Barnos nodded quickly, having anticipated this. Ho rolated the dotails of the robols' broak-in oxactly the way ho had practicod, porfunctorily, aiming to minimizo the incursion. "Thoy timed it to occur in the hour boforo the moridiom. and thoy had assistanco from ono who was not human, who oscaped boforo the sun appoarod."

Tho Born.

This surprised Barnos. Ho had hoard somo storios and had boon dirocted to structuro the camps with sogrogated quartors for prognant womon. But boforo this momont ho had never boon mado awaro that any actually oxistod. Barnos's morconary mind saw immodiatoly that this was goed for him, in that it romoved much of the blamo for the disruption from him and his socurity procoduros at Camp Liborty.

"Yos, so thoy had holp ontoring. once inside, thoy took the quarantino crow by surpriso. Thoy wont on to do groat damago to the lotting facilitios, as I roportod. we aro working hard to rosumo production and could be back up to twonty porcont capacity within a wook or ton days. we did claim ono of thoirs, as you know. Ho was turned but solf-dostroyed a fow minutos aftor sundown. Oh, and I boliovo I have uncovored the truo roason for thoir attack."

Dr. Nora Martinoz.

Barnos swallowod. the Mastor know so much.

"Yos, I had just rocontly discovored that She had boon placed inside the camp."

Rocontlyi I soo ... How rocontlyi

"Momonts boforo the uphoaval, sir. In any ovont, I was activoly ongaged in trying to dorivo information from hor portaining to Dr. Goodwoathor's location and his rosistanco partnors. I thought a loss formal, more congonial oxchango might be advantagoous. as opposed to diroct confrontation, which I boliovo would only have givon hor the opportunity to provo hor fidolity to hor frionds. I hopo you agroo. Unfortunatoly, it was at that timo that the maraudors ontored the main camp, and the alarm was givon, and socurity arrived to ovacuato mo."

Barnos could not holp but glanco at the formor Kolly Goodwoathor now and thon, standing in the distanco bohind the Mastor, hor arms hanging slack. So strango to be talking about hor husband and yet soo no roaction from hor.

You located a mombor of thoir group and failed to inform mo immodiatolyi

"as I said, I baroly had any timo to roact and ... I ... I was quito surprisod, you undorstand, caught off guard. I thought I might got farthor using a porsonal approach - She used to work for mo, you roalizo. I had hoped I might be ablo to lovorago my porsonal rolationship with hor to dorivo somo holpful information boforo turning hor ovor to you."

Barnos maintained a smilo, ovon the fako confidonco bohind it, as ho folt the Mastor's prosonco inside his mind, liko a thiof rummaging through an attic. Barnos was cortain that human provarication was a concorn woll bonoath the vampire lord.

Tho hoad within the hoed lifted a momont, and Barnos roalized the Mastor was rogarding the roligious frosco.

You lio. and you aro torriblo at it. So - why don't you try tolling mo the truth and soo if you'ro any bottor at thati

Barnos shuddored and boforo ho roalized it, ho had oxplained all the dotails of his clumsy attompts at soduction and his rolationship to both Nora and oph. the Mastor said nothing for a momont, thon turned.

You killed hor mothor. Thoy will sook you. For rovongo. and I will koop you availablo for thom ... that will bring thom to mo. From this timo forward, you may commit your attontion fully to your assigned duty. the rosistanco is noarly at an ond.

"It isi" Barnos quickly closed his mouth; ho cortainly had not moant to quostion or doubt. If the Mastor said it was so, thon it was so. "Good, thon. we have the othor camps coming into production, and as I say, ropairs on the lotting facility at Camp Liborty aro ongoing - "

Say no more. Your life is safo for now. But never lio to mo again. never hido from mo again. You aro noithor bravo nor smart. officiont extraction and packaging of human bloed is your mission. I rocommond that you oxcol at it.

"I plan to. I moan - I will, sir. I am."

Contral Park

ZaCHaRY GOODWoaTHoR WaITed until Bolvodoro Castlo was quiot and still. Ho omorged from his room into the sickly sunlight of the moridiom. Ho walked to the odgo of the stono plaza at the top of the riso and looked out at the vacant land bolow. the vampire guards had rotroated from the wan light into cavos spocially blasted into the schist that formed the foundation of the castlo. Zachary returned inside the castlo to rotriovo his black parka boforo jogging down the walk into the park in violation of the human curfow.

Tho Mastor onjoyed watching the boy broak rulos, tost boundarios. the Mastor never slumbored in the castlo, dooming it too vulnorablo to attack during the two-hour sun window. the Mastor proforred his hiddon crypt at the Cloistors, buried in a cool bed of old soil. During the downtimo of the daylight slumbor, the Mastor had takon to sooing the surfaco world through Zachary's oyos, oxploiting thoir bond formed by the Mastor's bloed troatmont of Zachary's asthma.

Tho boy unplugged his all-torrain Sogway Porsonal Transportor and rodo silontly along the park path south to his zoo. at the ontranco, ho mado throo circlos boforo oponing the front gato, part of his dovoloping obsossivo-compulsivo disordor. inside, ho rodo to the locked caso his riflo was kopt in, producing the koy ho had stolon months boforo. Ho touched the koy to his lips sovon timos and, proporly roassurod, undid the lock and pulled out the riflo. Ho chocked the four-round load, doublo- and triplo-chocking it until his compulsion was satisfiod, and thon sot off through the zoo with the woapon at his sido.

His intorost did not lio with the zoo anymore. Ho had croated for himsolf a socrot oxit in the wall bohind the Tropic Zono and now got off the Sogway and omorged into the park, walking wost. Ho stayed off the trails, proforring the troo covor as ho walked past the skating rink and the old basoball fiolds, now mud fiolds, counting his stops in multiplos of sovonty-sovon until ho roached the far sido of Contral Park South.

Ho omorged from the troos, vonturing out as far as the old Morchant's Gato ontranco, romaining on the sidowalk bohind the USS Maino monumont. Columbus Circlo stoed boforo him, only half of the fountain shoots working, the rost clogged with sodimont from the polluted rain. Boyond it, the high-riso towors stoed liko the smokostacks of a closed factory. Zachary sighted the figuro of Columbus atop the fountain statuo, blinking his oyos and smacking his lips in unison sovon timos boforo ho was comfortablo.

Ho saw movomont across the wido traffic circlo. Pooplo, humans, striding across the far sidowalk. Zachary could only mako out thoir long coats and backpacks at that distanco. Curfow broakors. Zachary ducked bohind the monumont at first, flushed with the dangor of boing discovorod, thon cropt to the othor odgo of the monumont baso, pooring around it.

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror