// STRAUD MANSION //

At the STRAUD MANSION, seven prepare to sit down around a crystal ball to complete a divination ritual.

The seven are the vampires VLADISLAUS STRAUD, CEDRIC, MANDARC, GEORGE HENRY, the former vampire KEVIN MARSCAPONE, and two mages: KEVIN’s mother MYRTLE and her student LARRY POTTER.

The room is done in stone and the small windows are open. A stiff breeze flows from one window to the other. The Mortals in the room wish they’d brought their coats.

STRAUD finally sits down, joining the others already chosen their chairs.

STRAUD

FOR THOSE THAT HAVE NEVER JOINED ME IN SUCH A QUESTION TO THE SKY. I WILL PROVIDE YOU A BIT OF A… DISCLAIMER.

WE NEED NOT JOIN HANDS, BUT I WILL PERFORM THE ROLE OF A CONDUIT TO LINK OUR CONSCIOUSNESS.

THINK OF THE MISSING YOUNG WOMAN, OR DO NOT. IT IS OF NO MATTER TO ME. THE GODS HAVE BEEN LOOKING UPON US AND WILL GIVE US THE INFORMATION WE SEEK.

YOUR ACTIONS IN THIS MOMENT MATTER LITTLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME. SO PUT YOUR MINDS AT EASE. LET THEM WANDER. BUT ALSO LET THEM SUBMIT.

STRAUD closes his eyes and lets the warmth of the room fill him. He reaches, if only mentally, toward the heavens.

~ ~ ~

FIRST: STRAUD is alone in a… ‘movie theatre’.

The room is empty, dark, stale damp air. It’s calming, but the emptiness is unnerving.

He looks around. He stands, in a strange configuration; as if uninhibited by the rows of seats.

He’s here to see someone, but who is it?

STRAUD turns around, as if startled, and the scene changes.

~ ~ ~

It’s a library. But not just any library. He recognizes this one.

Here, he has many times met his friend; a friend he has not seen in a long time.

TAMMY.

It’s been near a decade since the death of VINCENT MARSCAPONE; and STRAUD has taken over as a sort-of defacto leader for the lost flock… STRAUD has taken over the role of converting new acolytes.

But TAMMY was different.

It was then he’d felt so… “old”.

She’s sitting opposite him at a chess table, as was a common activity for the two. She doesn’t say anything but instead hands him a small handheld mirror. He looks at her one last time, hesitating.

STRAUD

(thinking) Not another vampire. Not another vampire. Not another…

STRAUD looks down and in the mirror he sees a shock of pale blond hair.

It’s CEDRIC.

STRAUD

FOCUS… FOCUS.

When he looks back up across the table, there is a woman with pink hair instead.

STRAUD

FOCUS. FOCUS.

His mind wanders for a moment, caught between fears.

Suddenly, a voice speaks.

VLADISLAUS.

He looks to his right and it’s the wife of his deceased friend. It’s MYRTLE MARSCAPONE. She has the shiny brown locks he always saw in the now-aging witch.

FOCUS. FOCUS.

MYRTLE

VLADISLAUS. HERMIONE.

STRAUD

(thinking) Right. Hermione.

He tries to draw from the inner images. From places he’s not seen in…

FOCUS. FOCUS.

~ ~ ~

Twisted metal effigies. The ruins of buildings once occupied by souls. The air is heavy with dust.

But then… maybe the dust has settled.

STRAUD seems to know that the ambiance is choked by the blaring of alarms and chaos, but he tries to put it out of mind.

STRAUD

FOCUS. FOCUS.

WHERE IS…

MYRTLE

HERMIONE GRANGER.

STRAUD

HERMIONE – GRANGER.

WHERE IS…

~ ~ ~

STRAUD is strapped in a hospital bed. Lights are blaring intense in his eyes but he cannot raise his hands to block the photonic assault.

Above him walks LENARD McCOY. He wears a head of grey hair, but STRAUD sees the tight-lipped grimace characteristic of the DOCTOR. But this façade is different. That full head of grey hair, given artificial volume, gelled up over his skull.

STRAUD

(thinking) He never had hair before…

But as he focuses on the man’s face, he notices the boils. The hideous boils.

(thinking) Is this how he appeared after Vincent and I…

The DOCTOR reaches into his pocket and his hand emerges into STRAUD’s vision with a scalpel in hand. He smooths over VLAD’s hair and a familiar voice speaks.

McCOY

THERE, THERE, THIS WON’T HURT.

JUST BE PATIENT.

There is a pulling of the scalp and the sound of razor on hair…

And his focus is broken.

The familiar whisper of his silver hair about his temples is absent.

He’s lost his concentration, lost his illusion.

~ ~ ~

Six pairs of eyes line the table, and STRAUD is filled with rage, a quiet, nagging rage. Why couldn’t they have just left him alone?

He looks back and forth, iterating over the eyes. Do they know? Did they see?

STRAUD

(thinking) There are so many of them…

STRAUD runs his tongue over the sharp edges of his teeth. He bites down, looking for the pain…

He blinks and into his perception comes CEDRIC.

CEDRIC, with the scar running down his face.

STRAUD knows he is showing what the magic-users call his ‘dark form’.

His focus returns and he puts forth his energy into remembering his illusion.

STRAUD

(thinking) YOUNG GRASS.

(thinking) SOFT MOSS.

(thinking) THE SMELL OF DIRT WAFTING INTO THE AIR AFTER AN AUTUMN RAINFALL…

And it works.

Sitting in front of the party, calming from his trance is the face they know as VLADISLAUS STRAUD.

GEORGE HENRY

M-MASTER?

The auburn-haired vampire is the first to speak.

But STRAUD does not respond immediately, allowing himself to fully grok the situation in which he finds himself.

He knows the intensity of the vision was shared among the channelers. But each of them will have their own interpretation.

STRAUD

MATRON.

YOU’VE HAD SOMETHING STOLEN FROM YOU. I SUGGEST YOU SEARCH YOUR HOME.

THROUGHLY.

AS FOR THE YOUNG GIRL…

STRAUD looks toward KEVIN.

IT IS TRUE THAT SHE’S NO LONGER ON THIS PLANE.

BUT SHE DID NOT EARN A PLACE IN ELYSION. IT SEEMS…

STRAUD thinks of TAMMY, how on that day he’d prepared to offer her the Gift, he’d changed his mind.

HER PLACE IN ELYSION WAS TAKEN BY ANOTHER.

BUT IT IS A SETTLING OF THINGS INTO THEIR PROPER PLACES.

KEVIN, CEDRIC. YOU WILL GO WITH MANDARC TO THE WEST TO RETREIVE WHAT HE HAS LOST.

BUT TONIGHT YOU WILL CONCERN YOURSELVES WITH GETTING OUR GUESTS SAFELY BACK TO THEIR BEDS. THE NIGHT GROWS.

AND LARRY.

LARRY

YES, …SIR?

STRAUD

STAY WITH YOUR TEACHER. SHE STILL HAS MUCH TO TEACH YOU.

AND GEORGE.

WHAT YOU SAW WILL NOT COME TO PASS. A CAUTIONARY TALE, A WARNING. THINGS THAT WERE, THINGS THAT WOULD BE, BUT NOT THINGS THAT ARE.

GEORGE HENRY

YES, SIR.

STRAUD

NOW I MUST ASK EACH OF YOU TO LEAVE.

I AM SORRY MY HOSPITALITY IS SO SHORT-LIVED, BUT TO BE QUITE HONEST I’M QUITE TIRED AND NEED SOME TIME TO RECOLLECT WHAT I’VE SEEN.

There is a pause among the six, daring the first to act.

But finally, the five wanderers have left the room.

MANDARC alone remains, standing statuesque by the open window.

The front door slams and they are confident that the mansion is empty.

Without making eye contact, STRAUD still collapsed over his knees, he speaks.

STRAUD

MANDARC. WHAT DID YOU SEE?

MANDARC

I… SAW WENDY.

STRAUD

I WAS AFRAID THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE CASE.

THE DOCTOR HAS PLACED HER THERE AS A DISTRACTION TO YOU.

MANDARC

BUT WHY?

STRAUD

JUST AN ORDINARY GIRL, OR SO IT SEEMS.

BUT THERE’S MORE TO IT THAN THAT.

MANDARC

COULD IT BE THAT SHE’S A MAGIC-USER?

STRAUD

I DON’T THINK SO, BUT I CAN’T BE CERTAIN. I WAS NOT AWARE THAT ANY OF THE DOCTOR’S GHOLA WERE SENSITIVE TO THE LEY-LINES.

MANDARC

YOU…

WHAT DID YOU MEAN EARLIER?

STRAUD

AFTER THE SÉANCE? AFTER THE CONTACT WAS SEVERED?

I WANT YOU TO GO BACK AND RETREIVE YOUR COMPANION ANIMAL FROM SHE WHO STOLE IT FROM YOU.

AND I WANT YOU TO BRING HIM BACK HERE.

MANDARC’s composure disappears.

MANDARC

MASTER… DO YOU MEAN IT?

STRAUD

YES, MANDARC, I DO.

MANDARC

I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE SHE WENT.

STRAUD

SHE WAS SWEPT OFF HER FEET BY THE YOUNG WEASLIE. HIS FAMILY MOVED JUST OUTSIDE THE GATEWAY SOME YEARS AGO. I’D SAY THAT’S AS GOOD AS ANY FOR A PLACE TO START.

MANDARC

SAINT LOUIE?

STRAUD

LAST I HEARD, THAT’S WHERE IT WAS LOCATED.

MANDARC

YOU WANT ME TO GO WITH KEVIN AND CEDRIC?

STRAUD

THAT IS WHAT I SAID.

MANDARC struggles to keep eye contact with the Elder.

MANDARC

I…

STRAUD

‘YOU’.

DON’T GET ALONG SO WELL WITH THEM.

MANDARC

(quietly) In so many words…

STRAUD

DO YOU WANT YOUR COMPANION ANIMAL OR NOT?

DO YOU WANT TO SEEK REVENGE ON SHE WHO STOLE FROM YOU?

MANDARC

IT’S NOT THAT!

STRAUD

YOU’RE ENVIOUS AND YOU LET THE BILE CONSUME YOUR SENSES.

YOU DESPISE THE MARSCAPONES BUT YOU SHOULD NOT ALLOW YOUR IMMATURITY TO CLOUD THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU TWO SHARE THE SAME RHETORIC.

MANDARC

HE’S SEEN THE OTHER SIDE!

STRAUD

AND YOU HAVE NOT?!

MANDARC

MASTER… PLEASE.

I’M NOT SURE I CAN BEAR SITTING IN THAT CAR FOR TWO DAYS WITH THEM.

STRAUD

SACRIFICES MUST BE MADE, MANDARC.

MANDARC tenses.

But he comes awake with an idea. His voice has an imploring, begging brightness.

MANDARC

MASTER.

COME WITH US.

STRAUD is indignant at the request. If he had not regained his composure an hour hence…

STRAUD

COME… WITH YOU?!

MANDARC

YES! COME WITH US.

STRAUD

WHAT, DO YOU FEAR THE WITCH?

YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DISPATCH HER EASILY.

AND IF WEASLIE FOLLOWS IN HIS UNCLE’S FOOTSTEPS THEN HE SHOULD BE OF EVEN LESS CONCERN.

MANDARC

I CAN’T BEAR TO SIT WITH THEM LIKE THAT.

I CAN’T BEAR…

STRAUD

MANDARC. YOU TRY MY PATIENCE.

I HAVEN’T LEFT MY HOME UNATTENDED IN…

MANDARC

WE CAN LEAVE GEORGE HENRY –

STRAUD

(interrupting) ROXANNE.

The discussion sees the ball land in the court of the Younger.

MANDARC

SO THEN YOU’LL COME.


PIDGE-ADMIN//

open chat @09:42 PM

MANDARC//

Kevin. Cedric.

MANDARC//

Well, first off, how did the job interview go?

CEDRIC//

I'll know tomorrow.

KEVIN//

We're going after your dog?

Saint Louie?

MANDARC//

That's my best guess.

MANDARC//

Bring the van.

Bossman's coming.

KEVIN//

What?

MANDARC//

I said the bossman's coming with us.

CEDRIC//

What, you don't think you can beat up a girl?

CEDRIC//

Or is it the car-sickness?

STRAUD//

I'd appreciate it if you boys wouldn't talk about me when I've not even been invited.

KEVIN//

Thank you for having us over the other night.

STRAUD//

Consider it my favor.

KEVIN//

But... who...?

MANDARC//

I'd like to ask Roxanne to look after the mansion.

CEDRIC//

Is that really such a good idea?

KEVIN//

Get her in here.

KEVIN//

Roxanne.

ROXANNE//

Reporting.

MANDARC//

Roxanne. Are you able to get away for a few days?

ROXANNE//

Get...

away?

STRAUD//

I gave a mission to the boys and they don't think they can do it on their own.

CEDRIC//

Mandarc doesn't like to hit girls.

KEVIN//

Can you watch the mansion for a few days while we are away?

ROXANNE//

Where are you going?

CEDRIC//

Saint Louie.

To pick up Mandarc's dog.

ROXANNE//

O.

I see.

MANDARC//

I just thought we'd have a better chance of success if the Master were in attendance.

CEDRIC//

Of course you did.

KEVIN//

Two days there,

Two days back.

KEVIN//

Could be one if we book it.

ROXANNE//

And --

You want me to stay at the mansion?

MANDARC//

If you could.

CEDRIC//

Mandarc's afraid of getting beat up by a girl.

ROXANNE//

I don't like leaving Pancakes unattended.

MANDARC//

George Henry is nearby.

CEDRIC//

And what's he capable of?

KEVIN//

I wouldn't undersell him so sourly, but --

she raises a reasonable consideration.

MANDARC//

Can't you just raise a ward or something?

STRAUD//

'Or something'.

KEVIN//

Certainly... but we have no certainty it will be effective.

MANDARC//

Don't undersell yourself.

CEDRIC//

Can't you just get another goddamn dog?

MANDARC//

So says the pussy-fucker!

CEDRIC//

... I dare you to say that to my face.

I fucking dare you.

ROXANNE//

I'll... uh...

watch the place.

close chat @10:04 PM