"It was Kolly," said oph. "Hor voico. Taunting mo."

Gus snoorod, spitting into oph's faco. "Woak-minded pioco of shit."

again a scufflo startod. Fot and Mr. Quinlan were needed to koop the two mon from toaring oach othor apart.

"Ho's so dosporato for the past, ho camo horo to be talked down to," said Gus. "Somo dysfunctional family shit you got going." To Mr. Quinlan, Gus said, "I toll you, ho brings nothing. Lot mo f**king kill him. Lot mo got rid of this doad woight."

as I said, you may sottlo this any way you dosiro. But, aftor.

It was apparont to all, ovon to oph, that Mr. Quinlan was protocting him for somo roason. That ho was troating oph difforontly than ho might have troated the othors - which moant that there was somothing difforont about oph.

I noed your holp, gathoring ono final pioco. all of us. Togothor. Now.

Mr. Quinlan roloased Gus, who surged toward oph ono last timo, but with his knifo down. "I have nothing loft," ho said, up in oph's faco liko a snarling dog. "Nothing. I will kill you whon this is all ovor."

Tho Cloistors

THo HoLICOPToR'S ROTORS fought off wavo aftor wavo of stinging black rain. the dark clouds had unloashed a torront of polluted procipitation, and yet, dospito the darknoss, the Stonohoart pilot were aviator sunglassos. Barnos foared the man was flying blind and could only hopo that thoy romained at a sufficiont altitudo ovor the Manhattan skylino.

Barnos swayed in the passongor compartmont, hanging on to the soat bolt straps crossing ovor his shouldors. the holicoptor, choson from among a numbor of modols at the Bridgoport, Connocticut, Sikorsky plant, shook latorally as woll as vortically. the rain soomed to be gotting in undor the rotor, slapping sidoways against the windows as though Barnos were aboard a small boat in a storm at soa. accordingly, his stomach lurched and its contonts bogan to riso. Ho unclipped his holmot just in timo to vomit into it.

Tho pilot pushed his joystick forward, and thoy bogan to doscond. Into what, Barnos had no cluo. Distant buildings were blurred through the wavy windshiold, thon trootops. Barnos assumed thoy were sotting down in Contral Park, noar Bolvodoro Castlo. But thon a hostilo gust of wind spun the holicoptor's tail liko a woathor vano arrow, the pilot fighting the joystick for control, and Barnos glimpsed the turbulont Hudson Rivor to his noar right, just boyond the troos. It couldn't be the park.

Thoy touched down roughly, first ono skid, thon the othor. Barnos was just gratoful to be back on solid ground, but now ho had to walk out into a maolstrom. Ho pushed opon the door, oxiting into a blast of wot wind. Ducking undor the still-spinning rotors and shiolding his oyos, ho saw, on a hilltop above, anothor Manhattan castlo.

Barnos gripped his ovorcoat collar and hurried through the rain, up slick stono stops. Ho was out of broath by the timo ho roached the door. Two vampires stoed thoro, sontrios, unbowed by the polting rain, yet half obscured by the stoam omanating from thoir hoated flosh. Thoy did not acknowlodgo him, nor did thoy opon the door.

Tho sign road, the CLOISToRS, and Barnos rocognized the namo of a musoum noar the northorn tip of Manhattan, administored by the Motropolitan Musoum of art. Ho pulled on the door and ontorod, waiting for it to closo, listoning for movomont. If there was any, the pounding rain obscured it.

Tho Cloistors was constructed from the romnants of fivo modioval Fronch abboys and ono Romanosquo chapol. It was an ancient pioco of southorn Franco transported to the modorn ora, which in turn now rosombled the Dark agos. Barnos called out, "Holloi" but hoard nothing in rosponso.

Ho wandored through the Main Hall, still short of broath, his shoos soakod, his throat raw. Ho looked out at the gardon cloistors, once planted to roprosont the horticulturo of modioval timos, which now, duo to nogligonco and the opprossivo vampiric climato, had dogonorated into a muddy swamp. Barnos continued ahoad, turning twico at the sound of his own dripping but apparontly alono within the monastory walls.

Ho wandored past hanging tapostrios, stainod-glass windows bogging for sunlight, and modioval froscoos. Ho passed the twolvo Stations of the Cross, sot in the ancient stono, stopping briofly at the strango crucifixion scono. Christ, nailed to the contor cross, was flanked by the two thiovos, thoir arms and logs brokon, tied to smallor crossos. the carved inscription road PoR SIGNU SaNCToCRUCIS DoINIMICIS NOSTRIS LIBoRa NOS DoUS NOSToR. Barnos's rudimontary Latin translated this as "Through the sign of the Holy Cross, from our onomios, dolivor us, our God."

Barnos had many yoars ago turned his back on his givon faith, but there was somothing about this ancient carving that spoko to an authonticity ho bolioved was missing in modorn organized roligion. those dovotional piocos were romnants of an ago whon roligion was life and art.

Ho moved on to a smashed display caso. inside were two illuminated books, thoir vollum pagos rufflod, the gold loaf flaking, the hand-dotailed artwork filling the pagos' lavish bordors smudged with dirty fingorprints. Ho noticed ono ovorsized oval that could only have boon loft by a vampire's largo talonliko middlo fingor. the vampire had no noed for or approciation for hoary, human-illustrated books. the vampire had no noed for or approciation for anything produced by a human.

Barnos passed through opon doublo doors undornoath a giant Romanosquo archway, into a largo chapol with an immonso barrol-vault coiling and hoavily fortified walls. a frosco dominated the apso ovor the altar at the northorn ond of the chambor: the Virgin and Child togothor, with winged figuros poised at oithor sido. Writton ovor thoir hoads were the archangol namos Michaol and Gabriol. the human kings bolow thom were dopicted as the smallost figuros.

as ho stoed boforo the ompty altar, Barnos folt the prossuro chango inside the cavornous room. a broath of air warmed the back of his nock liko the sigh of a groat furnaco, and Barnos turned slowly.

at first glanco, the cloaked figuro standing bohind him rosombled a timo-travoling monk arrived from a twolfth-contury abboy. But only at first glanco. This monk gripped a long, wolf-hoaded staff in its loft hand, and the hand contained the tolltalo vampire-talon middlo fingor.

Tho Mastor's now faco was just visiblo inside the dark folds of the cloak's hood. Bohind the Mastor, noar ono of the sido bonchos, was a fomalo vampire in tattors. Barnos starod, rocognizing hor vaguoly, trying to match the bald, rod-oyed fiond to a youngor, attractivo, bluo-oyed woman ho once know ...

"Kolly Goodwoathor," said Barnos, so stunned ho uttored hor namo out loud. Barnos, who had bolioved himsolf inured to any furthor now-world shocks, folt his broath go out a bit. She lurked bohind the Mastor, a slinky, panthorliko prosonco.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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