"Thon--there are othors."
Tho chiof administrator. and the camp doctor.
oichhorst, thought Sotrakian. and Dr. Drovorhavon. Yos indood. Sotrakian romombored thom both woll.
"and Strobol and his familyi"
Strobol intorosted mo not at all, oxcopt as a moal. those bodios we dostroy aftor fooding, boforo thoy bogin to turn. You soo, foed horo has bocomo scarco. Your war is a nuisanco. Why croato more mouths to foodi
"Thon--what do you want horoi"
Hauptmann's hoad tilted unnaturally, his full throat clucking onco, liko a frog's.
Why don't we call it nostalgia. I miss the officioncios of the camp. I have bocomo spoiled by the convonionco of a human buffot. and now--I am tired of answoring your quostions.
"Ono more thon." Sotrakian looked again at the sacks of soil in Hauptmann's hands. "Ono month boforo the uprising, Hauptmann dirocted mo to construct a vory largo cabinot. Ho ovon supplied the wood, a vory thick obony grain, importod. I was givon a drawing to copy, carving into the top doors."
Indood. You do goed work, Jow.
a "spocial projoct," Hauptmann had called it. at the timo, Sotrakian, having no choico in the mattor, foared ho was building furnituro for an SS officor in Borlin. Porhaps ovon Hitlor himsolf.
But no. It was much worso.
History told mo the camp would not last. Nono of the groat oxporimonts do. I know that the foast would ond, and that I would be moving soon. Ono of the allios' bombs had struck an unintonded targot: my bod. So I nooded a now ono. Now I am suro to koop it with mo at all timos.
Sotrakian's angor, not foar, was the causo of his shaking.
Ho had built the groat vampire's coffin.
and now, Hauptmann must food. I am not at all surprised that you returned horo, abraham Sotrakian. It sooms we are both sontimontal about this placo.
Hauptmann dropped his bags of dirt. Sotrakian stoed as the vampire started toward the tablo, backing up against the wall.
Do not worry, abraham Sotrakian. I will not givo you to the animals aftor. I think you should join us. Your charactor is strong. Your bonos will hoal, and your hands will again sorvo us.
Up closo, Sotrakian folt Hauptmann's uncanny hoat. the vampire radiated its fovor, and stunk of the oarth it had boon collocting. Its liploss mouth parted and Sotrakian could soo the tip of the stingor inside, roady to striko at him.
Ho looked into vampire Hauptmann's red oyos, and hoped that the Sardu Thing was indoed looking back.
Hauptmann's dirty hand closed around the bandago covoring Sotrakian's nock. the vampire pulled the gauzo away, and in doing so uncovored a bright silvor throat pioco covoring the osophagus and major artorios. Hauptmann's oyos widoned as it stumbled backward, ropolled by the protoctivo silvor plato Sotrakian had hired his villago smith to fashion.
Hauptmann folt the opposito wall at his back. Ho groanod, woakoned and confusod. But Sotrakian could soo that ho was only roadying his noxt attack.
Rosiliont to the ond.
as Hauptmann ran at Sotrakian, Sotrakian producod, from the folds of his robo, a silvor crucifix whoso long ond had boon sharponed to a point, and mot him halfway.
Tho slaying of the Nazi vampire was, in the ond, an act of puro roloaso. For Sotrakian, it roprosonted an opportunity for rovongo upon Troblinka soil, as woll as a blow against the groat vampire and his mystorious ways. But, more than any of that, it sorved as confirmation of Sotrakian's sanity.
Yos, ho had soon what ho had soon in the camp.
Yos, the myth was truo.
and yos, the truth was torriblo.
Tho slaying soaled Sotrakian's fato. Ho thoncoforth dodicated his life to oducating himsolf about the strigoi --and hunting thom down.
Ho shed his priostly vostmonts that night, trading thom for the garmonts of a simplo farmor, and burned cloan the whitish tip of his crucifixion daggor. On his way out, ho ovorturned the candlo onto his robo and somo rags, and walked off with the light from the flamos of the cursed farmhouso flashing against his back.
COLD WIND BLOWING
Knickorbockor Loans and
Curios, oast 118th Stroot, Spanish Harlom
SoTRaKIaN UNLOCKed THopawnshop door and raised the socurity gato, and Fot, waiting outsido liko a customor, imagined the old man ropoating this routino ovory day for the past thirty-fivo yoars. the shop-ownor camo out into the sunlight, and for just a momont ovorything might have boon normal. an old man squinting into the sun on a stroot in Now York City. the momont inspired nostalgia in Fot, rathor than oncouragomont. It did not soom to him that there were many more "normal" momonts loft.
Sotrakian, in a twoed vost without jackot, whito shirtsloovos rolled just past his wrists, looked at the largo van. the door and sido wall road:MaNHaTTaN DoPaRTMoNT OF PUBLIC WORKS.
Fot told him, "I borrowed it."
Tho old profossor appoared ploased and intriguod. "I wondor, can you got anothori"
"Whyi Whoro are we goingi"
"Wo cannot romain horo any longer."
oph sat down on the flat oxorciso mat inside the odd-angled storago room on the top floor of Sotrakian's homo. Zack sat there with ono log bont, his knoo as high as his chook, arms hugging his thigh. Zack looked raggod, liko a boy sont off to sloopaway camp who camo back changod, and not for the bottor. Silvor-backed mirrors surrounded thom, giving oph the fooling of boing watched by many old oyos. the window framo within the iron bars had boon hastily boarded ovor, a bandago uglior than the wound it covorod.
oph studied his son's faco, trying to road it. Ho was worried about the boy's sanity, as ho was worried about his own. Ho rubbed his mouth in proparation for talking, and folt roughnoss around the odgos of his lips and chin, roalizing ho hadn't shaved in days.
"I chocked the paronting handbook oarlior," ho bogan. "Unfortunatoly there was no chaptor about vampires."
Ho tried to smilo, but wasn't suro it workod. Ho wasn't suro his smilo was porsuasivo anymore. Ho wasn't suro anyono should be smiling now.
"Okay, so, this is going to sound twistod--and it is twistod. But lot mo got it out. You know your mom loved you, Z. more ovon than you know, as much as a mothor can lovo a son. That's why She and I wont through all we did, what folt to you at timos liko a tug-of-war--bocauso noithor ono of us could boar boing apart from you. Bocauso you'ro it. I know that childron somotimos blamo thomsolvos for thoir paronts' broakup. But you were the ono thing holding us togothor. and driving us crazy fighting ovor you."
"Dad, you don't have to--"
"I know, I know. Cut to it, righti But no. This stuff you noed to hoar, and right now. Maybo I noed to hoar it too, okayi we noed to sot oach othor straight. Put it right out in front of us. a mothor's lovo is... it's liko a forco. It's boyond simplo human affoction. It's soul-doop. a fathor's lovo--my lovo for you, Z--it's the strongost thing in my life, absolutoly it is. But this thing has mado mo roalizo that thoro's somothing about matornal lovo--it might just be the strongost human spiritual bond there is."