An autopsy is carried out on a soldier killed in the Gulf. Anomalies are discovered that relate to a puzzling accumulation of facts about a village called Fermlow; where the soldier was born. John, a ‘generalist’, is sent undercover to investigate.
Facts known: in the Fermwood lives a wormlike creature of unknown origin. Many of the animals and people in the area possess triangular birth marks called ‘trines’ on their bodies. The marks and the worm have been around for some centuries, and as a consequence the place is steeped in legend. Fermlow comes from Vermlow, the root of its name being ‘Vermis’ the Latin for worm. There is the mythical Fermlow stag, and a history of witch burnings.
While John is establishing his cover, the police investigate the disappearance of a young girl. She was killed by Chris, the psychotic brother of Colin Morlock, who dumped her body in the Fermwood. Both Morlocks are major-league criminals. The girl was killed because she knew too much about Colin’s present criminal dealings: he is buying plutonium from the Russian Mafia, from which he intends to manufacture ‘briefcase’ atomic bombs, for sale to the highest bidder.
John becomes involved in these events as well, when he has a brief affair with Colin’s ex-wife, Sarah. As a consequence of this, John is attacked by Chris. He beats Chris – thus making an enemy of the Morlocks. His affair with Sarah now finished, he meets up with the enigmatic Anne, who knows more than she is letting on.
The police search half of the Fermwood for the missing girl. Colin and Chris go to the other half of the wood to remove the body. The body is gone.
This episode ends with an employee of Colin’s, driving his car (the one Chris used to bring the body to the woods) crashing into a tree to avoid the Fermlow stag. The car is then attacked by the triangular-section trine creature.
In this second episode Colin is losing control of his psychotic brother. John gets his investigation underway; equipment is delivered to him with which he is able to survey the ground below Fermlow and the wood to map the creature’s tunnels. He is invited to dinner with Anne and becomes more suspicious of her. Later he has a disconcerting encounter with one of the Worleys, a man with a goat’s eyes and who is of a family much linked with Fermlow legend. He has also sees Sarah returning from the middle of the woods with her clothing rumpled and slimy. She does not recognise him.
Colin completely loses control of his brother. Chris steals a gun from him and goes after John. Guessing what his brother is likely to do, Colin goes after him. The move is fortuitous for him, as at this point the police find evidence to connect him to the killing of the girl (her fingers in a crisp packet in his smashed car).
John is pursued into the woods by Chris. Chris has him in his sights when the creature appears. Rather than shoot John he shoots at the creature. Worley appears, kills Chris, and captures John.
Worley takes John away at gunpoint. It is unclear what his intention is. This is not discovered, because John is saved from the Worleys (three of them, identical) by Anne. She, he discovers, knows more about the creature than himself. A villager bearing a trine herself, she has studied the creature for years. They pool their knowledge:
The creature lives under the wood and the village. It has altered the genome of the villagers (animals also) so that they grow trines. A trine is little more than an organic socket. The villagers are remote drones for the creature, and when they wander into the woods they are unaware of being downloaded or programmed. Otherwise they lead normal lives. Anne is one of the few who is aware. At first she thought it a religious experience and was a fervent member of ‘The Church of the Trine’. She soon decided otherwise. The Worleys are a family that have been altered more by the creature than the others. They are strong, fast and violent – its guards. The Morlocks are related to them – they are failed Worleys that the creature cannot programme and as such they are amoral and dangerous, having all the attributes of the Worleys and no constraints.
Colin, who thus far has not been as uncontrolled in his psychosis as his brother, goes over the edge when he sees his brother’s corpse being dragged away by the creature. The creature feeds on carrion. Its main diet consists of road kills. Episode two ends at this point.
The police raid Colin Morlock’s house and Detective Inspector Howes finds a mock-up of the briefcase bomb. Following instructions laid down for him he makes one phone call. The man he speaks to is the Crow, also John’s superior. Colin watches this raid, meanwhile listening to a tape John dropped when fleeing Chris. The tape tells Colin all he needs to know about the trine creature. He intends to kill it and he can get the means. First though, he allows himself the pleasure of killing Sarah. He then goes on his way.
John and Anne attend the funeral of the soldier. Anne then shows John the Church of the Trine ceremony that follows, in which the body of the soldier is given to the creature, and the worshippers give themselves willingly to connection with the creature. It is their god. Anne is affected by seeing this and knows she must soon go to the creature herself.
The police pick up an accomplice of Colin’s and discover his destination. The Crow listens in on this and consequently sends his men to the docks, where a Russian trawler is moored. They arrive to find only the bodies of the crew Colin has killed. Colin now has the makings of his briefcase atomic bomb. The Crow orders that no more action should be taken against Colin, as he is sure Colin intends to use the device to kill the creature. Crow is frightened and disgusted by the creature and has no objection to this; the results of a nuclear explosion he knows how to deal with, he does not know how to deal with the creature under the Fermwood. He must cover his tracks though. His men begin eliminating all those involved.
Because Anne is driven to go to the creature, she and John decide that this is the time to get a sample from it – something no one has ever had. They go, and John sees Anne being downloaded by the creature. It communicates with her and she learns something about it. It also leaves a section of tentacle, part of itself, for them to study. Anne tells John that the creature is ancient, and that it is huge. He does not, at that time, fully understand what she means.
John is recalled by the Crow and sent on an errand to the trawler. There the Crow’s men try to kill him and fail. He learns from them that Morlock is on his way to the Fermwood to kill the creature (essence of it, but slightly more complicated). He rushes back.
Colin has his bomb. He is also dying of radiation sickness. He comes to the Fermwood where Anne sees him and follows him. He kills one of the Worleys before reaching the centre and there setting the bomb’s timer. Here he captures Anne and holds her at gunpoint when John arrives. The other Worleys also arrive. In the ensuing fire-fight Colin is wounded and John and Anne escape. The clock is still ticking though. While they flee through the wood they hear Colin’s screams as the Worleys finish him off. They reach John’s car and drive away at speed. Behind them the Fermwood is engulfed in an atomic explosion. When the shock wave hits, John crashes the car. He thinks the creature dead until Anne tells him it has not even been hurt. It has just learnt to be wary of people, as people must now be wary of it. She also tells him that it is in other places, many other places, and from this John understands what she meant when she said it was huge.
Ending: Crowther (the Crow) sees his master in London and there tells a lie of terrorists and disaster averted. In the London park where this meeting takes place he comes face to face with the trine creature, while his master, with Worley eyes, looks on.
Running time: three one-hour episodes.