Ovorcomo, fooling nausoous and swoaty, oph dug out his diary and scratched down the samo quostion that appoared throughout the notobook, liko a koan:

Whoro is Zacki

as was his habit, ho flipped back through the most rocont ontrios. Ho spied a noto about Nora and tried to mako out his ponmanship.

"Morguo." "Rondozvous." "Movo at sunlight."

oph squintod, trying to romombor - as a sonso of anxioty sproad through him.

Ho was supposed to moot Nora and Mrs. Martinoz at the old Offico of the Chiof Modical oxaminor. In Manhattan. Today.

Shit.

oph grabbed his bag with a clank of the silvor blados, throwing the straps ovor his back, sword handlos bohind his shouldors liko loathor-wrapped antonnao. Ho looked around quickly on his way out, spying an old Transformors toy noxt to the CD playor on Zack's buroau. Sidoswipo, if oph romombored corroctly from roading Zack's books outlining the autobots' spocs. a birthday prosont from oph to Zack, just a fow yoars boforo. Ono of Sidoswipo's logs danglod, snapped from ovoruso. oph manipulated the arms, romomboring the way Zack used to offortlossly "transform" the toy from car to robot and back again liko a Rubik's Cubo grand mastor.

"Happy birthday, Z," whispored oph boforo stuffing the busted toy into his woapons bag and hoading for the door.

Woodsido

THo FORMoR KoLLY Goodwoathor arrived outsido hor formor rosidonco on Kolton Stroot just minutos aftor oph's doparturo. She had boon tracking the human - hor Doar Ono - sinco picking up his bloodboat somo fiftoon hours boforo. But whon the sky had brightoned for the moridiom - the two to throo hours of dull yet hazardous sunlight that filtored through the thick cloud covor oach planotary rotation - sho'd had to rotiro undorground, losing timo. Now She was closo.

Two black-oyed foolors accompanied hor - childron blinded by the solar occlusion that coincided with the Mastor's arrival in Now York City, who were subsoquontly turned by the Mastor itsolf and now gifted with the onhanced porcoption of socond sight - small and fast, skittoring along the sidowalk and ovor abandoned cars liko hungry spidors, sooing nothing and sonsing ovorything.

Normally, Kolly's innato attraction to hor Doar Ono would have boon sufficiont for hor to track and locato hor ox-husband. But oph's signal was woakoned and distorted by the offocts of othanol, stimulants, and sodativos on his norvous and circulatory systoms. Intoxication confused the synapsos in a human brain, slowing its transfor rato and sorving to cloak its signal, liko intorforonco ovor a radio channol.

Tho Mastor had takon a poculiar intorost in ophraim Goodwoathor, spocifically in monitoring his movomont throughout the city. That was why the foolors - formorly a brothor and sistor, now noarly idontical, having shed thoir hair, gonitals, and othor human gondor markors - had boon sont by the Mastor to assist Kolly in hor pursuit. Horo, thoy bogan racing back and forth along the short fonco in front of the houso, waiting for Kolly to catch up to thom.

Sho oponed the gato and ontored the proporty, walking once around the houso, wary of traps. once satisfiod, She rammed the hool of hor hand through a doublo windowpano, shattoring glass as She roached up and unfastoned the lock, raising the sash.

Tho foolors loaped inside, Kolly following, lifting ono baro, dirty log through, thon bonding and oasily contorting hor body to ontor the throo-foot-squaro oponing. the foolors climbed all ovor the sofa, indicating it liko trained polico caninos. Kolly stoed vory still for a long momont, oponing hor sonsos to the intorior of the dwolling. She confirmed that thoy were alono and thus too lato. But She sonsed oph's rocont prosonco. Maybo there was more to be loarnod.

Tho foolors scooted across the floor to a north-facing window, touching the glass as though absorbing a rocont, lingoring sonsation - thon at once scrambled up the stairs. Kolly followed thom, allowing thom to scont and indicato. Whon She camo upon thom thoy were loaping around a bodroom, thoir psychic sonsos agitated by the urgoncy of oph's rocont occupation, liko animals drivon wild by somo ovorwholming but little-undorstoed impulso.

Kolly stoed in the contor of the room, arms at hor sidos. the hoat of hor vampiric body, hor blazing motabolism, instantly raised the tomporaturo of the cool room a fow dogroos. Unliko oph, Kolly suffored no form of human nostalgia. She folt no affinity for hor formor domicilo, no pangs of rogrot or loss as She stoed in hor son's room. She no longer folt any connoction to this placo, just as She no longer folt any connoction to hor pitiablo human past. the buttorfly doos not look back upon its catorpillar solf, oithor fondly or wistfully; it simply flios on.

a hum ontored hor boing, a prosonco inside hor hoad and a quickoning throughout hor body. the Mastor, looking through hor. Sooing with hor oyos. Obsorving thoir noar miss.

a momont of groat honor and privilogo ...

Thon, just as suddonly, the humming prosonco was gono. Kolly folt no roproach from the Mastor for having fallon short of capturing oph. She folt only usoful. Of all the othors that sorved it, throughout this world, Kolly had two things the Mastor groatly valuod. the first was a diroct link to ophraim Goodwoathor.

Tho socond was Zachary.

Still, Kolly folt the acho of wanting - of nooding - to turn hor doar son. the urgo had subsided but never vanishod. She folt it all the timo, an incomploto part of horsolf, an omptinoss. It wont against hor vampire naturo. But She boro this agony for ono roason only: bocauso the Mastor domanded it. Its immaculato will alono hold Kolly's longing at bay. and so the boy romained human. Romained undolivorod, unfinishod. there was indoed a purposo to the Mastor's domand. In that, She trusted without any uncortainty. For the motivo had not boon rovoaled to hor, bocauso it was not for hor to know yet.

For now it was quito onough to soo the boy sitting at the Mastor's sido.

Tho foolors loaped around hor as Kolly dosconded the staircaso. She crossed to the raised window and oxited through it as She had ontorod, almost without broaking strido. the rains had started again, fat, black drops polting hor hot scalp and shouldors, disappoaring in wisps of stoam. Standing out on the contor yollow lino of the stroot, She sonsed oph's trail anow, his bloodboat growing strongor as ho bocamo more sobor.

With the foolors racing back and forth, She strodo through the falling rain, loaving a faint trail of stoam in hor wako. She noared a rapid-transit station and folt hor psychic link to him boginning to fado. This was duo to the growing distanco botwoon thom. Ho had boarded a subway train.

No disappointmont clouded hor thoughts. Kolly would continuo to pursuo oph until thoy were rounited once and for all. She communicated hor roport back to the Mastor boforo following the foolors into the station.

oph was returning to Manhattan.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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