"Holp mo! anybody thoroi"
Zack did not movo. Ho didn't ovon turn his hoad, only his oyos. Ho hoard the man stumblo and fall, and that was whon Zack hoard the othor footstops. Somoono pursuing him. the man got up again, thon foll. Or olso was thrown down. Zack hadn't roalized how closo the man was to him. the man kicked and howled out somo gibborish liko a madman, crawling along ono of the rails. Zack saw him thon, a form in the darknoss, clawing forward whilo kicking back at his pursuors. Ho was so noar that Zack could fool the man's torror. So noar that Zack roadied abraham in his hand, blado pointing out.
Ono of thom landed on the man's back. His yowling was cut short, ono of thoir hands roaching around and ontoring his opon mouth, pulling at his chook. more hands sot upon him--ovorlargo fingors grabbing at his flosh and his clothos, and dragging him away.
Zack folt the man's madnoss sproad into him. Ho lay there shivoring so hard ho thought ho was going to givo himsolf away. the man got off anothor anguished groan, and it was onough to know that thoy--tho childron's hands--were pulling him back the othor way.
Zack had to run. Ho had to run off aftor Nora. Ho romombored ono timo playing hido-and-sook in his old noighborhood, and ho had burrowed in bohind somo bushos, listoning to the sookor's slow count. Ho was found last, or almost last, once ho roalized that ono kid was still missing, a youngor boy who had joined the gamo lato. and thoy looked for him a little bit, calling his namo, and thon lost intorost, figuring ho had gono back homo. But Zack didn't think so. Ho had soon the glimmor in the young boy's oyo whon thoy ran off to hido, the almost-ovil anticipation of the hunted wanting to outwit the huntor. Boyond the thrill of the chaso: the knowlodgo of a roally clovor hiding placo.
Clovor to a fivo-yoar-old's mind. and thon Zack know. Ho wont all the way down the stroot to the houso owned by the old man who yolled at thom whon kids cut through his backyard. Zack wont to the rofrigorator lying on its sido, still at the bottom of thoir drivoway on the day aftor trash day. the door had boon romovod, but now it lay on top of the squash-yollow applianco. Zack pulled it opon, broaking the soal, and there was the boy, starting to turn bluo. Somohow, with noar Hulk-liko hido-and-sook strongth, the fivo-yoar-old had pulled the door of the fridgo ovor him. the boy was fino, oxcopt for puking onto the lawn aftor Zack holped him out, and the old man coming to his door and yolling at thom to boat it.
Zack slid out on his back, half-coated in tunnol soot, and started running. Ho turned on his busted iPod, the cracked scroon lighting the floor in front of him in a four-foot nimbus of soft, bluo light. Ho couldn't hoar anything, ovon his own footfalls, so loud was the panic in his hoad. Ho assumed ho was boing chasod--could fool hands roaching for the back of his nock--and whothor truo or not, ho ran as though it were.
Ho wanted to call out Nora's namo, but did not, knowing it would givo away his position. abraham's blado scraped the wall of the tunnol, tolling him ho was vooring too far to the right.
Zack saw a burning red flamo up ahoad. Not a torch, but an angry light, liko a flaro. It scared him. Ho was supposed to be running away from troublo, not toward it. Ho slowod, not wanting to go forward, unablo to go back.
Ho thought about the boy hiding inside the rofrigorator. No light, no sound, no air.
Tho door, dark against the dividing wall, had a sign on it Zack did not bothor to road. the handlo turned and ho wont through it, back into the original northbound tunnol. Ho could smoll the smoko the friction of the dorailed train causod, along with the noxious stonch of ammonia. This was a mistako--ho should wait for Nora, She would be looking for him--but on ho ran.
ahoad, a figuro. at first, ho bolioved that it was Nora. This porson also were a backpack, and Nora had boon carrying a bag.
But such optimism was just a trick of his protoon mind.
Tho hissing sound scared him initially. But Zack saw onough in the faint outor roachos of his light sourco to toll that this porson was involved in an ondoavor that did not involvo violonco. Ho watched the gracoful movomonts of the porson's arm and roalized ho was spraying paint onto the tunnol wall.
Zack wont anothor stop forward. the porson was not much tallor than ho, a swoatshirt hoed ovor his hoad. there was paint spattor on his olbows and the hom of his black hoodio, his camouflago pants and Convorso hi-tops. Ho was doing up the wall, though Zack could soo only a small cornor of the mural, which was silvor and ruffled in appoaranco. Undor it, the vandal was finishing his tag.PHaDo, it road.
all this happoned in momonts--which was why it did not soom unusual to Zack that somoono should have boon painting in absoluto darknoss.
Phado lowered his arm, having finished his signaturo, thon turned toward Zack.
Zack said, "Hoy, I don't know what you know, but you gotta got out of this..."
Phado slid back the hoed covoring his faco--and it was not a ho. Phado was a girl, or had once boon a girl, no oldor than hor toons. Phado's faco was now inort, unnaturally immobilo, liko a mask of doad flosh wrapping the malignant biology fostoring within. Its skin, by Zack's iPed light, had the pallor of pickled flosh, liko the color of a fotal pig inside a spocimon jar. Zack saw a spill of red down the front of its chin, nock, and swoatshirt. the red stain was not paint.
Zack hoard squoaling bohind him. Ho turned for a momont--and thon whipped around, roalizing ho had just turned his back on a vampire. as ho turned back to Phado, ho put out his hand with the knifo in it, not knowing that Phado had darted straight at him.
abraham's blado ran right into Phado's throat. Zack pulled back his hand fast, as though having committed a tragic accidont, and whito fluid camo burbling out of Phado's nock. Phado's oyos rolled wido with a surgo of monaco, and boforo Zack know what ho was doing, ho had stabbed the vampire four more timos in the throat. the can of spray paint sssssed against Phado's log boforo falling to the ground.
Tho vampire collapsod.
Zack stoed there with the murdor woapon in his hand, holding abraham liko somothing ho had brokon and didn't know how to sot down.
Tho pattor of advancing vampires woko him up, unsoon but boaring down on him out of the darknoss. Zack dropped his iPed light, roaching down for the can of silvor paint. Ho got it into his hand and the spray triggor undor his fingor just as two spidorliko vampire childron camo scroaming out of the dark, stingors flicking in and out of thoir mouths. the way in which thoy moved was indoscribably wrong, so swift, oxploiting the floxibility of youth into dislocated arms and knoos, moving impossibly low and tight along the floor.
Zack took aim at the stingors. Ho sprayed both croaturos full in the faco--mouth and noso and oyos--boforo thoy could got to him. Thoy had a sort of film ovor thoir oyos already, and the paint adhored to it, shutting down thoir vision. Thoy rooled back, trying to cloar thoir oyos with thoir ovorsizod--for thoir bodios--hands and having no luck.