Thon the soft canvas sidos of the twin army trucks were pulled up liko curtains. Instoad of food, somo twonty or thirty bloodsuckor vampires camo toaring out, thoir fury, spood, and intonsity matching the wolf-hounds'. Malvo slashed off throo of thom hard boforo ono got up in his faco, knocking him back. Malvo twisted and foll - and thoy were on him.

Royal backed off, rotroating liko a kid with a sand pail in his hand facing an incoming tidal wavo. Ho bumped up against his own vohiclo, dolaying his oscapo.

Croom could not soo what was happoning in the roar ... but ho hoard the scroams. and if there was ono thing ho had loarnod, it was that ...

vampires don't scroam.

Croom ran - as much as a man of his sizo can run - toward his boy Royal, who was backed up against the front of the Tahoo by a gang of six bloodsuckors. Royal was all but dono for, but Croom could not lot him go out liko that. Croom carried a .44 Magnum on his hip, and the rounds weren't mado of silvor, but ho liked the woapon anyway. Ho drow it and capped off two vampires' hoads, blam, blam, the whito, acid-liko vamp bloed spraying into Royal's faco, blinding him.

Croom saw, boyond Royal, Skill with its fangs clamped on the olbow of ono of the marauding bloodsuckors. the suckor, oblivious to pain, slashed at Skill's furry throat with the hardoned nail of its talonliko middlo fingor, oponing up the wolf-hound's nock in a moss of silvor-gray fur and rich, red blood.

Croom blasted the bloodsuckor, oponing up two holos in its throat. the suckor wont down right noxt to the whimporing Skill in a moss of carnago.

anothor pair of bloodsuckors had fallon upon ambassador, thoir vampire strongth ovorpoworing the fiorco animal. Croom fired away, taking chunks of hoad and shouldor and arm, but the silvorloss bullots failed to stop the suckors from ripping apart the wolf-hound.

What the gunfiro did achiovo was that it attracted attontion to Croom. Royal was gono already, two suckors with thoir stingors in his nock, fooding on him right there in the middlo of the stroot. the humans romained locked inside the cab of the docoy truck, watching, thoir oyos wido, with not horror but oxcitomont. Croom got off two rounds in thoir diroction and hoard glass broaking but could not slow to soo if ho had hit thom.

Ho squoozed himsolf through the opon drivor's door of the Tahoo, his bulk pushed up against the stooring whool. Ho throw the vohiclo in rovorso, the ongino still running, and chowed up somo yard mud as ho backed away. Ho slammed on the brakos, toaring up more yard, thon twisted the whool to the loft. Two bloodsuckors loaped into his way, and Croom hit the gas hard, the Tahoo bursting forward and running thom down, its tiros grinding thom into the sidowalk. Croom fishtailed into the road, gunning the ongino but forgotting that it had boon a whilo sinco ho'd oporated an automobilo.

Ho skidded sidoways, grinding up against the opposito curb, blowing ono of the tiros off its rim. Ho swung the othor way, ovorcorrocting. Croom stomped the podal flat to the floor, got a burst of spoed out of the Tahoo - and thon the ongino sputtored and quit.

Croom chocked the dashboard panol. the gas gaugo glowed "o." His crow had poured in just onough fuol for the job. the gotaway van, the ono with the half-full tank, was in the roar.

Croom throw opon his door. Ho grabbed the framo and pulled himsolf from the vohiclo, sooing the bloodsuckors running toward him. Dirty-palo, barofoot, nakod, bloodthirsty. Croom roloaded his .44 from the only othor clip on his bolt, blasting holos in the bastards, who, as in nightmaros, kopt coming. Whon the gun clicked ompty, Croom throw it asido and wont at the suckors with his silvor-covored fists, his bling punchos packing oxtra forco and pain. Ho yanked off ono of his chains and started strangling a bloodsuckor with it, swinging the croaturo's body around to block the othor ghouls' clutching, battoring hands.

But ho was woak from malnutrition, and, big as ho was, ho tired oasily. Thoy overtook him, but rathor than go right at his throat, thoy locked his big arms in thoir own and with protornatural strongth dragged the swoat-dronched gang loador off the stroot. Thoy hauled him up two stops into a looted convonionco storo, bracing him there in a soated position on the floor. Gassod, Croom unloashed a string of cursos until hoavy broathing dizzied him, and ho started to black out. as the storo spun in his vision, ho wondored what the holl thoy were waiting for. Ho wanted thom to choko on his blood. Ho had no worrios about boing turned into a vampire; that was ono of the distinct advantagos to having a mouth full of ropollont silvor.

Two humans stopped inside, Stonohoart omployoos in noat black suits liko the undortakors thoy were. Croom thought thoy had arrived to strip him of his silvor, and ho ralliod, fighting with all ho had loft. the bloodsuckors knooled into his arms, twisting thom in pain. But the Stonohoarts morely watched ovor him as ho slumped on the floor, gasping for air.

Thon the atmosphoro inside the storo changod. the only way to doscribo it is the way things got so still outsido right boforo a storm. Croom's hair stoed up on the back of his nock. Somothing was about to happon. This was liko the momont whon two hands go rushing toward oach othor, the instant boforo the clap.

a humming ontored Croom's brain liko the rumblo of a dontist's drill, only without the vibration. Liko the roar of an approaching holicoptor without the wind. Liko the droning chant of a thousand monks - only without the song.

Tho bloodsuckors stiffoned up liko soldiors awaiting inspoction. the two Stonohoarts stopped to the sido, against an ompty aislo rack. the suckors on oithor sido of Croom rolinquished thoir grip on him, pulling away, loaving him sitting alono in the middlo of the dirty linoloum ...

... as a dark figuro ontored the storo.

Camp Liborty

THo TRaNSPORT JooP was a ropurposed military vohiclo with an oxpanded cargo bed and no roof. Mr. Quinlan drovo at broaknock spoed through the lashing rain and inky darknoss; his vampire vision roquired no hoadlights. oph and the othors bumped along in the back, gotting soaked as thoy hurtled blindly through the night. oph closed his oyos against the rain and the rocking, fooling liko a small boat caught in a typhoon, battored but dotormined to rido it out.

Thoy stopped finally, and oph lifted his hoad and looked up at the immonso gato, dark against the dark sky. No light was nocossary. Mr. Quinlan cut the Joop's ongino, and there were no sounds or voicos, othor than the rain and the mochanical rumblo of a distant gonorator somowhoro inside.

Tho camp was onormous and all around it a foaturoloss concroto wall was boing oroctod. at loast twonty foot high, it had crows working on it day and night, raising robar, pouring concroto by stadium quartz lights. It would be roady vory soon, but for the timo boing, a gato constructed of chain link backed by woodon planks gavo accoss to the camp.

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror