// THE CRIMSON TOWER //
Two weeks have passed since LENARD McCOY gifted the young woman MEIFENG TANG with the curse of his ancestors.
It had been a quiet ceremony. McCOY had become a man of words in the modern era, but he had not been raised that way. Under matters of importance, he tended to revert back to his old ways. The ways that were comfortable to him and reminded him of …Home.
After she’d drank from him, she’d felt an unknown surge sweep through her person, as if poison. Before collapsing from exhaustion, she had time only to answer his final question.
WHAT IS YOUR NAME?! HOW WILL WE CALL YOU?
After a pause, she’d responded, weakened, almost whispering.
VANESSA. I AM VANESSA.
And without so much as a request, she’d crumpled to the floor.
The two in attendance had lifted her and dragged her to a dark, windowless bedroom she’d asked to take as her own.
AVAELLE EASTON had offered some words of reassurance.
SHE’LL BE FINE.
… I KNOW.
// THE LOCAL CLINIC //
McCOY has been checking his phone anxiously over the past two weeks, desperate for news.
VANESSA was not the first he’d given the curse, nor would she be the last. But this time seemed… different.
These days, McCOY worked as a doctor. A seemingly ordinary doctor, or so his patients believed. Ugly, but not without his charisma, charm, and certainly not without the air of competence. With the secret support of the NSR, neither his bad temper nor his occasional misunderstanding of human physiology were enough for him to lose a job.
Worst case scenario, they just moved him somewhere else.
It is a cloudy afternoon when he finally gets the news he’s been waiting for. He’s attending to a young girl, MARIAM … MARIAM … HUBERT? The family name seems unimportant.
I’M SO SORRY MARIAM, I’M ON CALL THIS WEEK AND I HAVE TO TAKE THIS.
I WILL SEND ANOTHER DOCTOR FOR YOU.
And in a moment, he’s gone. He sends for another physician and the whole thing seems to melt away from his attention.
He hides himself inside a lavatory and pulls his cellphone from his pocket.
I'm sorry to contact you while you're at work...
But this is all getting out of my control.
Vanessa is not like the others. She's violent, angry.... she hungers.
Lenard, I'm sorry.
Are you there?
McCOY fumbles out a reply.
Avaelle. I'm here.
Are you okay?
Please say you're okay.
I don't think she's going to try to hurt me.
But to be honest, I'm scared.
It's only been, what, a week?
Oh I'm so happy to hear from you.
thank you for responding.
I'm sorry to bother you at work.
Think nothing of it.
It's Vanessa... she...
She drains them dry, Lenard.
Say no more.
I'm coming over.
// THE CONVERTED TRAIN STATION //
A bat flies over the city, unheeded by the countless throngs of humans bustling about their day.
In a shaded yard, the DOCTOR rematerializes and knocks on the door of a large brick building in Brooklyn.
A red-haired woman answers the door.
LENARD. I’M SO GLAD TO SEE YOU.
The two embrace.
SHE’S DOWNSTAIRS ON THE COMPUTER. WHEN SHE’S AWARE, I’M BARELY ABLE TO TEAR HER FROM THE THING.
McCOY leads – the two walk toward the stairs to the basement.
The darkened brick interior is murky yet dry; salt hangs in the air.
When he is about halfway down, he stops and calls out.
VANESSA, ARE YOU DOWN HERE?
A pause, even a gasp if his hearing were better.
She leaps up from her computer desk and approaches the bottom of the stairfall.
HI! HOW’RE YOU?
She seems bright, even overly energized.
I’M DOING WELL, THANK YOU FOR ASKING.
He looks back toward AVAELLE but seems reticent to make full eye-contact.
VANESSA interrupts the silence.
I’M DOING GREAT.
ARE YOU DREAMING?
VANESSA pauses for a moment, her neck tense as if about to tilt her gaze in confusion.
NO. I HAVEN’T HAD ANY DREAMS.
A quiet falls over the trio.
AVAELLE TELLS ME –
(interrupting) I SENT YOU A MESSAGE.
DID YOU GET IT?
A … MESSAGE…?
ON YOUR PHONE. DID YOU GET IT?
VANESSA is over-active and antsy, even childish in her enthusiasm.
… I’LL CHECK IT NOW.
McCOY removes the phone from his doctor’s coat. The message is dated within the last few minutes.
I got another one.
McCOY says nothing, but manages to look toward AVAELLE to gauge her status. The young woman at the bottom of the stairs eagerly awaits his reply.
I’M SO SORRY I DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO RESPOND.
I WAS IN TRANSIT.
YOU KNOW HOW IT IS, WHEN YOU’RE ON THE TRAIN.
I THOUGHT THEY HAD WI-FI IN THE TRAIN STATIONS NOW.
WELL, THEY DO, BUT…
MY PHONE HAS POOR RECEPTION.
… IT’S AN OLD MODEL.
VANESSA hangs her head in embarrassment.
OH. I SEE.
I’LL BE MORE PATIENT NEXT TIME.
AVAELLE shifts on the stairs, sending a loud creak echoing through the cavernous underground.
He can’t stay on the stairs forever. McCOY walks down the stairs, slowly, steadily, cautiously.
VANESSA. I WANTED TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT SOMETHING.
I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T BEEN HERE FOR YOUR FIRST DAYS OF WAKING…
WE NEED TO TALK.
OH YES PLEASE! I’VE MISSED YOU!
HOW HAS IT TAKEN YOU?
While McCOY speaks, AVAELLE follows slowly down the stairs, each creaking under her weight.
OH. THE CURSE. YES.
WELL I FEEL GREAT.
I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU CALL THIS A CURSE.
YOU’VE BEEN… DRINKING – ?
OH IT’S JUST HEAVENLY.
YOU GET THEM IN A VULNERABLE SPOT AND –
MY FANGS HAVE BEEN COMING IN QUITE NICELY.
I’VE BEEN SHARPENING THEM A BIT, THOUGH I DON’T WANT TO WEAR AWAY TOO MUCH ENAMEL TOO SOON –
BUT THEY JUST SEEM TO KNOW WHERE TO GO AND BAM!
IT’S EASY TO JUST –
VANESSA. THERE’S MORE THAN JUST…
He struggles for words.
DRAINING THE BLOOD.
DO YOU REMEMBER…
DO YOU REMEMBER YOU WERE A VEGETARIAN?
YES. A VEGETARIAN.
YOU SWORE TO DO NO HARM.
McCOY feels a gentle poke on his upper back.
THAT WAS YOUR OATH.
But he continues to lecture toward the young vampress.
YOU TOOK A VOW NOT TO SLAY ANOTHER TO SATISFY YOUR OWN SUSTENANCE.
I… I DID.
IT IS UNLAWFUL –
TO KILL –
I DID TAKE THAT VOW.
VANESSA pauses for a moment to contemplate what the Elder has spoken.
McCOY turns over his shoulder to address the red-haired woman.
His voice is sheltered, whispered, as if in secrecy.
WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE ASHES?
I SPREAD THEM OVER THE ROSES.
The words cause surprise in the Doctor.
THE … ROSES?!
BETTER THEY SCATTER TO THE WIND THAN KEPT CAPTIVE IN MY SANCTUARY!
BUT THE SMELL…
LIKE I SAID!!
VANESSA looks up toward the pair, suddenly aware that she’s being spoken about.
McCOY suddenly loses his cool and shouts at the young VANESSA.
WE’RE SUPPOSED TO KEEP THEM ALIVE, YOU DUMB FUCK!