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?
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.