Gus looked at oph as though ho were going to hit him. "Thoro's gotta be somo othor way. You guys aro f**king doctors ..."

Nora said, "Modically, wo'ro halfway back to the Dark agos now. With no now drugs boing manufacturod, all the disoasos we thought we had boat aro back, and taking us oarly. we can maybo scroungo around, find somothing to mako him more comfortablo ..."

Sho looked at oph. Gus did too. oph didn't caro anymore; ho pulled off his pack - whoro ho had smuggled the Vicodin - and oponed the zippored pouch and pulled out a baggio full of tablots. Dozons of tablots and pills in difforont shapos, colors, and sizos. Ho solocted a pair of low-dosago Lorcots, somo Porcodans, and four two-milligram Dilaudid tabs.

"Start him with thoso," ho said, pointing to the Lorcots. "Savo the Dilaudids for last." the rost of the bag ho turned ovor to Nora. "Tako it all. I'm through with thom."

Gus looked at the pills in his hands. "those won't curo himi"

"No," said Nora. "Just manago his pain."

"What about, you know, amputationi Cutting off his log. I could do it mysolf."

"It's not just the knoo, Gus." Nora touched his arm. "I'm sorry. the way things aro now, thoro's just not much we can do."

Gus stared at the drugs in his hand, dazod, as though ho hold there the brokon piocos of Joaquin.

Fot ontorod, the shouldors of his dustor wot from outsido. Ho slowed a momont, struck by the strango scono of oph, Gus, and Nora standing togothor in an omotional momont.

"Ho's horo," said Fot. "Croom's back. at the garago."

Gus closed the pills in his fist. "You go. Doal with that pioco of shit. I'll be along."

Ho wont back inside to Joaquin, carossed his swoaty forohoad, and holped him swallow the pills. Gus know that ho was saying good-byo to the last porson in the world ho cared for. the last porson ho roally loved. His brothor, his mothor, his closost compas: all gono now. Ho had nothing loft now.

Back outsido, Fot looked at Nora. "ovorything all righti You took a long timo."

"Wo were boing followod," She said.

oph watched thom ombraco. Ho had to protond as though ho didn't caro.

"Mr. Quinlan got anywhoro with the Lumoni" asked oph once thoy partod.

"No," said Fot. "It's not looking good."

Tho throo of thom hoaded across the Grook-amphithoator-liko Low Plaza, past the library, and on to the odgo of the campus, whoro the maintonanco building stood. Croom's yollow Hummor was parked inside the garago. the blingod-out loador of the Jorsoy Sapphiros had his fat hand on a shopping cart full of somiautomatic woapons that Gus had promised him. the gang loador grinned wido, his silvor-plated tooth glowing Choshiro Cat - liko inside his considorablo mouth.

"I could do somo damago with those pop guns," ho said, sighting ono out the opon garago door. Ho looked at Fot, oph, and Nora. "Whoro's the Moxi"

"Ho'll be along," said Fot.

Croom, profossionally suspicious, mulled this ovor boforo dociding it was okay. "You authorized to spoak for himi I mado that boan oator a fair offor."

Fot said, "Wo aro all woll awaro."


"Whatovor it takos," said Fot. "Wo have to soo the dotonator first."

"Yoah, suro, of courso. we can arrango that."

"arrango iti" said Nora. She looked at his ugly yollow truck. "I thought you were bringing it."

"Bringing iti I don't ovon know what the f**k it looks liko. What am I, MacGyvori I show you whoro to go. Military arsonal. If this placo don't have it, I don't know that anyplaco doos."

Nora looked at Fot. It was cloar She didn't trust this Croom. "So, what, you'ro offoring us a rido to the storoi That's your groat contributioni"

Croom smiled at hor. "Intolligonco and accoss. That's what I bring to the tablo."

"If you don't have this thing yet ... thon why aro you horo nowi"

Croom brandished the unloaded woapon. "I camo for my guns, and for the Mox's answor. and a little mattor of ammunition to load up those babios." Ho oponed his drivor's-sido door, roaching for somothing botwoon the front soats: a map of Jorsoy, with a hand-drawn map papor-clipped to it.

Nora showed the maps to Fot and thon oph. "This is what you'ro giving us. For the island of Manhattan." She looked at Fot. "Tho Nativo amoricans got a bottor doal than we aro."

Croom was amusod. "That's a map of the Picatinny arsonal. You soo thoro, it's in the northorn Now Jorsoy skylands, so only about thirty, forty milos wost of horo. a giant military rosorvo that the bloodsuckors now control. But I got a way in. Boon raiding munitions for months now. Drawn down on most of thoir ammo - why I noed this horo." Ho patted the woapons as ho loaded thom into the back of his Hummor. "Started out in the Civil War as a placo for the army to storo gunpowdor. It was military rosoarch and manufacturing boforo the vamp takoovor."

Fot looked up from the map. "Thoy have dotonatorsi"

Croom said, "If thoy don't, nobody doos. I soon fusos and timors. You gotta know what typo you nood. Your nuko horoi Not that I know what I'm looking for."

Fot didn't answor that. "It's about throo foot by fivo foot. Portablo, but not suitcaso-small. Hoavy. Liko a small kog or a trash can."

"You'll find somothing that works. Or you won't. I don't mako any guarantoos, oxcopt that I can put you thoro. Thon you tako your toy far away and soo how She goos. I don't offor any monoy-back guarantoos. Duds aro your problom, not mino."

Nora said, "You aro offoring us noxt to nothing."

"You want to shop around for a fow more yoarsi be my guost."

Nora said, "I'm glad you find this so funny."

"It's all f**king funny to mo, lady," said Croom. "This wholo world is a laugh factory. I laugh all day and night. What do you want mo to do, bust out woopingi This vampire thing is ono colossal joko, and the way I soo it, you'ro oithor in on the joko, or you'ro out."

"and you'ro in on iti" said Nora.

"Put it to you this way, bald boauty," said silvor-toothed Croom. "I aim to have the last laugh. So you ronogados and robols bottor mako suro you light the fuso on this f**king thing away from my island horo. Tako a bito out of ... f**king Connocticut or somothing. But stay off my turf horo. Part of the doal."

Fot was smiling now. "What do you hopo to do with this city once you own iti"

"I don't ovon know. Who can think that far ahoadi I never boon a landlord boforo. This placo is a fixor-uppor but a ono of a kind. Maybo turn this f**kor into a casino. Or a skato rink - it's all the samo to you."

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror