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.
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.)
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?
(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.
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.