Author's note: The vampires prepare a final assault as the survivors go to ground in an abandoned factory. Dr. Morgan is tasked with a recovery mission and learns the steep price of disappointing Vlad Tepes, the Son of the Dragon.  

Act VI Scene I:

(Dusk in Basarav. A small stone tower overlooking the mountains. A crescent moon, pointy parts up, is scribed in the stone over the arched main door. Several vampires from the archaeological dig, plus some new ones, are working to erect poles out front. There is a pile of bodies lying carelessly over to one side. Some townspeople are still alive. They are trussed together, weeping and wailing on the other side of the tower. We see Vlad, dressed in his new suit, striding to the tower, shaking out his long hair. Marica walks beside him. She has another bite-mark on her neck. Vlad walks past the tour bus, which has been pulled out onto the street near the tower. Someone is bent over the motor, working on it.)

Worker: (in American) You know, if you thought you were going to need this last night, maybe you shouldn’t have told us to trash all the vehicles in town.

(Vlad whips around, understanding the man’s tone, and glares at him.)

Marica: It is not wise to speak to him like that. He comes from a culture where you respect your superiors.

Worker: All I’m fucking saying is it would be easier to fix this if he didn’t tell us to make it broke.

(Vlad practically snarls at the worker, then lashes out, quick as a snake. The worker, obviously a vampire, still has little time to react as Vlad wraps his fingers around his throat. Vlad lifts him up off of the ground by his throat, his face contorting with rage. The worker drops his tools. Vlad then breathes in, and we see wisps, much like those we’ve seen with Mara, lifting from the worker and trailing back to Vlad. Vlad’s wisps are tinted a bloody red. As Vlad pulls power from the worker, the man’s face grows sunken, his eyes film up, and he looks more and more like a day-old corpse.)

Vlad: (in heavily accented English) Mine to give or take!

(The worker nods rapidly, trying to convey that he understands. Vlad seems satisfied that the lesson has been learned, because he blows a little power back into the worker. The reddish wisps enter the man’s mouth and we see the withering process reverse, though he still looks wasted and pale. Vlad makes a disgusted noise and tosses the worker to the ground.)

Vlad: (spits) Americans. (Turns to Marica, speaking in Romanian) Marica, tell that man to make that thing work or he is dead in an hour.

Marica: (to the worker, in English) You have one hour to get it running. Then he finishes what was begun.

(The worker hustles to the bus’s motor. Vlad and Marica walk past. As the camera zeroes in on the two of them, they converse together in old Romanian.)

Vlad: See? You did not have to fret about the time we spent together earlier. Dr. Morgan had his orders. After his failure last night, I was confident he would do everything to impress me today.

Marica: Forgive me,Vladimir, but I did not share your confidence in the man.

Vlad: Do not worry, Marica. I know how people work. Your American Morgan, he is one who curries favor. He is like a petty boyar, always trying to impress his superiors so he can get a bigger castle, more land.

(Dr. Morgan meets them just outside the doorway to the tower. Around them, the workers begin mounting heads and whole bodies on the stakes. Vlad glances around at this and smiles. Marica tries her best not to look disgusted. She opts for focusing only on Dr. Morgan.)

Vlad: Beautiful. Such a sight strikes fear in the heart of the enemy.

Morgan: Welcome to your citadel, Vlad Tepes.

Vlad: (turning to Marica) Tepes? Why does he call me this?

Marica: It is what they called you after your death, well, supposed death. You are known as the Impaler.

Vlad: I like that. Vlad Tepes, son of the Dragon. It is a name of power. People fear this, yes?

Marica: (in English) What news do you have for us, Dr. Morgan?

Morgan: I’ve had some of my people working all day. One man followed the survivors as far as he could. It seems they have taken up residence in an old factory outside of the town. We looked through the town records, and I found a blueprint. The building with the archives was rather badly burned, so the blueprint is charred in places but it gives a good idea of the lay-out of the place.

Vlad: What is he saying, Marica? He seems very pleased with himself.

Marica: The people you seek are in an old factory outside of town. Morgan has a map of the building.

Vlad: Then let us go inside. I would see this map and hear what he has accomplished as reparation for his failures last night.

(They walk forward to enter the tower. Marica looks up at the crescent moon over the door.)

Marica: Ironic that you must take shelter in a tower of your old enemy, the Turks.

Vlad: This was never a Turkish tower, Marica. This tower belonged to the alchemist, and I do not know what he was. (Vlad surveys the ruins with an almost wistful air) There was more here, a long time ago. What is ironic is that my fortress fell and this tower still stands.

Act VI Scene II:

(The inside of the tower, first floor. Clearly, this is used as a tourist attraction. There are a couple of display cases with armor and weapons under glass. There is a life-sized statue of a Turkish soldier in full regalia standing in one corner by the hospitality desk. A rack of brochures is off to one side. Toward the back, we see ponderous stone stairs, curving up into the dark. There is a chain across these, with a sign upon it in several languages. Dr. Morgan has hung oil lamps all around this inner chamber. A large wooden table, very medieval-looking, stands in the center of the room.  Charred blueprints and some other papers are stretched out on this. Vlad studies the map as Morgan does his best to give the nickel tour.)

Morgan: The tower is under reconstruction. Those stairs are blocked off, but it’s possible to go to the next floor. There’s something like a storm cellar as well, accessible through a trap door beyond that utility closet. The uppermost floors are not stable, however. Make sure you tell him that, Dr. Antonescu. He’ll see construction equipment all over up there and a stairway blocked by sawhorses. It’s not wise to go up past that point. I don’t think the floors will hold.

Marica: I appreciate the information, Dr. Morgan. But tell me about your plans for tonight.

Morgan: As you probably saw, almost all of Basarav is secure right now. Our people went systematically through the buildings, flushing survivors out. We’ve taken a number of prisoners from the town. In some cases, we were able to capture whole families.

Marica: Go on.

Morgan: An hour or so ago, I sent three villagers up to the factory. They’re all wearing crosses. Clever, hunh? They are to pass themselves off as refugees and gain entrance to the building.

Marica: What makes you certain they will not betray you?

Morgan: I have their children and their spouses. They know that if they do not do as instructed, their loved ones will die. We put a few people up on stakes earlier to emphasize that fact. You see, I’ve taken a few pointers from the voivode here.

Vlad: What did he say?

Marica: He has planted spies among the survivors, insuring loyalty by threatening their families with impalement.

Vlad: A good tactic, though sometimes peasants think that they are heroes and it fails.

Morgan: The three I sent up will serve two purposes for us. One, they lull them into a false sense of security. Because not long after them, I will send in a number of our people. They will also pass themselves off as refugees. If our people are turned away, the villagers have been instructed to open the doors for them. We’ll be able to just walk right in and massacre everyone. (pointing at the blueprints) At the same time, I’ll have a few groups breaking in through windows here, and here. Two other groups will climb to the roof and drop in from above.

Vlad: He is too pleased with himself, this Morgan. I see no regret for his failures of the other night. Tell him what we went over earlier, Marica.

(Dr. Morgan looks expectantly at Vlad, then glances back over the Marica. Marica clears her throat, takes a step forward. A slight smile to her lips indicates that whatever she is about to say, she is going to enjoy it very much.)

Marica: I know I speak for the voivode when I say your efforts this night are appreciated, Dr. Morgan.

Morgan: Well, thank you, Marica. My team and I have worked very hard –

Marica: But.

Morgan: But?

Marica:Vladimir is not at all happy with your failure last night. The chaos in the hotel was a disaster. Your people had no discipline. They had a clear directive, and yet they got distracted with mayhem and slaughter.

Morgan: Marica – Dr. Antonescu. That’s not entirely my fault. My people -- they’re not soldiers. They’re college students. They tend to be a little undisciplined. And besides, all of us are having a little trouble adjusting to … to the way we feel now.

Marica: The way you feel?

Morgan: Yes! You wouldn’t understand! He didn’t do it to you. I don’t know why, maybe because you’re a woman.

Marica: Do not over-step your bounds, Dr. Morgan.

Morgan: The point is, we’re hungry, Dr. Antonescu, no matter how much we feed. It’s like a fire in the belly. You can’t just throw a starving man into a banquet and expect him to show restraint.

Vlad: What are his excuses?

Marica: He says there’s hunger –

Vlad: Oh? He thinks he suffers? I will show him hunger!

(Vlad reaches out a hand toward Morgan. Dr. Morgan’s eyes go wide and he takes a step backward.)

Morgan: Voi –voivode?

(Vlad stretches across the table and pretty much palms Morgan’s face. Vlad lowers his head and closes his eyes, concentrating. We see the swirls of misty red, only this time the pattern is different. Morgan stumbles back, but Vlad’s grip on his face keeps him from falling. He gasps, then screams, twitching. Images flash before the screen. Each image is like a snapshot. All are underscored by Morgan’s screaming and pleading, and all are tinted bloody red. We see: A forest of stakes with moaning, impaled bodies. A first-person perspective of battle, Vlad’s arm wielding a sword and cutting through limbs that spray blood. First-person perspective again: A man kneels before Vlad, trembling, something like a yarmulke on his head. Bloody nails protrude from the hat in places. We see another nail held in place, the hammer driving it in. Vlad, again in armor, severing a man’s head, lifting the bloody head above him, bathing his face in the blood that rains from the severed neck.)

Morgan: Please,Vladimir, please! Enough!

Vlad: Voivode.

Morgan: Voivode. Please. I’m sorry. Please. Make it stop!

(Vlad releases Morgan. Morgan practically collapses onto the table, his arms hardly able to bear his weight.)

Marica: The voivode does not like excuses. Last night, you were told to retrieve three things from the hotel. You came back with none of them. In addition, many of your men were killed.

Morgan: I’m sorry. We didn’t anticipate – (he finally gives up on the excuses and lowers his eyes meekly) It won’t happen again.

Marica: Of course not. You have one more chance. Tonight you go to the factory. Strategy is of the utmost. Our numbers are dwindling. Ignore the other people. Defend yourself when necessary. Kill them when you must. But retrieve the women.

Morgan: Alex and the other one?

Vlad: If they can only capture the red-head, the other will come. I am certain of it.

Marica: Not Alex. The voivode wants the red-headed woman with the crescent-moon brand. Her hair may cover it. You can find it at the base of her neck.

Morgan: And the other objective?

Marica: Her dark-haired companion, also a woman. Lean, muscled, short-hair. She wears an unusual necklace. Two serpents intertwined in a figure eight beneath a crescent moon.

Morgan: (Incredulous) She has a necklace with that symbol?

Marica: She is not the priority. The voivode thinks that if you take the red-head, this other one will come.

Vlad: Alive! Make sure the idiot knows to take them alive.

Marica: One more thing, Dr. Morgan. You will deliver them to the voivode healthy and alive.

Morgan: What about the book?

Marica: (turning to Dracula) Vladimir? He wants to know about the book.

Vlad: I am certain that the dark-haired woman will lead us to the book, if she does not have it already. This is why I want to capture her or draw her out. She is a key to many things that have puzzled me. Of this I am certain.

Marica: The voivode feels that the dark-haired woman is the key. Forget the book for now.

Morgan: Very well, Dr. Antonescu. Is there anything else?

Vlad: Discipline.

Marica: Make sure your people act like soldiers, this time, Dr. Morgan. No more college-student chaos. Are we clear?

Morgan:Crystal.

(They all exchange glances. After staring long and hard at Dr. Morgan, Vlad slowly nods his head. At this small sign of approval, Dr. Morgan visibly relaxes.)

Vlad: I would retire to the upper chambers. Tell the American to send me three of the captured peasants. I must dine.

Marica: Send three of the prisoners to us. We will be in the upper room.

(Vlad takes Marica by the hand and leads her over to the curving stairs. He glances down at the chain, frowns, and rips it casually out of the wall. As if she were a bride going to her bridal chamber, Vlad leads Marica tenderly up the stairs. Morgan looks after them, then glares down at the map in front of him. He takes a shuddering breath and rubs his face.)

Morgan: Damn.

(He looks back down at the blueprints, with the despairing expression of a man who has been set an impossible task.)

Act VI Scene III:

(The main room of the factory. In the past few hours, the place has been transformed. A good portion of the windows have been barricaded up with junk plywood. Some heavy machinery has been pressed up against one of the other doors. This leaves one set of steel-reinforced double-doors to open on the outside and these are barricaded with an old metal desk. A detail of men, armed with M16s, stands watch by them. Griffin is working with Victor over to one side. They have a great deal of lighting and other electrical equipment set up, all oriented on the main doors. Cords and wires snake all over the floor. Griffin is digging through a gym bag, pulling out power strips and more wires. Jack is over with a few of the townspeople, giving instructions on how to aim and shoot the guns. Almost everyone has a cross around their neck. From their styles, most of these have been pillaged from the gear of Falling Darkness. There is a man up on one of the catwalks serving as a look-out. Beyond the windows it is pitch black.)

Jack: Tell me something,Griffin.

Griffin: (not looking up) Let me splice this. Ok, Victor, tape it down. (sitting back on his heels and looking up at the vet) Now what do you want, Jack?

Jack: Not that this doesn’t look impressive with all these doohickies and thingamabobs and wires and stuff, but let’s think realistically for a moment. You see those overheads, flickering like that?

Griffin: Yeah.

Jack: Those tell me we’ve got electricity here on a wing and a prayer.

Griffin: You’re preaching to the choir, Jack. Remember? I’m the one who got the thing running.

Jack: Well, I just don’t want you to be the one that also blows it up. All this fancy equipment you’re setting up? I know you think it’s a good idea, but can you absolutely assure me that when you turn this shit on the whole place won’t lose power?

Victor: It should be fine. The wiring here is stable compared to some of the clubs we’ve played.

Griffin: Victor’s right. I know what I’m doing.

Jack: I’m gonna state for the record that I’m skeptical.

Victor: It’s just a little light show, Jack. It’s something we do for the song “Broken Idol.” Lasers and crosses and stuff.

Griffin: It’s pretty basic really, but the vamps don’t seem to like bright light and they like the crosses even less. They get in here, they’ll get a faceful of both.

Jack: You blow the power out and it’s on your head.

Griffin: I blow the power out and I’m probably the one who’ll be fixing it.

Victor: Have a little faith, Jack. We’re professionals.

(Jack snorts and walks away. Livia and Johnny enter from the interior door.)

Livia: We found your water, Jack. There’s a working utility sink down on the lower level. You take the east hall and head toward the back.

Johnny: The spigot was rusty as fuck, but we found a wrench and cranked her open.

Jack: And?

Livia: And it spit out a lot of thick, rusty water. But after a while, it ran clean.

Jack: That’s great news. In the morning, when we can spare the people, I’ll send folks down to refill the jugs we grabbed in town. You didn’t happen to run into Alex or Mara back there?

Johnny: No. Didn’t Mara get here with Briggs?

Jack: Hell, kid, that happened a long time ago. She just went off to lay down somewhere, and I haven’t seen her since. It’s dark out and I want everyone to be in one place.

Victor: Last I saw Alex, she was in with Marta, helping watch the kid.

Jack: News to me. I hadn’t seen her since she ran off in a huff earlier this afternoon. But if Alex is with Anya, we’re still missing Mara.

Johnny: You don’t think something happened to her, do you?

Jack: She said she’d be back by sundown. I should have told her to stick close.

Livia: Mara sometimes can be a heavy sleeper. She’ll probably be around.

Jack: Truth be told, I was more worried about Alex than Mara. Mara thinks like a soldier. She can take care of herself. Alex strikes me as someone who doesn’t always look before she leaps.

Johnny: That can be dangerous. Just ask Briggs.

Griffin: You’re the one who told me, “Let her go. She’s a big girl.”

Jack: Well, yeah. When she was acting like that, sure. My wife Janice was like that. She’d storm off, all in a huff, and if I was fool enough to go after her, she only gave me more grief. My Janice – she was a firebrand. Can’t believe she’s dead.

(Jack starts to get choked up. He swipes at his eyes, hand shaking. Livia glances over at Johnny, then puts a hand on Jack’s arm.)

Livia: Hey. Jack. Why don’t you tell me what you’ve set up out here?

Jack: Hunh? Oh, sure. Be glad to. As you can see, I’ve decided to stick to this main room. All the other little parties I sent out made one thing clear: this factory is a fucking maze. I’m not too happy about those windows there, but this room’s pretty defensible otherwise. We’ve only got those two doors going into the factory proper, and I’ve got men enough to put a small detail at each one.

Johnny: Where’s the other door go?

Jack: This little room – maybe it was an office or something. We put Marta and Briggs and the kid in there. Anything gets to them, it has to go through us first.

Livia: Figures Alex would hide out in there. Seems like she’s always thinking about her own skin.

Johnny: That’s not fair --

Lookout: (heavily accented English) People coming up the hill!

Jack: People? Sure it’s not vampires?

Lookout: They just walk up to the front door.

(Jack climbs up to the catwalk and grabs the man’s binoculars.)

Jack: I don’t trust it. It’s not like you can tell one of them from one of us just by looking.

Victor: What if they’re survivors from the town?

Jack: I’d be more inclined to believe that if they showed up before the sun went down.

Griffin: We’re a couple miles from the town. They could have started walking while it was still light out.

Jack: Yeah, well. They’d practically have to. But I don’t trust it anyhow.

(One of the men with the M16s goes up to the windows and peers out into the night.)

Man: My neighbor, Toma! Wearing crucifix.

Jack: Let me see those binoculars again. He’s got a cross on him all right. But I still don’t trust it.

Victor: We can’t just leave them stranded out there, Jack. What if they are survivors?

Johnny: Yeah! You want to just stand around and watch them get eaten?

(Jack scurries back down to the main floor.)

Jack: Let me tell you something, boys. In war, old ladies and little kids will shoot at you, if they got the guns. There was this woman once at a checkpoint. She had a newborn. The guys felt bad for her and just let her go without a search. She got a little way down the road, and then she turned around, pulled a grenade out of the child’s blanket, and tossed it into the middle of our regiment. I still have shrapnel in my leg from that. You know what that taught me?  Sometimes people look weak and defenseless to get your guard down.

(While Jack is telling this story, the man lets the refugees in. He is tearfully hugging one of the three new men who have just entered. Toma slaps him on the back companionably.)

Man: Toma! Toma!

Jack: Fuck a duck. You! What are you thinking? You do not just go and do that! You hear me? Don’t just let every Tom, Dick, and Harryovich that walks up in this place. How do you know they’re not vampires?

(The man, reasonably enough, points to the crucifix his neighbor is wearing. The other two men, bruised and bedraggled, also wear prominent crucifixes.)

Jack: Fine. They’re in. Close that door and search them. I don’t want those newcomers to have guns, knives, or nothing on them. You hear me? You! Up in the look-out. Translate for me. And make sure they understand the danger they put us in! Fuckers!

Act VI Scene IV:

(A dimly-lit hallway in the factory. Most of the overhead lights are burned out here. Mara, rucksack slung over one shoulder, is striding quickly along the hall, looking around with an expression that is a mixture of puzzlement and frustration.)

Mara: How the hell did I get lost in here? I didn’t go that far, but all these hallways look alike.

(She hesitates, almost turning back the way she came.)

Mara: No, don’t go back. The front’s this way, I’m sure.

(She takes another few steps, then pauses again.)

Mara: I can’t believe this. Thousands of years old, and I can’t find my way back to the front door.

 

--M. Belanger

Comment