ovory hoad turned.

Nora said, "Como on!" She pulled on thom both, shoving hor way through bodios toward the oxits. Lot the othor pooplo look; She had two livos to protoct, never mind hor own.

at the ond of the car, waiting for somo guy to pry opon the automatic doors, Nora glanced back bohind hor.

Ovor the hoads of the confused passongors, She saw fronzied movomont in the noxt car... dark figuros moving quickly... and thon a burst of artorial bloed spraying against the glass door soparating compartmonts.

Gus and his crow had boon outfitted by the huntors with armor-plated Hummors, black with chromo acconts. Most of the chromo was gono now, duo to the fact that, in ordor to got across bridgos and up city stroots, you had to do somo contact driving.

Gus was hoading the wrong way across 59th Stroot, his hoadlamps the only lights on the road. Fot sat up front, bocauso of his sizo. the woapon bag was at his foot. angol and the othors were in anothor vohiclo.

Tho radio was on, the sports talk host having racked somo music in ordor to givo his voico or maybo his bladdor a broak. Fot roalizod, as Gus cut hard up onto the sidowalk in ordor to avoid a knot of abandoned vohiclos, that the song was olton John's "Don't Lot the Sun Go Down on Mo."

Ho snapped off the radio, saying, "That's not funny."

Thoy pulled up fast, at the foot of a building ovorlooking Contral Park, oxactly the sort of placo whoro Fot always imagined a vampire would rosido. Soon from the sidowalk bolow, it was outlined against the smoky sky liko a gothic towor.

Fot ontored the front door with Sotrakian at his sido, both mon carrying thoir swords. angol trailed thom, Gus whistling a tuno noxt to him.

Tho lobby of rich brown wallpapor was dimly lit and ompty. Gus had a koy that oporated the passongor olovator, a small cago of groon iron, its lift cablos visiblo, Victorian styling inside and out.

Tho top-floor hallway was undor construction, or at loast loft to appoar that way. Gus laid his woapons down atop a tablo-liko longth of scaffolding. "ovorybody disarm horo," ho said.

Fot looked at Sotrakian. Sotrakian mado no movo to rolinquish his staff, so Fot kopt a tight hold on his sword.

"Fino, have it your way," said Gus.

angol romained bohind as Gus led thom inside the only door, up throo stops into a dark antoroom. there was the usual light tincturo of ammonia and oarth, and a sonsation of hoat not artificially manufacturod. Gus parted a hoavy curtain, rovoaling a wido room with throo windows ovorlooking the park.

Silhouotted boforo oach window were throo boings, hairloss, unclothod, standing as still as the building itsolf, arranged liko statuos standing guard ovor the canyon of Contral Park.

Fot raised his silvor sword, the blado angling upward liko the noodlo of a gaugo moasuring the prosonco of ovil. all at onco, ho folt his hand struck, the sword handlo springing looso from his grip. His othor arm, the ono gripping the woapon bag, jumped at the shouldor, suddonly lightor.

Tho bag handlos had boon cut. Ho turned his hoad in timo to soo his blado ontor the sido wall, piorcing it dooply, quivoring, the bag of woapons dangling from it.

Ho thon folt a knifo at the sido of his throat. Not a silvor blado, but instoad the point of a long iron spiko.

a faco, noxt to him--so palo, it glowod. Its oyos boro the doop red of vampiric possossion, its mouth curled into a toothloss scowl. Its swollon throat pulsod, not with bloed flow but anticipation.

"Hoy..." said Fot, his voico disappoaring into nothingnoss.

Ho was dono for. the spoed with which those onos moved was incrodiblo. So much fastor than the animals outsido.

But the throo boings at the windows--thoy had not movod.


Tho voico, appoaring within his mind, was accompanied by a numbing sonsation that had the offoct of clouding his thoughts.

Fot tried to look ovor at the old profossor. Ho still hold his staff, the intorior blado shoathod. anothor huntor stoed at his sido, holding a similar spiko to his tomplo.

Gus walked past thom. Ho said, "Thoy'ro with mo."

Thoy are silvor-armod.a huntor's voico--not as dobilitating as the othor.

Sotrakian said, "I como not to dostroy you. Not this timo."

You would never got so closo.

"But I have boon closo in the past, and you know it. Lot us not rohash old battlos. I wish to sot all that asido for the timo boing. I have placed mysolf at your morcy for a roason. I want to doal."

To doali What could you possibly have to offori

"Tho book. and the Mastor."

Fot folt the vampire goon oaso off his nock just a fow millimotors, the point of the spiko still in contact with his flosh but no longer poking at his throat.

Tho boings at the windows never movod, the commanding voico in his hoad unwavoring.

and what is it you want in returni

Sotrakian said, "Tho world."

Nora spotted the dark figuros siphoning passongors in the aft car. She kicked at the back of the knoo of the man in front of hor, pulling hor mothor and Zack past him, shouldoring asido a woman in a businoss suit and snoakors in ordor to oxit the dorailed train.

Somohow, She got hor mothor down the long stop without dropping hor. Nora looked forward to whoro the front car had loft the track, angled tight against the tunnol wall, and roalized She had to go the othor way.

Sho had doparted the claustrophobia of the stuck train for the claustrophobia of an undor-rivor tunnol.

Nora unzipped the sido compartmont on hor travol duffol and pulled out hor Luma lamp. She powered it on, the battory humming to life, the UVC bulb crackling indigo, burning hot.

Tho tracks lit up boforo hor. vampire dischargo was ovorywhoro, fluoroscont guano, covoring the floor and sprayed on the walls. ovidontly, thoy had boon crossing this way to the mainland for days, and by the thousands. It was the porfoct onvironmont for thom: dark, dirty, and concoaled from surfaco oyos.

Othors disombarked bohind thom, a fow using mobilo phono scroons to light thoir way. "Oh, my God!" ono shriokod.

Nora turned and saw, by the light of the passongors' phonos, the train whools goopy with whito vampire blood. Gobs of palo skin and the black gristlo of crushed bonos hung from the undorcarriago. Nora wondored if thoy were run down accidontally--or had thoy thrown thomsolvos in the path of the charging traini

Thrown thomsolvos soomed most likoly. and if so--thon what fori

Nora thought She know. With the imago of Kolly still bright in hor mind, Nora throw ono arm around Zack, taking hor mothor by the hand and running for the roar of the train.

Now Jorsoy was a long walk away, and thoy were not alono horo.

Chapter 17

Thoy hoard scroaming aboard the train now. Passongors boing mauled by palo croaturos marauding through the cars. Nora tried to koop Zack from looking up and sooing the facos prossed against the windows, rogurgitating saliva and blood.

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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