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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Final Scene)

Author's Notes: This is the end, folks -- to this story, at least. Thanks to all who have come along for the ride. I hope you've enjoyed this little window into the adventures of Mara, Livia, Johnny, the mis-directed Marica, and Vladimir the Third, Son of the Dragon.  

 

Act VII Scene XI

(Cut to the second floor of the tower.  Marica lays stretched out on the floor, a pool of blood beneath her. A small trickle of blood runs from between her parted lips. A wisp of something disturbs the air above her.)

Vlad: (voice over, echoing) Marica. Loyal Marica. I am so sorry that I failed you.

(A tendril of mist lightly brushes a strand of hair back from her cheek. The mist floating above and around her becomes a little more visible.)

Vlad: (voice seeming to emanate from the mist) I will make it better. We will make it better.

(Throughout all of this, Marica remains still as death. We see the mist coalesce and seem to blanket her. Tendrils drift into her parted lips. As the mist begins to fade into her body, Marica convulses, blinks, and draws a ragged breath. Astounded, she sits bolt upright, looking everywhere at once. After a moment, she calms a little, lays a hand against her chest, checks for the bullet wound, which is now gone. She takes a deep breath. Then she grabs a knife and flees from the tower.)

 

FIN

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VII, 10)

Author's Note: Livia's been freed. Marica's been shot. And Vlad has plunged to the foot of the tower as Mara looks on. Secrets are revealed, and we have almost come to the very end ... Act VII Scene X

(Cut to Mara who stands in the middle of the scattered bodies of Dr. Morgan and the others. She is in the process of doing a back-breaker move with the final vampire from that group. Motion at the window catches her eye, and she looks up in time to see Vlad tumble from the window. He falls directly onto the stakes below.)

Mara: (wincing) Ouch.

(Mara tosses the broken vampire aside like a pile of dried sticks, then goes over the where Vlad is still twitching on the stakes. He is stretched out on several impaled bodies, his weight driving them further down. A stake emerges from his shoulder, from his side and from the opposite thigh. One arm, outflung, is pinned neatly through the middle. Blood oozes from his mouth and he struggles to turn his head to watch Mara as she approaches.)

Mara: I guess they don’t need my help up there anymore. You know, I kind of feel sorry for you. When I touched you, I saw why you did all this. It wasn’t for power or greed. You wanted to be a better leader for your people, someone who could bring them the stability they so desperately required in a difficult time. It was stupid as hell, but at least it was noble.

(Mara touches the side of Vlad’s face almost tenderly.)

Mara: That book wasn’t meant for anyone like you. I’ve never forgiven myself for losing it. Honestly, it probably shouldn’t even be written down. There’s so much you couldn’t know, so much you would never understand. You bound yourself to this body, to its hungers, its needs. That’s not the point of immortality. What we are, what we’re supposed to be is something free of mortal flesh – the body is just something we wear for a time, and then we leave.

(Vlad makes a monumental effort to speak, causing more blood to bubble up from his mouth.)

Vlad: Help me.

Mara: You slaughtered my entire household. Raped my women, killed them. Killed me, for that matter, when I was helpless and making my transition. Couldn’t you figure out why they were protecting that boy?

Vlad: (weakening) I have never begged…

Mara: I could leave you here, tied to this body. It would rot around you, and you’d never be able to leave. But I can’t do that. Not even to my worst enemy – and you are by no means the worst of my enemies. So let me show you something. Let me help you out of this broken flesh. And if you can figure a way to come back again, then maybe you deserve to be one of us.

(Mara closes her eyes and focuses. The lightplay begins. Vlad stares at the second face visible beneath her own.)

Vlad: (with sudden, stupefied recognition) You –

(Mara extends one hand, wrapped in wisps of light, and lays it over Vlad’s heart. Ripples of light begin to go through him and her hand sinks in to grasp something deeper than his flesh.)

Vlad: The alchemist. That was … you?

Mara: Jeez. Took you long enough …

(Mara lifts her hand, clutching a wispy ghost of Vladimir the Third. She holds him out in the air beside her, then gently lets him go.)

Mara: Sort things out from that side. Maybe you can learn. (she turns to go, but pauses) Oh, and a word to the wise. That thing with the crosses. That’s all you. Do yourself a favor and don’t be such a superstitious bastard.

(Livia and Johnny, leaning on one another, emerge from the tower.)

Johnny: Who you talking to, luv?

Mara: No one, not any more. How are you two?

Livia: Alive.

Johnny: I got roughed up a bit, but I’m just ducky. I kind of like being indestructible.

Mara: Don’t get used to it.

(Johnny whistles at the carnage in the street.)

Johnny: Damn, Mara, you do all that yourself?

Mara: What do you think took me so long?

(Livia goes up and hugs Mara.)

Livia: You didn’t have to come. I knew you would, but you didn’t have to.

Mara: Livia, you are my life and my most precious companion. You think I would abandon you?

(Mara’s head snaps up and she scans the sky to the east. The beginning of dawn is visible against the mountains.)

Johnny: Don’t tell me there’s another one.

Mara: Sshh. Listen.

(After a moment, a sound becomes audible to the others.)

Mara: Helicopters. Someone must have seen the fire.

Johnny: So it’s over. Really, really over?

Mara: Not yet. Come here and let me take care of something.

Livia: You gifted him, didn’t you? I knew he couldn’t have done that on his own. Isn’t that against the rules?

Mara: What was I supposed to do, let him get slaughtered? I thought you liked him more than that.

Johnny: (blinking) She does?

(Livia blushes and shoves Johnny playfully toward Mara.)

Livia: Go get it over with before the choppers come.

Johnny: Is it going to hurt?

Mara: Remember what we did back in the van? It’s the same thing. Just exhale when I tell you to, and if you feel something tugging in your chest, just relax and let it go.

Johnny: I’m not going to suddenly feel everything that happened to me up there or anything, am I? Because I think I’ll drop over dead.

Livia: Of course not. You weren’t dead to begin with.

Johnny: That’s good to hear. OK. I’m ready, then.

(Johnny closes his eyes and tries to relax. Mara steps right up in front of him and puts her hands on either side of his face.)

Mara: Open your mouth.

(Johnny opens. Mara leans in and breathes deeply. Little wisps of light begin to flow from him to her. A glow forms in the center of his chest and passes up his throat. He gasps a little as it exits his mouth to return to Mara. She steps back, takes a few breaths as the glow fades. Johnny staggers. Livia is at his side, helping him stand.)

Johnny: Oh, I have those brain tingles again!

Livia: Brain tingles. That’s one way to put it. Should we flag down the choppers, Mara?

Mara: Hang on. I have one last thing I need to do.

(Mara searches the base of the stakes and finally comes up with the book. She wipes some blood and dirt from its cover, then recovers her rucksack from the street.)

Johnny: What? You just going to walk away with an archaeological treasure like that? Shouldn’t it go to Alex or something?

Mara: It’s mine, Johnny. It’s what I came here for.

Johnny: Yours?

Mara: I wrote it. It got lost when that man killed my family. I’ve been looking for it for a very long time.

Johnny: You’ve just totally lost me. But I’ll take your word for it. The book’s yours. Anyone asks, I don’t know a thing. … Uh, speaking of things I don’t know. Who was our master vampire friend, anyway?

Livia: You won’t believe me, even if I tell you.

Johnny: After all I’ve been through? You’d be surprised what I’ll believe.

Mara: He was Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula.

(Johnny fights not to laugh.)

Johnny: Riiiiiight! Tell me another one!

Livia: I told you, you wouldn’t believe it.

Johnny: Count fucking Dracula? No way! He’s got to be taller than that.

Livia: The helicopters are getting closer.

Mara: We should at least let them know about Jack and the others back at the factory. They must have had a terrible night waiting and wondering about us. Come on.

(She puts her arms over Johnny and Livia’s shoulders and walks them down the street.)

Mara: So, Johnny. It seems you’re interested in my Livia, here. It just so happens that events a little while back left her without a gentleman companion. But if you’re serious about seeing her, there are some rules I need to lay down.

Livia: Mara!

Johnny: You talk like you’re her father.

Mara: (laughing) I’m way too old to be her father. So. Rule number one …

(Fade as they continue toward the van.)

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VII, 9)

Author's Note: Johnny fights Marica to free Livia, then has his new powers pushed to the limit when Vladimir III enters the fray. (only one scene, you say? Why, yes. I'm drawing this out. We're almost to the end and I find it's best to savor such things.) Act VII Scene IX

(The second floor of the tower. Johnny is just climbing in over the ledge of the window that overlooks the sea of pillows. Livia is struggling with Marica, who has a knife. Still shaky from his climb, Johnny struggles to sight Marica with the gun.)

Marica: You! What’s so special about you? How dare you steal him away?

Livia: Lady, you can have him. Just fucking let me go!

(We hear a repeat of Vlad’s cry from below. Marica’s head snaps up and she turns to see Johnny about to fire his gun.)

Marica: No!

(Marica grabs Livia and uses her as a living shield. Johnny overcompensates, and his shot goes wild, sinking into the wall. Livia struggles as completely as her bonds will allow. She does not look as hurt as she did before.)

Johnny: Fuck. I hate these things.

(Two things happen at once. Johnny jumps down from the windowsill into the pile of pillows. The unusual footing catches him unawares. Livia, on her end of things, swings her head back sharply, connecting with Marica’s face. Marica cries out, then shoves Livia away. She lands heavily on the wooden floor, skidding a little.)

Marica: You just try getting up to cause me more trouble.

(Marica charges Johnny before he can recover his footing and get another shot in with the gun. They grapple and he goes down, losing the gun in the pillows. With Johnny down, Marica fights to stab him with the knife. Marica grins as she gets in a near miss, and Johnny stares at her mouth.)

Johnny: Bloody hell, woman, you’re not even one of them. What’re you doing on the vampires’ team?

(Marica ignores him, lunging with the knife. They wrestle, the pillows skidding on the hardwood floor. Johnny grabs a pillow and uses it to block the knife as Marica slashes at his face. Then he kicks her off of him.)

Johnny: (digging in pillows) Where’s the gun? Where’s the fucking gun? (his hand finally lands on something) Gotcha!

(Johnny turns his back momentarily on Marica. As he does, she jumps on him and plunges the knife into his shoulder.)

Livia: Johnny!

Johnny: Fuck. Oh fuck.

(Johnny’s eyes are wide and his face drains of color. We can see the tip of the knife emerge just beneath his collar bone. The hand with the gun goes limp, and he makes a small, strangled sound, body jerking, as Marica rips the knife back out. He tips slowly over onto his back, eyes fixed on the ceiling, lips still mouthing the word “fuck”. Livia has, at this point, managed to roll into the table and knock one of the remaining knives off. She uses this to cut her bonds, and is starting to get to her feet as Marica heads back toward her. Livia is a little unsteady on her feet after having been so tightly bound.)

Livia: Oh, circulation. Damn.

Marica: I will cause you such pain!

(Marica and Livia grapple, each with a knife. Vlad charges up the stairs, taking stock of the situation.)

Vlad: Marica! You are not to kill her! Marica, don’t waste her precious blood!

(We return to Johnny, flat on his back in a small pool of blood. He blinks and begins to stir, flexing the fingers around the gun.)

Johnny: Damn. I’m not dead?

(He glances down, touches the tear in his shirt, exposing skin that is visibly healing around the wound.)

Johnny: Well that’s bloody convenient. (the amazement quickly passes as he recalls their desperate situation) Livia!

(Marica has managed to drive Livia to her knees and his bringing her knife up for a deadly strike. Johnny sits up and aims the gun. Vlad is trying to determine if he should intervene with the girls when he sees Johnny. He snarls and dives at this more immanent threat. In the split seconds before Marica hits Livia and Vlad connects with Johnny, we see Johnny get Marica in his sights.)

Johnny: Come on, come on. And – fire!

(Zoom to Marica. A bloody hole blossoms on her back very close to where her heart should be. She staggers, and her knife hand stops in mid down-swing.  She has a shocked and lost look on her face. As Livia flinches away from her, she falls slowly to her knees.)

Marica: Voi – vode?

(She lists sideways and topples to the floor. A small trickle of blood colors her lips.)

Johnny: Damn. I actually hit her… (he scrambles back as Vlad lunges at him) Oh shit!

Vlad: (bellowing) How dare you? How dare you!!!

(Vlad picks Johnny up bodily and launches him at the wall. The impact brings plaster and dust down from the ceiling.)

Johnny: I’m sorry I offed your girlfriend, but she was kind of trying to kill mine. No hard feelings, right?

(Vlad snarls and grabs Johnny again. He pulls Johnny’s face close to his, flashing fangs and glowing eyes, then whirls around and throws Johnny the entire length of the room. Johnny crashes against the wall right next to the window. Johnny practically goes through the wall. He slides slowly to the floor as dust and debris filter down.)

Johnny: That smarts. I think I should have broken something, but look at me. I can still stand. Well, sort of.

(Vlad stalks over to beat on Johnny some more. Livia in the meantime has scrambled over to the pillows and is going for Johnny’s dropped gun.)

Livia: Down, Johnny! Get down!

(Vlad stands right in front of the window, about to grab Johnny for a final go. When he hears Livia, he whirls around in time to see her level the gun at him. Johnny dives for cover and Livia fires the gun at Vlad over and over. Each shot makes him stumble back a bit more until the small of his back is against the windowsill. Livia’s final shot catches him dead-center of the chest, sending him tumbling out to the street below.)

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VII 7-8)

Author's Note: The final confrontation between Mara and Dracula reveals the identity of the mysterious alchemist and the source of Vlad's vampirism. Act VII Scene VII

(The front of the tower. Mara and Vlad continue to face off in front of the regiment of stakes outside the tower. Marica is still visible at the second floor window, holding Livia by the hair.)

Mara: (indignant) Is that a bite mark on her neck? You fed on her you bastard!

Vlad: Of course I did. Isn’t that what she is for? Your blood-whore?

Mara: (balling her fists) How dare you –

Vlad: I knew it when I saw the brand. Like your necklace there, I’d seen it before. What magic do you work on them to make their blood so sweet?

Mara: You fucking pig! They’re bred for something finer than blood. Who are you? How do you know about the Sinesti?

Vlad: It’s my turn to make the demands now, isn’t it? I’ve shown you Livia. She is safe, if only for the moment.

Mara: (thinking silently to herself) There’s something vital here I’m missing, some key that links this man to my past. It’s obvious he got the book at some point, but how does he know my marks, my family?

Vlad: First I want the book. I know you brought it.

Mara: And if I don’t?

Vlad: That’s very simple. (calling up) Marica? Do you see the little knives on the table near you? Please take one and cut Livia so we can watch her bleed.

Marica: Nothing would please me more, voivode.

Livia: Go ahead and cut me, bitch. It’s only flesh.

Mara: No. Stop. I’ll give you what you want.

Livia: Mara!

(Mara takes the book out of the rucksack and holds it out to Vlad. She waits for him to come to her to take it.)

Mara: (internally) Come on. Just a little closer. Put your hand where I can touch it, then we’ll see what’s really going on … almost … almost … gotcha!

(Vlad reaches out to take the book. The moment his hand comes close to hers, she grabs it. There is a sound like a sudden inhalation. Vlad’s eyes widen and we seem to dive into his pupils. A flurry of images begins to play across the screen, occasionally interspersed with an image of Mara and an image of Vlad as they stand there, eyes locked on one another. All the images last only a few seconds, appearing just long enough for the major details to register:)

Image 1: Vlad in full armor, leading a group of soldiers to the foot of theSaracenTower at a time when it was part of a larger fortification and everything was in good repair.

Image 2: Chaos in the halls, and Vlad seizing a fleeing woman by the hair. She bears a half-moon brand at the base of her neck. He seems puzzled by this.

Mara: (voiceover) You invaded them? You killed my people? Where was I?

Image 3: A library. A hooded figure sits behind a desk, the book open before it. A necklace nearly identical to Mara’s is prominent on his chest. Vlad approaches the figure cautiously, dagger pointing at its chest. With the tip of the dagger, he flips back the hood. There is a resemblance to Mara, but more specifically to the second face we have seen underneath hers. The man’s eyes stare glassily into space; he has been dead for several days.

Vlad: (voiceover) The alchemist…

Mara: (voiceover) That’s your alchemist?

Image 5: More mayhem in the tower. Men and women with the crescent mark throwing themselves on a prone figure. Vlad’s soldiers tear them away. Vlad approaches the figure. It is a boy, lying insensible. Disgusted and confused, Vlad gestures for him to be killed.

Mara: (voiceover) You killed the boy? No wonder I can’t remember anything!

Vlad: (voiceover) It was a mercy. He was half-dead already. You saw? He did not move!

Mara: (voiceover, disgusted) You still have no idea what you did. You understand none of this! What then,Vladimir? How did you become what you are now?

Image 5: Vlad in the library, pouring over the book, comparing the script to notes scribed on vellum in several different languages.

Vlad: (voiceover) Such secrets it held! The key to eternal life. You act like I am an idiot, woman, but I understood enough. All it required was sacrifice.

Image 6: Vlad in a stone chamber, braziers burning at the four corners, a stone slab in the center covered in a white linen cloth. A young man, healthy & muscular, is bound to the stone table. Vlad holds a shallow copper bowl in one hand and a small, wickedly curved dagger in the other. He approaches the man with the knife.

Mara: (voiceover) You killed him and drank his blood? That’s not what it meant. You’re supposed to die yourself, then become him! That’s the sacrifice, you fool!

Images 7 & 8: Vlad, with the bowl full of blood, carving sigils into his own flesh. He dips in the dagger, then carves more signs, carefully mingling his blood with that of the sacrifice.

We get a second perspective of the sigil-carving, white flesh accented with swirling lines of dark blood. Vlad finishes. His face is pale, his brow is beaded with sweat. Trembling with exhaustion and pain, he drinks from the bowl.

Mara: (voiceover) No wonder you’re so tied to the blood.

Image 9: Vlad, looking pale and dead and still, stretched out on the stone table. The sigils have healed to pale scars. He looks dead, then his entire body convulses, eyes fly wide, and he screams like a newborn. His eyes glow red and his fangs are prominent.

Mara: (voiceover) You perverted the ritual. I can’t believe it even succeeded. You had no idea what you were doing –

(Johnny’s voice intrudes suddenly on the telepathic space.)

Johnny: (voiceover) Mara! She’s got a knife! She’s going to cut Livia!

(As Johnny’s voice breaks in, we get a final image in the rapid telepathic slide-show. This is of the second floor of the tower, Johnny lifting himself onto the back window, gun in hand. Marica and Livia struggle near the front, Marica brandishing a knife at Livia. We cut immediately back to where Mara and Vlad stand locked together in the street. Vlad’s eyes go wide with sudden fury.)

Act VII Scene VIII

(Mara and Vlad standing in the street. Vlad’s eyes flash a wicked red. He snarls and rips his hand out of Mara’s grasp. The connection is abruptly broken.)

Vlad: (shouting up to the tower) Traitors! Marica! He has a gun!

(Vlad shoves the book at Mara, knocking her back several feet. He turns to run into the tower, yelling over his shoulder.)

Vlad: Morgan! NOW!!!

(Mara lands on her back in the street. She tilts her head back and from this awkward perspective sees Morgan and about half a dozen other vampires streaming out of the houses behind her.)

Mara: Shit.

(Mara jumps to her feet as they swarm her. As she stands, she calls her power. Her eyes glow with white fire and the other face, made of translucent light, seems to press against the inside of her skin. She braces herself as they come at her, loosing a primal yell in which her own voice is lost in that deeper, masculine tone.

As her whole body is wreathed in rising, pale wisps, we see for the first time white-hot lines of fire trace sigils down her arms and her torso. They are very similar in pattern to the sigils carved on Vlad. Then all the vampires crash into her, trying to drag her down. She begins to fight, bellowing into the night. She catches one vampire, throws him several feet to crash into a wall. Like a ballet dancer, she dodges two others, striking a third in the chest and ripping out his soul. They just keep coming. She moves faster and faster, dodging, grappling, landing blows. When she gets a little breathing room, she glances up at the tower.)

Mara: You’ve got company, John!

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VII 3-6)

It's my birthday, but I'm giving *you* gifts. Have the next installment of Immortal. Act VII Scene III:

(The Saracen Tower, a forest of stakes. Mara cautiously approaches. Finally she stands just a few feet away from where the forest of stakes begins. Vlad stands among the impaled, still as a stone. Mara looks pointedly at him.)

Mara: You can sense me, and I can sense you. So there’s no point in hiding.

(Vlad steps out and stands on the walkway leading directly into the tower’s main door. He smiles.)

Mara: I’m here. I want to see Livia.

Vlad: It is strange, don’t you think, that you bear the same symbol as the first page of the book?

Mara: People wear meaningless symbols all the time. I want to see Livia.

Vlad: For you I do not think it is meaningless. Everything about you hints at deeper meanings. And drop that weapon. You’re not so foolish to think you will triumph by shooting me.

Mara: Hmph. (she drops it) That’s an old dialect you’re speaking. It’s been four, five centuries since I’ve heard some of those words.

Vlad: And yet you speak it, too. Quite clearly.

Mara: I imagine I learned it around the same time you did.

Vlad: (excitedly) Then I was right. You are an immortal like myself. I wonder what other things I’ve guessed about you?

Mara: I won’t deny that I’m immortal – but I’m nothing at all like you.

Vlad: Such hatred in your words, woman! But I do not wish to be your enemy.

Mara: You have done little to be my friend.

Vlad: Then, please, let us begin over. I only want to speak with you, learn what I can. I do not lightly admit to weakness, woman, but this power is a double-edged blade which I cannot control!

Mara: You want a teacher? Is that what this is about? Well you’re not going to entice me with murder, kidnapping, or thinly veiled threats!

Vlad: And would you have come if I had sent someone to invite you? My people would have been shot on sight.

Mara: Rightly so! All they’ve done is slaughter people. You’ve made a graveyard of this town.

Act VII Scene IV

(Behind the Saracen Tower, covered with scaffolding. Johnny picks his way toward the tower. Mara, speaks in his mind.)

Mara: (in his head) Johnny! I’m almost certain she’s in the tower. Probably the second floor. He’s glanced at that window twice.

Johnny: (whispering out loud) Three steps ahead of you, luv.

(Johnny approaches the scaffolding, pauses to find someplace to tuck his gun, then begins the rickety climb.)

Mara: Hurry. I can’t stall forever.

Johnny: (thinking at her this time, getting the hang of it) I hurry much faster, and I’ll break my bloody neck. But I’ll get there. I swear it.

Act VII Scene V

(Front of the tower. Mara and Vlad face off.)

Vlad: I’ll admit. My troops have been … undisciplined. Some of the blame falls to me. Through blood, they share my power, but they also share my thirst.

Mara: Do you have any idea what you’ve done to them?

Vlad: (a light of desperation in his eyes) Does it burn as hot for you, woman? Is that the price we pay? To walk forever in a world rimmed in blood?

Mara: I’m not continuing this conversation until you show me my friend.

Vlad: You are in no position to make demands!

Mara: Quite the contrary. I have many things you want – knowledge, answers, and a certain book –

Vlad: You do have it!

Mara: And you only have one thing that I want. I think that puts me in the perfect position to make demands.

(They stare for several moments. Finally, he sighs.)

Vlad: Vladimir the Third does not bow to anyone. But out of respect for a fellow immortal, I will do this thing. (calling up to the tower) Marica! Marica, bring Livia to the window so we can see her.

(Marica has Livia by the hair. Livia thrashes, but is still bound hand and foot. Marica has her in an iron grip.)

Marica: Here she is, voivode. Awake and already healing.

Livia: Mara! Tell him to go fuck himself!

Marica: (yanking Livia’s hair, hissing into her ear) He may not understand much English, but I will not forgive that remark!

Act VII Scene VI

(Johnny, climbing the scaffolding at the back of the tower. The boards about him are rickety and the whole structure sways. He is making slow progress.)

Mara: (in his head) Johnny! Second floor. I think she’s bound, and there’s woman with her.

Johnny: (thinking silently back) Now wouldn’t be a good time to mention that I’m afraid of heights, would it?

Mara: (in his head) I don’t know how much longer I can resist hitting him, so make it fast.

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VII 1-2)

Author's Note: Mara and Johnny head into a face-off with Vlad the Third, Son of the Dragon. Act VII Scene I

(The foot of Vlad’s tower. He strides out, admiring the impaled bodies and severed heads. He runs his fingers lovingly over the flesh of an impaled corpse. The raiding party of vampires mill around the tour bus, some nursing their wounds. One or two others torture villagers, playing with the pleading men and women before they drink their fill. Vlad carries himself with the hauteur of a despot, glancing over at the American vampires with disdain.)

Vlad: You! Morgan!

Morgan: Yes voivode?

Vlad: That. Move!

(Vlad gestures dismissively at the bus.)

Morgan: (bowing) Yes, voivode. (he turns to the workers) Peters! Get the bus out of here. Park it back up by the hotel.

Vlad: Hide.

Morgan: You want me out of sight, voivode?

Vlad: All. Hide.

(Vlad gestures toward some houses that are still standing a little distance away from the tower.)

Morgan: You heard the man! Get the prisoners under cover – that building over there hasn’t been gutted with fire. Post some people to watch them, then all the rest of you get under cover.

(Vlad taps a finger near his eye, then points again to the houses.)

Vlad: Watch. I call.

Morgan: You want us to stand guard from the shadows? Is that it, voivode? Hang out where your girl can’t see us, then jump her when you give the sign?

(Vlad listens to Morgan’s words, a slightly perturbed look on his face.)

Morgan: Shit. I feel like I’m talking to Lassie.

Vlad: Go. Now

(Morgan jumps as Vlad glares. The archaeologist starts barking orders to the motley collection of vampires. A number of them now seem to be villagers. These stare blankly and must be ushered to their posts. Vlad watches the chaos, disdain stamped upon his features. Eventually Morgan and the remaining members of his team scurry into the houses. Peters comes jogging back from up the street. He stops and looks around for the last few survivors of his group. He glances sheepishly over to Vlad, who merely stabs his finger toward the houses. Peters gets the hint and joins the others. Vlad stands front and center of the tower, moving his head as if scenting the wind. His hair blows around him and a wolfish smile curls his lips.)

Vlad: (eyes unfocused, speaking to the wind) I can feel you getting closer. I do not have long to wait.

Act VII Scene II

(Mara and Johnny in the van, driving. They crest a hill and can see the town. A sick red light illumines the sky and black gouts of smoke curl into the darkness.)

Johnny: Shit. Everything’s burning.

(They lurch forward, descending to the village proper. The headlights catch an occasional image that speaks of the past two days’ worth of destruction: the burned-out hulk of a car; a crumpled body in the street; a section of houses that lie in smoldering ruins. Here and there a streetlamp actually works, providing an unexpected source of light.)

Johnny: They’ve been busy. Where to now, Mara?

(Mara has her eyes closed, listening.  She raises a hand and begins to point in front of them, but adjusts and points off to the left.)

Mara: That way. Forward and to the left.

Johnny: OK. You’re the psychic.

(He turns the wheel down the next available street. Wrecks of burning cars and other debris clog this street, so he has to re-adjust, heading off in a different direction.)

Johnny: So what’s really going on here, Mara?

Mara: What do you mean? Turn down here if you can.

Johnny: Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the past couple of days have been monumentally weird. You know, vampires chasing ancient books and all.

Mara: It’s been intense.

Johnny: Well, Mara, it’s just that you’ve added several levels of weirdness to things all by yourself.

Mara: There’s the hotel. Bear to the south and keep going.

Johnny: I’ll tell you, Mara. I play dumb a lot. But that doesn’t mean I don’t notice things. I may not know how it all goes together, but I understand enough to know that you play some part in all of this.

Mara: This is not the time to have this discussion.

Johnny: (pounding the steering wheel in frustration) And why not? We’re about to head straight into a trap laid by the main vampire himself, whoever the bloody hell he is, and it’s just the two of us. We’ve got a couple of guns and bloody little else, and we have no idea what kind of arsenal he has at his disposal. So before I commit suicide in the name of saving Livia, I’d like to make sense of it all. It would give my death some meaning, y’know?

Mara: There are just some things you’re not going to understand.

Johnny: You’d be surprised what I understand. I know that you and Livia act like lovers but you really aren’t. I know that you are stronger and faster than you’ve ever let on. And I know that you understand a hell of a lot more about this vampire shit than you’ve told any of us.

(Mara peers at Johnny.)

Johnny: Like I said. I just might surprise you. Oh bloody hell – would you look at that!

(The van goes around a bend and Johnny pulls up short. At the far end of the street they can just see the forest of staked bodies and severed heads that line the path leading up to the tower. With the reddish light cast by the parts of the city that are still burning, it looks like a scene from hell. Johnny and Mara just stare at this a moment.)

Johnny: I guess he wanted to make sure you wouldn’t miss him.

Mara: Is there some kind of fortification behind all of that?

Johnny: Oh yeah. It’s the Saracen Tower. Me and the band visited it the first or second day we blew into town. Just another tourist trap, really, all under construction. Hell, about the only bit not covered in scaffolding is the part that’s on the street. There was this neat statue inside though. Kind of like one of those cigar-store Indians, only done up as a Turk. Me and Wolfie, we –

Mara: Are you nervous Johnny? You’re talking too much.

Johnny: Oh. Right.

Mara: (mostly to herself) It’s too far away too see clearly. It might be part of all that. But it’s been so long. And everything around here has changed.

Johnny: What’re you going on about?

Mara: Pull the van up just a little closer, but cut the headlights.

(Her head snaps up. She stares fixedly into the night and a little of that luminescence comes into her eyes.)

Mara: He knows I’m here.

Johnny: Could you maybe not do that thing with your eyes? It’s freaking me out.

(She turns and stares directly at him. As he watches, the glow from her eyes fades.)

Mara: Better?

Johnny: Christ! And just a minute ago you were playing dumb about the weird shit!

Mara: Force of habit. Now, you’re really going to go through with this?

Johnny: Through with what? Saving Livia? Of course I am.

Mara:You really care about her.

(Johnny starts to reply in his usual smart-ass voice. Then he lowers his eyes and speaks more sincerely.)

Johnny: Yeah, I do.

(Mara looks ahead at the forest of the impaled. She chews her lip, considering, then nods to herself.)

Mara: All right Johnny, turn and face my way.

Johnny: What now, Mara?

Mara: Just come here. Sit close. I’m going to give you a gift.

Johnny: A gift?

Mara: Yes, Johnny. But it's only for tonight. When we're done here, I'm going to take it back.

Johnny: Then what kind of gift is that?

Mara: A gift I almost never share with people, Johnny. It's something very dangerous to keep.

Johnny: Well then, why would I want the bloody thing?

Mara: Because it just might keep you safe. Hold still and face me. Now, you have to accept it, Johnny. I've taken vows, so I can't force you to take it.

Johnny: Uhhh ... sure. I, um, I accept your gift.

Mara: Good. Now. Open your mouth.

Johnny: Is this going to be more weird shit?

Mara: Yes. More weird shit. Just be quiet and open your mouth. And breathe in when I tell you to. All right?

Johnny: I’m doing this for Livia …

Mara: Sshh…

(Johnny opens his mouth slightly, closing his eyes. He looks like he’s expecting this to hurt in some way. He jumps a little as Mara leans in closer, almost touching him, but he keeps himself from shying away. He peeks open one eyeball in time to see Mara focusing herself, her own eyes closed. Wisps of light feather around her face and throat, and a dense, glowing ball of light gathers in her chest, just between her breasts. She inhales deeply, and this ball of light intensifies seeming to pull more light from the rest of her body. There is just a hint of the other face beneath her own, and when she finally opens her eyes, they are alight from within. Still holding the breath she has taken, she leans into Johnny and gently breathes out over his mouth. The light is conveyed to him through her breath. Wisps of it are blown into him.)

Mara: Breathe, Johnny. Breathe it in.

(Johnny takes a sharp, sudden breath and Mara continues to breathe the light into him. We see wisps of it passing over his features and traveling down to his body, his limbs. He has an astonished expression on his face, and when he opens his eyes, they glow faintly like hers. He stares at Mara, who slowly draws away. A few wisps trail on the air between them. The light fades into his body, just as it fades from her. He’s still holding the deep breath he’s taken. Then he suddenly exhales, and the breath mists in front of his mouth as if it were freezing outside.)

Johnny: What the hell was that?

Mara: A little bit of me. And now it’s in you. Like I said, when we’re done, I’ll take it back.

Johnny: I feel all kinds of dizzy. And there’s like this tingling in my chest. Like the butterflies you get riding roller-coasters.

Mara: Just breathe slow and steady and it will pass. Take a few moments.

Johnny: All right. Slow and steady. Slow and steady. …

Mara: (in Johnny’s head) Are you feeling better, Johnny?

Johnny: (out loud) Yeah. Oh, fuck. You’re lips didn’t move!

Mara: (in Johnny’s head) You’ll be able to hear me now. We can coordinate easier.

Johnny: (out loud) Bloody hell, woman, if you can do that, why don’t you just think hard in Livia’s direction to find out where she is?

Mara: (still in Johnny’s head) It doesn’t work like that. You can hear me because of what we just did. But that little splinter of me? It will gradually take you over until you’re just an extension. You’ll look like Johnny, you’ll act like Johnny, and you’ll even think like Johnny to a point, but after a couple of weeks, you’ll be completely broken to my will. All I’ll have to do is think something and you’ll do it without question. Do you think I’d do something like that to Livia?

Johnny: Oh, wow. You are so taking this bloody thing out of me when we’re done!

Mara: (out loud) That’s the plan. Now let’s get moving.

Johnny: But what are we doing?

Mara: Well, I’m going to try to negotiate with him first.

Johnny: Negotiate? With a vampire?

Mara: You’d be surprised how reasonable they can be.

Johnny: Ummm … No. I don’t want to know. So where do I come in?

Mara: I’m going to try to get him to reveal where he’s keeping Livia.

Johnny: And then?

Mara: And then this is where I ask something difficult of you, Johnny.

Johnny: I’m game.

Mara: I think I’m going to have my hands full dealing with him and any of his soldiers. So I’ll need you to get to Livia. If there’s any way humanly possible to get her out of there while I fight off the rest of them, can you do that for me?

Johnny: Truth be told, I’d be doing it for Livia. It’s not that I don’t like you, Mara, but honestly, you scare the hell out of me.

Mara: I may scare you a lot more before we’re through.

Johnny: What’s that supposed to mean?

Mara: It means that no matter what you see me do, don’t let it distract you. Just get Livia and get her out of here. Right now, she’s more vulnerable than either me or you.

Johnny: I’ll do my best, Mara. I swear I will.

Mara: All right. I’m going now.

(Mara gets out, taking the rucksack with her. She glances down the road to the tower, then turns back to Johnny.)

Mara: (in his head) Didn’t I tell you to cut the headlights?

Johnny: (out loud, despite her distance) I’m not going to be able to see anything, Mara.

Mara: Cut the lights. You’ll see just fine. Trust me.

(Johnny clearly doesn’t believe her. Mara starts to walk cautiously down the street and Johnny, with a shrug, kills the lights in the van. The street goes dark, and for a moment everything is plunged into shadow. Then, from Johnny’s perspective, the shadows begin to resolve into recognizable shapes. Everything seems illumined by a pale, silver light, as if from the glow of the moon.)

Johnny: (rubbing his eyes) Well, bugger me.

(Johnny looks around a few more moments, then grabs one of the guns.)

Johnny: I don't need to wait. Livia’s in the tower. Any idiot would know she’s in the tower. And thanks to random tourism, I know a back way in …

(Keeping to the shadows, Johnny cuts down an alleyway and starts making a wide circle to the back of the tower.)

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VI 10-11)

Author's Note: In the wake of a brutal attack, Mara heads out to face the master vampire behind Livia's abduction. Johnny insists on tagging along -- against everyone's better judgment. (As a aside note, Johnny's sweet-talk to get the touring van to run one last time is an homage and almost word-for-word quote of Dominic St. Charles of URN who would similarly pat and baby the touring van when traveling with the band.) Act VI Scene X:

(The main room in the factory. A little time has passed since the attack. People are dealing with the dead and wounded. One Romanian man gingerly pokes at a fallen vampire with his M16. A few others nail boards back over the windows. Yet another dumps water on the steaming mess that was once a vampire. Victor and Griffin stand on either side of Jack, helping him limp over to the stairs so he can sit down and take care of his leg. He is white with pain and beads of sweat stand out on his brow. Marta has emerged from the back office, flailing her arms and screaming incomprehensibly in Russian. The little girl, blue eyes wide, stands silently in the doorway. Briggs leans against the doorjamb behind her, his good hand lightly touching the top of the child’s head. Johnny stands in the middle of the room, still holding the gun, looking completely lost.)

Jack: Yessiree, boys and girls, this is what we call a compound fracture. You’re gonna want to cut open my jeans down there to clean it up. But I’ll warn you now. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

Victor: Come on, Jack, just a few more steps.

(Marta runs past them, going over to one of the Romanian men and flailing her arms at him. With a confused look, he wards off her blows.)

Griffin: Alex! Why’d you let that crazy woman get out here?

Briggs: Alex isn’t in here, man. The old bat just ran out.

Griffin: Alex isn’t back there?

Briggs: No. I thought she was up here with all of you.

(Griffin stops dead and his face suddenly has this hollow expression. His eyes skitter restlessly around the room, taking none of it in. Victor reaches around Jack to touch Griffin’s shoulder.)

Victor: Come on, Griff. We’ll find her in a minute. Just help me get Jack here over to the stairs.

Griffin: But we thought she was in there. Where would she go? Why hasn’t anyone seen her? What if she got lost?

Victor: Snap out of it, man! Jack’s hurt bad. Help me here.

Griffin: Alex? Alex?

(He looks up expectantly at the door leading into the factory. Two men posted to guard that door stiffen, holding their guns at the ready. Mara walks through, pushing the guns aside.)

Mara: They’re coming in through the roof! I fought two of them off already.

(The urgency of her flight fades as she sees the room.)

Mara: They’ve already been here.

Victor: They came in fast and hard. We tried to fight them off, and then they left.

Mara: (suspicious) Why did they leave?

(Victor does not meet her eyes and instead busies himself with getting a delirious Jack and a shell-shocked Griffin over to the concrete stairs.)

Mara: Why did they leave? Where’s Livia? Why won’t you answer me?

Johnny: Please don’t kill me Mara.

Mara: Kill you? Why would you say that?

Johnny: Don’t kill the messenger. I tried! I tried! I swear I tried!

Mara: (not a question. A grim certainty) They took Livia.

Johnny: They didn’t hurt her or bite her or anything. The one guy just came up and grabbed her and I tried to shoot him, but he jumped clear up to the roof with her in his arms. Straight up, like Superman or something.

Mara: So they came in and took her.

Johnny: I tried to shoot him, Mara, I tried. But I’m not a good enough shot, and Jack was hurt and –

Mara: Damn.

Johnny: What?

Mara: He turned the tables on me. I can’t believe it. He’s trying to flush me out.

Johnny: What are you talking about, Mara?

Mara: Remember when I was saying that we couldn’t beat him unless we drew him out, lured him with something he would want?

Johnny: Yeah.

Mara: Well, somehow he figured out what I would really want.

Johnny: He took Livia to get at you?

Victor: Mara, I know you must be in a state of shock, but people are hurt here. We could use some help.

Jack: None of you know how to set a leg?

Griffin: You didn’t see Alex back there, did you, Mara?

Mara: What? No. I’m sorry, Victor. I’m sorry Griffin.

(She strides into the room and starts picking through the remaining guns. Johnny follows close behind her.)

Johnny: What are you doing, Mara? There’s nothing left to shoot here.

Mara: I’m going to find her.

Victor: That’s suicide! Look, Mara. Be reasonable. We tried to stop them, but they took her. We all feel your loss – but you can do more good for everyone here, right now.

Jack: If they come back, we need all hands on deck. Set me up in a corner. I’ll snipe them.

Mara: I don’t expect you to understand this, any of you, but if I go, they won’t come back.

Griffin: What do you know that we don’t, Mara?

Mara: You tell me that the vampires came in hard and fast. You tell me they grabbed Livia, and once they had her, they left. Do I have it so far?

Griffin: Well, yeah.

Mara: They didn’t kill her. They didn’t even hurt her. So they’re using her as bait.

Victor: Whatever they want with you, you know it’s going to be a trap.

Mara: Of course it’s a trap. But they don’t know what they’re trapping. Can I have the keys to the van?

Jack: You’re really doing this, aren’t you?

Mara: You bet I am.

Johnny: I’m coming with you.

Mara: I don’t want to be responsible for you.

Johnny: I’ll be responsible for me.

Mara: Johnny, don’t be stupid.

Johnny: Mara, luv, this whole idea of yours is stupid. But I’m still going with you.

Mara: No!

Johnny: The longer you fight with me, the longer it’ll take you to get there. Besides. I have the keys.

Mara: You little fuck.

Johnny: I like to think of myself as well-endowed.

Mara: Fine. Grab your damn cross.

(She turns on her heel and heads into the night.)

Act VI Scene XI

(Mara and Johnny in the van. Johnny’s in the driver’s seat. He’s fighting to get the van to turn over. He’s patting the van on the dashboard, making sweet-talk to it.)

Johnny: Come on, baby. Come on. Just one more time. One more time for ol’ Johnny.

(With a horrible grinding noise, the engine coughs to life. Johnny lets it chug for a little while before putting it into gear.)

Johnny: This van has seen some wild days, Mara. But I never thought I’d be driving her straight into hell. Do you even know where we’re going?

Mara: I have an idea. I … I can sense him.

Johnny: Like what? With ESP?

Mara: Yes, Johnny. Call it women’s intuition or whatever you want. I can lead us to the enemy.

Johnny: That’s pretty cool, Mara. I knew you were deep. Now hang on – the ride’s going to be a bit rough. The breaks are kind of weak.

(Johnny puts the van in gear and it lurches forward. He gives it some gas and they start barreling down the hill.)

Johnny: Shit. Almost forgot.

(Mara looks over as Johnny flicks on the headlights. Their faces grim, they head back toward the town.)

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula Returns (Act VI 8-9)

Author's Note: Back after a short break, and finishing up the screenplay. Livia has been captured. Vlad interrogates her then leaves her to a jealous Marica's tender mercies.  

Act VI Scene VIII:

(Vlad’s citadel, second floor. This room has been hung with rugs, cloth, and draperies pillaged from the town. The predominating colors are gold and red. There is a large throne-like wooden chair set against the wall opposite the stairs down. A small table stands beside it. A few wicked-looking knives have been set casually upon the table. A sizable Oriental rug has been laid on the floor in front of the chair, adding to its throne-like feel.

     The entire other half of the room has been strewn with pillows. There is a definite Turkish feel to the decorations, reminding us that Vladimir spent his youth in the Turkish courts. Vlad, shirtless, is stretched languidly out on the pillows with Marica. She, too, is shirtless, with her back to the camera. He is tracing lazy circles with one fingernail on her flesh. The only thing marring this idyllic picture are the three bodies dropped like trash in the foreground. Their throats have been torn out and their glazed eyes bulge. As Vlad and Marica converse in the soft tones of lovers, we hear the roaring motor of the bus pulling up. This is accompanied with cheers and whoops of victory so it almost sounds like the vampires just won a college football game. Slightly annoyed at this interruption, Vlad stands in one fluid movement and goes over to a window. We get a fuller appreciation for the patterning of scars that decorate his flesh. Some are obviously from old wounds: there is a gash that distorts one nipple; the stripes of a lash decorate his back. But many look like magickal sigils. They are carved into his biceps, his belly, his chest. A few of the thin white patterns descend down past his hips and into his trousers.)

Vlad: It seems Dr. Morgan’s most recent foray has met with some success.

(Behind him, Marica hastily buttons her blouse. Her hair is down, falling softly around her face. We see another love-bite just above one breast. She joins Vlad at the window and looks down. The bus pulls up close to the tower and the remaining vampires pour out. Some are limping and wounded. Dr. Morgan exits last, carrying Livia. She has been bound and gagged, and he has her slung over one shoulder. Either she is unconscious, or she has given up fighting. The camera cuts back to Marica and Vlad.)

Marica: It looks like they only captured one of them.

Vlad: This is the most important one. Her companion will come now, and I suspect she will bring the book.

Marica: What are you going to do with the red-head until then?

Vlad: Why, I shall enjoy her, Marica.

(Vlad offers Marica a salacious smile. Marica looks away so Vlad cannot see her frown).

Vlad: Tell our American rabble to bring her up here to my private chamber. I want to speak with her alone. And tell them to desist with that bothersome noise.

Marica: Very well, voivode.

(Vlad looks puzzled at this sudden formality, but lets it slide. He turns away from the window to retrieve his own clothes. Marica’s face is a careful mask. She leans out the window, yelling down to the crowd. Her voice is more strident than usual.)

Marica: The voivode desires that you bring the woman up to us. He also asks for quiet.

(The camera shows her perspective on the street below. Dr. Morgan, Livia still slung over his shoulder, gives a cheerful salute and enters the tower.)

Act VI Scene IX

(The camera cuts back to the second-floor room. Vlad, smoothing his shirt, sits lounging in the throne-like chair. Marica lounges somewhat stiffly upon the pillows. She does not look entirely happy to be there. Vlad’s gaze is upon the stairs. We hear Dr. Morgan walking up with his burden before we catch sight of him.)

Vlad: Set the woman down there.

(Vlad gestures toward the rug. Morgan, clearly very pleased with himself, deposits Livia on the floor. She is in a swoon and lies pale in her bonds.)

Vlad: She is unharmed?

(from her place over in the corner, Marica translates for Vlad.)

Marica: He wants to know if you’ve hurt her.

Morgan: I had to strike her a glancing blow to the back of the head or else we never would have gotten her here.

Marica: (to Vlad) He knocked her out. She fought.

(Morgan brings Vlad’s attention to the side of his face where the bloody tracks of Livia’s nails have not yet fully healed. There is also a faint charred spot on his temple in the shape of a cross.)

Morgan: Like a red-headed she-devil. She nearly took out my eye!

Vlad: I like a woman with spirit. So long as she respects her place. Tell him he can go, Marica.

(Marica is glaring down at one of the pillows, grinding her teeth. Without looking up, she addresses Morgan.)

Marica: You can go now.

Morgan: Am I not to be rewarded?

Vlad: I know that tone. He wants a reward of some sort, doesn’t he?

(Vlad gets up from his chair, eyes locked on Dr. Morgan’s. His expression alone makes Morgan take a step backward.)

Marica: The voivode is not feeling charitable. I suggest you leave, William.

Morgan: Uh, yes. Of course. I’ll be on my way.

(Vlad chuckles blackly as Morgan hurries back down the stairs. After a moment, he turns his attention to Livia, first turning her head and checking for the brand. Wonderingly, he runs his fingers over it, the fingers of the other hand threading through her hair.)

Vlad: It is the same mark exactly. Marica? How many years did you say had passed since my interment in the tomb?

Marica: More than five hundred, voivode.

Vlad: An uncountable amount of time. Amazing! There is something at work here beyond my understanding.

(Very gently, he runs a finger down the side of Livia’s face, continuing down her neck to the uppermost swell of her breast. Marica frowns and looks away.)

Vlad: They were all so very beautiful. I never meant to kill them all.

(Livia’s eyes flutter and she begins to stir. Her head snaps up and her eyes fly wide. She stares up at Vladimir’s face, trying to take it in. After fleeting disorientation, she glares at him and begins to struggle in her bonds, trying to cry out against the gag. Vlad locks eyes with her and gestures for her to be still. He touches the gag, then holds his finger against his lips in the gesture for silence. Livia scowls, but stops her struggling. She nods, and very gently Vlad removes the gag. Livia has a cut on one lip, and she is frowning hard enough to reopen it and make it bleed. Tenderly, Vlad grasps her by the shoulders and sets her into a sitting position. Her hands are tied behind her back and her feet are trussed, and Livia does her best to adjust her balance so she doesn’t fall right back over. Vlad sits back down in his chair.)

Vlad: Marica, tell her she is to answer my questions. I have no intention of doing permanent harm, but I will make her suffer if she defies me.

Marica: He wishes for you –

Livia: I heard him myself.

(Livia stares defiantly at Vlad.)

Vlad: (mildly shocked) You understand me?

Livia: Your grammar’s dated, but I can hold my own.

Vlad: Perfect. Do you know who I am, then?

Livia: You look familiar, but I know a lot of people.

Marica: You speak to him with more respect!

Livia: I’ll speak to him however I like.

(Vlad gets up and in one quick movement backhands Livia. The blow rocks her head back, leaving her mouth bleeding and her jaw bruised. She closes her eyes against the pain, refusing to cry out.)

Vlad: I am Prince Vladimir the Third, son of the Dragon who was son of Mircea the Old. You will address me by my title of voivode.

Livia: (incredulous) Dracula?

Vlad: That is what I said. You may know me as the Impaler.

Livia: (laughing wildly now) Dracula?

Vlad: Have I knocked the sense out of you woman?

Marica: She is merely astounded, voivode. You are famous even in this century.

Livia: (still laughing) I’ve been abducted by Dracula?

Vlad: Enough of your babbling. Tell me your name, woman.

(Livia just stares at him. This inspires another blow to the side of her face.)

Vlad: It is not my intention to kill you. Do not goad me into beating you within an inch of your life!

Livia: (she meets his eyes, then thinks better of it. Reluctantly, she speaks) Livia.

Vlad: Very good, Livia. Perhaps we are coming to an understanding?

Livia: I’m tied up on the floor in front of you. There’s not much to understand.

Vlad: Be careful of your tongue, Livia. I admire your spirit, but only because it will please me to break it.

(Livia stares at the rug just in front of her feet. Vlad resettles himself on his chair.)

Vlad: Tell me about that mark on your neck. The brand.

Livia: It’s just a mark.

Vlad: Strange then, that it appears over the door of this tower.

Livia: I hadn’t noticed, voivode. I was unconscious for that part. You know? Somebody whacked me over the head after kidnapping me.

(Vlad looks like he very much wants to smack her again, but manages to reign in his temper.)

Marica: This would go better for you if you just answer his questions.

Vlad: What does that mark signify?

Livia: It’s a family symbol. Sinesti. Sin was a Babylonian moon god.

Marica: (to herself, pointedly in English) Whore of Babylon.

Vlad: Do all the members of your family bear this mark?

Livia: It’s a tradition. Kind of like a coat of arms. (she studies Vlad’s expression for a few moments) Can I ask you something without the fear of getting hit?

Vlad: Certainly. Because you asked nicely.

Livia: Why is it important?

Vlad: Because a long time ago I knew people who bore that mark. Their blood was sweet and their flesh was sweeter.

Livia: (rolls her eyes) Not interested.

Vlad: Before I mar your beauty with another blow, shall I remind you that you are a prisoner here? You do not get to choose.

(Livia sighs and closes her eyes, steeling herself for his fist. Vlad notices this and decides on a different tactic. In a fluid movement, he leaves the chair, kneeling down on the floor in front of her. When Livia next opens her eyes, he has his face inches away from her, his fingers just about to caress the place he had recently landed a blow.)

Vlad: Truly, Livia, I do not want to hurt you. You must understand that I have a temper. I want you to respect me. I want you to answer what I ask.

(Vlad runs his fingers along her jaw, drawing them through the blood that is drying there. He puts the blood-stained fingers to his mouth, savoring the taste of it.)

Vlad: Exactly as I remember it. Tell me about the alchemist.

Livia: The what?

Vlad: This was once his tower. Tell me about him.

Livia: Voivode, really. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Vlad: If you are lying …

Livia: I’m not lying on this one. I don’t know anything about an alchemist.

(He studies her face for a moment.)

Vlad: Very well. Then tell me about your companion. The woman with the short dark hair.

Livia: She’s just a friend. We travel together.

Vlad: That is only a half-truth. You do not lie well with those green eyes of yours, beautiful Livia.

Marica: (disgusted) Perhaps we should just wait for her friend and interrogate them both.

Vlad: Hush, woman.

Livia: She doesn’t know where you’ve taken me.

Vlad: No, but she will feel it, won’t she? She can sense me. I’ve seen her stare directly at me, when no other mortal would have known I was there.

(Livia looks back down at the rug.)

Vlad: Your silence is my answer. Does she have the book, then? Will she be able to tell me about the alchemist? You know she wears his mark.

Livia: It’s just a necklace. A lot of people wear symbols that have no meaning.

Vlad: But you knew what I was talking about.

(Livia presses her lips together, scowling. Vlad places his hands gently on both sides of her face, drawing her gaze to meet his eyes as he has done with Marica.)

Vlad: You have blood on your lips, dear Livia. Allow me to kiss it away.

(Vlad kisses the side of her mouth where she is bleeding. Livia squeezes her eyes shut, trying to remain calm. But then his tongue snakes out, darting at the blood, and she makes a strangled noise in her throat, pulling away.)

Vlad: I will not kill you, Livia. I want the living blood that’s in your veins. I made a mistake all those years ago, slaughtering those who bore this mark. I did not realize then that they were more valuable to me alive. I will not kill you, but I will take what you refuse to give.

(Reaching around to the back of her head, Vlad grabs a fistful of Livia’s hair, twining his fingers close to her scalp. He pulls her head back, exposing the white line of her neck. Livia makes a strangled noise again. Vlad exposes his fangs and bites. Livia’s whole body stiffens, then suddenly relaxes. Though she still makes strangled sounds, there is another quality to them that suggests she enjoys what he is doing whether she wants to or not. Behind them, almost between them, we see Marica. The camera shifts focus to her. In a jealous rage, she bites her lip. The camera focuses back on Vlad and Livia. Livia is beginning to slump in her bonds, while Vlad trembles and tears himself away.)

Vlad: Not too much. Not too much. I must take care. Life is delicate when it runs so sweet.

(He loosens his grip and Livia swoons. Blood trickles from the bite. With a post-coital languor, Vlad dabs a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth.)

Vlad: Ambrosia. Exactly as I remember. Nothing else has ever quenched my flame.

(Again the camera shifts focus to Marica. She has thrown herself down on the pillows and put her back to the room.)

Vlad: Tend to her wounds, Marica. I shall go down and await our other guest.

(Oblivious to Marica’s pain, he strides from the room.)

 

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VI 5-7)

Author's Note: The invasion begins. Lost in the factory Mara is attacked by two of Vlad's vampires, while Dr. Morgan leads a strike to capture Livia and steal her away. Act VI Scene V:

(Cut to the roof above Mara. Two vampires are climbing around, peering through the skylights to the rooms within.)

Nate: I can’t believe we pulled this duty. I mean, we’re not gonna get to feed at all.

Greg: Quit your bellyaching. You heard Morgan. The others aren’t allowed to feed either. Drac wants us in and out.

Nate: You got balls calling him that.

Greg: I’ll leave that “voivode” bullshit to Dr. Asskisser. It’s not like he can hear us all the way out here.

Nate: Hey, Greg! Get over here. Isn’t that one of the women we’re looking for?

Greg: Well shit. I believe it is, Nate.

Nate: Heh. And here we thought we had a boring job, bringing up the rear.

Greg: She’s kind of cute.

Nate: If you go for that tough girl look, yeah.

Greg: Poor little tough girl, all alone in the dark. Doesn’t even have a flashlight.

Nate: Heehee. You with me, Greg? I’m going in.

Act VI Scene VI:

(Cut back to Mara who is still frowning at either end of the hall. The sound of breaking glass comes from above and a few slivers fall down to the floor.)

Mara: Damn. I knew those skylights would be trouble.

(Nate crashes through the skylight, landing practically on top of Mara. She jumps back, neatly avoiding him. Greg scurries beetle-like down the wall. Mara glances up and notes his position, but keeps her attention on Nate. Nate swipes at her, baring fangs. He moves with supernatural speed, but Mara manages to elude him every time.)

Nate: She’s fast.

Mara: I’m a lot more than fast.

Greg: Talks tough, too.

(Nate darts forward again, trying to seize hold of Mara. This time she reaches out and grabs the hand he is reaching toward her and yanks hard on it, pulling him off-balance and sending him crashing into the wall. Greg takes the opportunity to jump her from the other wall. Still following through with her toss of Nate, she does not have time to step out of the way. Greg clings to her back and, grinning, sinks fangs into her shoulder.)

Mara: Bastard! You bit me!

Nate: Hey, no fair! We’re not supposed to eat them!

Greg: Just taking a taste. She tastes good. (He smiles, licking blood from his lips)

Mara: It’s polite to ask first!

(As she says this, Mara reaches up behind her and grabs Greg around the shoulders. She lifts him bodily off of her. With a grimace, she spins and throws him into the wall. Nate watches this with amazement.)

Nate: Shit. She’s kinda strong.

(Mara drops the rucksack, then takes up another defensive stance, focusing most of her attention on Nate, since Greg is currently crumpled whimpering on the floor. As she faces off with them, we see the bite-marks on her shoulder begin to heal.)

Mara: Come on. I dare you.

(Nate thinks about it, circling. Mara follows him. Greg is recovering, and just as her back is to him, he rushes her, hitting low. He carries her forward, but she rolls with it. Once her hands are on the floor, she does a modified handstand, kicking out to knock Greg off of her, then flipping over to catch Nate in the face with both feet, knocking him back. She completes the flip, spinning around this time so Greg does not catch her off-guard.)

Mara: You disgust me. Do you even know what you are?

Greg: We’re vampires, lady. Did you miss the fangs?

(Mara glares at Greg, then focuses, drawing her hand back as if to make a palm strike. Grey wisps begin forming around her hand.)

Nate: Oh fuck. Do you see that? That’s the same thing Drac does, only it’s not red.

(Mara aims at Greg’s face and palm strikes him. She is very clearly aiming at a point about a foot behind his head. Her hand seems to go through him for a moment, and we see a ghostly image of Greg thrown back past his body. His head snaps back and this double-image snaps back in synch with his flesh. Greg is stunned, struggling to figure out what just happened to him.)

Greg: Fuck. I’m seeing, like, two places at once.

Mara: You’re not attached to that thing. Do you even realize that?

Greg: Attached to what thing? What are you talking about, lady?

(Greg stumbles, dazed. Nate is hanging back, watching with wide eyes. Mara pulls back for another palm strike, the glow returning to her hand. With a yell that contains that male voice underneath her normal voice again, she delivers a solid blow to the center of Greg’s chest. We see that ghost image under the bones of her face for a moment and her eyes glow. Greg is thrown several feet straight back into the wall. Mara drives forward almost in a blur, arriving to stand in front of Greg before he has even slid down the wall. Nate is still paralyzed by what he sees.)

Mara: This flesh you wear is stinking and dead. Time to get a new suit of clothes!

(Greg stares in shock at her as she pulls back for another strike. Only this time her hand again seems to go into Greg. Waves of mist ripple through his chest. Mara closes her hand around something and yanks it out. We see a ghostly image of Greg, screaming, torn from his flesh. It quickly dissipates upon the air. The faintest echo of a scream vibrates on the air.)

Nate: Shit. What are you, lady?

Mara: Something you could have been.

(She rounds on Nate and moves even faster than we’ve seen before. He tries to stumble backwards, but she grabs him by the shoulders, hoists him easily into the air, then slams him hard onto the ground. He cracks his head against the concrete. She follows him down on one knee, pinning him by the shoulder with her off hand. She glares down at him and he looks up to meet her eyes.)

Nate: I’ve already been killed once, lady.

Mara: I’ve died more times than I’ve been born. You need to move on.

(Just as she did with Greg, she pulls back her hand and the wisps of light gather around it. Then she strikes forward, quick as a snake, right into Nate’s chest. His entire body convulses and his eyes go wide. Ripples of light flow around the point of impact, and Mara’s eyes and face glow with a matching light. She rips Nate out of himself, throwing his screaming soul away from her like it was so much trash. She stands up, cracks her neck, touches the now-healed place where she was bit. She sneers down at the vampires that now look like two-day-old corpses.)

Mara: (spits) The dead should never get up and walk around.

(She picks up the rucksack, then heads back down the hallway at a much quicker pace.)

Act VI Scene VII:

(The front room. The three new villagers have been searched and stand a little way from the front door. Jack stands in the middle of the room, surveying the people around him. Johnny and Livia stand close to where they entered, looking like they’re not quite sure what to do.)

Livia: So where do you want me, Jack?

Jack: What are you talking about?

Livia: Give me a gun and put me somewhere. Better yet, give me a cross. I’m not the best shot.

Jack: You smoking something, Red? You’re going in the back office with Marta and the rest.

Livia: Like hell I am. Just because I’ve got tits doesn’t mean –

Lookout: More people come!

Jack: Jesus. What do you mean, more people come? We look like the fucking Salvation Army or something?

(Jack scurries up the catwalk and grabs the binoculars.)

Jack: Two, three, four … there’s five of them that I can see. No crosses this time. Something stinks. You! Dumbfuck on the door! You will not let these people in. I don’t care if you recognize them. No more. You hear me? No more!

Lookout: Translate?

Jack: Shit, yeah, I want you to translate that. No one else gets in! Hey! What the fuck is that one doing?

(Toma smiles apologetically at his neighbor, then shoves the desk aside and opens the door.)

Jack: It’s a trap! It’s a fucking trap! Shoot that fucker! Shoot him now and close that door!

(As Jack is screaming from the catwalk, several things happen at once. First, the five vampires outside shoulder their way in through the door in the midst of M16 fire. At least one of the M16s jams. Another backfires, wounding the man using it. But Toma and a vampire go down. While they push through the main door, there is the sound of shattering glass from the ceiling. Shards of glass rain down on Jack.)

Jack: Shit.

(A vampire drops down onto the lookout, knocking him right off the catwalk. The vamp turns and menaces Jack, who fires his pistol at the vamp. We see more glass rain down just behind Jack, and then Dr. Morgan drops down, grabbing Jack and carrying him off the catwalk to the floor below. In the fall, Jack loses his gun. The room is choked with screams and the sound of gunfire. More vampires pour in, a few through the front door, at least two more through the ceiling. These crawl, beetle-like, down the far wall. As the vampires make their way further into the room, Victor gives Griffin a sign.)

Victor: Now,Griffin! Now!

(Griffin nods and throws a switch on his equipment. Spotlights, strobes, and lasers flood the front room. Most of the vampires cover their eyes and stumble backwards. One unlucky vampire is directly in the path of one of the lasers. This paints a bright red cross on his chest. As he guards his eyes from the spotlights and strobes, he is screaming and twitching, trying to brush the cross off. Steam rises from his shirt. He drops and tries to crawl back to the door. Victor and Griffin give each other a hi-five. Then Victor grabs his two bed-post war-hammers and throws himself into the fray.)

Johnny: Jack!

(Johnny runs over to where Jack is wrestling on the ground with Dr. Morgan, trying to keep him away from his throat. The way Jack is moving, there’s something wrong with one of his legs and he’s bleeding from a gash under one eye. Johnny comes at Dr. Morgan, brandishing his Gothic cross. Morgan lets go of Jack and moves to protect his face. The vampire left on the catwalk jumps down, tackling Johnny. The cross is knocked out of his hand. The vampire goes for Johnny’s throat.)

Livia: Nigel! No!!!

(Livia is standing near the pile of useless M16s. She grabs one and runs up to where Johnny is being attacked. She hits the vampire with the butt of the gun, knocking him off. The force of the blow knocks the gun right out of her hands. Off-balance, she pretty much falls right into the arms of Dr. Morgan. He grabs her and smiles.)

Morgan: Well, look who I found.

Livia: (kicking) Let go!

(Dr. Morgan grabs her by the hair, glancing at the back of her neck just to be sure. One of the strobing crosses hits him in the face. He hisses, winces, and stumbles, but he does not let go of his catch. Livia does not make this easy on him, kicking, screaming, and biting as much as she can. Johnny has grabbed Jack’s gun and he is trying to aim it at Morgan, but his hands are trembling too much.)

Jack: Aim for his head, Johnny. Aim high, or you’ll shoot her.

Johnny: Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I can’t do it.

Jack: Then give me the gun!

(The vampire near Jack recovers from the blow delivered by Livia. He dives for Jack. Johnny, acting completely on impulse, whirls around and puts a bullet neatly in the vampire’s head. Johnny looks as surprised by this as Jack is. As they recover from this unexpected attack, Dr. Morgan leaps back up to the catwalk, Livia in tow. Morgan holds Livia tightly to his body, surveying the room below. Everything is chaos, and vampires and humans alike are falling in the rain of bullets and strobing lights.)

Morgan: Fall back! We’re done here! Fall back!

(Johnny steels himself to take another shot. Carefully, he aims. As he squeezes the trigger, Dr. Morgan makes an impossible leap back up to the roof. He grabs the edge of the skylight, glass and all, then swings himself up onto the roof. Johnny’s bullet hits the wall.)

Johnny: Shit. Oh shit! Livia! Liv!!!

(He runs under the catwalk, tries to see anything through the broken skylight. But they’re gone. The other vampires are also retreating, some through the windows, some through the doors. The people fire after them, but are hesitant to pursue them beyond the safety of the factory itself. One villager gets adventurous and grabs the forgotten Molotov cocktails. With expert aim, he tosses this high at one of the vampires scurrying back up to the roof. He catches the vampire square in the back. The vampire screams and falls to the floor in flames.  Over the cries of agony, we hear a motor gunning from outside.)

Jack: Shit. What is that?

Man: Bus! They leave in bus!

Jack: It’s probably been out there this whole time. They’re vampires. They drove up with the headlights off, parked a little way back. For fuck’s sake. Shoot the tires out! Someone give me a gun!

Victor: You’re leg’s bleeding, Jack.

Jack: I don’t care! Get me up, get me over there! I can snipe them!

Griffin: It’s over Jack. We won’t catch them.

Jack: The fuck we won’t! Never give up! Someone give me a fucking gun!

(Jack fumes on the floor with impotent rage, but we can hear the sound of the engine getting further and further away. Johnny is still looking up through the skylight, mouthing Livia’s name.)

Victor: Who’s going to tell Mara?

Griffin: Who’s to say they didn’t get Mara, too?

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act VI 1-4)

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

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act V 7-8)

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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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act V 4-6)

Author's Note: Vampires slaughter unsuspecting tourists on a Dracula-themed vacation. The survivors hole up in an abandoned factory, searching for some way to survive the coming night. Among them is Mara, who has been a great help in combating the attacking vampires. However, she has been harboring a dangerous secret ...  

Act V Scene IV:

(Mara and Livia’s part of the factory. Their hallway is marked with a number of doors, several of which sag upon their hinges. They walk in silence for a bit, Mara casting the occasional glance backwards.)

Livia: They’re not going to follow us. They’ve got their own hallway to explore.

Mara: I just want to make sure. Are you certain you’re feeling up to this?

Livia: Mara, pardon my bluntness, but you look like hell. I know you, I know your needs. We should have taken care of this the other night.

Mara: We were going to. And then we had guests. And vampires.

Livia: Well, right now there’s no one else around.

Mara: I’m still nervous. Exposure at this point could be fatal for both of us.

Livia: You know, for someone who doesn’t have to worry about dying, you sure talk a lot about it.

Mara: It’s the strange thing about being immortal. You get a little over-cautious.

Livia: Of all the people to suffer from fatalism –

Mara: Yeah, I know. I might not die, Liv, but the body does, and that’s never any fun. Besides, if I’m caught off guard, we end up with situations exactly like the one surrounding the book. I go to move from one body to the next and someone interrupts the process. I get disoriented. Why do you think I wandered around for a couple of centuries all confused and bodiless?

Livia: Mara, I told them we’d meet back in half an hour. If we keep talking, you’re not even going to get this chance. And I know you need it.

(Livia reaches up and touches Mara gently on the cheek. Mara smiles and presses her hand against Livia’s hand.)

Mara: Livia, have I told you recently how much I appreciate you?

Livia: Ssh. Just go ahead. Take what you need from me.

(Livia takes a small step back, sets the flashlight down, then stands, straight and relaxed. She closes her eyes and tips her head back a bit, a serene expression on her face. Mara approaches her, placing her hands lightly on either side of Livia’s face. Mara closes her eyes as well, and when she opens them again, they are glowing with that same misty light we saw in the hotel. Faint swirls of the same misty glow are visible around Mara’s fingers and hands. Mara leans forward and places her lips very gently on Livia’s forehead, barely making physical contact. Then Mara breathes deeply in, and we see wisps of that misty light being pulled from Livia to her. Mara pulls her hands back toward herself as she breathes in some more, pulling even more of the ghostly light from Livia, breathing it in. Livia looses a sigh that suggests that this is anything but a painful experience. Mara continues to drink Livia’s life force. As she does so, the glow in her eyes gets brighter, and we see that faint outline of another face under her skin. It is a man’s face, not dissimilar from her own. As Mara feeds, the shallow cut on her face heals completely, leaving no visible trace. Any other cuts or bruises she has sustained up to this point heal as well. Mara and Livia are so engrossed in this exchange that neither of them notice the erratic beam of a flashlight bouncing down from the other end of the hall.)

Johnny: Livia! Mara! Livia? (he rounds the corner) Oh, my.

(Johnny draws up short as he gets within sight of Mara and Livia. Livia has her back to him.  Mara has pulled away very quickly, turning her back to Johnny as well. As she grimaces, we see fangs, though her feeding has been bloodless. She hides her face in the shadows. We see that the glow is lingering, as is the unearthly light in her eyes. Her lips are slightly parted. A tremulous breath escapes, misting on the air. She covers her mouth with one hand, seeking to hide her fangs.)

Livia: Uh, Johnny, um …

Johnny: Am I interrupting something?

Livia: Well, we were, uh --

Mara: (her face still averted) Nothing at all.

(Mara’s voice comes out strangely. The sound is huskier, and a second voice, a distinctly male voice, underscores her natural tone.)

Johnny: Right then.

Livia: It’s not what you’re thinking, Johnny. Mara and I aren’t … (sighs) It’s hard to explain.

Johnny: You don’t have to explain anything, luv. I’m an open-minded chap. I’ve been around. Whatever works for you ladies, you know? And if you happen to like a boy here and there, I don’t mind if we share.

(Rather distinctly, we hear Mara growl. Johnny, eyes wide, starts looking around, unable to credit his ears.)

Livia: Um, Johnny? Where’s Briggs?

Johnny: Oh, bloody hell. I almost forgot. He fell down through the floor.

Mara: He what?

(She turns around and stares at Johnny. The second face has faded away, but her eyes still faintly glow.)

Johnny: My God, your eyes –

(Mara locks eyes with Johnny. Johnny blinks several times, looking suddenly disoriented.)

Mara: Tell me about Briggs, Johnny. That’s what you came for.

Johnny: Uh, right. We uh, we were exploring our hallway and um, the floor turned to this uh, this grating stuff. I guess it wasn’t stable, because we got to this um, one part, and Briggs feel through the floor.

Livia: God, Johnny! Is he all right?

Johnny: He’s hurt and he’s bleeding. He … uh … sent me for help?

Mara: Then don’t just stand there with your mouth open. Take us to him.

Johnny: Uh. Right. This way, then.

(They run down the hall.)

Act V Scene V

(Cut to Johnny, Mara and Livia running up to the spot where Briggs fell through.)

Briggs: Johnny? Johnny! That had better be you, man. There’s bloody rats down in this hole.

Johnny: It’s me, Malcolm. I’ve brought Mara and Livia. They’ve got a rope.

Briggs: Well, at least somebody comes prepared.

Mara: I’m tying a loop in it, Briggs, and I’m throwing it down. Get it under your arms and I’ll try pulling you up. It’s not the thickest rope in the world, so I’m not sure this will work. If it doesn’t, we’ll try something else.

Briggs: Anything that gets me out of this bloody hole.

(Livia crawls up near Johnny and shines her light down into the hole.)

Livia: Can you see all right down there?

Briggs: I can now. Point the light a little more over here.

Mara: All right. Here comes the rope, Briggs. When you have it in place, give it a tug.

Briggs: Damn, look at my poor arm! That’s gonna leave a mark.

Mara: We’ll patch you up in a minute. For now, let’s just get you out.

Briggs: Well … I guess I’m ready.

(Mara steps back from the edge and starts pulling Briggs up. Livia tries to help, but mostly for show. The rope is being dragged along the edge of the grate and we can see that it’s getting frayed.)

Livia: Mara, the metal’s going to cut the rope before we get him up.

Mara: You’re right. Dammit. Johnny, get over here.

Johnny: What can I do to help?

Mara: I need you and Livia to hold this. Don’t pull on it unless I tell you to.

(Mara and Johnny switch places. Johnny leaves his flashlight balanced on the edge, trained on Briggs.)

Briggs: Something wrong?

Mara: Hang on, Briggs. We’re having a little trouble.

Briggs: Try to hurry, hunh? This is cutting into me like a wire!

(Mara moves the light Johnny left trained on Briggs so the hole is dark. Then she lays on her stomach, leaning over the edge. She takes the rope in both hands, then pulls Briggs up, hand over hand, hardly straining.)

Mara: Ok. Livia? Johnny? Start pulling him up.

Johnny: Sure thing. (begins to tug on the rope. He smiles) Hey, this is easier than I thought.

(Mara continues to pull the rope up hand over hand. When Briggs gets close enough to the edge, she holds the rope in one hand and reaches out to him with the other.)

Mara: Give me your good arm, Briggs. I’ll pull you the rest the way up.

Briggs: Lady, you’re going to hurt yourself. I weigh 15 stone.

Mara: Just give me your hand.

Briggs: It’s your hernia.

(Mara locks her fingers around his wrist and lifts him out of the hole. Briggs crawls out, then tries to stand. He immediately winces in pain and collapses.)

Briggs: Oh damn, ankle’s worse than I thought.

Johnny: Shit, Briggs. You’re really banged up.

Livia: Can you walk on it?

Briggs: I’m thinking, “no.”

Mara: Well this is a mess, and it didn’t even take any vampires.

Johnny: You weren’t kidding about that arm.

Briggs: No shit, Johnny.

Mara: All right. We need to get you back to the others. I’ll carry you.

Briggs: I beg your pardon?

Mara: Unless you think you can walk?

Livia: Mara, do you think that’s a good idea?

Mara: Our other option is to drag him and I think he’s lost a lot of blood.

Briggs: It’s just been steady. It hasn’t been pumping. I know if it was pumping I’d be fucked.

Mara: If it was pumping, you’d be dead. So come on. I’m carrying you.

(Mara bends down and gets Briggs in a fireman’s carry. She tries to make it look like this is difficult for her.)

Johnny: Well look at Missus Tough Guy.

Mara: (deadly serious but softly spoken) I swear, Johnny, one more crack from you and I will introduce you to a suffering like nothing you have ever known.

(Johnny goes to open his mouth to respond, but Livia puts her finger over his lips.)

Livia: If you’re smart Johnny, you’ll swallow those words.

Briggs: The only type of smart Johnny’s ever been is a smart-ass.

Johnny: (petulant) Well fuck you, too, Briggs. See if I save your ass next time.

Mara: (gritting her teeth) Briggs, you’re heavy. We’re going now.

(Mara turns and starts heading down the hallway. Notably, she does this without grabbing a flashlight. Livia recovers for her, grabbing Johnny’s and slipping it to her. Mara looks down at it in confusion for a moment, then takes it with her free hand.)

Livia: Do you want us to come with you?

Mara: Keep looking for the water hook-up. But be more careful this time. I don’t want any more accidents.

(Mara heads down the hall with Briggs.)

Johnny: (puts his arm around Livia) I’ll take good care of her.

(Mara has nearly disappeared down the hall. The camera remains on Johnny and Livia.)

Mara: (calling back) Johnny?

Johnny: Yeah, Mara?

Mara: Fuck you.

Act V Scene VI:

(The front room of the factory. Jack is supervising all the activity, which includes having a small group of men cleaning up a cache of rather old M16s. As he is barking orders, some of the fluorescent lights overhead come on. A couple pop and go out immediately, but a number of them stay lit, even though they’re flickering like strobes. There are cheers throughout the room.)

Jack: Hey! Looks likeGriffin got the generator going. And it’s only six-thirty. Not bad.

(One of the light fixtures begins sparking and finally the two tubes of light explode, raining glass down into the room.)

Jack: Shit! Look out over there! Looks like we’ve got some bugs to work out. How are those guns coming along? Anyone find any more ammo?

Villager: Guns are old. Might not work good.

Jack: Hell man, guns are guns. Even if they only fire once before locking, we’re doing better than we did before.

(Griffin enters with Victor close behind)

Griffin: Boiler’s shot. But as you can see, we have light.

Jack: And we have a little daylight left out there.

Victor: How are things coming otherwise?

Jack: Well, first off, I was talking with one of the locals, and he gave me some good news.

Victor: Finally.

Jack: Seems a couple of the survivors packed up supplies and started walking to the closest city.Brasov or something?

Griffin: So we’ll have reinforcements?

Jack: It’s a good walk for them, so it’s going to be a couple days. But yeah, I imagine once they get there, someone’s going to send help.

Victor: Assuming they believe any of this.

Jack: Don’t get negative on me, soldier. I got all kinds of good news for you. We found a cache of guns, too. Don’t know if they were left here by the Communists or maybe guerillas, but they’re gonna come in handy.

Griffin: Are they even going to work after all these years?

Jack: Well, they’re a little gummed up, but I got a detail cleaning them. I took one apart, showed them how. There’s a little ammo. Truth be told, it won’t last long, but every little bit helps.

Griffin: All right, then. I’m going to start working on my light show.

Jack: What was that, son?

Griffin: It’s what we grabbed the van for. Remember I said I wanted my gear?

Jack: I thought you were talking about your tools, boy.

Griffin: I’ve got some other stuff, too. Strobes, black light, lasers. Now that I got the generator running, there’s something I want to do.

Jack: And what exactly might that be?

Griffin: This room here. It’s the most logical place for the vampires to come in, right?

Jack: It’s the main entrance. The most accessible. But I don’t know if we can count on them being that direct.

Griffin: I’ll chance it. This is a good idea. I swear to you.

Jack: I’m going to trust that you’re not wasting our time,Griffin. I –

(Mara walks in. Briggs has passed out. She’s still carrying him.)

Mara: Hey. I could use some help over here.

Victor: Oh shit. What happened to him?

Mara: Floor gave way. This place isn’t structurally sound. Though I see you got the generator running. That’s nothing short of a miracle.

Griffin: Just call me MacGuyver.

Mara: Sure. Does anyone have a first-aid kit? Alcohol and some strips of cloth, if nothing else. He’s lost a lot of blood.

Jack: Damn, that went right through.

Victor: Where’s Johnny and Livia?

Mara: Possibly against my better judgment, I left them further back in the factory so they could continue looking for signs of water.

Victor: Briggs? Malcolm? Can you hear me?

Jack: Splash some vodka on that arm. It’ll wake him right up.

Mara: If none of you mind, I’m going to go somewhere where I can lay down. Carrying him wore me out.

Victor: Sure. I understand. I’ve carried him around when he’s piss-drunk. It’s not an easy task.

Mara: You have it under control then?

Jack: Go catch a cat-nap, Mara. We’ll need you alert when the sun goes down.

Mara: Well. I’ll see you then.

 

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act V 1-3)

Author's Note: Busy with the holidays? Almost done doing the family thing? Welcome back to Transylvania with Mara, Johnny, and the crew.  

Act V Scene I:

(The front room of an abandoned factory. People and bits of equipment are scattered around. There are some faces we don’t recognize mixed in with our familiar team. Some people are unpacking bags of supplies and other equipment. A few people are cleaning guns. Jack, Victor, Griffin, Alex, Briggs, are all standing around a set of concrete stairs. Johnny and Livia are off to one side of the group. Johnny is chatting and flirting with her.)

Jack: How many people ended up following us here from the town?

Victor: About a dozen, mostly men. A couple of them brought their own guns.

Jack: Well, that’s a plus. Did you check them?

Victor: Every one of them passed the cross-test. Yeah.

Jack: OK. Well, let’s settle in here and get organized. I want parties exploring every inch of this factory. I want to know every entrance, exit, and set of windows in the place. Once we get settled and secure the perimeter, then we start working on making weapons for ourselves.Griffin – you said this place had a generator?

Griffin: Yeah. Down in one of the lower levels. There was a really old boiler down there, too.

Jack: Grab some equipment and see if you can’t get that baby cranking. And take a couple of people with you.

Griffin: I’ll get right on it.

Jack: Hang on. I also want to see if there’s a water hook-up somewhere. If we can get the juice cranking and we have water, we can sit tight in here for a while.

Briggs: We’ll need food.

Jack: I’ll want raiding parties organized. No one goes out there alone or unarmed. Sort through the supplies we already have to see how much more we’ll need and how soon.

Victor: Worse comes to worse, we’re far enough out from the city, we could probably shoot a deer or two.

Jack: Or bag a bear. Bear’s good eating and there’s a lot to go around.

(Mara approaches looking pale and worn-out.)

Mara: Is there anything you need me to do right now?

Jack: Well, Mara, you seem to know the most about what we’re up against. I’d like you to train the newbies and give me some input on the vampires.

Mara: I think almost everyone learned what they needed by surviving last night.

Jack: It’s good to know basic survival tactics, but we don’t have what we need to win this war. We need answers to some hard questions. Like what the hell are we really up against? How many of them are there? What do they want?

Johnny: Seems to me they just wanted to eat people.

Briggs: I don’t think so. I watched them last night while they were killing everyone. Seemed to me like they were looking for something. Sure, they went ape-shit drinking people down. But it wasn’t just that. They were searching all the rooms they broke into.

Jack: You got any ideas, Mara? Since you’re our expert on vampires.

(Mara sighs and pulls up a crate to sit down.)

 

Mara: First of all, the ones we were seeing last night, they were just extensions.  Like branches of a tree. There’s another one out there, and he’s the source of their power. The others will keep coming until we eliminate the source.

Victor: What? You talking about some master vampire or something?

Mara: (wearily) Something like that. He’s what’s giving them their power. You noticed that not everyone who died last night got back up and walked around, right? There’s a process to creating soldiers like what we were seeing at the hotel. And that power can only come from one.

Jack: What’s the 411 on the crosses. Why do those work?

Mara: I wish I had an answer for that. It’s got to be something unique to the source. He’s passing it on to them, just like he’s passing along some of his power. So we can bet that crosses are going to work on him, too. But why do they work? (she shrugs, genuinely baffled) Maybe just because he believes that they do.

Victor: That’s a little fucked up. So is my Star of David gonna work, too?

Mara: Probably not. I’m betting the symbol is specific to the source. Again, I don’t really know why. But it’s a weakness, so we exploit it.

Briggs: (with a hint of suspicion) How do you know all this, Mara?

Mara: I’m a history professor, but I have an interest in the occult. I study a lot of things. If you don’t want my info, I’ll be happy to go lay down.

(Jack shakes his head, giving Briggs a look that gets him to back off.)

Mara: (she stares down Briggs until he gets uncomfortable and withdraws a few feet away) If we’re going to beat this together, we’re going to have to find a way to draw the main one out. As long as he’s somewhere safe from us, he’ll just keep sending shock troops to wear us down. But flushing him will be dangerous. He’s not going to be a push-over. He’s going to have powers you’ve never seen before.

Victor: All right. How do you draw a master vampire out of his lair?

Mara: We find what he’s looking for and we use it as bait.

(Mara looks pointedly at Alex. Alex glares back at her.)

Alex: What? What are you looking at me for?

Mara: It’s obvious to all of us that the vampires are looking for something. All of this started when you and that other guy came into town from the dig. So maybe you have some idea what they’re looking for?

Griffin: You talking about that book?

Mara: Oh. There’s a book?

Alex: Shut up,Griffin! I don’t have it. We left it back at the camp.

Jack: What are you guys talking about?

Griffin: A couple weeks ago, they broke through to a library. Alex was telling me about this weird book that was brass plates or something.

Alex:Griffin – it’s none of their business. That’s top secret stuff I should never have shared with anyone.

Jack: So you think the vampires are looking for this book?

Mara: I think it’s a safe bet they’re looking for something from the dig.

Alex: Look. All I know is it got dark outside and then people started dying. I did the smart thing and got the hell away from there. I didn’t hang around to ask what anyone was looking for. Are you blaming me for this mess or something?

Jack: Look girl. No one’s blaming you. But Mara has a point here. Your camp seems to be tied in with this disaster. Someone mentioned another guy. Maybe he took the book when you weren’t looking?

Alex: Well why don’t you go back to the hotel and ask him yourself? And make sure you take a ouija board with you because he’s fucking dead!

(Alex storms off, backpack over her shoulder. The others, silent, watch her go.)

Jack: Somebody didn’t take her meds today.

Griffin: I’ll go talk to her.

Jack: No you won’t. You go get that generator going. I want it up and running before nightfall, you hear me? Hey, Mara. You know anything about plumbing?

Mara: Not really.

Jack: Think you know water pipes when you see them?

Mara: Sure.

Jack: Good. Take your girlfriend and see if you can’t find a water source in here. Briggs? You and Johnny go with them.

Mara: She’s not my girlfriend, Jack.

Jack: Mara, I’ve seen a lot of things. You think I’m going to hold it against you two?

Mara: (testily) It’s not like that, Jack. You assume too much.

(Mara turns on her heel, and goes over to where Livia and Johnny are talking. Jack shakes his head.)

Jack: Well, then. Seems the PMS is contagious today. It gets too bad, I may just take my chances with the vampires.

(Briggs chuckles & heads off with Johnny and the others.)

 

Act V Scene II:

(A hall of the factory.  Broken skylights overhead provide light. Broken equipment and debris are scattered everywhere, and everything wears a coating of cobwebs and dust. Mara, Livia, Briggs and Johnny are walking along. Livia and Johnny have flashlights which they have not yet turned on.)

Mara: This place is going to be impossible to defend unless we hole up in the basement. Too many windows. And those skylights --

Johnny: How do you propose the vampires are going to get all the way up there?

Mara: Never underestimate your enemy. Especially not this one.

Briggs: I don’t know why we’re even trying. We’re all dead. It’s just a matter of time.

Livia: Don’t think like that. Thoughts manifest reality.

Johnny: Then just who in the hell was thinking about an invasion of vampires? That’s what I want to know.

(They find the stairs down to the basement levels. They switch on their flashlights and head down. They go past several places that open onto rooms with heavy equipment, most of it rusted and broken beyond recognition. They take a moment to look in each room, searching around with the beams of the flashlights, trying to find a sink or utility tub. After some twisting and turning, they come to a place where the hallway splits off. There are fewer windows here, so both ways are shrouded in shadows and dust. They turn their flashlights on and shine them down each passageway.)

Johnny: Do you think we should split up?

Mara: We’ll cover more ground that way.

Livia: Anyone have a watch?

Briggs: Yeah.

Livia: All right. Half an hour, we meet back at this spot.

Briggs: Sounds good.

(Mara and Livia start off together down the left-hand passageway.)

Johnny: So we’re doing boys against girls in this little scavenger hunt?

Mara: Sure.

 

Act V Scene III:

(We cut to Johnny and Briggs picking their way through the dust and debris in their hall. The concrete floor has given way to a rusty metal grate.)

Johnny: I really like Livia, but her friend Mara is a bitch.

Briggs: You don’t stand a chance, Johnny.

Johnny: I dunno. Livia seems pretty sweet on me. She talks to me, she even laughs at some of my jokes.

Briggs: (rolls his eyes) You’re right. That must be true love.

Johnny: Seriously, Malcolm. You don’t think she’s got it bad for me?

Briggs: Johnny, get a clue.

Johnny: What’s that supposed to mean?

Briggs: You got two women who stick together like glue. One’s all cute and curvy, the other’s buff with short hair. Do I have to draw you chart?

Johnny: I know what you’re getting at, but I don’t get that feel from Livia. Mara, maybe. Sure. But I’ve seen Livia checking me out.

Briggs: You’re bloody impossible, you know that, Johnny?

Johnny: And hey, if they like a little girl on girl action, who am I to object? Two for the price of one, you know?

Briggs: God in Heaven.

Johnny: What? If you had the chance to bag two girls at once, you telling me you wouldn’t do it?

Briggs: Unlike you, mate, I am not perpetually thinking about the next shag. Right now, all I’m worried about is surviving this bloody shit-hole.

Johnny: Fine then. (jumping back quickly) Oh, fuck, Briggs, look out!

(A portion of the floor has rusted through and a part of it has given way beneath its own weight. There’s time enough to see the hazard in the light of Johnny’s flashlight, and then Briggs goes down, crashing through to the lower floor. We hear cursing as he falls, then silence. Eyes wide, Johnny edges up to the lip of the collapse, gingerly shining the flashlight around. It’s a mess down there, with lots of oddly-shaped bits of metal and other debris. Briggs is conscious and moving. There is a cut on his head and a much nastier cut on his arm.)

Johnny: Briggs, man. You ok?

Briggs: Fuck no, I’m not ok. I just fell through the bloody floor. Speared my arm on something, too. I think it’s cut pretty bad.

Johnny: How bad is pretty bad?

Briggs: Bad enough that I’m bleeding all over the place down here.

Johnny: Can you get out?

(Briggs looks pointedly up at Johnny who is peering over an edge at least ten feet above him.)

Briggs: Sure. I’m Super-man. Stand back while I fly up there, you stupid sod!

Johnny: Is there like a door or something down there? Maybe you can work your way back?

Briggs: Johnny, I’m hurt and I’m bleeding. Get some bloody help!

Johnny: You sure you want me to leave you?

Briggs: Johnny, you twit, just go find the girls!

Johnny: Ok. I’m going. No need to shout.

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act IV 4-5)

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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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act IV 1-3)

Author's Note: Vampires run amok in the hotel, feeding on unsuspecting tourists. Livia, Mara, and the band survive the night, then begin to look for survivors as they make their way to safety. The story behind these scenes: the scenes with both Jack and Marta that appear here are lifted almost word for word from the dream that inspired this whole rollicking play. The only difference is that the person Jack was confronting in my dream with the whole "Lord's Prayer" request was Dominic St. Charles of URN. The detail about Jack's kill-count with a shovel in Kuwait was actually taken from a story I heard in real-life about my ex-husband's drill sergeant. And yes, I have one of those -- ex-husband, not drill sergeant. Marta and her little grand-niece appeared shortly after Jack in the dream and they were in fact speaking Russian (though Ukrainian, a variation of Russian, fit them better in the rewrite). Like I've said, I have ridiculously vivid dreams. Welcome to my head:

Act IV Scene I:

(Mara and Livia’s room, several hours later. Victor in the chair, handgun resting in his lap. Livia is asleep on the bed. Johnny is curled up on the floor between the bed and the chest of drawers. He’s practically cocooned in the comforter that’s been dragged off the bed but we can see his skinny legs and his pointy boots. A shaft of sunlight spears through the curtains just above the chest of drawers. There is a tear in the curtain and slivers of glass on the top of the chest of drawers. The armoire is battered and the door is broken in places above the heavy piece of furniture. Splinters and plaster litter the floor. Mara is holding one of the posts torn from the four-poster bed like a war club. She sits, leaning against the chest of drawers in the shadows. She is watchful and wide awake, but there is a tightness to her face that speaks of a deeper exhaustion. She looks over at Livia and Livia stirs, stretching and running her fingers through her hair.)

Livia: What time is it?

Mara: Hard to tell. They cut the power sometime around four. I imagine the phone doesn’t work any more, either.

Livia: Well, it looks like the sun’s up.

Mara: It’s been up for a little while. I thought I’d let everyone sleep in a bit. It was a long night.

Victor: (stretching) Oh, fuck.

Mara: Welcome back to the land of the living.

Victor: Jesus, what time is it?

Mara: Sun’s up. That’s all that matters.

(Victor’s surveys the damage to armoire and door.)

Victor: What the hell?

Mara: They were persistent right up until an hour ago. I’m surprised no one woke up.

Victor: I slept through that?

Mara: I thought you were going to get up a couple of times, but as you can see, I handled them myself.

(She hefts the four-poster war club and offers him a tight-lipped grin. We notice a small scratch on one side of her face, very shallow, following the line of one cheekbone. Victor rubs his bald head, trying to take it all in.)

Mara: Don’t feel bad. That one down there is the really deep sleeper. They practically came in on top of him and he didn’t even blink.

(Mara toes the sleeping Johnny and he mutters a bit, then goes to roll over. We hear the tinkling of broken glass as he shifts the comforter. He sits up, shaking slivers of glass out of his hair.)

Johnny: Hey, there’s glass all over me.

Mara: They tried coming in through the window.

Johnny: The window?

Livia: I hope the others made it through the night.

Mara: We’ll find out soon enough. But we’re going to have to be careful. They’ll be less active with the sun up and they’ll stick to places that are dark, but it’s not like they burn to cinders in the sun.

Johnny: How do you know?

Mara: Just trust me. You’ll see for yourself soon enough.

Victor: Have you dealt with things like this before?

Mara: Something like that.

Victor: Wait a minute. If they stick to places that are dark but the sunlight won’t just toast them – we could still run into them out there in the hotel.

Mara: Yeah. So we have to move fast. I’m banking on the fact that they’re all very new, so they’re going to feel their weaknesses more poignantly than usual.

Johnny: Poignantly?

Victor: They’ll be hurting, Johnny. (he stands, shaking himself) OK. Let’s do this.

Mara: The club was very effective. Any severe trauma to the central nervous system is going to give them pause. That makes head injuries your friend. You can go for the heart as well, but unless you have one of the guns, I don’t recommend it. They make it look easy in the movies, but in real life, it’s pretty hard to shove something through a person’s ribcage. The heart’s a well-protected organ.

Victor: Ok. So head injuries. What about the neck?

Mara: If you can snap the neck – and it looks like on a good day you could do that – that will drop them. Sever the spine. That will do it, too.

Victor: (cracking his knuckles) All right.

(With some effort, Victor breaks off one of the three remaining posts on the bed. He hefts his new club, smiles, then breaks off another post. He wraps his big hands around the two bedposts, grinning as he tests the weight in his hands, swinging both rapid-fire at an imaginary target.)

Mara: Impressive.

Victor: (maniacal grin) What? Johnny didn’t tell you? I’m the drummer.

Act IV Scene II:

(Hallway Four, identical to all the others. The main lights are off, but emergency lights are on. A few of these fixtures have been ripped out. Other damage is visible all along the hall – several doors have been smashed in or have been ripped off their hinges. There are bodies, some in the hallway itself, some lying slumped in the open doors. Victor, Johnny, Livia, and Mara cautiously make their way down the hall. Mara has condensed their belongings down to a single backpack slung over her shoulders. Livia carries an empty rucksack and a gun. Johnny holds the other gun. Victor has his twin clubs. As they walk passed one slightly open door, a voice erupts.)

Jack: More of you? Eat brass, punks!

(Jack, a slightly wild-eyed man in his forties erupts from the room. He’s a little beat up. He hefts the remains of a large brass lamp over his head like a club.)

Jack: Semper Fiiiii!!!

Victor: Whoa! Back off! We aren’t the bloodsuckers!

(Jack draws up short, lamp still half-raised, eyeing all four suspiciously.)

Jack: Prove it.

Johnny: I’m wearing a cross, for one.

Jack: Say the Lord’s Prayer. I want to hear each of you say it!

Livia: The Lord’s Prayer?

Jack: Say it! Say it with me, you punks! Our Father, who art in Heaven –

Mara: (rolling her eyes) That’s not going to prove anything.

Victor: Dude, I’m Jewish.

Livia: Isn’t the fact that we haven’t attacked you yet proof enough?

Jack: Oh no. No, no. They’re tricky buggers. They got Janice, my wife, by pretending to be actors or something. Well, she thought they were actors. And then this one, later, he tried talking to me, saying he was hotel staff and I needed to come out of my room. But that fucker spoke perfect English. Perfect English! We’re in Romania! I was onto him, I tell you. I opened my door and waited for him to jump me – that’s how I found out if you smash their heads in they’re dead. Really, really dead.

Johnny: You’re not a veteran of one of those American wars, are you?

Jack: Desert Storm and proud of it!

(The group exchanges glances. When no one moves to jump him, Jack relaxes a bit more with the brass club.)

Jack: (almost disappointed) So you guys aren’t bloodsuckers.

Livia: No, sir.

Jack: And you survived the first wave.

Victor: Looks like it.

Jack: Well then. You got a plan? Because you can bet they’ll be back come nightfall, and they’ll just start picking us off one by one.

Mara: Right now, we’re meeting some other survivors in the lobby. Remember the big windows down there? They face east. The vampires are going to have some trouble with the sun.

Jack: Negative on that, lady. I dragged one of the fuckers into the light coming through my window and he didn’t burst into flames or nothin’. I had to brain him with my lamp, just like all the rest.

Mara: It won’t be like the movies. But I can tell you that they’ll avoid the light if they can. If nothing else, they’ll have trouble seeing.

Jack: All right. I’m in. (saluting) Sergeant Major Gerald Kendall. Just call me Jack.

Mara: I’m Mara. This is Livia, Victor, and Johnny.

Jack: Hail and well met, my friends! Hey, I see you got a couple guns.

Johnny: Apparently Mara here is a whiz with customs.

Jack: Wish I had my gun, but this lamp, she’s been my friend. Reminds me of the kill count I had with my shovel back in Kuwait…

(the others exchange glances but make no comment.)

Mara: (after a pause) It would be smart of us to search around for supplies, once we’ve got everyone together. We’ll need food and water. More weapons, too, if we can find them.

Victor: We should look for other survivors. I don’t want to leave people behind.

(There is a noise coming from one of the rooms at the far end of the hall. Mara glances back over her shoulder.)

Mara: We need to get moving. Two more floors to the lobby, and I’d like to swing by two-fifty-seven, just in case.

Johnny: Just in case what?

Mara: Just in case they didn’t make it. Your crosses are in there, aren’t they? From what you said, they may come in handy.

Act IV Scene III:

(Hallway Two. Alex, Griffin, and Briggs are cautiously making their way toward the stairs at the end of this hall. They are a little roughed up. Alex has her backpack slung over one shoulder and clutches a huge gaudy crucifix in the other. Griffin has a damaged black Flying V guitar that he’s hefting like a baseball bat. Briggs has part of a mic stand as a weapon. Bodies litter the hall, including the tour guide. Briggs almost trips over him.)

Briggs: The vampires got Chuck-ula here.

Griffin: Poor sod.

Alex: I hope we don’t find any of them waiting for us in the stairwell.

Griffin: Yeah, that one that jumped us from room two-forty-two just didn’t want to die.

Briggs: Well, it’s like that red-headed chick said on the phone. Smash their heads in. That stops them fast enough.

Alex: I think I still have brains on my blouse, thanks.

(A door opens as they walk past. They all jump and then just stare. A cherubic little four-year-old girl stares up at them. She says nothing.)

Alex: Why hello there. What’s your name, sweetie?

(An inhuman screech erupts from the room and an old woman in a ruffled nighty charges past the little girl. She is wielding a broken-off clothes-rod as if it were a quarter staff.  Her eyes are wild and she shrieks rapidly in Ukrainian. She targets Griffin first, beating him viciously around the shoulders and head. He wards the blows off as best he can, not reciprocating.)

Griffin: (protecting his head) Jesus! Get her off me!  Granny! Hey, Granny! I’m alive like you. Lay off it. My God, she’s a maniac. Alex, someone, talk to her. I won’t hit an old lady.

(The little girl just watches with huge eyes. She has a rosary around her neck, and she’s clutching this with one hand. Briggs goes to try to pull the old lady off of Griffin. She starts hitting him, too.)

Briggs: Don’t you speak Romanian?

Alex: That’s not Romanian. That’s Russian or something. The only Russian I know I learned from reading Clockwork Orange. Nyet! Nyet! (Alex points to herself then the other guys) Horosha!

(The old lady stumbles back a bit, then squints very suspiciously at Alex.)

Marta: (in Ukrainian): You’re not devils?

Alex: Horosha. We’re the good guys. Horosha. Understand?

(the old lady makes a face as she thinks about this, then pulls a large Eastern Orthodox cross out of her nightgown. Still acting very skittish, she shoves this against Griffin’s forehead, then Briggs’ and finally, Alex. The old lady nods and makes a satisfied grunt.)

Marta: Horosha. (she points to herself) Marta. (she points to the little girl) Anya. (she then launches into a rapid-fire explanation in Russian of her night with the devils and how she protected her little niece Anya.)

Alex: Whoa. Whoa. I don’t understand. Do you speak Romanian? English? French, maybe? (Marta shakes her head firmly to each of these). Well, never mind. You’re coming with us. Marta, Anya, come.

(Marta frowns, then gestures to Alex. When no one gets it, she taps her chest, says Marta, then gestures again to Alex.)

Alex: Oh. I’m Alex. This is Griffin. This is Malcolm Briggs. Ok? Come with us?

(The old lady grabs her niece and the two cling to one another, not budging. Alex rolls her eyes and looks to Griffin for help. He’s currently nursing a cut on his eyebrow obtained during his beating from Marta.)

Griffin: Don’t look at me, Alex. She’s a crazy old bat.

Briggs: Well, we can’t just leave the kid to die. I mean, look at her.

(Briggs goes to grab the little girl. Marta makes an indignant noise and whacks him solidly in the back of the head with her closet-rod.)

Briggs: Son of a bitch!

Griffin: Did I mention that Granny here hits really hard?

Alex: Maybe if we start walking, they’ll just follow.

Griffin: I don’t mean to be cold, but those two aren’t exactly going to improve our chances of survival. They’re both going to be dead weight.

Briggs: You said yourself Granny hits hard. She knows how to use that thing. I think she’ll take care of herself.

(A vampire stirs in one of the rooms)

Griffin: Fuck. Look out.

Alex: (whining) Oh, it’s Brandon. Why does it have to be Brandon? I fucked him.

Griffin: You did what?

Briggs: Duck!

(as Griffin, Alex, and Briggs engage in fending off Brandon the vampire, our other party emerges from the end of the hall opposite the stairs.)

Victor: Shit. Looks like trouble.

Johnny: Hey guys, duck!

(Johnny tries aiming his gun at the attacking vampire. Jack sneers and deftly grabs the gun out of the lead singer’s hands.)

Jack: What do you think you’re doing, hero? You ever hear of friendly fire?

(Victor charges down the hallway, both posts in his hands. Brandon has his back to Victor and Victor runs up, nearly crashing into him, then pummels his head with both sticks as if he were a timpani. Blood sprays here and there and Brandon goes down. Briggs spears Brandon’s corpse through the chest with the mic stand for good measure.)

Victor: Good to see you, man.

Briggs: That’s some fine stick work.

Johnny: Fuck, Griffin, is that my Flying V?

Mara: I see we’ve added to the party.

Alex: That’s Anya and Marta. They’re Russian or something. We were just trying to get them to come with us when Brandon tried to get lucky again.

Griffin: (poking the dead vampire with the toe of his boot) Aw man, Alex. He’s not even good-looking.

Alex: (shrugging) He had connections.

Mara: You said they’re Russian, right?

Alex: That’s what it sounds like to me.

(Mara walks over to Marta and starts conversing with her in Russian. Marta tilts her head a bit, answering in Ukrainian. Mara switches her dialect up a bit and Marta nods vigorously, clearly excited to have someone she can communicate with. They engage in a rapid conversation while the others look on.)

Victor: Mara speaks Russian?

Livia: Mara speaks a lot of languages. She’s a professor of history. She likes … immersing herself in the cultures she studies. Customs, beliefs, languages, all that. Sometimes it's like ... she lived it all.

Victor: She's pretty buff for a history professor.

Livia: He's a well-rounded guy -- I mean, woman. Well, you know what I mean.

Briggs: (snickering) Yeah, I think we do.

(Livia glares at him but does not respond to his comment)

Mara: (returning to the group, oblivious to why all the men are staring at her) Marta and Anya will come with us. They held them off together all night long. Marta’s one tough lady.

Jack: I’m taking this kid’s gun. He almost shot into the crowd. Hope no one minds.

Johnny: I wouldn’t have hit anyone!

Mara: Jack probably has more experience with the gun. And besides, you’ve got that cross of yours.

Briggs: We packed the rest of them and a couple other things from the room.

Johnny: Where’s my Gibson silverburst?

Griffin: That’s back in the room.

Johnny: Well fuck, let’s go get it. That shit’s expensive.

Griffin: Uh … That’s the first one I was hitting vampires with.

Johnny: Oh, not my silverburst, too! I practically slept with that guitar.

Griffin: Good thing, too, ‘cause it was nice and handy right there in the room.

Johnny: She’s not too banged up, is she?

Briggs: Let’s just say I hope that insurance we got for all the gear covers vampires and acts of God.

Johnny: Shit.

Mara: One more floor, people, then I want to make a side trip into that bar. I want the alcohol there.

Alex: You want to get shit-faced or something?

Mara: No. Think survival here. A good Molotov cocktail will ruin anybody’s day. Let’s move.

--M. Belanger.

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act III 1-6)

Author's Notes: The vampire tour settles in for the night but real vampires are loose in the hotel. No Twilight sparkles here, just hungry bloodsuckers. These scenes were some of my favorite to write. I loved having all hell break loose as the tourists had no clue what was hunting them until it was too late. Act III Scene I:

(The hotel lobby. The party in The Impaler has finally drawn to a close. The tour people are filing back to their rooms in ones and twos, some of them staggering, many of them draped with black crepe and bat-fetti. The front desk is down to one employee, a sleepy night auditor yawning and reading a book. He nods to each person or small group as they filter out of The Impaler, bidding them a good night in English and Romanian. The tour guide is the last person to leave The Impaler. His arms are bundled with party favors and other novelties left over from the event.)

Guide: I’ll get the rest of it tomorrow morning. Right now, I just need to go to bed.

Auditor: (in accented English) That’s fine. Good night, sir.

(As the tour guide makes his way heavily up the stairs, the auditor comes around from the desk and goes to The Impaler. He looks around, turns off the lights, closes the door. When he turns back around to head toward the front desk, he jumps, quickly assuming his customer-service face.)

Auditor: Good evening, sir. I’m sorry, but we have no more rooms. There’s a tour in town.

(The person standing just inside the doors has a hat pulled down a little over his eyes. The hat is one Morgan was wearing at the dig. He stands in the entryway, silent and a little foreboding.)

Auditor: I’m sorry. Did you hear me? We have no rooms. (in Romanian) We have no rooms to rent tonight.

(Dr. Morgan still does not respond. The auditor gingerly gets a little closer.)

Auditor: Are you deaf? (in Romanian) Do you hear me? Sir? (in English) Sir?

(The auditor gets closer and closer. Finally, when he is within an arm’s reach, Dr. Morgan springs to life. He moves so quickly, the hat flies off.  We see bared fangs and gleaming eyes. The auditor barely has time to react. He lets out a muffled sound and we cut to a spray of blood jetting across a plant and the lobby wallpaper.)

Act III Scene II

(Hallway One in the hotel. A couple in their fifties are making their way down the hall. The wife is swaying a bit and chattering on and on about her night with the vampires.)

Joan: Oh, and the tour guide! He’s so debonair. Did you see his outfit tonight? I think he looked just like Gary Oldman in Dracula. Don't you think, Roger?

Roger: Whatever you say, dear. (guiding her as she stumbles down the hall) Careful now. Watch your step. Our room is right down here.

Joan: (turning and kissing him sloppily) This is the best time ever, Roger! Thank you so much for taking me on this tour.

Roger: It’s our anniversary present. (steers her down the hall) Just don’t enjoy yourself so much tomorrow. I’m too old to carry you up the stairs.

Joan: Oh, you silly –

(The couple turns a corner and they both draw up short. At the end of the hall, a long-haired American from the dig is bent over another woman from the tour group. He’s been feeding on her. He looks up and bares bloody fangs.)

Joan: Oh! Roger, look! They’ve got actors to follow us to our rooms.

Roger: Um, Joan, I don’t think –

Joan: Oh Mr. Vampire! Pick me! Come and drain me dry, you little hottie!

Roger: Joan, really, I don’t know if that’s a good idea.

Joan: (slaps his chest dismissively) Oh, stow it, Rog. (waving to the vampire and practically jumping up and down) Yoohoo! Edward! Over here!

(Joan holds her arms out to the vampire and cocks her head to one side, baring her neck invitingly. The vampire drops the woman he has just killed. Roger jumps at the sound she makes as she contacts the floor. He starts back pedaling, trying to draw his over-eager wife with him as he goes.)

Roger: (backing away) Joan, honey, please –

(The vampire charges with supernatural speed down the hall. Joan practically runs into his arms. Joan’s squeal of excitement rapidly turns into a gurgling shriek of terror as the vampire tears out her throat. Roger falls back around the bend in the hall, stumbles, then lands heavily against a door.)

Act III Scene III:

(Cut immediately to the other side of the door. We see Roger’s impact from this perspective and hear muffled cries from the hall. The forty-something lady who is in this room sits up in her bed, pulling her sleeping mask back to squint at the door.)

Lady: For God’s sake, keep it down out there! People are trying to sleep!

(Noises at the door. The knob is frantically turned. Roger shrieks but is cut short. The room’s occupant snaps on the light, glancing angrily at the door.)

Lady: I said keep it down! I swear. Mix people and alcohol and you get instant assholes.

(She stomps over to the door and throws it open. Roger’s corpse falls back upon her feet. She yelps, and the long-haired vampire dives into her room. She falls back toward the bed, screaming and scrambling for anything to fend off her attacker. Stumbling against the nightstand, she seizes a thick black book on the nightstand – the hotel Bible. It has a large silver cross embossed on the cover. Grabbing this in both hands, she beats him over the head with it.)

Lady: Get off of me!

(the vampire looks merely annoyed until the cross from the front of the Bible actually singes him a little, leaving a reddened mark in the middle of his forehead. After an initial look of confusion and several less effective strikes from the panicked woman, he snarls, knocks the Bible from her hands, and falls upon her. Fade to black.)

Act III Scene IV

(Hallway Two. There are several bodies in the hall and at least two doors are smeared with blood. Dr. Morgan stands with the long-haired vampire who ate Joan. Dr. Morgan pages through the guest registry from the front desk. The other vampire looks restless. There is dried blood in his goatee.)

Morgan: No Thompson. No Richards. They must be under different names.

Long-Hair: So?

Morgan: So this makes things more difficult for us. We have to search the entire hotel.

Long-Hair: I’ll go get the others. We can start on the first floor.

Morgan: What are you going to do, just go from room to room, killing them as we go?

Long-Hair: Sounds like a plan to me.

Morgan: We’ve already been too loud already. I’m amazed there hasn’t been a panic. We won’t find them if they’re running from us. We need some strategy.

Long-Hair: Strategy?

Morgan: I don’t want him to think we’re being sloppy. I don’t know if they can hurt us, be he certainly can. Do you want him angry with you?

(The tour guide rounds the corner into the hall. He is wearing a fancy dressing gown and only some of the makeup has been washed from his face. He trips on a body, cursing. Morgan and Long-Hair look up.)

Guide: Jeez. Every year, it’s worse and worse. Now the drunks don’t even make it to their rooms.

(The Guide nudges the body with his foot.)

Guide: Hey! Hey, you! Get up off the floor!

(The body slumps over a little more.)

Guide: If I have to call the front desk to put you in your room …

(Dr. Morgan steps approaches the tour guide.)

Guide: (automatically) Ssh! Remember to keep it down. I heard some screaming up here earlier, and you people have to remember that there are other patrons in the hotel. (He stops short, blinking) Oh – you’re not in my tour group.

Morgan: No, I’m not.

Guide: Could you help me with this fellow? I’m afraid he’s all partied out.

Morgan: I’d love to give you a hand.

(The tour guide bends down to help the “drunk” up. Before the tour guide can react, Morgan snaps his neck. He eases the body to the floor next to the other man. The long-haired vampire looms over his shoulder.)

Morgan: See? Quick. Quiet. Efficient. Now follow me.

Act III Scene V:

(Hotel Hallway Three. No signs of struggle yet. Thompson, Johnny, and Victor walk together.)

Victor: Do you even know what room she’s in?

Johnny: She didn’t exactly tell me, but I got a look at that little envelope her key was in. It was definitely three something.

Thompson: So you don’t know.

Johnny: I’ve got a good idea.

Victor: You’re amazing, Johnny. There’s some freaky shit killing people out there and you’re dragging us through the hotel on a late-night booty call.

Johnny: Sex and death, man. We sing about it all the time.

Thompson: He takes himself seriously?

Victor: If Griffin didn’t have that archaeologist chick to look after, he’d be the one baby-sitting your ass, Johnny. I’ve been doing it for far too --

Johnny: (scrambling backwards) Oh fuck.

(A middle-aged woman stumbles out of a room in front of them, clutching her throat. A stream of blood runs down the front of her night gown. She reaches out to them, gurgling, eyes pleading. Kristof emerges from the room behind her. When he sees Johnny and the others, he grins. His fangs are impossible to miss.)

Victor: Shit!

(The lady collapses and the vampire charges over her corpse, heading straight for them.)

Thompson: That’s Kristof! Kristof! Mother of God!

Johnny: You know that fucker?

Victor: Just run.

(They turn and start pelting back down the way they came. Johnny, shocked by what he sees, is the last to move. When he does run, he trips over his own boots, landing heavily on the carpet. Thompson and Victor are halfway down the hall. Kristof is practically on top of Johnny.)

Victor: Johnny! Don’t you get killed, you little blighter!

(Victor pulls a knife and charges back toward the vampire. Kristof descends upon Johnny, but hisses, pulls his arm away and stumbles back a step. Johnny looks down at his chest. He’s been wearing a big, showy Gothic cross and this seems to have repelled the vampire.)

Johnny: (touching the cross) Well, fuck me.

(Kristof recovers and dives for Johnny a second time. Johnny brandishes his cross at the vampire, connecting with Kristof’s face. There is a satisfying sizzle. Kristof stumbles away, clawing at his face.)

Johnny: Eat Jesus, bastard!

(Victor catches up, helping Johnny to his feet with one hand and brandishing his knife in the other. Another vampire comes rounds the corner at the end of the hallway where the stairs going down are.)

Victor: Fuck that. We’re out of here.

Thompson: Where do you plan on going? Hotel’s only got three floors.

Johnny: Shit.

(They stand together, looking worried.)

Act III Scene VI:

(Mara and Livia’s room. The lights are low. Mara is in her familiar black tank and cargo pants. She has added a belt with a knife on it. Livia is also in more practical clothes. She sits on the bed, a gun in her hands. Mara studies the room, looking from the door to the one window to the various pieces of heavy furniture. She talks to Livia as she works. Occasionally, we can hear screaming or other noises coming from the rest of the hotel during their conversation. The two women ignore most of this, only sometimes even looking up.)

Mara: Remember. You aim for the heart or the head. Destroy the central nervous system as completely as you can.

Livia: You know I’m no good with guns.

Mara: We don’t have any of the others with us, so we have to make do however we can. I’d rather have the gun in your hands. You need it more than I will.

Livia: Do you think it’s really that bad?

(Mara goes over to the armoire, tries to slide it, discovers that it’s bolted to the floor. She takes a moment to focus herself, much like a martial artist about to break a stack of bricks. Then she rocks the entire armoire back and forth, snapping the bolts. Straining only a little, she moves the massive piece of furniture against the door.)

Mara: You heard the screams. They’re in the hotel. The main one, he’s somewhere else right now. Close, but not here. What we’re dealing with are his extensions. Victims who don’t know that they’re dead.

Livia: How does that work exactly? I’ve never seen you do anything like that before.

Mara: I would never stoop to something that low, Livia. Please don’t insult me like that! I have companions, like you and the others. I would never create slaves.

Livia: Are they like zombies or something?

Mara: No, not exactly. They’ll talk and act like they’re alive. There’s a residual personality in there. They’ll even manifest some of the source’s powers. But when push comes to shove, they have no will of their own. He wants them to do something, and they react, like he’s flexing a muscle. Only the muscle is them, and their intellect degrades over time.

Livia: That’s pretty creepy.

Mara: That’s why there are rules against it. And horror stories that go back to the dawn of time.

(Mara frowns at the window.)

Mara: I should have put the armoire there. It’s a few inches taller. Oh well, I wasn’t thinking.

(She grabs the dresser, snaps the bolts, and moves it over to the window.)

Livia: Do you want me to help you with anything?

Mara: I appreciate the thought, dear.

Livia: Do you think they’ll get all the way up here to the third floor? I mean, through the window?

Mara: Consider the things you have seen me do. Now apply those to our enemies. I can only assume that we are standing on common ground.

Livia: So you think someone translated the book.

Mara: At this point, I have no doubt that someone used it. It’s only a question of when. The council was right to punish me for leaving it behind.

Livia: Mara, you’ve beat yourself up over it enough.

Mara: I should have taken more precautions. And I’d be happy if I could remember any of it clearly. But something caught me right as I bodyhopped.

(Livia gets up off of the bed, goes over and touches Mara tenderly on the arm. She leans her head against Mara’s shoulder, almost hugging, almost holding her. They’re turned toward the full-length mirror that’s against one wall of the room, and Livia is studying both of their reflections as she speaks.)

Livia: I’ve seen how vulnerable you can be. It wasn’t that long ago that you moved to this body. I still haven’t gotten used to you being a woman, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stand by you. That’s what I’m here for, me and all the rest of my family. We love you. We protect you. We’d die before something hurt you, especially when you’re weak.

Mara: Oh, Livia. That’s the worst of it. Knowing that everyone I loved back then had to die for that book to fall into someone else’s hands.

(They are interrupted by a ruckus at the door.)

Johnny: (from out in the hall) Livia! Someone! Let us into a room! We’re gonna die!

Mara: Oh, damn.

Livia: That’s Johnny, from the band.

Mara: I just moved that thing.

Livia: Could you please let them in? I don’t know him that well, but I don’t want to listen to him die.

(Mara sighs, then moves toward the armoire.)

Mara: I’ll get this out of the way. You get the gun and keep it trained on the door. Unlock it, get them in here, and don’t let anything else in. I’ll block the door the minute they’re in.

Livia: Thank you, Mara.

Johnny: (from the hall) Livia! Someone! (a vampire shrieks) Eat Jesus, fucker!

Mara: One, two, three, go.

(Mara lifts the armoire and Livia jumps to open the door. Johnny practically falls in with Victor close behind. Thompson is behind them.)

Livia: Get in. Get in now!

(She pulls Johnny and Victor into the room. Thompson moves for the door, but Kristof and another one are on him, dragging him backwards.)

Victor: Shit. Thompson!

Livia: Stand back.

Mara: Two seconds and I’m blocking that door.

Livia: Give me a chance –

(Livia aims and fires the gun at Kristof. The bullet only grazes the side of his face, but he stumbles backward, dazed by the pain.)

Livia: Shit. Shit. Shit.

Mara: Time’s up. Close the door.

(Livia tries one last time to pull Thompson through the door, but Kristof recovers and tackles him, biting at his jugular. There is a spray of blood. Livia jumps back as both Thompson and the vampire nearly crash into the room. Mara darts forward, presses the door closed against both bodies, then moves the armoire back into place. Thompson’s dying screams are audible through the door. Then there’s silence.)

Victor: Damn.

Johnny: (to Mara) Did you just pick up that whole bloody thing and move it?

Mara: (deadpan) Of course not.

Livia: (before Johnny can respond) Mara, that’s Johnny. And that’s Victor.

Victor: Thank you, Mara. That was close.

Mara: How bad is it out there?

Johnny: There are vampires all over the bloody place. Vampires! Like the kind you repel with a cross. What the fuck is up with that?

Mara: (confused) What?

Victor: He’s not shitting you, lady.

Mara: No, no. I understand the part about the vampires. What did you say about the cross?

Johnny: You saw that ugly bastard who just ate the black bloke, right? Did you see what he had burned into his face? That was my cross, lady. My fucking cross.

Mara: Don’t stick it in my face. And my name is Mara.

Johnny: I’m a wee bit stressed, sweets. I just got attacked by vampires. Bloody vampires! They ate my keyboardist earlier this evening. And now we just watched that guy buy the farm. This was not how I wanted to spend my European tour.

Livia: Johnny’s the lead singer, unless you couldn’t tell.

Johnny: What’s that supposed to mean?

Victor: You’re a lead singer. That’s what it means, Johnny.

Mara: (lost in thought) Crosses, though. Crosses? What on earth is going on?

(Mara begins to pace. More screams from the hall. The door shakes and the armoire visibly moves.)

Victor: Umm, so what do we do now?

Mara: You look like you can use a gun. Give it to him, Livia. I’ve got another one in the luggage over there.

Johnny: How’d you get that shit past customs?

Mara: I’m very charming when I need to be. As for what we do now, we sit and wait them out.

Johnny: I don’t like the idea of just sitting around here waiting for them to eat us.

Mara: For the moment, this will have to do. We don’t have a more defensible position. And besides, we only have to wait until dawn. I suspect they’re going to have problems with the sun.

Victor: What about the others? We left Briggs and Griffin and that chick Alex back in room two-fifty-seven.

Mara: Alex? From the archaeological dig?

Victor: Yeah. Why?

Mara: I needed to talk to her.

Johnny: Well, you two can just have a bloody tête-à-tête, assuming you feel like wading through vampires to do it.

Livia: Wait a minute. We can call them.

Victor: What?

Livia: I used to work at a hotel. Usually, the phone number for a room is the same as the room number. What did you say, room 257?

(Victor nods. Livia starts to dial)

Mara: This is why I love you, Liv.

(Johnny raises an eyebrow at this remark, then frowns a bit as he looks pointedly at the single bed in the room.)

Livia: Hello? I almost didn’t expect an answer. This is Livia. Livia, remember? Johnny and Victor are with me in my room. No. No one’s done anything of the sort. That’s not why I called. You know there’s trouble in the hotel? Thompson’s dead. I’m sorry. There wasn’t much we could do. Tell her when she wakes up. I think she’s had a bad enough night. Right now, this is what you need to do. Get the heaviest piece of furniture and put it against your door. Get something to block the window if you can, too. Don’t go out in the halls. No. Don’t go out at all.

(Johnny keeps pointing at his cross. Livia glances over.)

Livia: Oh, and this will sound crazy, but do you have any crosses?

Johnny: We’re a Gothic rock band. They should have a metric ton of them. Tell them to dig through my jewelry!

Livia: Yeah, that was Johnny in the background. He says he has crosses with his jewelry. As I said, this is going to sound strange, but crosses seem to repel them. Yeah, just like the movies.

Mara: Is Alex still there with them?

Livia: Who’s all there? Briggs andGriffin and Alex. OK.

Mara: Tell them when the sun comes up we’ll meet in the main lobby of the hotel.

Livia: You guys sit tight for right now. You just have to wait out the night. When the sun comes up, meet us in the lobby of the hotel. You got that? OK. Good luck. Oh, and we’re room 331 in case you need to call.

Victor: They’re all alive?

Livia: Safe and sound, for the moment.

Victor: Maybe we should call the other rooms? You know, to warn them? Tell them how to defend themselves?

Mara: There’s no guarantee that one of the others won’t pick up.

Johnny: What? Vampires answer the phone?

Mara: Becoming vampires has not made them stupid, just feral. They’ll still approach the world as if they were alive.

Victor: Well, minus all the tearing peoples’ throats out.

Livia: Yeah, minus that.

Johnny: So what do we do now?

Mara: (sits on the bed) Now we wait for dawn.

Johnny: Bloody hell.

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act II 5-9)

Author's Note: Things heat up with the Dracula tour as people start turning up dead. The tourists think it's all part of the fun, mistaking real vampires for actors paid to liven up their night. This makes them easy prey for the bloodthirsty predators in their midst. (Warning: strong language) ... I was just looking over my saved files for this work, searching for a couple of deleted scenes. And I realized that I was mistaken, thinking I'd written this in 2005 or 2006. The first saves are from December 2004. My, how time flies! One other thing. When I first started posting, I'd mentioned my dreamcast. I never did tell you who I cast as Dracula in my head: artist & musician Joseph Vargo. It's not just his look, it's his voice. His vocals on his Nox Arcana CD Transylvania cinched it. Queue up the last track and listen to the very end. That evil laugh? That is Joseph Vargo. Sexy as hell and perfect for the immortal Count!

Act II Scene V

(The front of the Boyar Hotel. Three members of the band, Griffin, Victor, and Johnny stand on the street. The band’s van is parked a short distance up the street, near one of the few working streetlights. Most of the surrounding buildings are dark, so the town appears abandoned. No one else is out. The door of the hotel is propped open. Light, muted music, and laughter emerge from the door. The band members smoke and chat casually in low voices, except Johnny who seems both a little drunk and a little loud. Livia comes out, practically glowing.)

Livia: Hey guys. Got a light?

Johnny: Sure, luv. Nice dress. You having fun?

Livia: The food was crap, but I’m having a good time.

Johnny: You still leaving in the morning with the rest of the tour?

Livia: I’m thinking I might stay for a while.

Johnny: Right on.

(Johnny goes to put his arm around Livia. In the process, he catches sight of the crescent moon.)

Johnny: Ooooh. Let me see your tattoo.

Livia: It’s not a tattoo. It’s a brand.

(She turns back toward the light, holding stray strands of her hair up so he can see it better.)

Johnny: That’s hard core. Victor here is into that body-mod stuff. You pierced, sweetie?

Livia: No piercings. Just the brand. It’s a family thing.

Victor: That’s nice work, really clean. Hard to get them to keloid just right like that. I’m a fan. Got me some Teflon implants under the skin in this arm and some on my chest – they make a spiral pattern.

(Victor takes off his shirt to show off his tattoos and body mods. Livia admires them politely. Johnny pulls her back to him, runs his fingers lightly along the brand.)

Johnny: It’s lovely. We’ll find some way to work it into the video. Maybe do some shots of the moon, play with layering the images. How are things coming with the shoot, anyway,Griffin?

Griffin: I was checking that factory out this afternoon. It’s got no electric hook-up, which is a problem, but I think I saw a generator in one of the lower rooms. If I can get that baby cranking, we’re in business.

Livia: What about Dracula’s tomb?

Johnny: Eh, luv?

Livia: You said they’re digging up Dracula’s tomb. Getting in there to film would kick ass.

Griffin: Nah. Alex was right. It’s not much but tents and an old foundation. No visual appeal.

Johnny: Griff here is our light and stage man, so if he says it won’t work in the film, it won’t work.

Victor: Hey look – somebody’s in a hurry.

(A motor guns. The Jeep approaches at high speed. Griffin recognizes Alex, steps out to wave, but she speeds past, and he jumps back to avoid getting hit.)

Griffin: Fuck!

Johnny: What’s gotten into her?

Griffin: Something must be wrong back at the camp. She doesn’t usually drive like that.

Victor: Where you think she’s headed?

Griffin: Only things down that way are the church and public offices.

Johnny: She going for the cops?

Griffin: I’m gonna head down that way and see. Catch you guys later. (Griff walks off)

Livia: What do you think could be wrong?

Johnny: Accident, maybe. That, or a bear. Those fuckers are nasty.

Livia: I hope everything’s ok.

Victor: Maybe they found a vampire.

Johnny: If they did, he’s going to star in my film. Vampires are sexy bastards.

(A woman wails off camera, coming from the same direction as the Jeep and the touring van.)

Victor: Wolf keeps that up and he’ll wake the whole town.

Livia: Someone having a little fun?

Johnny: Wolfie’s shagging that one blonde bartender over in the touring van.

(the screaming starts again, this time more urgent. A man’s voice is added. He sounds anything but orgasmic. Victor and Johnny exchange worried glances.)

Livia: That doesn’t sound good.

Victor: Shit.

Johnny: Maybe she had a boyfriend?

Victor: I want to go see.

Johnny: You know, Victor, you walk in on them in the van and it’s nothing, Wolf is going to wring your neck. I’d do the same.

Victor: It didn’t sound right, Johnny. Besides, my other pack of cigarettes is in there.

Johnny: Oh, I see how it is.

Victor: You coming, or what?

Johnny: What the fuck? I’m game. You coming, too, luv? We’ll make it a party.

Livia: Sure.

(They walk the short distance to the touring van. A streetlight casts the van in contrasting pools of light and shadow. Things are eerily silent. Victor approaches cautiously. Johnny and Livia bring up the rear.)

Victor: (stage whisper) Wolfie? Wolfram?

Johnny: Hey, Wolfie-boy, done with your little snog, mate?

Victor: Crissakes, Johnny. And here you’re yelling at me!

Johnny: If we’re going to interrupt him, why not do it in style?

Victor: (rolls his eyes) Shit. Wolf!

(They continue to approach the driver’s side of the van. There is still no noise and no movement, though there is an indistinct shape on the other side of the van, visible just through the wheels. Victor moves up around the front of the van, then cautiously peeks around the side.)

Victor: (stumbling back) Fuck me. Oh fuck! Fuck. Me.

Johnny: (giggles) I thought she was fucking Wolfie.

Victor: Stuff it, Johnny. This isn't funny.

(Johnny leads Livia up to where Victor stands. Johnny is still giggling at his joke. As he turns the corner and looks around, he is suddenly sober. Livia is the last to look. There is a slight lift of her eyebrows, but she does not appear as shocked or upset as either of the men. The other side of the van has a big smear of blood arcing down. It goes right across the “Falling Darkness” logo. The body of the bartender lies on the ground beside the van. Her eyes are open and glazed. Her throat has been torn out.)

Johnny: Bloody hell, she’s fucking dead.

Victor: (worried) Wolf?

(The back doors of the van are ajar. A booted foot is visible just beneath the door.)

Victor: Wolf? Don’t you be dead, too, Wolf. Goddamnit, don’t you be dead.

(Johnny stares at the dead bartender, clinging to Livia. Victor moves cautiously to the back door. When he finally rounds the corner of the open door, his face falls.)

Victor: Oh, shit.

Johnny: Don’t fuck with me, Victor.

Victor: Wolf’s dead, Johnny.

Johnny: I said don’t fuck with me, Victor!

Victor: On my mother’s grave, I’m not fucking with you, Johnny. Wolf’s dead. He’s got his pants around his ankles and he’s fucking dead!

Livia: He look the same as the bartender?

(Victor comes around from the end of the van, shaken. He almost trips over the bartender’s foot. He shudders.)

Victor: Yeah, he looks the same. Something ate his fucking throat.

Livia: We need to go back inside. Now.

Johnny: What the fuck? My keyboardist? My fucking keyboardist?

Livia: Johnny, really. We need to go back inside.

Victor: You know something about this?

Livia: I have enough sense to know that two people are dead and standing around in the dark is not going to improve our chances of survival.

Victor: Point. And we need to tell someone.

(Victor pulls a knife from his boot. Together, they head back toward the hotel but are startled by headlights coming back up the road. There are two sets now, the Jeep and one of the local police vehicles. Both vehicles stop in front of the hotel. Griffin is riding with Alex and Thompson, and they all get out. Alex has Griffin hand her a backpack out of the Jeep, and she hefts this over her shoulder. Three local law enforcement officers get out of the vehicle behind them. They look unhappy to be disturbed at this hour. Victor quickly stows the knife and waves the officers over.)

Victor: Hey! Hey! You guys speak English?

Alex: I speak enough Romanian to translate. What’s the matter?

Victor: We’ve got two people dead over there.

(Alex and Thompson exchange glances.)

Alex: Did I hear you right? Dead? What happened?

Victor: Something ate their fucking throats, that’s what happened.

Thompson: Where are they?

Johnny: Over by our touring van. A bartender and my fucking keyboardist.

Griffin: You’re shitting me. Wolf? Wolf’s dead?

(Alex relays the message to the officers. They exchange suspicious glances. But one heads over toward the van.)

Victor: I hope you have a gun, man.

Livia: (in Romanian) Don’t go alone.

(The officer makes a disparaging noise and continues.)

Griffin: What’s going on here, guys?

Johnny: How the fuck should I know?

Livia: Alex, why did you get the police?

Alex: Uh –

Thompson: There was an accident up at the camp. We had to report it. They came along to talk to the hotel staff. They’ve got to put us up for the night.

Livia: What happened to everyone else?

(The officer screams in the distance. Several shots are fired. Everyone jumps, staring. The remaining officers glance suspiciously at everyone, but they pull their guns.)

Officer 2: (in Romanian) What have you brought into my town?

Johnny: Maybe we should get inside, let the nice officers take care of whatever the fuck is back there.

Livia: They’re not going to be able to do it by themselves. They have no idea what they’re fighting.

Alex: And you do? Weren’t you in the bar earlier? Who are you?

Griffin: Let’s get inside. If they don’t give you a room, you can stay with me tonight, Alex.

Alex: I want to know what her problem is!

Livia: My problem is that people are dying, and if we stay on the street yapping, we’re probably going to die, too. So why don’t we all get inside, close the doors, and try to survive until morning?

Alex: Who made you the boss?

(Livia shoots her a look and strides into the hotel. The others are left staring out into the night, listening for more screams or gunshots. The town is silent.)

Act II Scene VI

(The camera cuts to the lobby. Mara is there, just exiting The Impaler. When she sees Livia, she waves her over.)

Mara: I was just going to go look for you.

Livia: Something’s killing people outside in the town.

Mara: What?

Livia: I was trying to get the band to take me up to the dig when we heard screaming. A bartender and their keyboardist both had their throats torn out. A couple of cops from the town went to investigate, but I’m pretty sure they’re as good as dead.

Mara: Did it look like –

Livia: Yes, yes it did. But it was really messy.

Mara: Well, obviously. It killed them.

Livia: I get the feeling it wanted to kill them.

Mara: We should go wait this out in our room.

(Alex, Thompson, and Griffin enter, followed by Victor and Johnny. Alex clutches her backpack. Thompson and Griffin head for the front desk. Alex looks over at Livia, then locks eyes with Mara. Alex’s eyes flick to Mara’s necklace, then back to Mara’s eyes. The two engage in a silent staring contest for a few moments. Alex looks away.)

Mara: Who’s that?

Livia: The dig assistant, Alex.

Mara: I don’t like her.

Livia: You and me both. But if anyone knows where the book is, I’m betting that it’s her.

Mara: This is getting complicated. And I can feel that other one very close now. I think we should retreat for now, watch how the night plays out.

Act II Scene VII

(Cut back to a window outside the hotel. Vlad and Marica stand to one side in the shadows. The window looks into the lobby. The previous scene replays now from this outside perspective. Livia and Mara conversing to one side, Alex, Thompson, and Griffin standing at the front desk to the other.)

Marica: Thompson is the dark-skinned man. See him with that woman? If anyone has your book, it will be them.

Vlad: Be sure to thank our Dr. Morgan for pursuing them here.

(Mara and Livia talk, then Mara turns to lead Livia to their room. As Livia turns toward the stairs, the brand on the back of her neck is clearly visible.)

Vlad: Wait a moment. I know that mark.

Marica: What mark, voivode?

Vlad: That little one with the crimson hair. She bears the mark of the alchemist. All his people bore that brand.

Marica: Brand?

Vlad: There was power in their blood. They slaked my thirst like nothing I had ever known. You will get that woman for me, Marica. She can help me regain control.

(In the lobby, Mara stops suddenly at the foot of the stairs. She turns and stares directly out the window at Vlad. There is a faint glow to her eyes, then a ghostly mist shines faintly from within her face. This is looks as if a second face, a man’s face, is trying to manifest through her skin. Vlad draws back in shock.)

Vlad: By all the hells …

Marica: What is it voivode?

Vlad: That other one, pale and tall. Who is that? She sees me here. I can almost feel her in my mind. (pinches the bridge of his nose and withdraws from the window). There is more going on here than I suspected. We must regroup. I need more soldiers to lay siege to this building. Everything I desire lies within.

Act II Scene VIII:

(Inside the front lobby. Mara and Livia at the foot of the stairs. Mara is still staring piercingly out the window. The glow has faded from her face but not her eyes. The others still stand at the front desk. Alex argues with the clerk in Romanian, nearly shouting. The party is in full swing beyond the doors to The Impaler.)

Livia: Mara?

Mara: He’s out there. He’s right outside that window. I would challenge him now if there weren’t so many people around.

Livia: Let’s just go up to the room.

Mara: It's going to be a long night.

Act II Scene IX

(Inside The Impaler. The tour group is over on one end, getting loud, drunk, and silly. Alex, Thompson, Griffin, Victor, and Johnny are in their own little corner looking jumpy and shell-shocked. They have a bottle on the table in front of them, and several of them have downed a shot or two apiece. Alex has her backpack on the floor beside her, leaning up against her chair.)

Victor: No shit. All that happened up at the camp?

Thompson: Yeah. They broke through to this crypt, then everyone went missing. We got the pictures –

Alex: (clutching her head and rocking a little) Ugh. Those were fucked up. Those were so fucked up.

Thompson: And then someone cut the generator.

Griffin: All the work I put into that thing!

Thompson: Yeah, well, I don’t think anybody up there’s going to be using it right now.

Alex: There was all this screaming. Someone had a gun. And then there was Dr. Morgan.

Thompson: I can’t believe you just plowed right through him.

Alex: What the fuck was I supposed to do? It was pitch black and people were grabbing at us from the shadows and I’ll be damned if I die on some god-forsaken mountain in the middle of nowhere!

Griffin: Hey. Chill out a bit, Alex. And maybe ease back on the vodka. You’re going to make yourself sick.

Alex: Like it matters right now? We don’t even know what the fuck is out there!

Thompson: Are you sure we don’t?

Johnny: Don’t start with that again, man. I’m the biggest fucking Goth here and I don't fucking believe in vampires. Were they all sparkly and lovestruck?

Griffin: (smacks Johnny on the shoulder) Shut the fuck up, man. People are dead.

Victor: Something's killing people.

Griffin: Wolfram. The bartender. And probably that cop, from the sound of it.

Victor: All the cops. Have any of them come back in yet?

Thompson: No.

Johnny: But come on, guys. Listen to yourselves. Vampires?

Victor: Look, Johnny, it wasn’t a bear and it wasn’t a wolf and it wasn’t the bloody toothfairy. The serial killer of your worst nightmares couldn’t do that kind of damage to a person in that short a time. No human killer, at any rate.

Alex: You know, I could have gone to Egypt. Egypt! But how silly, I thought, ‘I’m an American woman and that just won’t be safe.’ So I come to Romania and – and –

(Alex breaks down into tears. Griffin comforts her.)

Victor: I can’t believe those people are just dancing around like there’s nothing wrong.

Thompson: We tried to tell the people at the front desk. Do you blame them for laughing at us? They thought it was a great American joke. Vampires. Ha fucking ha.

Johnny: Fuckin’ quit it with the vampires already.

Thompson: Can you think of anything else that fits the facts?

(The tour group gets loud for a moment. The tour guide has fake fangs and is pretending to bite the ladies on the neck. A lot of the tour people are really getting into it.)

Johnny: Fuck it. I’m going upstairs. If I have to watch those people and their fake vampire bullshit for five more minutes, I’m going to be sick.

Victor: Someone has to tell Briggs about Wolfie.

Johnny: Shit. I forgot about Briggs.

Victor: They’re like brothers, man. How could you forget?

(Johnny scowls, glaring at the tourists)

Griffin: I’ll go with you. I think Alex needs to lie down. That is, if you don’t mind having her in the room?

Johnny: Just don’t fuck her in my bed.

Griffin: That’s harsh. She just needs to sleep, man.

Johnny: Whatever. Let’s go.

Victor: Hey guys – don’t get separated. I mean, don’t go anywhere in this hotel or outside of it alone. OK? Especially outside. For fuck’s sake, don’t go outside.

Johnny: Hope they don’t mind me smoking in the room.

Griffin: See you in the morning.

Victor: If we’re lucky.

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act II 3-4)

Author's Note: Tourists on a cheesy vampire tour get a big surprise: real vampires. And these aren't the dreamy Twilight sort!  

Act II Scene III

(A chamber in the excavated castle. Marica stands in the doorway. One oil lamp, looted from the camp, is the sole source of illumination. A hallway, shored up with wooden supports, leads into darkness. Kyle emerges from this. He is pale and has streaks of blood and dirt on his face. His eyes look strange, like he’s been drugged.)

Kyle: We can’t find the book anywhere.

Marica: He’s not going to like hearing that.

Kyle: We looked everywhere.

Marica: Then I suggest you get out and look again.

Kyle: I’m telling you it’s not there. It should have been right in the main tent, and it’s gone. I think Thompson took it.

Marica: You told me no one got away. Did you not tell me this yourself?

Kyle: Dr. Morgan is missing and there are tracks – someone took a Jeep back to the town.

Marica: Do you know the man you are disappointing? Do you know anything about what he does to people who disappoint him?

(Kyle looks at the ground. Vlad speaks from off-camera in Romanian. Just the sound of his voice, deep and resonant, causes Kyle to freeze with fear.)

Vlad: (in Romanian) They have not found it, Marica?

Marica: (in Romanian) Nu, voivode.

Vlad: (in Romanian) Tell them they must find it, or establish that it is absolutely not here. I would prefer not to have to invade the town. We do not have the numbers to safely invade the town. Not yet.

Marica: (In Romanian) Da, voivode.

Marica: (in English, turning to Kyle) You will look again. You will turn the entire campsite upside-down if you have to. Insure that the book is nowhere to be found. We do not have the numbers to risk a foray into town.

Kyle: All right, Dr. Antonescu.

(Kyle leaves. Marica watches him go, hugging herself a little. Her white blouse is stained in places with blood and dirt. Her hair has come undone and now falls around her face. From behind Marica, Dracula steps in from the shadows. He is wearing dusty clothes rotten from the tomb. He moves with the languid grace of a predator. He stands behind her for a moment as if scenting her, then wraps his arms around her, drawing her against his chest. She leans into him a little stiffly.)

Vlad: Marica, Marica. These people are undisciplined. What a sorry state they’re in.

Marica: My apologies, voivode.

Vlad: They are not your workers. I do not hold you responsible. They are – what was the word? American.

Marica: Yes, voivode. They are Americans, pillaging Romanian soil.

Vlad: I have lost much in the intervening years. This very castle – just dust around me. I almost cannot bear to look on it.

Marica: A great deal of time has passed, voivode. The world has changed around you.

(Vlad is making a slow seduction of touching Marica. She trembles at his touch, fearful but also eager. He gradually turns her around to face him, lifting up her chin so she must meet his eyes.)

Vlad: You tell me in the years that have passed my country has become a weak land. Impoverished. Diminished. This I swear to change.

Marica: It is not the world you remember, voivode.

Vlad: Ah, but no world is so different that it will not respond to power, and to pain. I am good at both of those things. Is there something wrong, Marica? You tremble. It is wise to be frightened of me, but I do not want you to be frightened.

Marica: Forgive me, but I do not understand how –

Vlad: How I live, after so many years imprisoned? I have told you. I am immortal. This is why I need the book. The book is how I became what I am. Long ago, there was an alchemist on my land. There were rumors about him. He attracted my attention because his tower bore the sign of the crescent moon.

Marica: A Muslim sign.

Vlad: I believed him a Turk, practicing his wickedness underneath my very nose. So I took a force of able men and we stormed his tower. But whatever he was, he was already dead. Withered and cold, he still sat among his books. And such books he had! I am a warrior, but I am not a fool. And so I knew there was value in that book. I took the book. I took his notes. I took his women, though I killed those who resisted. Then I studied. It was a long process, but I came to read the book, and such secrets it held!

Marica: And that book, it made you what you are now?

Vlad: It contains a ritual. When I performed it on myself, I could no longer die. But I thirsted. The book spoke of that, but it gave no warning of how terrible a thirst it was. Always blood, more and more blood. There was no slaking it. I had to put my brother in my place. Not that weakling Radu, but my father’s bastard, Lazar. He ruled as me while I strove to overcome it. But I could not.

Marica: And you had yourself imprisoned?

Vlad: What else could I do? I would not prey upon my own people! I was their protector, their voivode. Criminals, traitors, these I feasted upon. But there was no controlling it! My understanding of the book perhaps was incomplete. I had them bind me, wall me in the tomb.

Marica: And now that you are out?

Vlad: You have seen what a terrible thing my hunger is, have you not?

(Marica lowers her eyes and shudders. Tenderly, he reaches out and lifts her chin once more to meet his eyes)

Vlad: This is a new time. There is more knowledge. I know there was simply some error. We get the book and we solve the puzzle. I retain my power, and I take back my throne. Under me, this country will be great once again.

Marica: I almost want to believe you.

Vlad: Almost? Almost?

(Vlad squeezes her face in his hand, his eyes ablaze with fury. Marica winces against the pain.)

Marica: Voivode, you’re hurting me.

Vlad: You would do well to believe in me. You are a beautiful woman, Marica. Too beautiful to waste yourself huddled over books. Be loyal to me. Speak to these American rabble for me. Help me regain the book and my power, and you will be richly rewarded.

(He leans in to her, brushes his lips against her neck. She whimpers. With more force, he pulls her to him, his features predatory, aggressive. The camera fades as the two are locked in an embrace, Marica’s head thrown back, Vlad descending upon her neck.)

 

Act II Scene IV:

(The Impaler. The bar has been decorated with more vampire-themed party favors. The tour group, dressed in their finest, dine at sets of tables at one end of the bar. The tour guide is dressed in full vampire gear, complete with whiteface and a red-lined cape. Rather campy, spooky music plays over the speakers. Mara and Livia dine with the others. Most of the tourists are middle-aged and older couples, so Mara and Livia stand out. Livia is having a good time. Mara is somber, but making an effort to be sociable.

The tour group dines. Several of the tourists get drunk. As dinner winds down, the tour guide has the music changed to a waltz and he whisks one of the older ladies onto the dance floor. She giggles, waltzing clumsily with him. A few other couples join them. Waltzes continue and the tour guide returns the lady to her husband, then approaches Mara. She silently shakes her head, so he moves to Livia. She accepts and waltzes surprisingly well. Her hair is up, and as she dances, a strange mark on the back of her neck is visible. It is a scar or brand, shaped like an upturned crescent. Merriment continues, with many of the middle-aged tourists getting raucous and drunk.)

 

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (Act II 1-2)

Author's Note: A vampire tour. An archaeological dig. A mysterious book. And the tomb of Dracula. Maybe. Here's the next installment of my screenplay, Immortal.  Act II Scene I

(Alex riding on a dirt road in the Jeep. The sun is low over the mountains. She pulls up to the site. There’s a good deal of activity with an undercurrent of tension. Morgan is nowhere in sight. Alex, looking troubled, heads over to the main tent. David Thompson is bent over the computer, downloading something.)

Alex: Hey, David. What’s going on?

Thompson: Jesus, Alex! Don’t sneak up on me like that.

Alex: Jumpy much? What’s that on the computer?

Thompson: You seen Morgan lately?

Alex: Not since I left here. Why? You sound like something’s wrong.

Thompson: I was hoping they were in town. They’re missing.

Alex: What do you mean, missing?

Thompson: They went with Kyle and Anders over to that new room and we haven’t seen any of them since. Dr. Morgan had a call on the cellphone, and when Kristof went to get him, the room was empty.

Alex: You’re not making any sense, Thompson. How could they be missing? Where would they go?

Thompson: How would I know? (sighs) Let me start from the beginning. Dr. Morgan and Dr. Antonescu went to open a new room.  You remember that, don’t you?

Alex: How could I forget? He sent me off on another dumb errand, remember?

Thompson: All right, well the room was bricked up or something, and from what we’ve seen, they knocked the wall in. It’s a crypt like with all these statues of saints and a big stone sarcophagus in the center.

Alex: You’re shitting me.

Thompson: Not one bit. Kristof went in there looking for Dr. Morgan. But there was no one in the room. Kris thought he saw blood on the floor and some on the sarcophagus.

Alex: This is a joke, right?

Thompson: Well he got some help and opened the sarcophagus lid. It was chipped on one side, and the damage looked fresh, so we figured they had opened it before.

Alex: If you even tell me one of them was dead inside of there, I swear I’ll kick your ass.

Thompson: No. What we found were these really old chains. And bits of what used to be a crucifix. And Anders’ camera. In pieces. That’s what I’m working on. I’m trying to retrieve the pictures off the memory card.

Alex: I so don’t believe any of this. I go away for like three hours and all hell breaks loose?

Thompson: We were really hoping they were in town with you. We sent someone off with one of the other Jeeps to check and see, but he hasn’t gotten back yet.

Alex: So what does all this mean?

Thompson: I have no effing clue. (computer beeps) Looks like it’s done loading. Let’s see what we can see.

(Thompson opens the first picture. We see the stone wall with the bricked in section. Thompson clicks quickly passed two more pictures of this. Then there’s a picture of Marica’s hand grabbing for the camera. They take a little time to figure out what they’re looking at, then scroll to the next one.)

Thompson: So far nothing freaky. Maybe I just watched too many horror flicks as a kid.

(he clicks to the next picture)

Alex: Oh my God.

(the picture is grainy and shadowed, it is a shot of Anders’ arm, clearly taken while the camera was still hanging around his neck. His shirt sleeve has been ripped open and there are three bloody gouges on his wrist.)

Thompson: What the fuck did that?

Alex: (holding her temples, shaking her head) This is some sick joke, this is not real.

(the next picture comes up. It’s almost completely black and impossible to see anything. There seems to be an image in one corner, so Thompson plays around with the computer, zooming in. A strange, ghostly face comes into resolution. Thompson and Alex are both on the edge of their seats.)

Alex: Oh shit, it’s just a statue.

Thompson: (relieved) One of the Saints. OK. Next picture.

(this one is blank, just a photo of darkness. The next one is the same. When they scroll to the one after that, they both jump back from the screen. This is a partial face-shot of Marica. You can only see the lower left half of her face. She’s screaming, and there’s a spatter of blood across her cheek.)

Alex: That’s Marica.

Thompson: Is that blood on her face?

Alex: What happened in there? A cave-in?

Thompson: I told you, the chamber was clean. Spotless even. Everything was packed into that sarcophagus.

(they scroll to the next and last photo. Alex looks like she’s going to faint.)

Alex: No. Oh no. This is a joke. That bastard Morgan is just fucking around with us – maybe he did it for that uppity Romanian bitch –

Thompson: I can’t tell what we’re looking at here.

Alex: Can’t you see it? That face?

Thompson: It’s just another Saint.

Alex: The fuck that’s a Saint.

Thompson: I’ll clean it up and prove it to you.

(He fiddles with the program. We see, deep in shadow, the face of Dracula, eyes glimmering with their own light, mouth crimson with blood. Alex and Thompson look in silence at the computer screen, then turn wide eyes to one another. Throughout all this, it has been growing darker and darker around the tent.)

Alex: This can’t be. It’s got to be a joke. Morgan’s a sick fuck and this is just something he’s rigged –

(The power goes out. It is completely dark.)

Alex: Jesus fucking Christ!

Thompson: Kristof! Garrett! What’s with the generator?

Alex: If someone tripped over it again, I swear to God –

(They hear screams come from the rest of the camp. Yelling, in American and Romanian. Someone fires a gun.)

Alex: David?

Thompson: I hope you still have the keys to the Jeep because we are getting the hell out of here.

Alex: Grab the book.

Thompson: What?

Alex: I mean it. That thing’s a career-maker. We can’t leave it behind.

(Alex and Thompson dash out of the main tent, running toward the Jeep. The camp is in chaos. One of the Romanian workers crashes headlong into Thompson, nearly knocking him to the ground. Alex helps him up. Thompson notices blood on his hands – it’s not his. In the midst of all the chaos, they make it to the Jeep. Alex gets it to turn over. The headlights cut through the night. Just as she gets the Jeep in gear, the headlights illumine a lunging figure. It is Dr. Morgan. His eyes are wild and he is snarling like an animal. His eyeteeth have become fangs.)

Thompson: Dr. Morgan?

Alex: Fuck that.

(She floors it, driving straight at Dr. Morgan. He bares fangs, squinting, but does not move. Alex drives straight into him. He’s thrown onto the hood, rolling off to one side.)

Thompson: Shit, woman!

Alex: Just hold on!

(Tires screech as they careen along the dirt road, back toward town.)

Act II Scene II

(A richly appointed hotel room with a four poster bed. The furniture is large, heavy, and all wood. Livia walks in, quietly shutting the door. The lighting in the room is dim. Mara lays stretched on top of the comforter, apparently sleeping. Reverently, Livia goes to touch her arm. Mara’s eyes snap open before Livia makes actual contact.)

Mara: There’s another one here.

Livia: What?

Mara: Another immortal. I can feel him, but something’s not right. It’s all jumbled.

Livia: Did you leave someone behind last time you were here?

(Mara sits up and stretches.)

Mara: No. I don’t remember. It all happened too fast. The council was right to send me here the minute images of the book turned up. This could get ugly fast.

(Mara falls silent, her eyes focused far away. Livia waits, fidgeting, then tries to be cheerful.)

Livia: I have news about the site.

Mara: Tell me.

Livia: It’s several miles away from the town. There’s a road, but it’s mostly dirt and rocks. The only vehicles that will handle it are the Jeeps. They’ve been excavating most of the summer. A few weeks ago they found a library.

Mara: Go on.

Livia: The book was there.

(Mara sighs. She doesn’t look happy.)

Livia: They haven’t deciphered any of it.

Mara: Who did you talk to?

Livia: A nice British rock band. And the head archaeologist’s assistant, Alexandra Richards.

Mara: A rock band?

Livia: You wanted me to talk to people. They were more than happy to talk – and buy me a couple of beers while they were at it. One of them has been up to the site. I think the Richards girl has a thing for him. She’s not in the mood to give guided tours, but I might be able to convince the guy to take me up there later tonight.

Mara: There’s no telling where they have the book.

Livia: So we leave the tour and stay behind. It should only take a couple days. And I’ve got a perfect excuse. The band’s filming a video. They’ve already asked me to be in it. Though to be honest I think the lead singer just wants in my pants.

Mara: We can make use of that.

Livia: Don’t we always?

(Mara gets up and starts pacing.)

Mara: Well, that’s a start, at least. I don’t know what I’m going to do about this other one, though. I’m having trouble focusing on him – it’s definitely a him. That much I can tell. But his presence here – it’s unexpected.

Livia: Could it be connected to the book?

Mara: There’s no avoiding it. The question is how is he connected? Does he go all the way back to when we lost it? That’s something I don’t want to consider just yet.

Livia: Come on. Let’s not worry about it for now. They’re having a banquet. Full formal attire. Let’s have a little fun while we’re here.

Mara: You enjoy all this commercialism? I feel like an Indian in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Livia: They don’t know what they’re exploiting, Mara. Besides, if we don’t have fun, people might ask questions.

Mara: Fine. I’ll put my game face on. But I haven’t gotten used to wearing dresses yet.

Livia: I haven’t gotten used to a lot of things since you died. But I picked out an outfit you’ll look really good in. Let’s just relax for a few hours. We can worry about everything else afterwards.

--M. Belanger

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Immortal: Dracula's Return (scenes 3 & 4)

Author's Note: Between Twitter and Facebook, a lot of you asked for me to post more of the screenplay. So over the next week or so, I'll post the rest of it here in 2 to 3 scene increments. I think it's a fun tale -- mostly fluff, but it doesn't really pretend to be much more than a cheesy vampire B movie. When I wrote it, it played out like a film in my head, so of course I had my "dreamcast" of actors -- some of whom aren't really actors at all but are drawn from among my circle of friends. Mara, whom we meet in the next scene, bears a resemblance to Trinity from the Matrix (which really helped me envision some later fight scenes). The band Falling Darkness was inspired by bandmates in URN -- as well as people I met through URN during my touring days. Johnny is what I'd expect to result if Don Henrie did a version of Spike from Buffy. I pictured Dr. Morgan as Sam Neill. If you've done vampire tours in New Orleans, the tour guide may seem familiar as well. Welcome to the cinema of my strange and twisted brain!

Act I Scene III

(A quaint Romanian village, early afternoon sun slanting in. There are very few cars, though one battered white conversion van a short distance from the Boyar hotel sticks out. It has a stylized Gothic cross and the words “Falling Darkness” in ornate lettering emblazoned on its side. On the main road, which is mostly dirt and gravel, a bus chugs over the hill. The bus pulls up in front of the three-story hotel, disgorging a group of tourists. The tour guide is a portly man of middle years. He wears his hair long and is dressed like a Victorian movie vampire, complete with top hat and cane. The archaic clothes are clearly warm for the season, and he mops sweat from his brow. About a dozen people emerge from the bus, mostly couples between forty and fifty. People chatter among themselves, snapping photos of the buildings that line the street.

 Among the last few people off the bus is Livia, a small-boned, buxom red-head. Behind her is Mara, a taller woman with an athletic build. Her dark hair is cut in a stylish pageboy. She wears a black tank top, black cargo pants and sunglasses. She has a striking piece of silver jewelry on a cord around her neck: an elegant, extended figure eight surmounted by an upturned crescent moon. A midnight-blue stone glitters in the center of the figure eight. It is the same symbol as the first page of the book.)

Guide: (clapping) All right everyone! Gather round so you can hear! My lungs will not last if you make me shout to the entire town. (tourists gather) All right. That’s better. Now, then. This is our second stop for Westenra Productions’ Draculamania Tour. You are standing now in historic Basarav, one of the many towns that lie in the shadow of Castle Dracula. Founded in the 14th century, this walled medieval town eventually became a stronghold of one of the local boyars loyal to Vlad the Impaler. We will have the privilege of staying in the boyar’s former mansion, now refurbished as an award-winning hotel.

The hotel is one of the oldest buildings in the town, with the original masonry dating back to the 1390s. Another Medieval building with an impressive history is the old stone church, which you will find a few blocks east and south. South of the town proper is what is known as the Saracen’s Tower. This crumbling stone edifice is a grim reminder of the bitter war this region fought with Turkish invaders. The crescent moon you will see carved over its main doorway is a sign of the Muslim religion, a sure indication that Basarav was Turkish-controlled before Vlad the Third won its freedom. We will be spending the night here in Basarav, and tomorrow morning we will be up bright and early at ten-thirty to take a tour of the church andSaracenTower. Then it’s back on the bus to make the thirty mile trek onward toBrasov, home of Castle Bran, better known to the rest of the world as Castle Dracula. …

(As the tour guide talks, the focus shifts to Livia and Mara. Mara is rubbing sunscreen into her pale skin)

Livia: Mara, you holding up ok?

Mara: (shrugs) I wouldn’t mind getting out of the sun.

Livia: He loves hearing himself talk.

Mara: He’s a tour guide, Livia. That’s what they do. Though I wish he’d hurry up. I want to go lay down in the room.

Livia: You want me to help you with the bags?

Mara: I’ll get the luggage. I want you to look around. Find out where the archaeological site is, and if we can get in.

Livia: All right. Are you sure you don’t need anything?

(the tour guide begins leading everyone into the hotel. The driver and a porter are unloading bags from the belly of the bus. Mara begins to lead Livia over that way. She looks among the bags, then grabs two large pieces of luggage practically out of the porter’s hands.)

Mara: I’ll take those.

(Mara slips him a bill so he doesn’t complain. She shoulders both bags with surprising ease.)

Livia: I can carry one of those.

Mara: You know it’s no problem. I want information on the dig. That’s what you can do for me. I’ll come down around dinner, when I’m feeling better.

(Mara strides into the hotel, shouldering her way past a few other tourists. Livia stands on the street for a moment, chewing her lip and looking worried. But then she begins to follow the rest of the tour group.)

Act I Scene IV

(The interior of the hotel. The front desk is along the left wall as you walk in. Across from the front desk are stairs leading to a second floor of rooms. Straight back, off the lobby, is a lounge. A garish woodcut sign above the doorway proclaims this “The Impaler.” Voices and music filter out from the lounge. Livia walks into the hotel, surveys her surroundings, then heads for the lounge. Inside is a bar, several tables, a very small dance floor, and several kitschy pieces of Dracula-themed décor. In one corner, a couple of tables have been shoved together. Seated at these is the band, drinking and chatting. A video camera and some related equipment sits on the table between them. When Livia walks in, the band members look up. Body and racial types vary widely among the members of the band, with Victor being the largest and most muscled. All wear Goth fashion, all sound British. Johnny's accent is the strongest, to the point of being overdone.)

Johnny: (whistling as Livia enters) Check that out, mates.

Victor: Not bad.

Wolf: (rolling his eyes) Why's it always got to be red-heads with you?

Victor: What’s wrong with red-heads?

Briggs: They’re crazy, that’s what.

Griffin: Hell, all women are crazy, it’s just a matter of degrees. (waving to Livia) You want a drink?

(Livia glances toward the bartender, then heads over to the band. She pulls up a chair and sits down with them.)

Livia: You guys weren’t with the tour.

Briggs: Hell no. We’re shooting a music video.

Livia: Oh really?

Johnny: (putting on an announcer-style voice) Live from Transylvania. It's Johnny Dark and Falling Darkness! You heard of us?

Livia: Um …

Wolf: It’s not like we’re top tier.

Briggs: Third rung, more like.

Johnny: Never mind them. They’re just mad we got turned away in Brasov. They wouldn’t let us film in the castle there. Bastards.

Wolf: Shoulda contacted the visitors’ bureau ahead of time.

Victor: And now we blew the tranny on the van driving over all the damn mountains.

Briggs: I told you she couldn’t handle the bloody mountains, but does anyone listen to me?

Johnny: Really, ignore them. What’s your name, luv?

Livia: Livia.

Johnny: That’s gorgeous. What do you drink, Livia? They got vampire vodka here. It looks just like blood.

Livia: I’ll stick with a beer, thanks.

(Wolf waves the bartender over, flirting with her as he orders the next round.)

Livia: (drinking) You guys staying here at the Boyar Hotel?

Victor: Only place in town.

Johnny: We’re looking into another location for the video. There’s this old factory on the edge of town, a weapons plant or something from the Cold War. It’s all creepy and abandoned. Perfect place to shoot.

Victor: It’s not like we’re going anywhere until that bloody part comes in.

Johnny: Speaking of which -- how long are you in town for, Livia?

Livia: The tour group heads to Brasov tomorrow.

Johnny: That’s rough. Sure you don’t want to stick around? We could use someone like you in the film.

Livia: I don’t know. The only location you have is a factory? No nice, convenient ruined castles nearby?

(As Livia and the band talk, Alex walks in and orders a drink from the bar. She takes her drink and walks over to the band.)

Alex: Hi, guys. How’s the music video coming along?

(The band greets Alex. Griffin pulls up a chair for her)

Victor: You look pissed. That Morgan bastard giving you grief again?

Alex: Doesn’t he always? It’s the same old story. He won’t let me near a new find. Anything that’s interesting, he comes up with some dumb errand to send me away. He’s such a glory-hound.

Griffin: You just have to wait till summer’s over, then you don’t have to deal with him any more.

Alex: I’m counting the minutes. Today was just too much. This uppity chick from the university stopped by, and he’s practically falling over himself trying to impress her. What that man won’t do for a little grant money.

Johnny: Livia, this is Alexandra Richards. She’s with the archaeological team.

Livia: Archaeological team?

Griffin: You think you’re seeing some neat stuff on your vampire tour? They’re busy digging up the tomb of the real Dracula, Vlad fucking Tepes himself.

Livia: I thought that was near Bucharest?

Alex: We don’t know if he’s actually buried here.

Griffin: That library you guys found a couple weeks back is more than enough to put you on the map. Ancient tomes of magic scribed on metal plates …

Livia: You found a magic book?

Alex: It could be a cookbook for all we know. Why do you guys always make things sound weirder than they really are?

Wolf: We’re a Goth band. What do you expect?

Livia: Is the dig part of the tour? I’d really like to see it.

Alex: Of course not. It’s closed to the public.

Livia: You couldn’t even sneak me in? I’m really into archaeology. I’d love to see a real dig.

Alex: There’s not much to see. Most of it’s underground, and a lot of that’s not really safe. Never mind that Dr. Morgan would eat me alive if he found me sneaking anyone else up to his site.

Griffin: Hey -- I helped out with that wiring problem.

Alex: (warmly) You did more with that generator than the guy with the engineering degree ever could. But no, I can’t just take random people up there. Sorry.

(The tour guide and several other people on the tour begin filtering into the bar. The tour guide is busy pointing out the cheesy vampire decorations and expounding on what each represents.)

Alex: It’s getting kind of busy in here, and if I’m late getting back, they’re going to be pissed. Thanks for letting me rant.

Griffin: Any time, sweetie. You ever throw down with that bastard Morgan, you know who to call.

Alex: As much as I’d like to smack Dr. Morgan for the way he’s treated me, it wouldn’t exactly be a career move. But I appreciate the sentiment.

Livia: If you change your mind –

Alex: (firmly) No. Nice meeting you anyway.

--M. Belanger

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