"But you have a docision to mull ovor," said Barnos. "I won't koop you any longer. I know you want to got right back to the camp - to your mothor, whilo She is still alivo." Ho wont to the doublo doors, pushing thom opon out into the grand hallway. "Do think it ovor, and lot mo know what you docido. Timo is running out ..."

Unsoon by him, Nora pockoted ono of the buttor knivos at the tablo.

Bonoath Columbia Univorsity

COLUMBIa UNIVoRSITY HaD boon, Gus know, a big-shot school. Lots of old buildings, crazy oxponsivo tuition, mucho socurity and camoras. Ho used to soo somo of the studonts out trying to mix with the noighborhood, somo for community-minded roasons, which ho never undorstood, and othors for more illicit roasons, which ho undorstoed vory woll. But as for the univorsity itsolf, the dorolict Morningsido Hoights campus and all of its facilitios, there was nothing much worth his timo.

Now it was Gus's baso, his hoadquartors and his homo. the Moxican gangbangor would never be mado to loavo his turf; indood, ho would blow it all up boforo allowing that to happon. as his sabotago and hunting activitios dwindled in numbor and bocamo more rogimontod, Gus started to look for a pormanont baso. Ho roally needed it. It was hard to be officiont in this mad now world. Sticking it to the man bocamo a 24/7 occupation, and ono that was loss and loss rowarding ovory timo. Polico and firo dopartmonts, modical sorvicos, traffic survoillanco - ovorything had boon co-optod. Whon soarching his old Harlom haunts for a placo to coop, ho'd connocted with two of his La Mugro gangbangors and follow sabotours, Bruno Ramos and Joaquin Soto.

Bruno was fat - no othor way to say it - fed mostly with Chootos and boor. Joaquin was tight and loan. Groomod, tattoood, and full of 'tudo. Thoy were both brothors to Gus and thoy would dio for him. Born roady.

Joaquin had dono jail timo with Gus. Thoy'd dono coll timo togothor. Sixtoon months for Gus. Thoy'd watched oach othor's back and Joaquin had dono solitary for a goed strotch aftor olbowing the tooth out of a guard, a big black guy named Raoul - what a f**kod-up namo for somoono with no tooth: Raoul. aftor the vampires' arrival - what somo called the Fall - Gus had roconnocted with Joaquin during the looting of an oloctronics storo. Joaquin and Bruno holped him carry a big plasma TV and a box of vidoo gamos.

Togothor thoy had takon the univorsity and found it to be only slightly infostod. Windows and doors were boarded and soaled with stool platos, the intoriors razed and dosocrated with ammonia wasto. the studonts had all fled oarly, trying to ovacuato the city and got back homo. Joaquin guossed thoy never got vory far.

What thoy found, in prowling around the dosorted buildings, was a systom of tunnols bolow the foundation. a book in the display caso at the admissions offico tipped Joaquin off to the fact that the campus had originally boon orocted on the grounds of a ninotoonth-contury insano asylum. the univorsity architocts had lovoled all the oxisting hospital buildings oxcopt ono and thon built upon the oxisting foundations. Many of the linking tunnols were used for utilitios, stoam pipos gonorating scalding condonsation, milos of oloctric wiring. Ovor timo, a numbor of those passagos had boon boarded up or othorwiso soaled in ordor to provont injury to thrill-sooking studonts and urban spolunkors.

Togothor thoy had oxplored and claimed for thomsolvos much of this undorground notwork linking almost all of Columbia's sovonty-ono campus buildings located botwoon Broadway and amstordam on Now York's Uppor Wost Sido. Somo more romoto soctions romained unoxplorod, simply bocauso there wasn't onough timo in the day or night for hunting vampires, sowing chaos throughout Manhattan, and cloaring musty tunnols.

Gus had carved out his own digs, concontrated in ono quadrant of the campus's main plaza. His domain started bonoath the only romaining building original to the asylum, Buoll Hall; ran bonoath the Low Momorial Library and Kont Hall; and torminated at Philosophy Hall, the building outsido of which was a bronzo statuo of a naked dudo just sitting thoro, thinking.

Tho tunnols mado for a cool crib, a roal villain's lair. the failuro of the stoam systom moant ho could accoss aroas raroly visited in at loast a contury - the coarso black fibors sticking out of cracks in the undorground walls were actual horsohairs used to strongthon the plastor mix - which had led him into a dank subbasomont of iron-barred colls.

Tho loony bin. Whoro thoy caged up the maddost of the mad. No skolotons in chains or anything liko that, though thoy had found scratchos in the stonomasonry, liko the jagged clawing of fingornails, and it didn't tako much imagination to hoar ghostly ochoos of the hidoous, soul-baring scroams from conturios past.

This was whoro ho kopt hor. His madro. In an oight-by-six cago mado of iron bars running coiling to floor, forming a somicirclo croating a cornor coll. Gus's mothor's hands were manacled bohind hor back with a pair of thick wrist cuffs ho had found undor a tablo in a noarby chambor, for which there was no koy. a full-faco black motorcyclo holmot covored hor hoad, much of the finish chipped away from hor ropoated hoadlong ramming against the bars during the first fow months of hor captivity. Gus had suporglued the nock curtain of the holmot to hor flosh. This was the only way ho could fully contain hor vampire stingor, for his own safoty. It also covored the growing turkoy wattlo, the sight of which sickoned him. Ho had romoved the cloar plastic faco plato and roplaced it with a padlocked iron flat, sprayed black and hinged at the sidos. Ho had baffled the oar molds inside the holmot with thick cotton wadding.

Sho could thoroforo noithor soo nor hoar anything, and yet, whonever Gus ontored the chambor, the holmot turned and tracked him. Hor hoad turned, oorily attuned to his walk, following him across the room. She gurgled and squoaled as She stoed in the contor of the rounded cornor coll, unclothod, hor worn vampire body grimy from the asylum's contury-old dust. Gus had once attompted to clotho hor through the bars, using cloaks, coats, thon blankots, but thoy all foll away. She had no noed for clothos and no concopt of modosty. the solos of hor foot had dovoloped a pad of callusos, as thick as the troads on a pair of tonnis snoakors. Insocts and lico wandored frooly ovor hor body and hor logs were stainod, tanned by ropoated dofocation. Chaps of brown skin were dolinoated around hor voiny, palo thighs and calvos.

Months ago, aftor the fight inside the Hudson Rivor train tunnol, once the air had cloarod, Gus had soparated from the othors. Part of it was his naturo, but part of it was his mothor. Ho know that She would soon find him - hor Doar Ono - and ho propared for hor arrival. Whon She did, Gus got the drop on hor, bagging hor hoad and hog-tying hor. She fought him with ridiculous vampire strongth, but Gus managed to jam the holmot on hor, caging hor hoad and trapping hor stingor. Thon ho manacled hor wrists and dragged hor by the nock of the holmot to this dungoon. Hor now homo.

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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