// MARSCAPONE APARTMENTS //

CEDRIC sits alone in the basement. He browses the internet, idly, keeping an eye on the forums.

On a second monitor plays a show in black and white. The sound has a tinny quality, the up-conversion unkind to the voice acting. A laugh-track sounds strange and out-of-place but it provides some kind of solace to CEDRIC, who has been insistent on solitude following his most recent job.

The first monitor refreshes soundlessly, showing a recent update. He turns his attention toward it.

MYRTLE//

Cedric.

Can you come over here?

CEDRIC sighs and turns back the second monitor acting as a television.

A muffled voice delivers a one-liner and the laugh-track plays.

CEDRIC

(thinking) It’s always the same thing, every time.

CEDRIC thinks of typing back, setting his fingers in position. But nothing flows.

He misses the next line from the television.

STRAUD//

Woman.

Why don't you leave him alone for even a moment?

Can't you call up G.H. to keep you company during tea-time?

Isn't this why Agnes took the suite?

Called to action, embarrassed, CEDRIC places his hands once again on the keyboard.

CEDRIC//

I'll be over.

AVAEL//

I'll hold down the fort.


It is a bright spring day. The last remains of winter’s snow have left weeks ago, leaving a warming season alternating between wet and dry.

Something about CEDRIC makes him different than those with whom he keeps company. He blinks in the sun’s holy fire, unafraid.

Just several yards down the block sits a darkly bricked townhouse; the former home of the MARSCAPONE SCHOOL OF MAGIC. But today, only a small plaque on the corner property sets it apart from the ones next to it.

CEDRIC removes a sparse keyring from his pocket and unlocks the iron gate running along the sidewalk. He walks down the set of stairs and enters the basement entrance to the recently-reoccupied home of MYRTLE MARSCAPONE.

He knocks on the thick underground door.

...KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.
...

The door is quickly answered by a slight man with dull orange hair. He bows shallowly, hastily, but not without respect.

GEORGE HENRY

DAYWALKER. GREETINGS ON THIS… FINE… DAY.

CEDRIC

I’M HERE TO SEE THE OLD WOMAN. SHE AROUND?

GEORGE HENRY

OF COURSE. I THINK SHE’S UPSTAIRS.

BY THE SOUND OF IT, PERHAPS ALL THE WAY UPSTAIRS.

CEDRIC

OKAY. THANKS.

The MARSCAPONE APARTMENTS were designated a historic landmark in the late aughts, thereby making structural improvements largely forbidden. One of these edicts stipulated that no elevator could be built in the building.

CEDRIC walks upstairs, past the ground floor and up to the second floor, where he can just hear the sound of MYRTLE tapping away at her computer and mouse on the third.

She yells out, having heard his advance.

MYRTLE

CEDRIC.

GOOD TO SEE YOU. I’LL BE DOWN IN A MOMENT.

CEDRIC

I’LL COME UP.

MYRTLE

NO PLEASE LET ME COME DOWN. I WANT TO TAKE YOU INTO THE GARDEN ANYWAY.

CEDRIC looks around the second floor landing. The place smells musty with old books and wood polish. To the side is a small bathroom and the old woman’s bedroom.

Soon, MYRTLE can be seen carefully descending the stairs. An accomplished magic-user, and yet, her body had become frail when not supplanted by her Ability.

When she reaches the second floor, they lock eyes for a moment, but MYRTLE turns away, trying to hide her shame. She waves her hand and bows her head, motioning him to go downstairs.

MYRTLE

COME COME COME. DOWNSTAIRS. INTO THE KITCHEN. INTO THE GARDEN.

A pause. They walk.

CEDRIC

SO. YOU’RE ENJOYING BEING BACK IN YOUR OLD HOUSE?

MYRTLE

IMMENSELY.

I NEVER SHOULD HAVE LEFT.

THE BOY KNEW WHAT WAS BEST FOR ME.

She refers to her son, KEVIN.

CEDRIC

YOUR FRIEND AGNES IS LIVING IN THE SUITE?

MYRTLE

YES YES. AGNES SEPAL. A TALENTED YOUNG – WELL.

A TALENTED GARDENER.

I’LL INTRODUCE YOU SOMETIME. SHE’S A DELIGHTFUL WOMAN.

CEDRIC

AND THE STUDIO, TOO?

MYRTLE

VLAD SENT ME THE NUMBER OF A YOUNG WOMAN LOOKING FOR A PLACE OF HER OWN.

I DON’T KNOW HER WELL YET. ‘SUMMER’. – SUMMER… HODGSON?

CEDRIC

‘HOLIDAY’.

MYRTLE

HOLIDAY. YES. SUMMER HOLIDAY.

Soon, they’re standing in the woman’s kitchen. A cauldron sits in the fireplace, dull in the sunbeans, rust on its edges.

They stand for a moment, basking in the reflections from the black tiles.

MYRTLE

I…

I’M SORRY FOR ASKING SO MUCH OF YOU, CEDRIC.

I JUST WANTED TO TAKE A WALK IN THE GARDEN.

VISIT VINCENT.

VISIT SOMEONE WHO KNEW HIM.

The pair exit the kitchen and walk out on the patio. The sunlight is bright, intrusive. CEDRIC squints but the sun still blocks clear sight. MYRTLE feels the warmth warm her dark clothes uncomfortably.

In the back of the garden runs a row of gravestones. Two of them sit at the head of freshly overturned dirt, heaps covered in new grass.

Birds make chorus in the background.

MYRTLE stops, hanging her head, as they approach a dark, weathered stone.

VINCENT MARSCAPONE

MYRTLE

I’LL NEVER FORGET… WHEN HE CAME TO ME THAT DAY.

HE ENCLOSED HIS HANDS IN MINE AND DROPPED IN MY PALM…

HIS…

HIS…

She goes silent, tears welling in her eyes.

CEDRIC allows her the space. He’s heard this story before; knows she knows he’s heard this story before.

But he can’t help but feel a nagging guilt about the missing fang. He thinks of the (w)IntraNet, his falsified story distracting the young ALEXANDER GOTH; CEDRIC’s own involvement penciled in. The story he’d presented to the young man not exactly how it had happened.

Truth stranger than fiction.

MYRTLE

IN THE END IT WAS ALL I HAD OF HIM, ALL I HAD TO LAY TO REST.

ONE… TOOTH.

The pictures CEDRIC had shared with ALEXANDER of the boy KEVIN with a crooked mess of tooth and fang, the confused mess of both magic-user and vampiric ancestry… None of that had been faked.

KEVIN, an oddity by no fault of his own, was abducted by McCOY, hoping to extract mysteries from DNA testing and vivisection. CEDRIC had censored the violence in his retelling, calling him a Dentist. Though McCOY had certainly thought dental work fell under his perview.

VINCENT had removed his tooth, sending a promise of revenge.

He finally rescued his young son from the laboratory but had been unable to deliver the final blow to remove the blight on Earth that was the cruel Doctor. His hope for justice would have to rest with the next generation.

The laboratory was destroyed and their captives set free, but McCOY had escaped.

MYRTLE pulls a strand of hair loose from its hairpins and lets it flutter in the wind.

MYRTLE

I’M SO SORRY THIS ALL HAS HAPPENED TO YOU, CEDRIC.

In his quiet, he both accepts and refutes her apology.

CEDRIC

ME? IT IS YOUR FAMILY THAT’S SUFFERED.

KEVIN…

MYRTLE

HE HAS BORNE SO MUCH.

I… I FEAR THERE IS NOTHING ELSE I CAN DO FOR HIM.

HE SUFFERS.

HE’S RETREATED.

CEDRIC

(thinking) Like me.

MYRTLE

I’M GLAD GEORGE HENRY HAS RETURNED.

HAVING HIM AROUND REMINDS ME OF THE GOOD OLD DAYS.

CEDRIC

(thinking) But those days were anything but good.

(thinking) A moment’s calm before the storm. Anxiety’s false peace.

(thinking) And I was weak, young, and helpless.

MYRTLE

YOU ARE SO LIKE HIM, YOU KNOW.

She casts her glance back toward the tombstone.

ALTHOUGH MY LAMENT IS THAT YOU DON’T LAUGH AS MUCH.

CEDRIC

I –

MYRTLE

YOU ONLY KNEW HIM DURING THE BAD TIMES. THE DARK TIMES.

HE WAS FILLED WITH SUCH JOY IN OUR YOUNGER DAYS.

OR, I GUESS, ‘MY’ YOUNGER DAYS.

There is no adequate response to such a strange accusation. CEDRIC was always a serious man, even in his younger days, both close and yet, far away.

MYRTLE

DO YOU STILL KEEP COMPANY WITH OBOROVSKY?

CEDRIC

(defiant) EXCUS –

MYRTLE

OH I’M SORRY FOR PRYING. I JUST THINK IT’S SUCH A GOOD MATCH.

I’M DESPERATE FOR ANY KIND OF HAPPY NEWS IN THESE DARK DAYS.

HER FAMILY IS ONE OF THE ONLY BEACONS OF HOPE WE HAVE. I WOULD HATE TO SEE IT SLIP AWAY.

CEDRIC

SVETLANA ALREADY HAS CHILDREN.

MYRTLE

OH, YES, I’M WELL AWARE.

I WAS THINKING OF YOU, CEDRIC.

CEDRIC feels a twinge of anger, insulted that a conversation about VINCENT’s sacrifice has morphed into a sideways discussion about copulation.

CEDRIC

(terse) MISSUS…

MYRTLE

DO YOU WANT TO END UP LIKE HIM?

CEDRIC

(pause) IN WHAT WAY DO YOU MEAN?

MYRTLE

DEAD! DAMNIT! DEAD!

WHEN I FOUND MYSELF WITH A VAMPIRE FOR A HUSBAND, I DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE THE ONLY ONE LEFT!

CEDRIC

… HE WAS A GOOD…

MYRTLE

AND YOU ARE TOO!

MY HUSBAND HAD TO LAY HIS TASK UPON HIS SON.

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE YOU?

CEDRIC

I HAVE A DUTY TO PERFORM.

I HAVE A JOB TO DO.

I WON’T REST UNTIL McCOY IS BURNT AT THE STAKE FOR HIS CRIMES.

I WON’T REST UNTIL THE MOON IS A SMOLDERING CLUSTER OF RUBBLE BURNING RED IN THE NIGHT SKY.

THEN I WILL RETURN, AS VINCENT DID FOR HIS SON.

MYRTLE

… I KNOW.

Her voice is heavy with words unsaid.

CEDRIC

THE SUN IS GETTING UNBEARABLE.

LET’S RETURN TO SHELTER.

MYRTLE

YES… LET’S.

When they again stand in the kitchen, the shadows are invigorating. But MYRTLE still seems embarrassed.

CEDRIC feels guilty, again having burdened another living soul with his soap-box.

CEDRIC

I WANTED TO TELL YOU.

NO MORE OF THESE HITS. UNLESS THEY’RE FOR GOOD REASON.

DAMN GOOD REASON.

I WANT…

They seem to wait for sound to interrupt them.

I WANT TO JOIN THE FORCE AGAIN.

MYRTLE

(pause) THE…

CEDRIC

I WAS A COP. BEFORE I WAS TURNED.

MYRTLE

I REMEMBER… YOU TOLD ME THAT.

CEDRIC

AND I WAS A DAMN GOOD COP TOO.

AND IF THAT DOESN’T WORK OUT, THEN I’LL JUST BE RIGHT BACK WHERE I STARTED.

I WOULDN’T HAVE LOST ANYTHING.

MYRTLE

BUT THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO, CEDRIC.

BEFORE… SO MANY THINGS.

I CAN’T LET YOU LEAVE ME LIKE HE DID.

CEDRIC

AND…? WHAT? IT’S BETTER WITH ME AS YOUR BOUNTY HUNTER?

HE DIED FOR JUSTICE.

MYRTLE

BUT THEY’LL FIND YOU. THERE IS NO SAFE PLACE ANYMORE. THE NSR HAS EYES AND EARS EVERYWHERE. MOST OF ALL THERE.

THEY’RE PREPARING TO TURN US ALL INTO CATTLE.

AND YOU ARE JUST ONE.

CEDRIC

THEN LET THEM COME. LET THEM FIGHT ME.

I NEED TO FIND SOMETHING WORTH SAVING.

MYRTLE

YOU… ARE SO LIKE HIM.

CEDRIC

TELL THE OLD MAN. PULL SOME STRINGS. HAVE HIM PULL STRINGS.

I NEED TO GAIN A VANTAGE POINT GREATER THAN THE MUCK I’VE BEEN DROWNING IN.

MYRTLE

BUT…

CEDRIC

(interrupting) THIS IS WHAT I AM DOING. HELP ME. OR DON’T.

CEDRIC turns around and walks down the hallway to the front door. He undoes the locks and walks out the door into the waning evening sun.