Workshop Wednesday

Okay, so we have another long scene of conversation, but unlike the previous section this actually feels much more necessary. Plus, in a round-about way, it sets up a love interest for our hero. While I'd likely excise most of the previous section from a final movie (maybe film it and then ditch it to the cutting room floor depending on the pace), this section is probably something I'd keep in some form (maybe with a little nipping and tucking here and there).

Remember to catch up on Van Helsing Syndrome in the Works of Mike FinkelsteinWhat's that, you want to read various creative works from Asteroid G Lead Editor Mike Finkelstein? Well, if that's what you want... archive before reading this part.

Van Helsing Syndrome: Part 7

INT: DOUG'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM, NIGHT.

DOUG, a 20-something dressed in black leather, leads MARK into the living room. A couple of couches and plenty of pillows are all around the room, most all of them occupied by various extras (15 people, give or take, all of various lifestyles). A TV is on in one corner, although no one pays any attention to it. DOUG sits down on a pillow on the other side of the room from the doorway. JULIET, now changed back into a human, comes into the room wearing a kimono. She lies down on the floor by his feet.

MARK sits down in a chair nearest the doorway and pushes the chair as close to the wall as he can. He sits with a hand resting on his gun. CATHERINE walks in as he settles down and just looks as Mark's hand.

CATHERINE:

(after a pause) Glad to see you're here...

MARK nods.

MARK:

Was the escort necessary?

DOUG gives a surly look over at CATHERINE.

DOUG:

If the information you have is worthwhile, then yes, it was.

The television announces the current channel's news broadcast with a blare of music. The NEWSCASTER comes on.

NEWSCASTER:

In local news, there is still no official statement from the police about a gun fight yesterday at the downtown mall. Eyewitnesses described a tall, pale man who was chased by a couple of government agents. No federal agency takes responsibility for the actions. Some witnesses feared it may have been terrorist related. And now, for sports...

DOUG just smiles at the story. MARK gives him an odd look.

DOUG:

I love watching the news people try to explain vampire hunts... You'd think they'd actually get a clue. People exploding, guys running around with guns, bottles of water, stakes... I'd think you agents would try to do a better job of hiding the truth.

MARK:

(offended) Normally we do, but sometimes things get out of control...

CATHERINE picks up a remote and turns the TV off.

DOUG:

The packs have already discussed our thoughts on the matter. Although your information could be useful, we don't expect it to change our course of action. You are here more as a courtesy to CATHERINE.

MARK:

(miffed) A courtesy?

DOUG:

CATHERINE has convinced some of the pack elders that you would be able to help us. This against my own reservations.

CATHERINE nods. MARK looks around the room.

MARK:

Everyone here is one of the leaders I assume? We're not just airing dirty laundry out in front of the plebes? Because if this is how you run a pack meeting normally-

DOUG:

(angry) Some of us don't like the idea of a human helping out our people.

MARK:

Then why the bodyguard? If you'd rather I never came here-

JULIET:

The leader of the cats suggested it, and I volunteered.

MARK:

Leader of the cats...?

CARTHERINE:

Me, MARK.

MARK looks shocked.

MARK:

I... Sorry... Didn't know...

DOUG:

Can we get on with this?

Mark nods.

MARK:

From the looks of it, all the teens that are missing are dead.

A few of the people breathe in sharply. One elderly woman, MARTHA, who was sitting next to DOUG, breaks down into tears. Most remain quiet.

RANDALL:

(raising his hand) I'm Randall, head of the Rat Pack.

MARK smiles, and RANDALL (a 30-something yuppie) just sighs.

RANDALL:

How did they die?

MARK:

Vampires... Possibly one... Actually, from a source of mine, I just learned that it's probably one vampire behind the killings.

DOUG:

Vampires... you sure?

MARK:

Did I stutter?

CATHERINE:

(reproachful) MARK...

DOUG:

Who's this source?

MARK:

Not saying... Not sure if he's right though.

RANDALL:

What makes you say that?

MARK:

He doesn't strike me as entirely trustworthy.

DOUG:

So, we find it, fight it kill it. Done deal.

MARK:

I wouldn't suggest that. The vampire or vampires behind this are damn powerful... And we still don't know why they are going after the shape shifters. Normally your two groups don't kill each other, right?

RANDALL:

Vampires like lycanthropes...

MARK:

Why?

JULIET:

They like the power in our blood. Gives them a rush.

MARK:

They get off on your blood?

DOUG nods curtly.

MARTHA:

(weak voice) How do we defeat a creature like this?

MARK:

Someone has to kill this vamp, especially with the body-count they're racking up. I'd prefer if you let me do my job and don't take matters into your own hands.

DOUG scoffs.

MARK:

Look, I can't stop you. You're lycanthropes. If you want to cause a blood-bath out in the streets, you're certainly powerful enough to do so. And then my agency will come down on you. Hard. Better if you stay safe and let me do my job.

CATHERINE:

Is there any way we could help, MARK?

MARK:

(pause) I suppose backup wouldn't be out of the question. Depending on where this investigation goes and who I have to talk to, having a representative from the local packs wouldn't be out of line to help smooth things over. Plus any information you have would be greatly appreciated.

MARTHA:

What kind of information?

MARK thinks for a second.

MARK:

This is a leap of logic, maybe, but I'm betting whatever vampire killed your kids had to be very close to them. From everything I know, and you guys can tell me if I'm wrong, but you don't take down a lycanthrope easily unless they're caught off guard. Even a vampire would have a hard time to taking out a lycan teen unless there was a certain level of trust to lower their defenses.

RANDALL nods.

RANDALL:

That makes sense. Someone they knew would have known they were shifters... Friend maybe?

MARK:

Possibly. Friend, teacher, co-worker at their crappy after-school job. Something like that.

DOUG stands. The rest of the group follows suit.

DOUG:

We'll all see what we can do. Come, JULIET.

JULIET:

(pause) I'd prefer not. I'll volunteer to be MARK's backup.

DOUG looks like he wants to be angry, but after a pause he nods.

DOUG:

Fine.

The group breaks immediately. MARK is still sitting in his chair, JULIET on the floor. Once the people have cleared out, JULIET stands and walks over to him.

JULIET:

So, what's the plan.

MARK:

Well, I plan to watch movies and video games tonight, and then sleep till noon. Tomorrow, barring the chance of another vampire hunt, I'll begin work on tracking down any leads.

JULIET:

We aren't going to go out hunting tonight?

MARK:

You don't hunt vampires at night if you can help it. Some of them have to sleep during the day, and the rest are weaker when the sun is out. No reason to give them an advantage if we can avoid it.

CATHERINE joins them in the living room.

CATHERINE:

Why volunteer for this duty, JULES?

MARK:

Yeah, following around as human. Seems a menial job for someone that, what, is the alpha's consort?

JULIET makes a face.

JULIET:

Ew, no. I'm second-in-command for the wolf pack. I have to pretend to be his in public, but... he makes my skin crawl.

MARK:

I mean, he seems a bit sketchy, sure-

JULIET:

No, our beasts don't like each other. He literally causes power to slide down my skin. I hate it so much, but for the good of the pack...

CATHERINE:

You want a ride back to your place, JULES?

JULIET:

Possibly. Did DOUG leave a bag for me?

CATHERINE:

Yeah, duffel out front.

MARK:

I'll give her a ride. You're already home, CAT. Might as well stay here.

JULIET:

Great. Let me quickly change. Should be some clothes in my bag.

INT: MARK'S CAR, DRIVING, NIGHT.

We're in the car with MARK and JULIET, the latter of which is now properly clothed in winter garb.

MARK:

So, where ya live at?

JULIET:

Carmel, north side.

MARK:

Dang. We've got a ways to go.

JULIET:

I know. Sorry. (pause) Look, there's no reason to make you go out of your way since we're going to be working together tomorrow. You have a couch?

MARK:

Yeah.

JULIET:

Would you mind if I crashed on your couch? Save you the drive then we can get an early start tomorrow before all the vamps are awake.

MARK:

That's cool. You have enough supplies to get you through the night?

JULIET:

Totally. This is my hunting bag-

MARK:

Oh, I have one of those, too. Pistols, holy symbols-

JULIET:

Change of clothes, tooth brush, floss to get meat out of my teeth-

MARK:

Ah, different kind of hunt.

EXT: MARK'S HOUSE, NIGHT.

We see MARK and JULIET get out of his car and quickly hustle up to the door, moving out of the cold as quickly as they can.

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM, NIGHT.

Juliet looks around, seeing some of the paintings in the room. She stops in front of one, an abstract painting with lots of crimson and dark blues.

JULIET:

This is cool. Who did it?

MARK:

Me. Doctor's said it was a good to have a hobby. A release of sorts.

JULIET:

From?

MARK:

Past pain. I sometimes get bad dreams. When hunting gets to be too much for me I paint. Seems to do the trick... Actually, come to think of it, I haven't painted in a while...

MARK shakes his head, shifting his emotions.

MARK:

Anyway, let me show you where you'll be sleeping.

MARK motions upstairs and the two head up.

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, UPSTAIRS HALL, NIGHT.

MARK motions JULIET into his bedroom.

MARK:

I'll let you have my bed.

JULIET:

What!? No... I couldn't

MARK:

No worries. Most days I just crash on my couch anyway. I tend to just pass out while watching movies.

JULIET:

Well, okay... What movie were you going to watch?

She sets her bag on the floor and just looks around the room. MARK has a couple more paintings up here. One: a painting of a vampire hunter, sword drawn, covered in blood out in a woodsy scene at night (painted in the Northern Renaissance style). The other, another abstract, this one crimson (again) with greens.

MARK:

Oh, I dunno. Prolly something funny, like "What We Do In the Shadows".

JULIET:

I've never seen that. Mind if I watch with you?

MARK:

That'd be cool. Lemme just grab myself some blankets.

JULIET:

Cool. I'll change into pajamas.

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM, NIGHT.

MARK is downstairs, flopped on the couch, flipping through Netflix. JULIET enters wearing her kimono. MARK looks up and smiles.

MARK:

Ready?

JULIET settles on the couch next to him, both illuminated by the glow of the TV.

JULIET:

Totally.

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM, NIGHT, LATER.

We find MARK and JULIET chatting on the couch, a plate with a couple of reheated Chinese food half-eaten on the coffee table. The two aren't paying much attention to the movie.

MARK:

-So SAM, CAT, and I had it planned for like weeks in advance. I grabbed the launcher I had built over at the wood shop. She and CAT got the condom-

JULIET

(laughing) Condoms?!

MARK:

Of course. Only thing strong enough to last the launching. Anyway, we set it up, and that day, right after the last of our finals, we let the water balloons fly out front of my parent's house. We got some massive distance off those babies.

JULIET:

Why, though?

MARK:

Only thing that appealed to me that year in wood shop. SAM thought it was funny. We talked CAT into doing it, and as it turned out, it was a good way to unwind after finals.

JULIET:

Sounds... different.

MARK:

Yeah, well...

We catch the sounds of bickering vampires (from the movie). JULIET looks over at MARK, who is intent on the screen. She shifts closer to him, putting her hand over his on the couch. MARK looks down, then over.

MARK:

JULIET... I'm not sure what... I mean... it's just that I haven't...

JULIET pulls her hand back and looks a little downcast. MARK shifts closer.

MARK:

Not what I intended to say. I like you. I just am not used to dating...

JULIET pulls him a bit closer. She turns and lies down on the couch. MARK follows her lead, and the two kiss, a soft, sweet sort of kiss you expect in a romantic comedy. MARK pushes up a bit, a dopey look on his face.

MARK:

How 'bout that ravishing?

JULIET laughs and then pulls him back down, and the two kiss again. Softly at first, soon it leads to more intimate kissing. JULIET's kimono soon comes off (she still has her underwear on), followed by MARK's shirt. We catch a bit more making out, and then the scene fades.

End Part 7:

One thing I cut from this section was that Doug and Juliet were past lovers. The dynamic between them wasn't really working for me here on this second editing pass and it felt like a lot of info dump just to explain everything between them. So I just ditched it entirely and made them hate each other for baser reasons. That seemed to work much better.

So the back half of this section could certainly use some massaging if this were to be filmed for real. We get Mark's love interest, Juliet, and she's fun to write. However, they fall for each other really quickly here and I would prefer to give her a few scenes earlier in the film to help her feel like an even more fleshed out character. I just don't know how to do that with the story in its current form -- it'd probably take an even more extensive rewrite than I'm doing now. That's a project for another day.