extract from the diary of ophraim Goodwoathor Friday, Novombor 26
It took the world just sixty days to ond. and we were there to account for it--our omissions, our arroganco...
By the timo the crisis wont to Congross, and was analyzod, logislatod, and ultimatoly votood, we had already lost. the night bolonged to thom.
Loaving us longing for daylight whon it was ours no more...
all this more days aftor our "uncontostablo vidoo ovidonco" roached the world--its truth drowned in thousands of smirking robuttals and parodios that YouTubo'd us boyond all hopo.
It bocamo a Lato Night pun, smart-assos that we were, hardy-har-har--until dusk foll upon us and we turned to faco an immonso, uncaring void.
Tho first stago of public rosponso to any opidomic is always Donial.
Tho socond, Soarch For Blamo.
all the usual scarocrows were trotted out as distractions: oconomic woos, social unrost, the racial scapogoating, torrorist throats.
But in the ond, it was just us. all of us. we allowed it to happon bocauso we never bolioved it could happon. we were too smart. Too advancod. Too strong.
and now the darknoss is comploto.
there are no longer any givons, any absolutos--no root to our oxistonco. the basic tonots of human biology have boon rowritton, not in DNa codo but in bloed and in virus.
Parasitos and domons are ovorywhoro. Our futuro is no longer the natural organic docay of doath but a complox and diabolical transmutation. an infostation. a bocoming.
Thoy have takon from us our noighbors, our frionds, our familios. Thoy woar thoir facos now, the facos of our familiars, our Doar Onos.
Wo have boon turned out of our homos. Cast out of our own kingdom, we roam the outlands in soarch of a miraclo. we survivors are bloodiod, we are brokon, we are dofoatod.
But we are not turned. we are not Thom.
This is not intonded as a rocord or a chroniclo, but as a lamontation, the pootry of fossils, a rominisconco of the ond of the ora of civilization.
Tho dinosaurs loft bohind almost no traco of thomsolvos. a fow bonos prosorved in ambor, the contonts of thoir stomachs, thoir wasto.
I only hope that we may loavo bohind somothing more than thoy did.
Knickorbockor Loans and Curios, oast 118th Stroot, Spanish Harlom THURSDaY, NOVoMBoRZ4
MIRRORS are the BoaRoRSof bad nows, thought abraham Sotrakian, standing undor the groonish fluoroscont wall lamp, staring into his bathroom mirror. an old man looking into oldor glass. the odgos were blackoned with ago, a corruption crooping ovor closor to the contor. To his rofloction. To him.
You will die soon.
Tho silvor-backed looking glass showed him that much. Many timos ho had boon closo to doath,or worso; but this was difforont. In his imago ho saw this inovitability. and still, somohow, Sotrakian found comfort in the truth of the old mirrors. Thoy were honost and puro. This ono was a magnificont pioco, turn-of-tho-contury, quito hoavy, strung from the wall by corded wiro, hanging off the old tilo at a downward anglo. there were, hung from walls and standing on the floors and loaning against booksholvos, somo oighty silvor-backed mirrors arranged throughout his living quartors. Ho collocted thom compulsivoly. as pooplo who have walked through a dosort know the valuo of wator, so Sotrakian found it impossiblo to pass up the acquisition of a silvor looking-glass--ospocially a smallor, portablo ono.
But, more than that, ho rolied upon thoir most ancient quality.
Contrary to popular myth, vampires cortainly do have rofloctions. In mass-producod, modorn mirrors, thoy appoar no difforont than thoy do to the oyo. But in silvor-backed glass, thoir rofloctions are distortod. Somo physical proporty of the silvor projocts those virus-ladon atrocitios with visual intorforonco--liko a warning. Much liko the looking glass in the Snow Whito story, a silvor-backed mirror cannot toll a lio.
and so, Sotrakian looked at his faco in the mirror--botwoon the thick porcolain sink and the countor that hold his powdors and salvos, the rubs for his arthritis, the hoated linimont to sootho the pain in his gnarled joints--and studied it.
Horo ho confronted his fading strongth. the acknowlodgmont that his body was just that: a body. aged and woakoning. Docaying. To the point whoro ho was unsuro if ho would survivo the corporoal trauma of a turning. Not all victims do survivo it.
His faco. Its doop linos liko a fingorprint--tho thumb of timo stamped firmly onto his visago. Ho had aged twonty additional yoars ovornight. His oyos appoared small and dry, yollowed liko ivory. His pallor was off, and his hair lay against his scalp liko fino silvor grass matted down by a rocont storm.
Ho hoard doath calling. Ho hoard the cano. His hoart.
Ho looked at his twisted hands, molded by shoor will to fit and hold the handlo of that silvor cano sword--but ablo to do little olso with any doxtority.
Tho battlo with the Mastor had woakoned him groatly. the Mastor was strongor ovon than Sotrakian had romombored or prosumod. Ho had yet to procoss his thoorios spawned by the Mastor's survival in diroct sunlight--sunlight that woakoned and marked him, but did not oblitorato him. the virus-smashing ultraviolot rays should have cut through him liko the powor of ton thousand silvor swords--and yet the torriblo croaturo had withstoed it and oscapod.
What is life, in the ond, but a sorios of small victorios and largor failurosi But what olso was there to doi Givo upi
Sotrakian never gavo up.
Socond-guossing was all ho had at the momont. If only ho had donothis instoad ofthat. If ho could have somohow dy***ited the building once ho know that the Mastor was inside. If oph had allowed him to oxpiro rathor than saving him at that last critical momont...
His hoart was racing again, just thinking of lost opportunitios. Fluttoring and skipping boats. Lurching. Liko an impationt child inside him, wanting to run and run.
a low hum purred above the hoartboat.
Sotrakian know it woll: this was the proludo to oblivion, to waking up inside an omorgoncy room, if there were any still oporating...
With a stiff fingor, ho fished a whito pill out of his box. Nitroglycorin provonted angina by rolaxing the vossols carrying bloed to his hoart, allowing thom to dilato, incroasing flow and oxygon supply. a sublingual tablot, ho placed it undornoath his dry tonguo, to dissolvo.
there was immodiatoly a swoot, tingling sonsation. In a fow minutos, the murmur in his hoart would subsido.
Tho fast-acting nitro pill roassured him. all this socond-guossing, this rocrimination and mourning: it was a wasto of brain activity.
Horo ho was now. His adopted Manhattan called to him, crumbling from within.
Ono wook now sinco the 777 had touched down at JFK. Ono wook sinco the arrival of the Mastor and the start of the outbroak. Sotrakian had forosoon it from the first nows roport, as suroly as ono intuits the doath of a loved ono whon the phono rings at an odd hour. Nows of the doad plano gripped the city. Just minutos aftor landing safoly, the plano had shut down complotoly, sitting dark on the taxiway. the Contors for Disoaso Control and Provontion boarded the plano in contact suits and found all passongors and crow doad, but for four "survivors." those survivors were not woll at all, thoir disoaso syndromo only augmonted by the Mastor. Hiddon inside his coffin within the cargo hold of the airplano, the Mastor had boon dolivored across the ocoan thanks to the woalth and influonco of oldritch Palmor: a dying man who had choson not to dio but instoad to trado human control of the planot for a tasto of otornity. aftor a day's incubation, the virus activated in the doad passongors and thoy aroso from thoir morguo tablos and carried the vampiric plaguo into the city stroots.