Author's Note: Vladimir the Third, otherwise known as Dracula, makes his first full appearance in the play. And in the aftermath of the vampire attack on the hotel, weary survivors trek to the relative safety of an abandoned factory in the hills. I had to skip yesterday, folks. Sorry about that, but a beloved member of the Paranormal State fan-family died suddenly, and we did the memorial stuff yesterday.

Act IV Scene IV:

(The upper floors of a clothing shop in the town. This is obviously part living space, part workshop. In the foreground, the shop owners, an older man and woman, lay dead on the ground. Their eyes stare wide at the camera. A little blood has dried around their open mouths and bite marks are visible on their throats. Above and behind them are some racks of clothes, a fitting dummy, and other items of the tailor’s trade. Standing in the midst of all this are Marica and Vlad. Marica has already helped herself to new clothes and is now wearing a shimmering silk blouse in off-white. Its collar is low enough to reveal twin puncture marks surrounded by a little bruising on her neck. Vlad is wearing a pair of designer sunglasses obviously stolen from another of the stores. He holds a light blue Polo shirt and is regarding it with a sneer They speak in old Romanian..)

Vlad: I am used to finery, Marica, the things befitting of a prince. Appearance is very important, when among one’s enemies as well as one’s friends.

Marica: Try this, voivode.

(She hands him an expensive suit, charcoal grey, not quite black. He glances at it, seems satisfied, then begins to strip right in front of her while she’s still holding out the suit. Marica tries to politely avert her eyes, blushing. Through the racks of clothing, we see Vlad’s naked chest. He is pale but well-muscled. He has the body of a fighting man. Scars are visible here and there on his arms, on his chest. Some have a definite pattern to them, as if intentionally cut into the flesh ages before.)

Vlad: Why are you looking away, Marica? I would not show you my body if I did not expect you to appreciate it.

Marica: (blushing )I’m sorry, voivode.

Vlad: I amVladimir the Third. I would hear my name and not my title from your lips.

Marica: Very well,Vladimir.

(Vlad busies himself with putting on the silk shirt that goes with the suit. The buttons give him a little trouble, and Marica immediately moves to help. She looks up; they are close enough to kiss. We feel the tension of that kiss as they regard one another, and then Marica turns suddenly away to retrieve the rest of the suit. Her gaze falls upon the dead shopkeepers.)

Marica: Will those two rise as Dr. Morgan did?

Vlad: What? Peasant shop-keeps? They are not worthy of it.

Marica: What determines which ones live again and which ones simply … die?

Vlad: The choice is mine to make. My power gives them life.

Marica: You simply will it and it is so?

Vlad: I took their lives. Not only their blood, but the very essence of their life-force. I can choose to give some of that back, along with a sliver of my power. You saw me give the others blood, didn’t you?

Marica: Yes.

Vlad: That is part of the process. A gift from me.

Marica: And you learned all this from that book?

Vlad: Most of it.

Marica: And will you do this to me?

(Vlad moves toward Marica, laying his hands gently on her shoulders.)

Vlad: I would not do such a thing to you, Marica. Those others, they only seem alive. They are not truly immortal, not as I am.

Marica: How is it different?

Vlad: The ritual described in the book, it is an extensive process, very demanding. You become your own power, a power you can give and take. It begins with fasting. Thirty days you purify body and spirit. You push yourself to the very edge. Some of those scars you saw – they are mementos from my ordeal. At the end of things, you feel your body perish around you, yet you will yourself to remain.

Marica: And all of this is in that book found by those Americans?

Vlad: I am certain that the book contains even more wisdom. My understanding of its language was perhaps a little poor. This is why I think some portion of the process was incomplete. I fight the death of this body daily. With all this power, I struggle just to live.

Marica: And so the blood.

Vlad: If I sleep as I did in the tomb, half-dead and dreaming, I can exist for long periods without it. But if I am to live, truly live, I must feed. Such a half-life was never my intention. I sought immortality for my people.Transylvania was torn by warring states, greedy nobles, sons who fought for their father’s lands. We needed a monarch who would not die and leave warring sons. Someone proof against assassins’ blades. An immortal monarch could uphold years of peace – centuries! I thought it but a fool’s dream, until I found that book.

Marica:Vladimir, there are so many things beyond my understanding. If you were not standing here before me, I would never believe –

Vlad: If I had allowed my doubts to stop me, then I would never have crossed the sea of centuries to stand before you, today.

(Vlad looks up suddenly. He closes his eyes, casting his head around as if trying to hone in on something, then he strides over to one of the windows. He moves the heavy curtains aside, squinting into the street.)

Marica: Voivode – Vladimir – be careful of the light!

Vlad: It does not burn me, Marica. I avoid it because it weakens me. But a little – this will not kill me. (he spots the refugees from the hotel) Ah. There they are.

(Marica joins him at the window. The camera follows their gaze down from this second story window to the street. We see Livia, Victor, Johnny, Briggs, Alex, and Mara making their way down the street. They are keeping to the sunlit parts. Mara is wearing sunglasses and walks as one exhausted. Livia is by her side, discretely trying to support her.)

Vlad: It seems Dr. Morgan has failed in his job. I shall have to discipline him.

Marica: What are they doing now?

Vlad: They probably tried to leave in one of those – what do you call them? – automobiles. And thus they learned that we had already anticipated that. They are trapped here. They will gather supplies and find some place more defensible than the hotel. The church could have been a good sanctuary – which is why I burned it to the ground. I have cut all lines of communication, I have removed all methods of escape. They have very few options left.

Marica: What will you do when you capture them?

Vlad: Obviously, I want the book. The one who bears the moon-brand, she I will take for my food. The little one’s companion? I only want to speak with her. She can talk freely, or she can talk under torture – that will be her choice. But she will give me answers. I want to know how she saw me looking at her in the hotel.

(As they watch, Mara stops in the middle of the street and looks around. She turns her head, questing, exactly as Vlad himself did moments before. Finally, she looks up, focusing her attention on the window. Victor stops, looks around, tries to follow her gaze but sees nothing. Livia pulls on her, urging her forward. After a few moments of being riveted to the spot, she concedes to Livia and moves on. As she turns away, the light catches the gem in her necklace. Vlad sees this and catches his breath.)

Vlad: I did not see that before.

Marica: What is it,Vladimir?

Vlad: Your doubt, Marica, is a contagion, because right now I hardly credit my own eyes.

Marica: I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

Vlad: Did you see that woman’s necklace?

Marica: No. My eyes aren’t that good.

Vlad: It is a symbol, two serpents twined beneath a crescent moon. Each serpent eats the tail of the other. The alchemist wore that very sign.

Marica: What do you think it means?

Vlad: It means that I will redouble my efforts to capture that one. Did anyone outside of Dr. Morgan’s team learn about the book?

Marica: No … Wait. I seem to remember an argument about some of the images getting out.

Vlad: I can almost guarantee that the woman down there came for the book. We share a connection that I can feel in my bones. It’s ironic, beautifully ironic.

Marica: I’m not following you, voi –Vladimir.

(Vlad puts and arm around Marica, drawing her close.)

Vlad: The more I look at her, the more I understand. Consider the irony. Those mortals, they spent the whole night, all of them, fighting off my people. And yet there she is, walking among them, and she is the same as what they fight. Better. She is like me.

(Vlad shakes his head, lets the curtain drop.)

Vlad: I grow tired, Marica. Come and sleep beside me in these good peoples’ bed.

 

Act IV Scene V:

(The outer streets of Basarav. Mara is lagging a good distance behind the others. Livia walks next to her, trying discretely to help. Mara glances up at the sun, squinting even with her sunglasses. She shakes her head mutely, then puts her head down and doggedly trudges along.)

Mara: I can’t do it.

Livia: It’s not that much farther.Griffin said the factory is only a couple miles outside of town.

Mara: Maybe if I’d had a chance to rest last night. Maybe if I’d had a chance to feed. But as things stand, you’ll be carrying me in a few more steps.

Livia: I was hoping we could use the church. It was so much closer.

Mara: Given the aversion to crosses, that suggestion made a lot of sense. Which is also why our enemy burned it.

Livia: And half the other buildings with it.

Mara: Slash and burn. It’s a typical defense.

Livia: Maybe if you just stick to the shaded places?

Mara: Now that’s going to look suspicious, don’t you think? I just explained to these people how their vampires would react to the sun. How do you think they’ll take it if I start behaving just like the things that have been killing them all night?

Livia: You could say it’s heat stroke. It’s worked before.

Mara: I’m really afraid of pushing them, Livia. I’ve taught them how to kill me.

Livia: Well, it’s not like you wouldn’t just come back.

Mara: You don’t have that luxury, Livia, and I think you’d fall to guilt by association. Besides, I kind of like this body, you know? Went through a lot of trouble to get it.

(The sound of a motor approaches from off-camera. Mara and Livia turn to see the Falling Darkness van coming up the street. Griffin and Jack are in the front seats, grinning. The van is coughing and sputtering. The streak of blood from the bartender is brown and flaking on the side.)

Livia: Well damn. They got it working.

Mara: (wearily) Doesn’t sound like it’s going to go far.

(the van pulls up and Jack hangs his head out the window.)

Jack: You two seem to be lagging behind a little. From whatGriffin tells me, this is going to be a bit of a hike. Why don’t you two get in the back with Marta and the kid? It’s too easy to pick off stragglers, you know?

Livia: You sure there’s room?

(Griffin puts the van in park, gets out goes around to the back doors and opens them. Lighting and sound equipment have been shoved around to make room for passengers. Marta perches amidst the chaos of stuff with little Anya asleep on her lap.)

Griffin: You’ll have to shift some stuff around, but you two should fit. We can usually cram in the whole band plus even more gear without much effort.

Mara: What is all this stuff?

Griffin: Lighting equipment, mostly. I’ve got an idea for a first line of defense.

Mara: If you say so.

(She and Livia squeeze in and get settled among the gear.)

Griffin: (patting the van with genuine affection) Hell, the touring days this van has seen. It’s taken us across most of the Continent. I had a hell of a time getting her up and running – on top of her other problems, someone went around sabotaging all the cars. This is going to be a kind of memorial run. She’ll make it as far as the factory. That’s about all.

Mara: Hey – thanks for giving us lift.

Griffin: Don’t mention it. You were looking a little pale. Heat getting to you?

Mara: I’m worn out. I didn’t get any sleep last night.

Griffin: Like any of us did.

(He closes the doors on them, goes around and puts the van back in gear. There is a terrible grinding noise and the van lurches forward, then stops. The gears grind a little more, then finally they are heading out. In the shadows of the back of the van, Mara lets out a weary sigh, then lays her head in Livia’s lap.)

--M. Belanger

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