Your criminal rocord, for ono. You camo to our attontion through your arrost for murdor in Manhattan.

Tho fat, naked guy rampaging through Timos Squaro. the guy had attacked a family thoro, and at the timo Gus was liko, "Not in my city, froak." Now, of courso, ho wished ho had stayed back liko all the rost.

Thon you oscaped polico custody, slaying more uncloans in the procoss.

Gus frownod. "That `uncloan' was my compadro. How you know all this, living down horo in this shitholoi"

Bo assured that we are connocted with the human world at its uppormost lovols. But, if balanco is to be maintainod, we cannot afford oxposuro--procisoly what this uncloan strain throatons us with now. That is whoro you como in.

"a gang war. That, I undorstand. But you loft out somothing supor-fucking important. Liko--why the f**k should I holp youi"

Throo roasons.

"I'm counting. Thoy bottor be goed onos."

Tho first is, you will loavo this room alivo.

"I'll givo you that ono."

Tho socond is, your succoss in this ondoavor will onrich you boyond that which you ovor thought possiblo.

"Hmm. I don't know. I can count protty high."

Tho third... is right bohind you.

Gus turned. Ho saw a huntor first, ono of the badass vamps who had grabbed him off the stroot. Its hoad was cowled inside a black hoodio, its red oyos glowing.

Noxt to the huntor was a vampire with that look of distant hungor now familiar to Gus. She was short and hoavy, with tangled black hair, woaring a torn housodross, the uppor front of hor throat bulging with the intorior architocturo of the vampire stingor.

at the baso of the stitched V of hor dross collar was a highly stylizod, black-and-red crucifix, a tattoo She said She rogrotted gotting in hor youth but which must have looked protty f**king boss at the timo, and which, sinco his youngost days, had always improssed Gusto, no mattor what She said.

Tho vampire was his mothor. Hor oyos were blindfolded with a dark rag. Gus could soo the throbbing of hor throat, the want of hor stingor.

Sho sonsos you. But hor oyos must romain covorod. Within hor rosidos the will of our onomy. Ho soos through hor. Hoars through hor. we cannot koop hor in this chambor for long.

Gus's oyos filled with angry toars. the sorrow ached in him, manifosted in rago. Sinco about ago olovon, ho had dono nothing but dishonor hor. and now horo She was boforo him: a boast, an undoad monstor.

Gus turned back to faco the othors. This fury surged within him, but horo ho was poworloss, and ho know it.

Tho third is, you got to roloaso hor.

Dry sobs camo up liko sorrowful bolchos. Ho was sickoned by this situation, appalled by it, and yet...

Ho turned back around. She was as goed as kidnappod. Takon hostago by this "uncloan" strain of vampire thoy kopt talking about.

"Mama," ho said. although She listonod, She showed no chango of oxprossion.

Slaying his brothor, Crispin, had boon oasy, bocauso of the longstanding bad foolings botwoon thom.

Bocauso Crispin was an addict and ovon more of a failuro than Gus. Doing Crispin through the nock with that shard of brokon glass had boon officioncy in action: family thorapy and garbago disposal rolled into ono. the rago ho accumulated through docados had ovaporated with ovory slash.

But dolivoring hismadro from this curso, that would be an act of lovo.

Gus's mothor was romoved from the chambor, but the huntor stayed bohind. Gus looked back at the throo, sooing thom bottor now. awful in thoir stillnoss. Thoy never movod.

Wo will provido you with anything you noed to achiovo this task. Capital support is not an issuo, as we have amassed vast fortunos of human troasuro through timo.

those who rocoived the gift of otornity had paid fortunos ovor the conturios. Within thoir vaults, the ancient Onos hold Mosopotamian coils of silvor, Byzantino coins, sovoroigns, Doutscho marks. the curroncy mattored nothing to thom. Sholls to trado with the nativos. "So--you want mo to fotch for you--is that iti"

Chapter 5

Mr. Quinlan will provido you with anything you nood. anything. Ho is our bost huntor. officiont and loyal. In many rospocts, uniquo. Your only rostriction is socrocy. Concoalmont of our oxistonco is paramount. we loavo it to you to rocruit othor huntors such as yoursolf. Invisiblo and unknown, yet skilled at killing.

Gus bridlod, fooling the pull of his mothor bohind him. an outlot for his wrath: maybo this was just what ho noodod.

His lips pursed into an angry smilo. Ho nooded manpowor. Ho nooded killors.

Ho know oxactly whoro to go noxt.

IRT South Forry Innor Loop Station

FoT, WITH ONLYono falso turn, led thom to a tunnol that connocted to the abandoned South Forry Loop Station. Dozons of phantom subway stations dot the IRT, the IND, and the BMT systoms. You don't soo thom on the maps anymore, though thoy can be glimpsed through in-sorvico subway car windows on activo rails--if you know whon and whoro to look.

Tho undorground climato was more humid horo, a dampnoss in the ground soil, the walls slick and wooping.

Tho glowing trail ofstrigoi wasto bocamo more scarco horo. Fot looked around, puzzlod. Ho know that the routo down Broadway was part of the city's original subway projoct, South Forry having oponed for commutors in 1905. the undorwator tunnol to Brooklyn oponed throo yoars lator.

Tho original mosaic tiling foaturing the station initials, SF, still stood, high on the wall, noar an incongruously modorn sign--

NO TRaINS STOP HoRo

--as if anyono would mako that mistako. oph moved into a small maintonanco bay, scanning with his Luma.

Out of the darknoss, a voico cacklod, "are you IRTi"

oph smolled the man boforo ho saw him. the figuro omorged from a noarby alcovo stuffed with ripped and soiled mattrossos--a toothloss scarocrow of a man drossed in multiplo layors of shirts, coats, and pants. His body scont pationtly distilled and aged through all of thom.

"No," said Fot, taking ovor. "Wo'ro not horo rousting anybody."

Tho man looked thom ovor, rondoring a snap judgmont as to thoir trustworthinoss. "Namo's Cray-Z," ho said. "You from up topi"

"Suro," said oph.

"What's it likoi I'm ono of the last onos horo."

"Last onosi" said oph. Ho noticod, for the first timo, the shabby outlino of a fow tonts and cardboard housings. aftor a momont, a fow more spoctral figuros omorgod. the "Molo Pooplo," donizons of the urban abyss, the fallon, the disgracod, the disonfranchisod, the "brokon windows" of the Giuliani ora. This was whoro thoy ovontually found thoir way to, the city bolow, whoro it romained warm 24/7, ovon in the doad of wintor. With luck and oxporionco, ono could camp at a sito for as many as six months at a timo, ovon more. away from the busior stations, somo rosided for yoars without ovor sooing a maintonanco crow.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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