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Literature / Hometown (2014)

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It's the Fall of 1994 in the small milltown of Belford, New York. The leaves are turning, the kids are going back to school, and the heat of Summer is giving way to a cool, misty season. It happens every Fall.

Only this Fall, people are disappearing into that mist. Some people are found torn apart, some people are found dead for no reason, and some people aren't found at all. Other people see strange things in the mist: ghosts and campfire stories.

There's something out there in that mist. Something old. Something that has slept for a long time, but has now woken up hungry. Maybe the people of Belford could resist it, but as the terrible Fall wears on, more and more of them start...changing. Acting bizarre and violent. In the end, only a small group of teenage defenders are left to make their stand.


Author is a troper. For more of his work, check out his blog.

Hometown contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • The first time we see Brenda Powers, she throws a glass at her daughter's face. Vicki ducks it with no difficulty, since it had happened so many times before, she knew it was coming.
    • Both Natasha VanDyne's mother and Valerie Robard's grandmother count as emotionally abusive.
    • Darren's father deliberately raised him to be a viciously misogynistic sociopath.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Angelina has one of these after a more traditional date with Jason. The teenage years can be a frustrating time.
  • Agony of the Feet: The final attack of the Changed Ones against the unChanged population of Belford comes when Natasha is getting ready for bed. One car crash and barefoot run across broken glass later, and her injuries become a serious issue for the heroes to deal with.
  • And I Must Scream: The victims of the Heart Eater, trapped in an eternal nightmare while it feeds on their souls.
  • Attempted Rape: Darren takes brutal advantage of Angelina's incapacitation and the Heart Eater's assistance while she's in the hospital after a Heart Eater attack. Only Vicki's interruption with a timely Groin Attack saves her.
  • Ax-Crazy: As his nickname implies, "Psycho Mike" is constantly on the edge of going berserk, possibly due to steroid use.
  • The Baby Trap: While inside the Heart Eater, Angelina's nightmare is that she has been caught in this by Darren.
  • Badass Preacher: Father Sheehan. While many holy men have used their holy symbols to drive away evil spirits, fewer have used them to physically beat them to death.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Angelina Santos-De La Cruz is kind, friendly, generous, non-judgmental, well-behaved and religious. And she will break your arm if you threaten her friends.
  • The Big Guy: Angelina isn't extraordinarily large, but fills this role by sheer physical power and training. At one point she pulls two (murderously angry) fighting girls apart, and they immediately stop trying to get at each other, because: "Both of them knew, even through their fury, that they couldn’t get through Angelina Cruz to each other. They might as well be on opposite sides of a solid wall. Perhaps they could hurt her, but then she would crush them both, and they still wouldn’t get a chance to get at each other."
    • "Big Dave" Baumann is a more traditional version. Jason is tall, but doesn't have a lot of bulk.
    • "Psycho Mike" is this for Team Jerk Jock.
  • Bury Your Gays: Kara. Val might count, too. She showed a few hints of being bi-curious in Kara's direction when they were alive, which apparently blossomed while they were trapped in the Heart Eater. Hard to say how much is If It's You, It's Okay.
  • Child by Rape: Vicki is terrified that she's going to have one of these after being date raped by Rodney.
    • Angelina's nightmare after being consumed by the Heart Eater is that she's had one of these by Darren.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Unlike the ghosts, the Reaper and Shady never really existed as living creatures. Both were congealed out of the mist and half-believed campfire stories by the Heart Eater. This is how Shady could appear in a body of water that should have been far too small for a creature its size.
    • This also gives the protagonists a means to fight back; anything that they believe in deeply enough is a source of power. See Magic Music and Religion is Magic for examples.
  • D-Cup Distress: Val. Sometimes she enjoys the attention (she particularly appreciates a compliment from Kara), but most of the time they're more trouble than they're worth.
  • Date Rape: Rodney does this to Vicki at least once via But Liquor Is Quicker. Given the time, place and social class in which she lives, she doesn't recognize it as such.
    • Darren's stock-in-trade.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The story is set in the early 1990's. Open bigotry against LGBTQ people and an attitude toward sexual assault that demonstrates why #metoo had to happen are just the most obvious differences.
  • Demonic Possession: The Heart Eater has...use...for the Soulless Shells left behind after it feeds on a soul. An unusual variant, in that while the Heart Eater provides the driving will, its essential mindlessness means that they provide the intelligence and personality.
  • The Determinator: Every single one of the protagonists, to one degree or another. They have to be; otherwise, they would have been just another snack for the Heart Eater.
    • Angelina. The Heart Eater didn't know what it was getting into...
  • Disappeared Dad: Vicki must have a father somewhere, but you'd never know it.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Spook. Without him, the Heart Eater has no sentience of its own, being nothing but the spirit equivalent of an ant lion.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Vicki after Val's death. Unfortunately, it only leads to more sorrows.
  • Dying Town: Belford is just starting to show symptoms in the main story. By the time of the Distant Epilogue, its case is well-advanced.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Heart Eater. Of the "blind idiot" type. Its apparent intelligence comes from elsewhere...
  • Entitled to Have You: Rodney's attitude toward Vicki. Also Spook's. Darren's attitude toward any woman who takes his interest at the moment.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Spook. He just cannot understand why Vicki is so upset that he had several of her friends killed.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Two people try to summon Satan over the course of the story. It doesn't work out well for either of them.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Darren is handsome and charming, which is his primary bait for his favorite hobby, and his most effective tool for getting away with it (along with his family's wealth and influence). The exact second he doesn't get what he wants, people start getting hurt.
  • Genius Loci: Whatever the Heart Eater was originally, it has become this to Belford.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The aforementioned attempts to summon Satan. They were not prepared for what they got.
  • Good Bad Girl: Vicki. The other sexually-active girls in the cast are perfectly nice people, but don't quite have the self-confidence to pull this off.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. While it turns out that Vicki doesn't need an abortion (but rather some help in overcoming her eating disorder, which had caused her period to stop coming), abortion was definitely considered as an option.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: For a certain value of "good". We are dealing with inexperienced teenagers, after all. That said, positive characters are caring and thoughtful lovers, while no less than three human villains are rapists, and two serious jerkass characters are revealed as such by their selfish and callous treatment of their partners.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Sheehan. He's seen far too much sorrow in all his years on the job, but he's there for his parishioners in their time of grief.
  • Groin Attack: Darren takes advantage of Angelina's incapacitation after a Heart Eater attack to attempt to rape her. He thinks better of it when Vicki grabs his balls from behind and starts squeezing.
  • Heroic BSoD: Vicki is driven into a brief one of these after Val dies, she's date raped by Rodney, and fears she may be pregnant by that rape. You can't blame the poor girl at all. And it was exactly what the person who killed Val hoped for.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Angelina's father threatens this when he finds out that she's been associating with a lesbian all this time. It's even worse in her nightmare in the Heart Eater.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Horrible as it is, the Heart Eater is ultimately little more than an animal. It was only after it started eating human souls that it started developing traits such as greed, spite and vindictiveness. Where it once would have stuck to weak souls like any other predator going after easy prey, it starts going after the strong souls of people who otherwise would have "gotten out" of Belford. And it is nothing compared to the human Abusive Parents, the vicious Spook who aids the entity, and the misogynistic Darren. Taken up to eleven when Spook becomes its mind.
  • If It's You, It's Okay:
    • Played with. Kara experiments a bit with Jason, but although it goes well, all it does is confirm that she really is gay.
    • Val shows no interest in girls other than Kara.
  • Jerk Jock: Darren Edwards - rapist, bully, and captain of the football team.
    • Psycho Mike, to the point of being Ax-Crazy.
  • The Juggernaut: The Reaper
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: What Spook does to Darren is horrific. One could easily argue that it was deserved, but it isn't done as punishment for Darren's many, many crimes. It's done because he'd become more trouble than he was worth, and he kept mouthing off anyway.
  • Killer Rabbit: The coydog pup. It doesn't have a lot of physical power (no more than an ordinary puppy), but then, when it can Force-Choke a full grown German shepherd, it doesn't really need to.
  • Last Het Romance: Not really a "romance" per se, but Kara tries heterosexual sex with Jason to see if she might not be bisexual. She is not.
  • Lovable Jock: Angelina and Tiffany Chance are both on the field hockey team. Big Dave is on the football team, and Jason would be as well if he hadn't decided he couldn't stand another season on the same team as Darren and his cronies.
  • Magic Music: Marc is dangerous at the keyboard of a piano. The other characters' artistic endeavors have similar power via Clap Your Hands If You Believe.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Psycho Mike" Higgmann. The Reaper. The Roadster. The Heart Eater.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. When we first meet Val, she's talking to Vicki about how a Pregnancy Scare has ended because her period finally came. The Chance sisters have a whole euphemistic code worked out.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Rafael de la Cruz is a tireless, hard-working, conscientious sheriff who cares deeply for his community. He is also a good father...and he considers it his duty, as a good father, to ensure that his daughter has no further contact with her lesbian best friend. Who knows what happened during all those sleepovers over the years?
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here
  • The One Who Made It Out: The goal of all of the protagonists is to be this, though Val doesn't have the self-confidence to believe that she'll succeed, and Vicki's plan is a bit shaky. The survivors succeed.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The easiest way to tell if someone has become a Changed One. Sometimes the symptoms are subtle, but when the local Big Friendly Dog turns murderous, you have a pretty good clue.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Alma Lorn, Luther Harfield, and The Roadster. Maybe the Reaper, too, but there's some question as to whether he was ever alive. All are very solid when they manifest, and seem to be under the control of a greater force. Dissolve into mist if dispelled or destroyed.
  • Pregnancy Scare: The story opens with a teenage girl in the beginning stages of one after having unprotected sex with her boyfriend. They don't live long enough for it to be an issue.
    • When we first meet Val, she's just gotten over one of these.
    • Later, Vicki has one where she's afraid she may be having Rodney's Child by Rape, and just when he's gone Disappeared Dad no less.
  • Psychic Strangle: As mentioned under Killer Rabbit, the coydog pup is no more dangerous than an ordinary puppy physically...but since it can do this, it doesn't need to be.
  • Psycho for Hire:
    • Except for Alma Lorn, the ghosts seem to serve this purpose for The Heart Eater.
    • "Psycho Mike" Higgmann fills this role for Darren.
  • Questionable Consent:
  • Religion is Magic: Related to Clap Your Hands If You Believe - anything that you believe in deeply enough can be a source of power. Angelina, Father Sheehan, Sven Olsen, and Kara all tap into this at one time or another.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Natasha and Darren get away with a lot of things that kids from poorer families would not.
  • Small Town Boredom: Reason for many of the dumb and dangerous things the citizens of Belford do, especially the teens. For a common result, see Teen Pregnancy.
  • Soulless Shell: What remains behind after the Heart Eater has fed. But they don't stay that way for long.
  • Stalker with a Crush:Both protagonists get one. Angelina gets Darren, and Vicki gets Spook.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Shady. An odd and suspicious case, since all sightings report a creature far too large to survive and stay hidden in the bodies of water where the sightings took place.
  • Teen Pregnancy: A recurring theme. In the opening scene, we see a couple having unprotected sex, leaving the girl to fret about the possibility of this before something attacks her out of the mist, rendering the question moot. When we first meet Val, she is discussing with Vicki her relief at avoiding this. In addition to an earlier scare that happened offscreen, Vicki has a brief scare that she may have a Child by Rape from Rodney, but it turns out that her real problem is that her eating disorder has stopped her from menstruating. Vicki and possibly Val themselves are a result of this. Overall, this is treated as the surest way for a young woman to be trapped in Belford forever.
    • Angelina is constantly warned by her elder female relatives that any sexual activity at all will result in this.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Vicki wants nothing more to do with amateur monster hunting after Val's death. But after Marc and the rest of Angelina's crew help her deal with her Pregnancy Scare, she trusts them enough to turn to them about her other issues, and she's right back on the firing line at their side.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Eating Angelina was a big mistake on the Heart Eater's part.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The Chance sisters have developed an entire euphemistic code system about their periods. It's based on pasta sauce.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The more Darren is balked, the more his Faux Affably Evil mask slips, and the more visibly psychotic he becomes.
  • Voice of the Legion: The one and only time The Reaper speaks, it speaks in this. The Heart Eater is done pretending by that point; the Reaper is not and never was a separate being. It is only a pseudopod and mouthpiece.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: Souls are the Heart Eater's diet, and it has several methods of collecting them.

Alternative Title(s): Hometown