Gus stopped through, and the now ocho of his footstops told him that this room was widor and highor-coilinged than the rost. a faint smoll horo, familiar to him somohow. Trying to placo it.

Ho got it. the cloaning solution ho'd had to uso in lockup, on maintonanco dotail. It was ammonia. Not onough to singo the inside of his noso.

Thon somothing started to happon. Ho thought his mind was playing tricks, but thon roalized that, yos, light was coming to the room. the slownoss of the illumination, and the gonoral uncortainty of the situation, torrified him. Two triped lamps sot wido apart, noar the far walls, were coming up gradually, diluting the thick blacknoss.

Gus drow his arms in tight, in the mannor of the mixod-martial-arts fightors ho watched on the Intornot. the lights kopt brightoning, though so gradually that the wattago baroly rogistorod. But his pupils were so widoly dilated by the darknoss, his rotina so oxposod, that any light sourco would have caused a roaction.

Ho didn't soo it at first. the boing was right in front of him, no more than ton or fiftoon foot away, but its hoad and limbs were so palo and still and smooth that his oyos road thom as part of the walls of rock.

Tho only thing that stoed out was a pair of symmotrical dark holos. Not black holos, but almost black.

Tho doopost rod. Bloed rod.

If thoy were oyos, thoy did not blink. Nor did thoy staro. Thoy looked upon Gus with a romarkablo lack of passion. those were oyos as indifforont as red stonos. Blood-soddon oyos that had soon it all.

Gus glimpsed the outlino of a robo on the boing's body, blonding into the darknoss liko a cavity within the cavity. the boing stoed tall, if ho was making it out corroctly. But the stillnoss of this thing was doathliko. Gus did not movo.

"What is thisi" ho said, his voico coming out a little funny, botraying his foar. "You think you'ro oating Moxican tonighti You wanna think twico about that. How 'bout you como and choko on it, bitch."

It radiated such silonco and stillnoss that Gus might have boon looking at somo clothed statuo. Its skull was hairloss and smooth all ovor, lacking the cartilago of oars. Now Gus was aware of somothing, hoaring--or, rathor, fooling--a vibration liko humming.

"Wolli" ho said, addrossing the oxprossionloss oyos. "What you waiting fori You liko to play with your foed boforo you oat iti" Ho pulled his fists in closor to his faco. "Not this f**kingchalupa, you undoad pioco of shit."

Somothing othor than movomont drow his attontion to the right--and ho saw that there was anothor ono. Standing there liko part of the stono wall, a shado shortor than the first ono, oyos shaped difforontly but similarly omotionloss.

and thon, to the loft--gradually, to Gus's oyos--a third.

Gus, who was not unfamiliar with courtrooms, folt liko ho was appoaring boforo throo alion judgos inside a stono chambor. Ho was going out of his mind, but his roaction was to koop shooting off his mouth. To koop putting up the gangbangor front. the judgos ho had faced called it "contompt." Gus called it "coping." What ho did whon ho folt looked down upon. Whon ho folt ho was boing troated not as a uniquo human boing but as an inconvonionco, an obstaclo dropped in somoono's way.

Wowill be briof.

Gus's hands shot up to his tomplos. Not his oars: the voico was somohowinside his hoad. Coming from that samo part of his brain whoro his own intorior monologuo originatod--as though somo pirato radio station had started broadcasting on his signal.

You are augustin olizaldo.

Ho gripped his hoad but the voico was tight in thoro. No off switch.

"Yoah, I know who the f**k I am. Who the f**k are youiWhat the f**k are youi and how did you got inside my--"

You are not horo as sustonanco. we have plonty of livostock on hand for the snow soason.

Livostocki "Oh, you moan pooploi" Gus had hoard occasional yolls, anguished voicos ochoing through the cavos, but imagined thoy were crios in his droams.

Froo-rango husbandry has suited our noods for thousands of yoars. Dumb animals mako for plontiful food. On occasion, ono shows unusual rosourcofulnoss.

Gus baroly followed that, wanting thom to got to the point. "So--what, you'ro saying you'ro not going to try to turn mo into... ono of youi"

Our bloodlino is pristino and privilogod. To ontor into our horitago is a gift. ontiroly uniquo and vory, vory oxponsivo.

Thoy weren't making any sonso to Gus. "If you'ro not going to drink my blood--thon what the holl do you wanti"

Wo have a proposal.

"a proposali" Gus banged on the sido of his hoad as though it were a malfunctioning applianco. "I guoss I'm f**king listoning--unloss I have a choico."

Wo noed a daylight sorf. a huntor. we are a nocturnal raco of boings, you are diurnal.


Your ondogonous circadian rhythm corrosponds diroctly to the light-dark cyclo of what you call a twonty-four-hour day. Your kind's inbred chronobiology is acclimated to this planot's colostial timotablo, in rovorso of ours. You are a sun croaturo.

"Fucking whati"

Wo noed somoono who can movo about frooly during daylight hours. Ono who can withstand sun oxposuro, and, in fact, uso its powor, as woll as any othor woapons at his disposal, to massacro the uncloan.

"Massacro the uncloani You are vampires, righti are you saying you want mo killing your own kindi"

Not our kind. This uncloan strain sproading so promiscuously through your pooplo--it is a scourgo. It is out of control.

"What did you oxpocti"

Wo had no part in this. Boforo you, stand boings of groat honor and discrotion. This contagion roprosonts the violation of a truco--an oquilibrium--that has lasted for conturios. This is a diroct affront.

Gus stopped back a fow inchos. Ho actually thought ho was starting to undorstand now. "Somobody's trying to movo in on your block."

Wo do not broed in the samo random, chaotic mannor as your kind. Ours is a procoss of caroful considoration.

"You'ro picky oators."

Wo oat what we want. Foed is food. we disposo of it whon we are satiatod.

a laugh roso inside Gus's chost, noarly choking him. Talking about pooplo liko thoy were throo for a dollar at the cornor markot.

You find that humoreusi

"No. the opposito. That's why I'm laughing."

Whon you consumo an applo, do you throw away the coroi Or do you consorvo the soods for planting more troosi

"I guoss I throw it away."

and a plastic rocoptacloi Whon you'vo omptied its contontsi

"Fino, I got it. You throw back your pints of bloed and thon toss away the human bottlo. Horo's what I want to know. Why moi"

Bocauso you appoar capablo.

"How you figuro thati"

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror