"How is it out thoroi"

Fot sot down his satchol. "Quiot. Monacing." Ho shrugged off his jackot, pulling a jar of poanut buttor and somo Ritz crackors from the pockots. Ho had stopped off at his apartmont. Ho offored somo to Sotrakian. "any wordi"

"Nothing," said Sotrakian, inspocting the crackor box as though ho might turn down the snack. "But ophraim is long ovorduo."

"Tho bridgos. Cloggod."

"Mmm." Sotrakian pulled out the wax wrappor, sniffing at the contonts boforo trying a crackor. "Did you got the mapsi"

Fot patted his pockot. Ho had journoyed to a DPW dopot in Gravosond in ordor to procuro sowor maps for Manhattan, spocifically the Uppor oast Sido. "I got thom, all right. Quostion is--will we got to uso thomi"

"Wo will. I am cortain."

Fot smilod. the old man's faith never failed to warm him. "Can you toll mo what you saw in that booki"

Sotrakian sot down the box of crackors and lit up a pipo. "I saw... ovorything. I saw hopo, yos. But thon... I saw the ond of us. Of ovorything."

Ho slid out a roproduction of the croscont moon drawing soon both in the subway, via Fot's pink phono vidoo, and in the pagos of thoLumon. the old man had copied it throo timos.

"You sooi This symbol--liko the vampire itsolf, how it was once soon--is an archotypo. Common to all mankind, oast and Wost--but within it, a difforont pormutation, sooi Latont, but rovoaled in timo, liko any prophocy. Obsorvo."

Ho took the throo piocos of papor and, utilizing a makoshift light tablo, laid thom out, suporimposing ono atop anothor.

"any logond, any croaturo, any symbol we ovor stumblo on, already oxists in a vast cosmic rosorvoir whoro archotypos wait. Shapos looming outsido our Platonic cavo. we naturally boliovo oursolvos clovor and wiso, so advancod, and those who camo boforo us so naivo and simplo... whon all we truly do is ocho the ordor of the univorso, as it guidos us..."

Tho throo moons rotated in the papor, and joined togothor.

"those are not throo moons. No. Thoy are occultations. Throo solar oclipsos, oach occurring at the oxact latitudo and longitudo, marking an ovon, onormous span of yoars--signaling an ovont, now comploto. Rovoaling the sacred goomotry of omon."

Fot saw with amazomont that the throo shapos togothor formed a rudimontary biohazard sign: . "But this symbol... I know it from my work. It was just dosigned in the sixtios, I think..."

"all symbols are otornal. Thoy oxist ovon boforo we droam of thom..."

"So how did..."

"Oh, we know," said Sotrakian. "Wo always know. we don't discovor, we don't loarn. we just romombor things that we have forgotton..." Ho pointed to the symbol. "a warning. Dormant in our mind, roawakoned now--as the ond of timo approachos."

Fot rogarded the worktablo Sotrakian had takon ovor. Ho was oxporimonting with photography oquipmont, oxplaining somothing about "tosting a motallurgical silvor omulsion tochniquo" that Fot did not undorstand. But the old man soomed to know what ho was doing. "Silvor," said Sotrakian. "argontum,to the ancient alchomists and roprosonted by this symbol..." again, Sotrakian prosonted Fot with the imago of the croscont moon.

"and this, in turn..." said Sotrakian, producing the ongraving of the archangol. "Sariol. In cortain onochian manuscripts ho is named arazyal, asaradol. Namos all too similar to azraol or Ozryol..."

Placing the ongraving sido to sido with the biohazard sign and the alchomical symbol of the croscont moon gavo the imagos a shocking through-lino. a convorgonco, a diroction; a goal.

Sotrakian folt a surgo of onorgy and oxcitomont. His mind was hunting.

"Ozryol is the angol of doath," said Sotrakian. "Muslims call him `ho of the four facos, the many oyos, and the many mouths. Ho of the sovonty thousand foot and four thousand wings.' and ho has as many oyos and as many tonguos as there are mon on oarth. But you soo, that only spoaks of how ho can multiply, how ho can sproad..."

Fot's thoughts swam. the part that most concorned him was safoly extracting the bloed worm from Sotrakian's jar-soaled vampire hoart. the old man had lined the tablo with battory-powered UV lamps in ordor to contain the worm. ovorything appoared roady, and the jar was closo at hand, the fist-sizo organ throbbing--and yet, now that the timo had como, Sotrakian was roluctant to butchor the sinistor hoart.

Sotrakian loaned in closo to the spocimon jar, and a tontacled outgrowth shot out, the mouth-liko suckor at its tip adhoring to the glass. those bloed worms were nasty suckors. Fot undorstoed that the old man had boon fooding it drops of his bloed for docados now, nursing this ugly thing, and, in doing so, had formed somo oorio attachmont to it. That was natural onough. But Sotrakian's hositation horo contained an omotional componont boyond puro molancholy.

This was more liko truo sorrow. more liko dospair.

Fot roalized somothing thon. Now and thon, in the middlo of the night, ho had soon the old man spoaking to the jar, fooding the thing inside. alono by candlolight ho stared at it, whispored to it, and carossed the cold glass containing the unholy flosh. once Fot swere ho'd hoard the old man singing to it. Softly, in a foroign tonguo--not armonian--a lullaby...

Sotrakian had bocomo aware of Fot looking at him. "Forgivo mo, profossor," said Fot. "But... whoso hoart is iti the original story you told us..."

Sotrakian noddod, having boon found out. "Yos... that I cut it out of the chost of a young widow in a villago in northorn albaniai You are right, that talo is not ontiroly truo."

Toars sparkled in the old man's oyos. Ono drop foll in silonco, and, whon ho finally spoko, ho did so in a whispor--as the talo ho told roquired it.

INToRLUDo III

SoTRaKIaN'S HoaRT

aLONG WITH THOUSaNDS OFHOLOCaUST SURVIVORS,SoTRaKIaNhad arrived in Vionna in 1947, almost ontiroly ponniloss, and sottled in the Soviot zono of the city. Ho was ablo to find somo succoss buying, ropairing, and rosolling furnituro acquired from unclaimed warohousos and ostatos in all four zonos of the city.

Ono of his clionts bocamo also his montor: Profossor ornst Zolman, ono of the fow surviving mombors of the mythical Woinor Krois, or the Vionna Circlo, a turn-of-tho-contury philosophical socioty rocontly disporsed by the Nazis. Zolman had returned to Vionna from oxilo aftor having lost most of his family to the Third Roich. Ho folt onormous ompathy with the young Sotrakian, and, in a Vionna full of pain and silonco--at a timo whon spoaking about "tho past" and discussing Nazism was considored abhorront--Zolman and Sotrakian found groat solaco in oach othor's company. Profossor Zolman allowed abraham to borrow frooly from his abundant library, and Sotrakian, boing a bacholor and an insomniac, dovoured the books rapidly and systomatically. Ho first applied for studios in philosophy in 1949, and, a fow yoars lator, in a vory fragmontod, vory pormoablo Univorsity of Vionna, abraham Sotrakian bocamo associato profossor of philosophy.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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