Friday, December 11, 2020

An Imperial Play in Five Acts


The five members of Team Dan declined a celebrity box at the Nuerca Theater. Tonight's play--taken from their own adventures--bordered on comedy at their expense. Hence the low profile, though Bonnie and Zena reveled in their new gowns. Musicians tuned up amid a drone of voices in the cavernous hall. The production raised high hopes for the acting troupe, who brought a popular Lunari play here to the empire capital of Eolca, the very place Team Dan got its start. 

"Bonnie the Vampire," said the tall bro Pete. "I didn't like it there, and I don't like it here, where a heap more folks get to laugh at us. And that dude playin' me is way too short." 

"He has to be," Dan reminded. "The actress has to throw him through a wall."

Pete scowled. "Don't remind me." 

"It wasn't all that good for me, either," Bonnie huffed. "Can you imagine going a whole week without food, as much as you eat?" 

Zena smoothed folds of royal blue. "Like no way. Especially when the food is me!"

On his end, Ed chuckled. "Close call, Zeens. If not for that vampire cure potion--"

"Cool it, men," Dan said. "The show's starting. Either we continue as heroes, or we're the new Five Stooges." 

Ed gave him a poke. "I like how you build the tension, Danno. A play has other advantages: live actors, dialog taking the place of prose, and stage directions doing the rest." Hisses from  nearby patrons cut his comments short.

The first act centered on the brawl at a Lunari harbor tavern, and the joke was so far squarely on the nosferatu Count Rotbone. Dan tricked him into jumping out a window as a sheet, which in Rotbone's slavic accent became something grossly different. The actor playing the count whirled a sheet about himself, then ducked out of sight, dropping a mess to splat on the street below. Clever stage hands caused a flying skull to take wing, trailing maniacal cackling as it whirled about on wires. The audience were in stitches.

Rotbone re-appeared from a side curtain and took Bonnie from the rear, a clawed hand at her neck. 

"I'm calling your bluff, Rotbone!" challenged a posturing Dan. "Let her go, or I'll see your castle thrown down stone by stone!"

"Oh, brother." The real Zena chortled behind her hand. "What a stiff!"

"Agreed," Dan said. "I'm not a blowhard Dudley Dooright." 

On stage, Rotbone slunk away, leaving Bonnie to touch a spot of blood on her neck. Sinister music cued the audience that all was not well. They applauded the end of act one.

Act two opened high in the warehouse district, where Dan had diverted due to Bonnie's odd behavior. She just wasn't her old perky self. 

"Okay," the Pete actor demanded, "show us your teeth." When he tried to pry her mouth open, she lifted him high, with the help of stage wires, and flung him through a wall. Pre-cut in a human shape, the gaping hole drew howls of comic relief from the spectators.

In the audience, Bonnie slumped, trying to be invisible. "Krikey."

"Give her the cure potion!" ordered the stage Dan. 

Ed's counterpart played it cautious. "I don't think she'll take it."

"Force the issue!" Dan, along with Ed, tossed a potion at her, but she ducked, leaving Dan and Ed with a faceful of green fluid. The crowd ate it up. Bonnie rushed offstage, and a window view showed a bat flying away. 

"Epic," lamented the Zena actress, who had been quite overstuffed in the costume's bosom area. "Well, let's go and find her!"

Applause brought down the curtain on act two.

Act three saw a man crossing a bridge on a foggy night. A cloaked figure came out of the mist.

The real Bonnie peeked through her fingers. "Universal precautions. Doesn't anybody get it?"

"Not everybody are lab workers, " Dan said, pulling her upright. 

The caped Bonnie showed fangs. "Excuse me, sir. Before I put the bite on you, I have to ask some questions." The bug-eyed victim backed away. "Do you have night sweats? Jaundice? Abnormal discharge?"

"Yaaaaa!" the victim screamed, now in full flight.

Bonnie pursued him offstage. "Unprotected sex?" Another comedy hit with the crowd.

Act four had Bonnie sweeping up debris at a vampire hangout in the sewers. "Don't you people ever clean this place?" Skulls, tin cans, and banana peels rained down on complaining vampires, to the spectators' delight.

In the final act, Bonnie surprised Zena in their shared room at the Lunari villa, pinning her to Zena's bed. "You cannot know how hungry I am! I cannot hold out any longer!"

"You don't want to do this," Zena implored. She produced a cure potion. "Take this, then we'll go raid the kitchen!"

Bonnie acquiesced. She pulled the cape over her head to hide the motions of removing vampire makeup. A restored Bonnie presented herself, and they walked out arm in arm.

Applause was marred by someone booing in the seat in front of the team. Rotbone himself turned glittering eyes on them. "Vat a farce of a show! Tell me, Miss Bonnie, are you still so mad that you must be a part of this? It is juvenile."

Bonnie glared. "Says you, Chromedome. What are you doing here?"

"It matters not. Daniel has had his revenge, inflicting all those women on me, taking over my castle!"

"Actually," Dan said of the Dracula Brides, "that was their idea. But it's still poetic justice." 

The count receded in the press of autograph seekers, which the team were glad to oblige.

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