Author's Note: Vampires and rock bands and tourists, oh my! Johnny and Livia get closer and Mara confronts Alex about the mysterious book uncovered at the dig.  

Act V Scene VII:

(Back in the underground levels of the factory. Johnny and Livia walk close together as he keeps the flashlight trained carefully on the ground in front of them. The floor is littered with dirt, debris, and the occasional rat.)

Johnny: I can’t believe Briggs hurt himself like that.

Livia: He’ll be all right. It was a bad cut on his arm, but he’ll heal.

Johnny: Yeah, but it was my bloody fault he fell. I wasn’t doing a very good job with the flashlight, you know?

Livia: Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s not like this place is a walk in the park.

Johnny: Yeah, well, some days I think I’m no good at anything. Except maybe posing on a stage.

Livia: You know, the sympathy thing is not going to get you in my pants.

Johnny: Fuck you! That’s not what I meant.

(Johnny stops, holding the flashlight trained at the ground. In the shadows, we can see his face is averted and he’s wiping quickly at his eyes. Livia looks long and hard at him.)

Livia: You’re really upset aren’t you?

(Johnny leans his head farther away but does not reply. The flashlight trembles slightly in his hands. Livia reaches out to touch him but he ducks clumsily away.)

Livia: Johnny? Hey –

Johnny: Of course I’m upset! Bloody hell! It’s my fault! I could have been looking out for Briggs back there. I could have remained calm and collected like you and Mara seem to do, but I got all stupid on him. I’m wandering around in a blind panic and all I can do is be a smart-ass!

Livia: Some people don’t deal well under pressure. It’s called a coping mechanism.

Johnny: There you go, making me feel dumb again. Me and my coping whatever. Truth is, I’m a royal fuck-up and I can’t do anything right, except for strutting around on a stage. And those blokes in the band, they’re my mates. They put up with my shit. They’ve followed me through fourteen different countries, and they’re always there to save my skinny ass. And what do I do? I drag them into this mess! Did you see his arm? You know he’s our bassist, right? If he cut tendons, he may never play again. And don’t think I’m upset because there’s one less man for Falling Darkness, because that’s not it at all. Briggs is a fucking awesome bassist and I’d never want to lose him – but if he can’t play again? Livia, playing music is that man’s life!

(Livia steps forward and offers Johnny a sympathetic half-smile. This time he doesn’t shy away. He grabs onto her, barely maintaining his grip on the flashlight as he cries in her arms.)

Livia: I’m not going to lie to you and tell you everything’s going to be ok. Bad stuff’s happening. But you don’t have to blame yourself over it. It’s not your fault.

Johnny: Livia, I don’t know if you’ll understand the sort of bond that mates in a band can build together. You live together on the road, you share space in a tiny little van, you eat together, sleep together…People talk about true love, and they’re usually talking what a man feels for a woman. But true love – I’ve never loved anyone like I love my mates. We’d go to hell and back and die and, and – oh, I don’t know how to explain it! It’s special, is all. Something you can’t put into words.

Livia: I think I know exactly what you’re talking about.

(Johnny studies her face for a moment. He’s starting to calm down and maybe think a bit clearer.)

Johnny: You and Mara?

Livia: Our relationship is … complicated. But we’re not lovers. Not in any way anyone would understand.

Johnny: I think it’s beautiful, to love another person the way I love my band.

Livia: You going to be ok, Johnny?

(Johnny looks at her. His eyes are tearing.)

Johnny: My name is Nigel. My real name anyway.

Livia: So I should call you Nigel?

Johnny: Yeah. You’re dealing with Nigel now, not Johnny. And I’m sorry, but right now, Nigel’s a scared little boy.

Livia: I think I like Nigel better.

(Livia kisses Johnny gently on the cheek. They pull away, lock eyes in the shadows. On an unspoken cue, they lock lips in a passionate kiss. As they are kissing, there is a crackling noise, and a few of the overhead lights flicker on. They both look up without immediately breaking the kiss.)

Livia: Seems likeGriffin has quite the sense of timing.

Johnny: He’s good at what he does. So maybe we should get back to searching and mapping?

Livia: Joh – Nigel? Isn’t that a utility tub right over there?

Johnny: Well, fuck me. Let’s see if the bugger works.

 

Act V Scene VII:

(A large, cavernous room in the factory. Late evening sunlight streams in through the grimy, broken squares of glass that pass for windows in one wall. Some other shafts of ruddy light filter in through skylights or holes in the ceiling. Over in one corner, tucked away in the deepest shadow, two large crates have been pushed together. Mara is stretched out on top of these. The rucksack Livia had been carrying is folded up underneath her head. She looks serene and tranquil, laid out almost like a corpse. We hear the scrape of a shoe against the concrete floor and Mara’s eyes snap open wide, instantly alert.)

Mara: You must have searched all over for me. What do you want?

Alex: I thought I heard your friend say you were a professor someplace.

(In a quick and fluid movement, Mara sits up, swinging her legs around to the edge of the crate. She cocks her head to one side and scrutinizes Alex.)

Mara: I teach history.  Why?

Alex: You wouldn’t happen to work atBrownUniversity inRhode Island, would you?

Mara: Why do you want to know?

Alex: I knew it! I knew it the first time I saw that necklace of yours.

Mara: It’s a family heirloom.

Alex: The fuck it is. I’ve seen that symbol only one place before.

Mara: Symbols have a way of getting around.

Alex: Not this one. This one should never have gotten around. Damn that Thompson! You saw the images he sent to his sister, didn’t you?

Mara: Alex, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Alex: The fuck you don’t. You’re after the book. I knew something was funny, the way your friend kept trying to get up to the dig.

Mara: If you recall, I came up here for a vampire tour.

Alex: Like I believe you. You’re involved in this somehow. It’s just so convenient. You know everything about what’s going on and you’re wearing that thing. Well I’m onto you. And you can’t have the book. It’s my career-maker. I’ve spent the whole summer out here working my fingers to the bone and I’m not letting any freaky bull-dyke come away with my find.

Mara: So you do have it.

(Mara reaches out and grabs Alex’s wrist. There is a brief, faint glow around Mara’s fingers and in her eyes. Then we zero in on Alex’s face, diving into her surprised eyes. A pastiche of images flashes before the screen, memories that Mara is reading from Alex. We see a flash of Alex looking over the book with others at the dig, then a flash of Thompson’s face, the darkened dig, the chaos, and Alex grabbing the book before they leave. We see Alex at the hotel, paging through the book, then glancing guiltily around, secreting it in her backpack. We come back to Mara’s face. She is smiling.)

Mara: It’s been in your backpack all along.

Alex: Get your hands off me! It doesn’t matter where I have it. It’s mine!

Mara: I suggest you give it to me.

Alex: I’ll make you sorry you laid a hand on me! I’m going to go tell the others that you’re involved in all this shit.

(Alex goes to walk away. Mara does not relinquish her arm. It should be noted that throughout this exchange, the sunlight has been getting dimmer and dimmer. Dusk is approaching rapidly. The main source of light now comes from a few weak, flickering overhead lights, mostly over in the far section of the room.)

Mara: You’re going to do what?

Alex: I’m going to tell them about you. You know too much about all this fucking shit. I bet you’re in league with them. There’s something fucking weird about you, and I’m going to make sure you don’t get in my way!

Mara: I think we’d better discuss this further.

Alex: There’s no discussing it. What do you think they’re going to do to you when I tell them that you’re wearing the same fucking symbol that appears on the first plate of the book? (struggling uselessly) Let go of my arm!

Mara: Now, Alex, I am not violent by nature. But if there is one thing I know how to do, it’s survive. And you have just made yourself an obstacle to my survival.

Alex: Let go, you bitch! You’re hurting me.

Mara: (starting to stand up off the crate) It was bad enough to know you were trying to steal my property.

Alex: Your property? Are you nuts? We dug through six centuries worth of dirt to get that thing.

Mara: (moving nose to nose with Alex) But then you threaten to expose me. You don’t even know what you’re exposing.

Alex: I said let go of me!

(Alex continues to pull at her wrist, but she can’t budge Mara. Mara just continues to stand there, cold eyes level with her own. Finally, Alex gets upset enough to try whacking Mara in the face with her backpack. The backpack, as it contains a book of bronze plates, connects very solidly to the side of Mara’s face. Mara lets the blow carry her head back, but then she just turns right back to Alex and regards her with her piercing eyes.)

Mara: Truth be told, I found you annoying. So I’m not going to regret this one bit.

(Mara’s eyes flash in the shadows and she reaches up toward Alex with her free hand. That hand is beginning to have wisps of grey light trailing around it, boiling up semi-visibly through Mara’s skin.)

Alex: What the fuck are you doing?

(Mara locks eyes with Alex. Alex seems transfixed and unable to say another word. Mara brings her hand up to Alex’s chest. She splays her fingers over Alex’s heart, as if she could pull the entire organ up through the skin. Alex’s eyes grow wide as a glow begins to concentrate in her own body, responding to the light clinging to Mara’s hand. Alex’s mouth moves and she is gulping air, but no sound comes out. The glow that gathers in her chest begins to pulse. We are seeing Alex’s heartbeat, and Mara is drawing it straight out of her chest. Mara is bathed in the wisps of light that she is drawing forth from Alex. Wisps and tendrils climb up her arm. Some even gather around the hand still holding Alex’s wrist, trailing up that arm. Everything pulses faintly with Alex’s heartbeat. Alex throws her head back, silently choking. Her eyes roll back into her head. We see the pulsing light grow very, very concentrated, and then the pulse is momentarily erratic. Finally, it stops completely. The last colors of dusk fade from the windows as the glow fades from Alex’s chest. She swoons and falls over. Again, with snake-like reactions, Mara catches the girl before she hits the floor. Breathing the last of the wisps of life-force, eyes and face faintly glowing, Mara checks Alex for a pulse. She scoops her up, lays her out on the crates. She checks the backpack and takes out the book, opening it and lovingly tracing the symbol that appears on the first plate. Although there are some stylistic differences, it is clearly the same symbol that she wears around her neck. After a moment, Mara shoves the book into her own rucksack. The shadows now are deep in this portion of the factory. Scanning all sides and corners of the room, Mara insures that she has not been observed. She slings the rucksack over her shoulder, then carefully arranges Alex’s corpse in a posture of sleep, folding up the girl’s now empty pack as a pillow.)

Mara: (patting Alex’s still chest with mock sympathy) Heart failure. Poor dear. It can happen to anyone.

(Mara closes Alex’s eyelids then turns and walks out of the room.)

Mara: I’m going to feel bad forGriffin. But he deserved better anyway.

--M. Belanger

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