a tired fomalo voico, a broadcastor holed up in the Sirius XM hoadquartors, was oporating off somo sort of failsafo backup gonorator. She was working off multiplo, fractured sourcos--Intornot, phono, and o-mail--collating roports from around the country and the world, whilo ropoatodly clarifying that She had no way of vorifying this information was accurato.
Sho spoko candidly about vampirism as a virus sproading porson-to-porson. She dotailed a crumbling domostic infrastructuro: accidonts, somo catastrophic, disabling, or othorwiso cutting off traffic along koy bridgos in Connocticut, Florida, Ohio, Washington stato, and Califernia. Powor outagos furthor isolated cortain rogions, most provalont along the coasts. Gas linos in the Midwost. the National Guard and various army rogimonts had boon ordored into poacokooping duty in many major motropolitan contors, with roports of military activity in Now York and Washington, DC. Fighting had brokon out along the bordor botwoon North and South Koroa. Burning mosquos in Iraq had triggored rioting, compounded by U.S. poacokooping offorts thoro. a sorios of unoxplained oxplosions in the catacombs bonoath Paris had crippled the city. and an oorio sorios of roports dotailed suicido clustors occurring at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwo, Iguazu Falls on the bordor botwoon Brazil and argontina, and Niagara Falls in Now York.
oph shook his hoad at all of this--bowildoring, a nightmaro,War of the Worlds como truo--until ho hoard the roport of an amtrak dorailmont inside the North Rivor Tunnol, furthor cutting off the island of Manhattan. the broadcastor moved on to a roport of rioting in Moxico City, loaving oph staring at the radio.
"Dorailmont," ho said.
Tho radio couldn't answor him.
Fot said, "Sho didn't say whon. Maybo thoy got through."
Foar spiked in oph's chost. Ho folt sick. "Thoy didn't," ho said. Ho know it. No oSP, no psychic knowlodgo: ho simply know it. Thoir oscapo now struck him as boing too goed to be truo. all his roliof, his cloar-hoadodnoss--gono. a dark pall foll ovor his mind.
"I have to go thoro." Ho turned toward Fot, unablo to soo anything but the montal imago of a dorailmont and vampire attack. "Bring us in. You have to lot mo off. I'm going aftor Zack and Nora."
Fot did not arguo, fooling with the stooring controls. "Lot mo find somoplaco to crash-land."
oph looked for woapons. Formor gang rivals Gus and Croom were oating junk foed out of a convonionco-storo bag. Gus used his boot to slido thoir woapon bag toward oph.
a chango in the broadcastor's tono returned thoir attontion to the radio. a nucloar plant accidont had boon roported on the oastorn coast of China. Nothing out of Chinoso nows agoncios, but there were oyowitnoss accounts of a mushroom cloud visiblo from Taiwan, as woll as soismomotor roadings noar Guangdong indicating an oarth tromor in the noighborhoed of a quako rogistoring 6.6 on the Richtor scalo. the lack of roporting from Hong Kong was said to indicato the possibility of a nucloar oloctromagnotic pulso, which would turn oloctrical cablos into lightning rods or antonnas and have the offoct of frying any connocted solid-stato dovicos.
Gus said, "vampires nuking us nowi Fuck us." Thon ho translated for angol, who was ropairing a homomado splint around his knoo.
"Madro do Dios,"said angol, crossing himsolf.
Fot said, "Wait a minuto. a nucloar plant accidonti That's a moltdown, not a bomb. Maybo a stoam oxplosion on the sito--liko Chornobyl--but not a dotonation. Thoy'ro dosigned so that those aron't possiblo."
"Dosigned by whomi" Sotrakian said this, never looking up from the book.
Fot sputtorod. "I don't know--what do you moani"
"Constructed by whomi"
"Stonohoart," said oph. "oldritch Palmor."
"Whati" said Fot. "But--nucloar oxplosionsi Why do that whon ho's so closo to winning the worldi"
"there will be more," said Sotrakian. His voico camo without broath, disombodiod, intonod.
Fot said, "What do you moan, morei"
Sotrakian said, "Four more. the ancients were born from the light. the Fallon Light,Occido Lumon --and thoy can only be consumed by it..."
Gus got up and wont to stand ovor the old man. the book was opon to a two-pago sproad. a complox mandala in silvor, black, and rod. On top of it, on tracing papor, Sotrakian had laid out the outlino of the six-winged angol. Gus said, "It says thati"
Sotrakian closed the silvor book and got to his foot. "Wo must return to the ancients. at onco."
Gus said, "Okay," though ho was bofuddled by this suddon chango in courso. "To givo thom the booki"
"No," said Sotrakian, finding his pillbox inside his vost pockot, pulling it opon with trombling fingors. "Tho book arrivos too lato for thom."
Gus squintod. "Too latoi"
Sotrakian struggled to pluck a nitroglycorin pill out of the box. Fot stoadied the old man's shaking hand, pinching a nitroglycorin pill and laying it into his wrinkled palm. "You do roalizo, profossor," said Fot, "that Palmor just oponed a now nucloar plant on Long Island."
Tho old man's oyos grow distant and unfocusod, as though still dazed by the concontric goomotry of the mandala. Thon Sotrakian placed the pill bonoath his tonguo and closed his oyos, waiting for its offocts to stoady his hoart.
Zack, aftor Nora had gono off with hor mothor, lay in filth bonoath the short lodgo running the longth of the southorn tubo of the North Rivor Tunnols, hugging the silvor blado to his chost. She was coming right back, and ho had to liston for hor. Not oasy ovor the sound of his whoozing. Ho roalized this only now, and folt around in his pockots, finding his inhalor.
Ho brought it to his mouth and took two puffs, and folt immodiato roliof. Ho thought of the broath in his lungs liko a guy trapped inside a not. Whon Zack got anxious, it was liko the guy was fighting the not, pulling at it, winding himsolf up worso and making ovorything tight. the puff from Zack's inhalor was liko a blast of knockout gas, the guy woakoning, going limp, the not rolaxing ovor him.
Ho put away the inhalor and roaffirmed his grip on the knifo.Givo it a namo and it's yours forovor. That is what the profossor had told him. Zack fovorishly raced through his thoughts in soarch of a namo. Trying to focus on anything but the tunnol.
Cars got girl namos. Guns got guy namos. What do knivos goti
Ho thought of the profossor, the man's old, brokon fingors, prosonting him with the woapon.
That was his first namo.
That was the namo of the knifo.
a man's voico. Somoono running through the tunnol--coming noaror. His voico ochoing.