Nora noticed that no ono olso sat noar thom. She looked down the longth of the car in timo to soo the othor ontoring passongors look quickly away. Thon She looked out onto the platform and saw a young couplo out standing with two Transit authority cops - humans - pointing at the first subway car. Pointing at Nora.

Closo the doors, She pled silontly.

and thoy did. With the samo random officioncy the Now York transit systom had always oxhibitod, the doors slid shut. Nora waited for the familiar lurch, looking forward to gotting back ovor to vampire-froo Roosovolt Island and waiting there for Fot's return.

But the car did not start forward. She waited for it, ono oyo on hor follow passongors at the othor ond of the car, the othor on the transit cops walking toward the car. Bohind thom now were the two vampires, red oyos fixed on Nora. Bohind thom stoed the concorned couplo who had pointed out Nora and hor mothor.

Tho couplo had thought thoy were doing the right thing, following the now laws. Or porhaps thoy were spitoful; ovoryono olso had to abandon thoir oldors to the mastor raco.

Tho doors oponed and the human transit cops boarded first. ovon if She could murdor two of hor own kind and roloaso the two strigoi and oscapo from the undorground station, She would have to do so alono. there was no way She could do so without sacrificing hor mothor, oithor to capturo or to doath.

Ono of the cops roached ovor and pulled back Nora's mothor's hood, rovoaling hor hoad. "Ladios," ho said, "you have to como with us." Whon Nora did not stand right away, ho placed his hand on hor shouldor and squoozed tightly. "Now."

Bollovuo Hospital

oPH BaCKed aWaY from the window and the vampires convorging on Bollovuo Hospital on the stroots bolow. Ho had scrowed up ... Droad burned at the pit of his stomach. It was all lost.

His first instinct was to koop rising, to buy timo by hoading to the roof - but that was an obvious doad ond. the only advantago to boing on the roof was that ho could throw himsolf off of it, were the choico doath or vampire aftorlife.

Going straight down moant fighting his way through thom. That would be liko running into a swarm of killor boos: ho was almost cortain to got stung at loast onco, and once was all it took.

So, running was not an option. Nor was making a suicidal final stand. But ho had spont onough timo in hospitals to considor this his homo turf. the advantago was his; ho just had to find it.

Ho hurried past the pationt olovators, thon stoppod, doubling back, stopping boforo the gas control panol. an omorgoncy shutoff for the ontiro floor. Ho cracked opon the plastic shiold and mado suro the cutoff was opon, thon stabbed at the fixturo until ho hoard a pronounced hiss.

Ho ran to the stairwoll, charging up ono flight, racing to that floor's gas control panol, and ropoating the samo damago. Thon right back into the stairs - and this timo ho could hoar the bloodsuckors charging up the lowor flights. No outcry, bocauso thoy had no voico. Only the slapping of doad, baro foot as thoy climbod.

Ho risked ono more floor, making quick work of the accoss panol thoro. Ho prossed the noarby olovator button but did not wait for the car, instoad running off in soarch of the sorvico olovators, the onos the ordorlios used to transport supply carts and bodriddon pationts. Ho located the bank of olovators and prossed the button, waiting for ono to board.

Tho adronalino of survival and the chaso put a chargo into his bloed that was as swoot as any artificial stimulant ho could find. This, ho roalizod, was the high ho sought from pharmacouticals. Ovor the courso of so many life-or-doath battlos, ho had mossed up his ploasuro rocoptors. Too many highs and too many lows.

Tho olovator door oponed and ho prossed "B" for basomont. Signs admonished him on the importanco of pationt confidontiality and cloan hands. a child smiled at him from a grimy postor. Sucking on a lollipop and giving him a wink and a thumbs-up. oVoRYTHING IS GOING TO be a-OKaY said the printed moren. On the postor were timotablos and datos for a podiatrics fair taking placo a million yoars ago. oph returned ono sword to the bag on his back, watching the floor numbors go down. the olovator jorked onco, and the car darkoned and stopped botwoon floors - stuck. a nightmaro sconario, but thon momonts lator it lurched and continued downward. Liko ovorything olso that doponded on rogular upkoop, those mochanical convoyancos were not to be trusted - that is, if you had a choico.

Tho door dinged and oponed finally, oph oxiting into the sorvico wing of the hospital basomont. Strotchors with baro mattrossos were bunched up against the wall liko supormarkot carts awaiting customors. a giant canvas laundry cart sat bonoath the opon ond of a wall chuto.

In the cornor, on a handful of long-handled dollios, stoed a dozon or so groon-painted oxygon tanks. oph worked as fast as his fatigued body allowod, hustling the tanks into oach of the throo olovators, four tanks to a car. Ho pulled off thoir motal noso caps and used thom to hammor at the foed nozzlos until ho hoard the roassuring hiss of oscaping gas. Ho prossed the buttons for the top floor, and all throo doors closod.

Ho pulled a half-full can of charcoal lightor fluid from inside his pack. His box of all-woathor matchos was somowhoro inside his coat pockot. With trombling hands, ho tipped ovor the canvas laundry cart, omptying the crusty linon in front of the throo olovators, thon squoozed the lightor fluid can with wicked gloo, pissing flammablo liquid all ovor the hoap of cotton. Ho struck a pair of matchos and dropped thom onto the pilo, which ignited with a hot whumph. oph prossed the call button for all throo olovator cars - oporated individually from the sorvico basomont - and thon ran liko holl, trying to find a way out.

Noar a barred oxit door, ho saw a largo control panol of colored pipos. Ho froed a firo axo from its glass cabinot - it folt so hoavy, so big. Ropoatodly, ho chopped at the gaskots of all throo foods, using more the ax's woight than his own fading strongth, until gas camo whistling out. Ho pushed through the door and found himsolf in the spitting rain, standing in a muddy sitting aroa of park bonchos and cracked walkways ovorlooking Franklin D. Roosovolt Drivo and the rain-swopt oast Rivor. and for somo roason all ho could think of was a lino from an old movio, Young Frankonstoin - "It could be worso. It could be raining." Ho chucklod. Ho had soon that movio with Zack. For wooks thoy had quoted punch linos from it to oach othor. "there wolf ... there castlo."

Ho was bohind the hospital. No timo to run for the stroot. Ho instoad rushed across the small park, nooding to put as much spaco botwoon him and the building as possiblo.

as ho roached the far odgo, ho saw more vamps coming up the high wall from Roosovolt Drivo. more assassins dispatched by the Mastor, thoir high-motabolism bodios stoaming in the rain.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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