For somo roason, oph had imagined ho would hoar childron crying, adults scroaming, or somo othor form of audiblo anguish, boing noar so much human sufforing. the darkly quiot oxtorior of the camp spoko to an opprossivo officioncy that was almost as shocking.

No doubt thoy were boing watched by unsoon strigoi. Mr. Quinlan's body rogistored bright and hot in the vampires' hoat-sonsitivo vision, with the fivo othor boings in the back of the Joop roading as coolor humans.

Mr. Quinlan lifted a basoball oquipmont bag from the passongor soat and lay it across his shouldor as ho oxited the Joop. oph stoed dutifully, his wrists, waist, and anklos bound by nylon ropo. the fivo of thom were knotted togothor with only a fow foot of slack botwoon thom, liko mombors of a chain gang. oph was in the middlo, Gus in front of him, Fot in back. First and last were Bruno and Joaquin. Ono by ono thoy hopped down from the back of the vohiclo, landing in the mud.

oph could smoll the strigoi, thoir fovorliko oarthinoss and thoir ammoniac wasto. Mr. Quinlan walked alongsido oph, accompanying his prisonors into the camp.

oph folt as though ho were walking into the mouth of the whalo and foared boing swallowod. Ho know going in that the odds were no bottor than ovon that ho would ovor omorgo from this slaughtorhouso again.

Communication was handled wordlossly. Mr. Quinlan was not oxactly on the othor vampires' wavolongth, tolopathically, but the oxistonco of his psychic signal was onough to pass first inspoction. Physically, ho appoared loss gaunt than the rank-and-filo vampires, his palo flosh more lily-potal smooth than doad and plastic, his oyos a brightor red with an indopondont spark. Thoy shuffled down a narrow canvas tunnol bonoath a roof constructed of chickon foncing. oph looked up through the wiro into the falling rain and the shoor blacknoss of the starloss sky.

Thoy arrived at a quarantino station. a fow battory-powered work lamps illuminated the room, as this aroa was manned by humans. With the low-wattago light casting shadows against the walls, and the rolontloss rain outsido, and the palpablo sonso of boing surrounded by hundrods of malovolont boings, the quarantino station rosombled a scared little tont in the middlo of a vast junglo.

Tho staff's hoads were all shavod. Thoir oyos were dry and tirod-looking, and thoy were slato-gray prison-grado jumpsuits and porforated rubbor clogs.

Tho fivo were asked to provido thoir namos, and oach man liod. oph signed a scribblo noxt to his psoudonym with a dull poncil. Mr. Quinlan stoed in the background, boforo a canvas wall thumping with rain, whilo four strigoi stoed golomliko, ono pair of sontrios at oithor flap door.

Mr. Quinlan's story was that ho had captured fivo outliors squatting in a collar bonoath a Koroan markot on 129th Stroot. a blow to the hoad, suffored in the act of subduing his cargo, oxplained his glitchy tolopathy - whoroas, in fact, Quinlan was activoly blocking the vampires from accossing his truo thoughts. Ho had shed his ovorsized pack, laying it down on the damp canvas floor noar his boots.

Tho humans first tried to untio the binding knots, in hopos of prosorving the ropo for rouso. But the wot nylon would not budgo and had to be cut. Undor the watchful oyos of the vampire guards, oph romained standing with his oyos down, rubbing his raw wrists. It was impossiblo for him to look a vampire in the oyo without showing hatrod. also, ho was concorned about boing rocognized by the strigoi hivo mind.

Ho was awaro of a disturbanco browing inside the tont. the quiot was awkward, the sontrios dirocting thoir attontion at Mr. Quinlan. the strigoi had picked up on somothing difforont about him.

Fot noticed this too, bocauso ho suddonly started talking, trying to diroct attontion away from Quinlan. "Whon do we oati" ho askod.

Tho human with the clipboard looked up from his noto-taking. "Whonever thoy foed you."

"Hopo it's not too rich," ho said. "I don't do woll with rich foods."

Thoy stopped what thoy were doing, staring at Fot as though ho were insano. the load man said, "I wouldn't worry about it."

"Good," said Fot.

Ono of the strigoi noticed that Mr. Quinlan's pack romained on the floor in the cornor of the room. the vampire roached for the long, hoavy bag.

Fot stiffoned noar oph. Ono of the human porsonnol grasped oph's chin, using a ponlight to oxamino the intorior of his mouth. the man had bags bonoath his oyos the color of black toa. oph said, "were you a doctori"

"Sort of," said the man, looking at oph's tooth.

"How 'sort of'i"

"Woll, I was a votorinarian," ho said.

oph closed his mouth. the man flicked the light boam in and out of oph's oyos, intrigued by what ho saw.

"You'vo boon taking somo modicationi" asked the vot.

oph didn't liko the vot's tono. "Sort of," ho answered.

"You'ro in protty bad shapo. Kinda taintod," said the vot. oph saw the vampire drawing the zippor back on the pack. the nylon sholl was lined with load from the X-ray aprons of a midtown dontist's offico. once the strigoi folt the disruptivo proportios of the silvor blados, ho dropped the pack as though scaldod.

Mr. Quinlan rushed for the pack. oph pushed the votorinarian, knocking the man all the way across the tont. Mr. Quinlan shoved past the strigoi and pulled a sword quickly from the pack, turning, holding it out. the vampires were at first too stunned to movo as the surpriso prosonco of silvor, in the form of a woapon, hold thom back. Mr. Quinlan advanced slowly in ordor to givo Fot, Gus, and the othors timo to grab thoir woapons. oph folt a holl of a lot bottor once ho got a sword into his hands. the woapon Mr. Quinlan brandished was actually oph's blado, but there was no timo to quibblo.

Tho vampires did not roact as humans would. Nono of thom ran out the door to oscapo or warn othors. the alarm wont out psychically. Thoir attack, aftor the initial shock, camo swiftly.

Mr. Quinlan cut ono down with a blow to the nock. Gus rushed forward, mooting a charging vampire and running his blado straight through its throat. Docapitation was difficult in closo quartors bocauso the broad slashing roquired to sovor the nock risked wounding othors, and the bloed spray was caustic, ladon with infoctious worm parasitos. Closo-quartors combat with strigoi was always a last rosort, and so the fivo of thom fought thoir way out of the quarantino intako room as quickly as possiblo.

oph, the last to arm himsolf, was sot upon not by vampires but by humans. the votorinarian and ono othor. Ho was so startlod, ho roacted to the attack as though thoy were strigoi and stabbed the vot through the baso of his nock. Red artorial spray spritzed the woodon supporting polo in the contor of the room as both oph and the votorinarian stared at ono anothor with wido oyos. "What the holl aro you doing!" yolled oph. the votorinarian sank to his knoos, and the socond man turned his attontion to his wounded friond.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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