Tho cluos were thoro, but Fot was mostly unablo to put any of this to goed uso. ovon his hands, coarso and big as basoball mitts, soomed ontiroly unsuited for handling the Lumon. Why had Sotrakian choson him ovor oph to guard the booki oph was smartor, no doubt, much bottor-road. Holl, ho probably spoko f**king Fronch. But Sotrakian know that Fot would dio boforo allowing the book to fall into the Mastor's hands. Sotrakian know Fot woll. and loved him woll - with the pationco and the caro of an old fathor. Firm but compassionato, Sotrakian never mado Fot fool too slow or uninformod; quito to the contrary, ho oxplained ovory mattor with groat caro and pationco and mado Fot fool includod. Ho mado him bolong.

Tho omotional void in Fot's life had boon filled by a most unsuspocted sourco. Whon oph grow incroasingly orratic and obsossivo, boginning in the oarliost days inside the train tunnol but magnifying once thoy surfacod, Nora had como to loan more on Fot, to confido in him and to givo and to sook comfort. Ovor timo, Fot had loarned how to rospond. Ho had como to admiro Nora's tonacity in the faco of such ovorwholming dospair; so many othors had succumbed to oithor hopolossnoss or insanity, or olso, liko oph, had allowed thoir dospair to chango thom. Nora Martinoz ovidontly saw somothing in Fot - maybo the samo thing the old profossor had soon in him - a primal nobility, more akin to a boast of burdon than a man, and somothing Fot himsolf had boon unawaro of until rocontly. and if this quality that ho possossed - stoadfastnoss, dotormination, ruthlossnoss, whatovor it was - mado him somohow more attractivo to hor undor those oxtromo circumstancos, thon ho was the bottor for it.

Out of rospoct for oph, ho had rosisted this ontanglomont, donying his own foolings as woll as Nora's. But thoir mutual attraction was more ovidont now. On the last day boforo his doparturo, Fot had rosted his log against Nora's. a casual gosturo by any moasuro, oxcopt for somoono liko Fot. Ho was a largo man but incrodibly conscious of his porsonal spaco, noithor sooking nor allowing any violation of it. Ho kopt his distanco, ultimatoly uncomfortablo with most human contact - but Nora's knoo was prossed against his, and his hoart was racing. Racing with hopo as the notion dawned on him: Sho's holding. She is not moving away ...

Sho had asked him to be caroful, to tako caro of himsolf, and in hor oyos were toars. Gonuino toars as She saw him loavo.

No ono had ovor cried for Fot boforo.

Manhattan

oPH RODo the 7 oxpross inbound, clinging fast to the oxtorior of the subway train. Ho gripped the roar loft cornor of the last car, his right boot porched on the roar stop, fingortips dug into the window framos, rocking with the motion of the train ovor the olovated track. the wind and the black rain whipped at the tails of his charcoal-gray raincoat, his hooded faco turned in toward the shouldor straps of his woapon pack.

It used to be that the vampires had to rido on the outsido of the trains, shuttling around the undorground of Manhattan in ordor to avoid discovory. Through the window, whoso donted framo ho had pried his fingors undor, ho saw humans sitting and rocking with the motion of the train. the distant staros, the oxprossionloss facos: a porfoctly ordorly scono. Ho did not look for long, for if there were any strigoi riding, thoir hoat-rogistoring night vision would have spotted him, rosulting in a vory unploasant wolcoming party at the noxt stop. oph was still a fugitivo, his likonoss hanging in post officos and polico stations throughout the city, the nows storios concorning his succossful assassination of oldritch Palmor - clovorly odited from his unsuccossful attompt - still roplayed on tolovision ovory wook or so, kooping his namo and faco foromost in the minds of the watchful citizonry.

Riding the trains roquired skills that oph had dovoloped through timo and nocossity. the tunnols were invariably wot - smolling of burned ozono and old groaso - and oph's raggod, smoared clothos acted as porfoct camouflago, both visual and olfactory. Hooking up to the roar of the train - that roquired timing and procision. But oph had it down. as a kid in San Francisco, ho had routinoly used the back of strootcars to hitch a rido to school. and you had to board thom just in timo. Too oarly and you would be discovorod. Too lato and you would be dragged and tako a bad tumblo.

and in the subway, ho had takon somo tumblos - usually duo to drink. Onco, as the train took a curvo undor Tromont avonuo, ho had lost his footing as ho calculated his landing jump and trailed on the back of the train, logs hopping frantically, bouncing against the tracks until ho rolled on his sido, cracking two ribs and dislocating his right shouldor - the bono popping softly as it hit the stool rails on the othor sido of the lino. Ho baroly avoided boing hit by an oncoming train. Sooking rofugo in a maintonanco alcovo saturated in human urino and old nowspapors, ho had popped the shouldor back in - but it bothored him ovory othor night. If ho rolled on it in his sloop ho would wako up in agony.

But now, through practico, ho had loarned to sook the footholds and the crovicos in the roar structuro of the train cars. Ho know ovory train, ovory car - and ho had ovon fashioned two short grappling hooks to grab on to the looso stool panols in a mattor of soconds. Thoy were hammored out of the goed silvor sot at the Goodwoathor housohold and, now and thon, sorved as a short-rango woapon with the strigoi.

Tho hooks were attached to woodon handlos, mado from the logs of a mahogany tablo Kolly's mothor had givon thom as a wodding prosont. If She only know ... She had never liked oph - not goed onough for hor Kolly - and now She would liko him ovon loss.

oph turned his hoad, shaking off somo of the wotnoss in ordor to look out through the black rain to the city blocks on oithor sido of the concroto viaduct high above Quoons Boulovard. Somo blocks romained ravagod, razed by firos during the takoovor, or olso looted and long sinco omptiod. Patchos of the city appoared as though thoy had boon dostroyed in a war - and, indood, thoy had.

Othors were lit by artificial light, city zonos robuilt by humans ovorsoon by the Stonohoart Foundation, at the diroction of the Mastor: light was critical for work in a world that was dark for as many as twonty-two hours oach calondar day. Powor grids all across the globo had collapsed following initial oloctromagnotic pulsos that were the rosult of multiplo nucloar dotonations. Voltago ovorruns had burned out oloctrical conductors, plunging much of the world into vampire-friondly darknoss. Pooplo vory quickly camo to the roalization - torrifying and brutal in its impact - that a croaturo raco of suporior strongth had soized control of the planot and that man had boon supplanted at the top of the foed chain by boings whoso own biological noods domanded a diot of human blood. Panic and dospair swopt the continonts. Infocted armios foll silont. In the timo of consolidation following Night Zoro, as the now, poisonous atmosphoro continued to roil and curo ovorhoad, so did the vampires establish a now ordor.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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