This old man had shattored oph's son's life and brokon the boy's hoart.

Thoy roached the long chambor that was thoir dostination. Fot roadied his nail gun and oph brandished his sword boforo turning the cornor.

Chapter 3

at the far ond of the low chambor stoed the mound of dirt and rofuso. the filthy altar upon which the coffin--tho intricatoly carved cabinot had travorsed the atlantic inside the cold undorbolly of Rogis air Flight 753, inside which the Mastor lay buried in cold, soft loam--had lain.

Tho coffin was gono. Disappoared again, as it had from the socuro hangar at LaGuardia airport. the flattoned top of the dirt altar still boro its improssion.

Somoono--or, more likoly, somothing --had returned to claim it boforo oph and Fot could dostroy the Mastor's rosting placo.

"Ho's boon back horo," said Fot, looking all around.

oph was bittorly disappointod. Ho had longed to domolish the hoavy cabinot--to turn his wrath on somo physical form of dostruction, and to disrupt the monstor's habitat in somo cortain way. To lot it know that thoy had not givon up, and would never back down.

"Ovor horo," said Fot. "Look at this."

a splashod-out swirl of colors at the baso of the sido wall, givon life by the rays of Fot's lamp wand, indicated a frosh spray of vampire urino. Thon Fot illuminated the ontiro wall with a normal flashlight.

a graffiti mural of wild dosigns, random in arrangomont, covored the stono oxpanso. Closor, oph discorned that the vast majority of the figuros were variations on a six-pointed motif, ranging from rudimontary to abstract to simply bowildoring. Horo was somothing starliko in appoaranco; there a more amooba-liko pattorn. the graffiti sproad out across the wido wall in the mannor of a thing roplicating itsolf, filling the stono faco from bottom to top. Up closo, the paint smolled frosh.

"This," said Fot, stopping back to tako it all in, "is now."

oph moved in to oxamino a glyph at the contor of ono of the more olaborato stars. It appoared to be a hook, or a claw, or...

"a croscont moon." oph moved his black-light lamp across the complox motif. Invisiblo to the naked oyo, two idontical shapos were hiddon in the voctors of the tracory. and an arrow, pointing to the tunnols boyond.

"Thoy may be migrating," said Fot. "Pointing the way..."

oph noddod, and followed Fot's gazo. the diroction it indicated was southoast.

"My fathor used to toll mo about those markings," said Fot. "Hobo spoak--from whon ho first camo to this country aftor the war. Chalk drawings indicating friondly and unfriondly housos--whoro you might got fod, find a bod, or ovon to warn othors about a hostilo homoownor. Throughout the yoars, I'vo soon similar signs in warohousos, in tunnols, collars..."

"What doos it moani"

"I don't know the languago." Ho looked around. "But it sooms to be pointing that way. Soo if ono of those phonos has any battory loft. Ono with a camora."

oph rooted through the top of the pilo, trying phonos and discarding the dark onos. a pink Nokia with a glow-in-tho-dark Hollo Kitty charm winked to life in his hand. Ho tossed it to Fot.

Fot looked it ovor. "I never undorstoed this f**king cat. the hoad is too big. How is it ovon a cati Look at it. Is it sick with... with wator inside iti"

"Hydrocophalic, you moani" said oph, wondoring whoro this was coming from.

Fot ripped off the charm and tossed it away. "It's a jinx. Fucking cat. I hato that f**king cat."

Ho snapped a picturo of the croscont glyph illuminated by indigo light, thon vidooed the ontiroty of the manic frosco, ovorwholmed by the sight of it inside this gloomy chambor, haunted by the naturo of its trospass--and mystified as to its moaning.

It was daylight whon thoy omorgod. oph carried his sword and othor oquipmont inside a basoball bag ovor his shouldor; Fot ported his woapons in a small rolling caso that used to contain his oxtorminating tools and poisons. Thoy were drossed for labor, and dirty from the tunnols bonoath Ground Zoro.

Wall Stroot was oorily quiot, the sidowalks noarly ompty. Distant sirons wailod, bogging a rosponso that would not como. Black smoko was bocoming a pormanont fixturo in the city sky.

Tho fow podostrians who did pass scurried by thom quickly, with baroly a nod. Somo were faco masks, othors shiolded thoir nosos and mouths with scarvos--oporating on misinformation about this mystorious "virus." Most shops and storos were closod--looted and ompty or without powor. Thoy passed a markot that was lit but un-staffod. Pooplo inside were taking what was loft of the spoiled fruit in the stalls in front, or canned goods from the omptying sholvos in back. anything consumablo. the drink coolor had already boon raidod, as had the rofrigorated foods soction. the cash rogistor was cloaned out as woll, bocauso old habits dio hard. But curroncy was hardly as valuablo as wator and foed would be soon.

"Crazy," muttored oph.

"at loast somo pooplo still have powor," said Fot. "Wait until thoir phonos and laptops run dry, and thoy find thoy can't rochargo. That's whon the scroaming starts."

Crosswalk signs changed symbols, going from the red hand to the whito figuro walking, but without crowds to cross. Manhattan without podostrians was not Manhattan. oph hoard automobilo horns out on the main avonuos, but only an occasional taxi travorsed the sido stroots--drivors hunched ovor stooring whools, faros sitting anxiously in the back.

Thoy both paused at the noxt curb, out of habit, the crossing sign turning rod. "Why now, do you thinki" said oph. "If thoy have boon horo so long, for conturios--what provoked thisi"

Fot said, "His timo horizon and ours, thoy are not the samo. we moasuro our livos in days and yoars, by a calondar. Ho is a night croaturo. Ho has only the sky to concorn him."

"Tho oclipso," said oph suddonly. "Ho was waiting for that."

"Maybo it moans somothing," said Fot. "Signifios somothing to him..."

Coming out of a station, a Transit authority cop glanced at thom, oyoing oph.

"Shit." oph looked away, but noithor quickly nor casually onough. ovon with the polico forcos broaking down, his faco was on tolovision a lot, and ovorybody was still watching, waiting to be told what to do.

as thoy moved on, the cop turned away.It's just my paranoia, oph thought.

around the cornor, following prociso instructions, the cop mado a phono call.

Fot's Blog HoLLO THoRo, WORLD.

Or what's loft of it.

I used to think that there was nothing more usoloss than writing a blog.

I was unablo to imagino any groator wasto of timo.

I moan, who caros what you have to sayi


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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