It’s an unseasonably balmy evening at the MARSCAPONE AUXILIARY APARTMENTS. The sun has set and the gibbous moon’s glow bathes the sky in a cool bluish light. Countless people shuttle over uneven sidewalks bound for destinations unknown. No one notices a blond man in an embroidered Mandarin jacket standing in front of a brick townhome.
The young vampire ROXANNE SCHWARTZ has walked through the streets quietly, refusing eye contact with even a single Mortal. As she approaches, CEDRIC peels his phone from his pocket.
Waiting at the light off the GCP.
Be there soon.
CEDRIC recognizes her distinct cadence of walk; determined, always with a thought heavy on the mind, the stress of Mortality still hanging over her like a storm cloud. He often thought the two of them would have got along well even without sharing a Mentor. Perhaps in their youth, they might have been friends.
He speaks without looking up. She wears her usual red shoes.
KEV’S ON HIS WAY. HE’LL BE HERE SOON.
CEDRIC draws his eyes up to view the young woman. She has short hair showing off long golden hoops hanging from her earlobes. She has painted her face delicately to bring the hints of rouge back to her cheeks.
ROXANNE shivers audibly against the wind in reply.
YOU WRITTEN BACK TO YOUR FRIEND YET?
ROXANNE takes up a position parallel to CEDRIC and, like him, begins to eye the passersby.
I HAVEN’T WRITTEN BACK TO HER YET.
I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
WELL, I WAS A LITTLE HARSH.
IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A FRIEND, HAVE A FRIEND.
I’M BIASED BECAUSE I LEFT MY FAMILY LONG BEFORE I WAS EVER TURNED.
SO DON’T TAKE MY WORDS TOO SERIOUSLY.
I’M JUST CONCERNED FOR YOU.
I APPRECIATE IT.
I DON’T WANT TO PUT ANY OF US IN DANGER.
I DOUBT THAT WOULD HAPPEN.
YOU’D WITHDRAW BEFORE ANYTHING GOT TOO DANGEROUS.
KEVIN’s teal jalopy wheels up over the sidewalk. He approaches, but just stops short of the gate, held together with chain and padlock. He rolls down his window.
(waving) HEY ROXANNE.
ROXANNE is a bit sheepish.
EVERYONE HOP IN?
CEDRIC walks around the back of the car while ROXANNE climbs in behind the driver’s seat. The doors are unlocked. She sits in the middle of the wide bench.
HOW WAS THE DRIVE?
DRIVE WAS OKAY.
I ALWAYS TRY TO DO THE REVERSE COMMUTE WHEN I CAN.
CEDRIC sits in the passenger side seat and the last door closes with a slam.
We're on our way over to Douglaston now.
Glad to hear it.
HOW DID STRAUD MEET MORTIMER, ANYWAY?
I DON’T KNOW HOW THE TWO OF THEM MET. BUT THEY HAVE BEEN FRIENDS A LONG TIME.
BELLA ALWAYS ATTRACTED A FAIR AMOUNT OF ATTENTION. SHE WAS CAPABLE. BEYOND THAT, I CAN’T SAY.
HIS SON LIVES WITH SEBASTIAN?
YEP, OUT IN THE BOONIES.
SULANI was hardly the middle of nowhere, but CEDRIC possessed an irrepressible pride for his city.
IT WAS NICE TO MEET TZU.
SHE SEEMS LIKE AN ALRIGHT PERSON.
SHE IS AN ALRIGHT PERSON.
ONE OF THE BETTER GRADUATES.
KEVIN was conspicuously silent, though in anything but disagreement.
The GOTH MANOR sits tall and silent on a quiet street in the Queens suburb of Douglaston. Located far from the subway, the character of the neighborhood is more of Long Island than the area surrounding the MAGICADEMY. Cars just pepper the sidestreets. Most of the driveways, too, house at least one car.
KEVIN drives the car into the small driveway.
The garbage bin has been kicked over and lies empty against the side of the house.
The trio steps out of the car.
WHEN’S THE LAST TIME SOMEONE WAS OVER HERE?
She kneels to pick up the garbage bin.
I THINK STRAUD WAS MAKING THE ROUNDS. DON’T KNOW WHEN EXACTLY THOUGH.
I’VE GOT ONE OF THE SPARE KEYS.
THEY GOT AN ALARM SYSTEM?
MORT HAD A LOT OF PARANOIAS.
ELECTRONICS FEATURED PROMINENTLY IN A LOT OF THEM.
GETTING HIS HOUSE WIRED FOR A SECURITY SYSTEM PROBABLY WASN’T HIGH ON HIS LIST.
She’s interrupted by the sharp blare of a car horn from the nearby cross-street. She doesn’t finish her sentence.
After the quiet resumes, they sit in silence for a few moments as ROXANNE rejoins them to ascend the front steps.
I TALKED TO CASSANDRA AND IT SOUNDS LIKE SHE’S GOT EVERYTHING SHE WANTED OUT OF THE HOUSE FOR NOW.
WE’LL JUST CHECK THAT THE DOORS ARE STILL SECURE AND THE LIGHTS ARE ON.
LOOKING GOOD ON THAT FRONT.
He points to the outside lights casting an amber glow upon the stoop.
HEH. GOOD POINT.
KEVIN pulls an oversized keyring from his pocket and begins to sort through it.
NICE HOUSE JUST SITTING FALLOW.
KIND OF OUT OF THE WAY THOUGH.
Finally, KEVIN selects the proper key and slips it into the keyhole. The locking mechanism clicks back into the socket inside the door. He places his hand on the doorknob and turns. The door sticks a bit but opens to reveal a darkened foyer.
KEVIN steps first into the doorway, walking forward to allow room for CEDRIC, ROXANNE.
ROXANNE closes the door behind her.
The lights flicker to life when KEVIN flips a switch on the wall.
WELL, THE LIGHTS WORK, BUT SEEMS WE OUGHT TO GET THE PLACE REWIRED AT SOME POINT.
PLACE COULDN’T BE THAT OLD.
FIFTIES, SIXTIES, I THINK.
ROXANNE stops to look over a suit of armor set against the wall.
GUY WAS A REAL WEEB, WASN’T HE.
CEDRIC dismissively flicks the side of the suit of armor and it clangs discordantly.
ROXANNE looks around her, craning her neck about to look up the palatial staircase.
YEAH. THEY WERE FLUSH.
WELL, LET’S DO A LOOK-SEE AND MAKE SURE EVERYTHING’S OK.
The house is in a state of transition. Boxes are piled in the corners, some of them open and half-full. By the newspapers piled up on the tables, someone had stopped halfway through packing up the china.
KEVIN walks toward the back of the house. CEDRIC, ROXANNE enter the sitting room. Books are densely packed into shelving to their right. A fireplace sits silent against the opposite wall.
CEDRIC kneels down to listen intently to the airflow.
ROXANNE walks over to an ornate writing desk set in the front-facing bay window.
The sound of KEVIN opening and closing the back door can be heard across the half-filled home.
The silence is interrupted by an unexpected creak from the ceiling. CEDRIC, ROXANNE catch each other’s gaze and look at each other, waiting for the sound to repeat.
A rush of air comes into the sitting room when an imperceptable blur speeds down the hallway. Before they can fully react, KEVIN’s voice can be heard from the kitchen.
In the kitchen, KEVIN is backed up in a corner holding his hands out, invoking a wall of force. He is facing toward the kitchen table. CEDRIC follows his gaze to reveal a woman crouched on all fours like a wild cat. Her dark hair is long and messy, hanging about her face, and the whites of her eyes contrast starkly against near-ebony skin. Her mouth is open, her tongue visible between long, bright fangs.
ROXANNE enters the passageway, standing behind CEDRIC, viewing the scene.
KEVIN’s shirt is sliced and a shallow wound bleeds on his shoulder.
WHO IN THE HELL ARE YOU?
But the woman says nothing, merely heaving her chest in and out. She is completely unclothed.
Suddenly she leaps, bounding toward the hallway where CEDRIC, ROXANNE are standing. CEDRIC tries to come at her but she evades him. ROXANNE is unsure of what to do and backs away, trying to gather her bravery.
KEVIN runs toward the escapee’s trajectory, diving toward the hallway floor with an outstretched hand. A fan of snow coallesces in the air, aimed at the foyer’s wooden floor. A sheet of ice spreads over the surface as she bends out of sight.
But the aim is true; the sound of her slipping and sliding on the ice can be heard and she slams into a stack of boxes as she tries to round the corner to run up the stairs. The hallway is showered in loose-leaf paper that flutters over the ice.
The three are left in silence in the hallway after the sound of her rushing over the stairs dissipates. KEVIN gets up from the floor.
WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!
LOOKS LIKE STRAUD WAS RIGHT TO WORRY.
ROXANNE is quiet with fear.
KEVIN stretches his hand out and the papers fly up and back into stacks. He concentrates, setting the stack of boxes right again. Each stack, in its turn, floats into its respective box.
I DON’T RECOGNIZE THAT ONE.
COULD SHE BE ONE OF THE CONDUITS?
I DON’T REALLY KNOW.
SHE SHOULDN’T BE HERE.
KEVIN kneels down and places his hand on the icy floor. A hiss of steam melts the surface, leaving the floor slightly damp.
LET’S TRY TO CLEAR HER OUT.
WHAT’S OUR M.O.?
WE TRYING TO STAY FRIENDLY?
WE DON’T KNOW WHO SHE IS. WE’LL TRY.
BUT WE’RE NOT TAKING ANY RISKS.
YOU OKAY THERE?
KEVIN reaches over his shoulder to cup his injury. When he brings his hand back, his fingertips are lightly bloodied. He rubs the blood between his fingers and thumb.
IT LOOKS WORSE THAN IT IS.
CEDRIC disappears and a rush of air signifies his exit. He’s run upstairs in a flash.
ROXANNE, too, melts into a bat and flies up the stairs.
KEVIN, as the only one of the trio who cannot shape-shift, walks calmly up the stairs, trying to steady his pulse as he ascends.
ROXANNE hangs from the moulding about the ceiling. The hallway is completely quiet except for KEVIN walking up the stairs.
All of the doors are hanging open. CEDRIC stands in the confluence, looking toward each door, trying to detect any aberrant sound.
(quietly) Eeny… Meeny… Miny…
KEVIN, standing somewhat behind him, has his back to the wall.