapped around him like a lover’s embrace – anguish, and hope. I thought of Janus, the two-faced god, and wondered which of the faces would become master, and which would become the slave.

A movement caught my eye – a young man stepped into the room. His clothes were rumpled, there was stubble on his cheeks. He seemed lost – and utterly alone.

He slid onto a stool, and began the age-old ritual of self-medication. On his right, a lone man. He seemed almost an anachronism in the bar – his suit was pressed, he wore a silken tie, and a fedora sat by his side. Like the rest in Paradise, he, too, seemed invisible in the world. Why was he here? Why so alone?

Paradise’s bartender was a youthful chap; I assumed that he was a writer, as he kept a journal close by his side. When he was not recording his musings or serving customers, his attentions were solely devoted to the cocktail waitress. Secret glances passed between them; every opportunity for contact was fully exploited. I thought of the head-rush of new love, of how one’s senses become amplified, of the feeling of sated pleasure. I wondered how long that this would last for them. For some people, this passion is a fleeting escape from the harsh inequities of life; for others, it is the coming together of souls. What will it be for them?

A young woman sat next to the rumpled man. She was fresh and pretty; clad in a simple pink dress, the epitome of the girl next door… and yet, within her eyes, I could sense abject loneliness – and something else. It was her eyes. Yes. They seemed older than she. Perhaps only I noticed, for the man next to her certainly did not. He zeroed in on her; to him, she seemed like oxygen to a dying astronaut. I could see her measure him; her need for love was palpable. Perhaps this time love will find her, I thought. Perhaps this time, everything will be okay.

And so, I sat in my darkened corner Sunday night in Paradise, and watched the stories that surrounded me. The two men rose, and slipped into the night. The young woman and the man left together. The young lovers whispered in the flickering lights, while the man in the suit drank alone… and I knew that their journeys were about to begin.

The Gathering Place

When I wrote the first three episodes of “They Live Among Us,” I was toying with the concept of each episode as a stand-alone story, patterned somewhat after Rod Serling’s masterful “The Twilight Zone.” I liked the idea of strangers, walking in and out of each other’s lives, and how little we know about the man or woman who stands next to us on the train. However, as the characters began to come to life, I realized that this little idea was bigger than I originally thought; it had – and has – all of the earmarks of a fully fledged series.

I began to think about how to keep the characters independent of one another, while also weaving a tapestry of stories. I was also concerned about exterior night shoots – they are considerably more expensive to film. I realized that what I needed was a central location, a gathering place where my characters could come to meet, to work, to seek solace and comfort. Thus, I created TLAU’s gathering place – The Paradise Bar.

Contrary to its name, Paradise has seen better days. It’s a shabby, dark watering hole just off of Hollywood Boulevard. Faded photos from stars of yesteryear adorn its paneled walls. This is where Caim and Father Buer come to meet. This is where Craig meets Lillith. Beth works at the Paradise. Drawn to Hollywood by its promises of celebrity and fame, Beth is a struggling actress, and, like so many desperate young women before her, will do anything to get the job.

Presiding over the Paradise’s tarnished facade is Jimmy. Jimmy is a transplant from Ohio; his grandmother moved there from California after Jimmy’s grandfather died. She had just discovered that she was pregnant, and she moved in with her in-laws, so they could help her raise the child.

Jimmy has always been curious about his grandfather; like Jimmy, he was a writer – though not a successful one. The circumstances surrounding his death were mysterious; tawdry fodder for the tabloids. Jimmy yearns to uncover the truth behind this mystery, and to discover just who his grandfather really was. The only thing he has to go on is the knowledge that his grandfather was a screenwriter. He also has his grandfather’s name: Joe. Joe Gillis.