What is Nethergate?

Nethergate is an original ghost story I have been working on and writing as a screenplay. It has both elements of fantasy and horror, but tells a very human story of a woman trying to live and come to terms with her past traumas.

After the sudden tragic death of her parents, Liz Morris returns to her hometown of Ravens Hill, a place she ran from two years prior. As she tries to get her parents' home ready to sell while avoiding her ex-boyfriend Josh, she starts to experience spooky activity in the house.

 

She hires a ghost hunter, Patrick Grant, who's in town investigating the local cemetery, to check out her home. Their investigations uncover a disturbing truth.

The ghostly presence that Liz is experiencing is not tied to the house, but to an ancient monument in the cemetery known as the Nethergate.

And it wants Liz.

Content Warning: Abuse and violence. Nethergate is primarily a horror story and is written with an R-rating in mind. The main character is also a survivor of domestic violence and abuse.

IT ALSO TAKES PLACE DURING THE WEEK LEADING UP TO HALLOWEEN.

BECAUSE WHY NOT?

The Characters

LIZ MORRIS

Liz is the main protagonist of Nethergate.

20-something woman with vibrant red hair that fades towards blond at the ends, she is a very quiet and closed off person. Those who know her well know she has been through a lot in her past.

Growing up, Liz was tormented by her classmates in her hometown of Ravens Hill. She doesn't remember why, but a lot of kids thought she was either crazy or a liar, and was given the nickname "Loony Lizzy." That name followed her as she grew to adulthood.

Liz went to college in a neighboring town to study interior design. There she met Josh and started dating him.

 

From the outside, they seemed like the perfect couple. Josh was kind and charming, but over time began to reveal his true colors to Liz. He dug his claws deep into her, controlling and manipulating her life, cutting her off from her few friends and even her parents.

It all came to head one night two years prior to the beginning of this story, when Liz finally made her escape. With the help of her parents, she moved to the city, baring with her a scar that will always remind her of her previous life.

PATRICK GRANT

Patrick is a professional ghost hunter. Working under the business name "Supernatural Sherlock" which he will happily tell you his little sister came up with, Patrick and his team research and investigate paranormal phenomenon in the state and surrounding area.

He takes a scientific approach to ghost-hunting, treating the paranormal with a heaping amount of skepticism. If he can debunk any evidence he finds, he will. However, he's seen enough that he can't explain that he believes in the existence of ghosts.

Dark-haired and scruffy, Patrick comes across as a grumpy and impatient person, easily frustrated and more tolerant of the dead than the living.

 

But he does have a soft side, and went Liz comes to him for help, he's sympathetic to her plight.

KARA LECHTEN

Kara grew up and went to school with Liz. Though they weren't exactly friends, they got along well enough. Both were considered outsiders by their classmates.

Kara's mother Amalthea is a practicing Wiccan, earning her income by performing spells for paying clients. Kara is more of a free spirit. While she dabbles occasionally in the Wiccan arts, but she has no interest in pursuing the same career as her mother. Instead she lives with her girlfriend and works wherever she feels like at the time.

When Liz returns to Ravens Hill, she runs into Kara at the coffee shop where she works as a barista. Unlike the rest of the town, Kara immediately offers her sympathy, and tells Liz that she always believed her.

At first Liz thinks Kara is just referring to her history with her ex, but soon figures out that Kara may know more about Liz's past than she's letting on.

The Story Behind Nethergate

I started developing the Nethergate in college when I was first getting into screenwriting. I'd always been into ghosts ever since I was a kid and got my hands on a book called How to Find a Ghost by James M. Deem. I really wanted to find a ghost, and even formed a small ghost hunting club at my school (which, hilariously, was a Catholic school). The club did not last long, as our school was not haunted, and my fellow members got bored very quickly.

In college I started watching the show Ghost Adventures and rekindled my interest in the paranormal. As I was taking a screenwriting course at the time and had fallen in love with the craft, I decided to come up with my own ghost story.

Nethergate started off as just a standard ghost tale about a monument connected to the world of spirits. But it has evolved overtime to contain some deeper themes and more emotional character arcs.

After getting out of my own horrible relationship, I decided to tie in the narrative of Liz dealing with her abusive ex Josh. While I did not go through the exact same abuses as Liz does, I was a victim of emotional and sexual abuse. I wanted to write Liz's story as a way to process with what had happened. Emotional scars are just like physical ones: they heal slowly and never really go away. It's very cathartic to write about a character dealing with and overcoming similar wounds of abuse.

People who see ghosts and abuse victims are, in my mind, very similar. Both question themselves, wonder if they're crazy or simply overreacting. They are often ostracized or not believed by others, or afraid to tell people what they're experiencing. And both live in a constant state of fear.

That was why I felt that this story, and not any of my others, was the right one to deal with the topic of domestic abuse.

Sorry for getting a little real there. Here's some more art I've done for this story!

You can help support the development of Nethergate ( the writing, art, and more.), as well as my other personal projects, by joining my Patreon.

As a Patreon subscriber, you'll get access to exclusive posts on my Patreon page, and depending on the tier you sign up for, can also see painting timelapses, PSD files, sketches, concept designs, and even read some script excerpts.

Beyond Nethergate

SEQUELS

I have also been working on two sequels to Nethergate. Is that jumping the gun a bit? Probably, yes, but I have a few reasons for wanting to do so.

First, I really don't like it when sequels are done poorly. Many are just blatant copies of the first but dialed up in intensity. Others sometimes contradict what was established in the original, breaking the story's own rules. So developing these sequels now helps make sure all three chapters are cohesive and build off of each other organically.

The other reason is I have developed quite a bit of lore and mythology around the Nethergate, and the sequels are a great way to explore that mythology further.

Nethergate 2: The Returning begins just a few days after the end of the first script. Liz and Patrick return to their homes in the big city and try to resume their regular lives, but it seems the Gate isn't done with them like they thought.

In Nethergate 3: Dark of Winter, Liz feels a powerful presence taking over her. In a desperate attempt to stop what's happening to her, the team journeys to Iceland to find the origin of the Gate and save Liz before the Winter Solstice.

Yes I have done art for Dark of Winter, don't judge.

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© Stephanie Brown 2020
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