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LETHELAND

Opening scene: Old Ester wanders the street, drawn to a house that was partially burned down years ago. She enters. Soleste Avery, our protagonist, spots her shortly thereafter back on the street. Eye sockets empty.

Soleste shares a student apartment with best friend Maxine. She’s just dropped out of college and works a nowhere job. After missing her bus to work, she runs to her parents to borrow the car. Themes of spiritual limbo are highlighted as Soleste blames her anger on her parents -- they separated after the death of her brother Virgil. Her mother became religious and her father a drunk. 

    At work her boss (and ex-lover) Nigel invites her to a party – at the same house that Ester was drawn to. Host Todd gets them to try Black Light, a new designer drug that drops in the eyes. At first it’s fantastic, a rush of psychedelic colors. Then the waking nightmares start. Flashes of dead things. Of Ghouls. A burning shape follows Soleste.

    Soleste and Maxine visit Ester, an elderly Korean American. They are warned of Gae Dobaekki, evil ghosts. Soleste has terrible visions at her parents house. After fleeing, she meets the enigmatic Cinder, outside the burned house. He appears to have embers smoldering under his skin. 

    Both young ladies are driven into a dark purgatory version of their neighborhood, where ghouls feast on flesh in an effort to eat away sin and earn redemption. Burning Boy follows Soleste through the nightmare land as she tries to learn the history of the burned house. Maxine goes to there to meet Todd but finds him stabbed to death. Cinder won’t let her escape.

    Maxine is haunted by a man she stabbed to death while defending herself, and she is soon trapped in a closet by his demonic soul. Soleste has torturous memories that slowly piece together –  as a child, she saw her brother pass out and tried to place candles around him to pray. He catches fire and dies in the hospital. Deeply buried memories pursue her.

But Soleste knows that the only way to get out of this dark purgatory is through it, not around it. She and Nigel take the last of the drug. 

    Soleste is chased to her parents house by a horde of ghouls. For a brief spell she is able to reach the hidden trauma and admit her feelings to her parents. But the demonic souls invade the house. Soleste barely escapes. She realizes Cinder is the kingpin of this purgatory and she is drawn back to the burned house. She is surrounded, beat down by hungry ghouls.     Burning Boy saves her. Yet he cannot save her from Cinder, who draws them down to the basement and confronts the flaming apparition. Burning Boy is an angel, and he is blocking Cinder from his work herding souls through his region.            They lock together, and Cinder is turned to solid coal. Soleste confronts the Angel that is Burning Boy. She realizes that soul belongs to her brother Virgil. She allows his flaming arms to embace her and…

    Soleste returns to the regular world. Maxine decides to confess her crime. Soleste realizes all the anger she’s carried was not about her parents but her brother.

Final image: Cinder looks down on his realm, waiting for more souls to pass by.

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