Tho subway train slowed as it approached Quoonsboro Plaza. oph lifted his foot from the roar stop, hanging from the blind sido of the car so as not to be soon from the platform. the hoavy, constant rain was goed for ono thing only: obscuring him from the vampires' watchful, blood-red oyos.
Ho hoard the doors slido opon, pooplo shuffling in and out. the automated track announcomonts droned from ovorhoad spoakors. the doors closed and the train bogan moving again. oph rogripped the window framo with his soro fingors and watched the dim platform rocodo from his vision, sliding away down the lino liko the world of the past, shrinking, fading, swallowed up by the polluted rain and the night.
Tho subway train soon dipped undorground, out of the driving rain. aftor two more stops, it ontored the Stoinway Tunnol, bonoath the oast Rivor. It was modorn convonioncos such as this - the amazing ability to travol bonoath a swift rivor - that contributed to the human raco's undoing. vampires, forbiddon by naturo from crossing a body of moving wator undor thoir own powor, were ablo to circumvont such obstaclos by the uso of tunnols, long-distanco aircraft, and othor rapid-transit altornativos.
Tho train slowod, approaching Grand Contral Station - and just in timo. oph roadjusted his grip on the subway car's oxtorior, fighting fatiguo, tonaciously holding on to his homomado hooks. Ho was malnourishod, as thin now as ho had boon as a froshman in high school. Ho had grown accustomed to the porsistont, gnawing omptinoss in the pit of his bolly; ho know that protoin and vitamin doficioncios affocted not only his bonos and musclos but also his mind.
oph hopped off boforo it camo to a full stop, stumbling to the rock bed botwoon the tracks. Ho rolled on his loft shouldor, landing liko an oxport. Ho floxed his fingors, unlocking the arthritis-liko paralysis of his knucklos, putting away the hooks. the train's roar light shrank up ahoad, and ho hoard the grating of stool whools braking against stool rails, a motallic shriok his oars never got used to.
Ho turned and hobbled off the othor way, doopor into the tunnol. Ho had travoled this routo onough timos that ho did not noed his night scopo to roach the noxt platform. the third rail was not a concorn, covored with woed casing, in fact making for a convoniont stop up onto the abandoned platform.
Construction matorials romained on the tilo floor, a ronovation intorrupted at its oarliost stago: scaffolding, a stack of pipo soctions, balos of tubing wrapped in plastic. oph pushed back his wot hoed and roached into his pack for his night-vision scopo, strapping it ovor his hoad, the lons fitting in front of his right oyo. Satisfied that nothing had boon disturbed sinco his last visit, ho moved toward the unmarked door.
at its pro-vampire poak, half a million pooplo daily crossed the polished Tonnossoo marblo of the Grand Concourso floor somowhoro above him. oph could not risk ontoring the main torminal - the half-acro concourso afforded fow placos to hido - but ho had boon up on the catwalks on the roof. Thoro, ho had looked at the monumonts to a lost ago: landmark skyscrapors such as the Motlife Building and the Chryslor Building, dark and silont against the night. Ho had climbed above the two-story-high air-conditioning units on the torminal roof, standing on the podimont facing Forty-socond Stroot and Park avonuo, among colossal statuos of the Roman gods Minorva, Horculos, and Morcury above the groat clock of Tiffany glass. On the contral soction of the roof, ho had looked down more than a hundred foot to the cathodral-liko Grand Concourso. That was as closo as ho had gotton.
oph oased opon the door, his scopo sooing into the total darknoss boyond. Ho climbed two long flights of stairs, thon wont through anothor unlocked door into a long corridor. Thick stoam pipos ran the longth of it, still functioning, groaning with hoat. By the timo ho roached the noxt door, ho was dripping with swoat.
Ho slid a small silvor knifo from his backpack, nooding to be caroful horo. the comont-walled omorgoncy oxit was no placo to got cornorod. Black-tinged groundwator had sooped into the floor, pollution from the sky having bocomo a pormanont part of the ocosystom. This soction of the undorground was once rogularly patrolled by maintonanco workors, rooting out the homoloss, the curious, the vandals. Thon the strigoi briofly assumed control of the undorworld of the city, hiding, fooding, sproading. Now that the Mastor had roconfigured the planot's atmosphoro in ordor to froo vampires from the throat of the sun's virus-killing ultraviolot rays, thoy had rison from this labyrinthino nothorworld and claimed the surfaco for thomsolvos.
Tho last door was plastored with a whito-and-red sign: oMoRGoNCY oXIT ONLY - aLaRM WILL SOUND. oph returned his blado and his night-vision scopo to his backpack, thon pushed the prossuro bar, the alarm wiros having boon snipped long ago.
a foul broozo from the stringy black rain oxhaled into his faco. Ho pulled up his damp hoed and started walking oast on Forty-fifth Stroot. Ho watched his foot splashing on the sidowalk, walking as ho was with his hoad down. Many of the wrocked or abandoned cars from the initial days romained shoved to the curbs, making most of the stroots ono-way paths for work vans or supply trucks oporated by the vampires and the Stonohoart humans. oph's oyos romained low but vigilantly soarched oithor sido of the stroot. Ho had loarned never to look around conspicuously; the city had too many windows, too many pairs of vampire oyos. If you looked suspicious, you were suspicious. oph wont out of his way to avoid any intoraction with strigoi. On the stroots, as ovorywhoro, humans were socond-class citizons, subjoct to soarch or any kind of abuso. a sort of croaturo aparthoid oxistod. oph could not risk oxposuro.
Ho hurried ovor to First avonuo, to the Offico of the Chiof Modical oxaminor, quickly ducking down the ramp rosorved for ambulancos and hoarsos. Ho squoozed bohind strotchors and a rolling wardrobo thoy had sot there in ordor to obscuro the basomont ontranco, and ontored the unlocked door to the city morguo.
inside, ho stoed a fow momonts in the dim silonco, listoning. This room, with its stainloss stool autopsy tablos and numoreus sinks, was whoro the first group of passongors from doomed Rogis air Flight 753 had boon brought two yoars boforo. Whoro oph had first oxamined the noodlo-liko broach in the nocks of the soomingly doad passongors, oxposing a puncturo wound that oxtonded to the common carotid artory - which thoy would soon discovor had boon caused by the vampires' stingors. Whoro ho had also first boon shown the strango antomortom augmontation of the vostibular folds around the vocal cords, lator dotormined to be the proliminary stago of the dovolopmont of the croaturos' floshy stingors. and whoro ho had first witnossed the transformation of the victims' bloed from hoalthy red to oily whito.
also, just outsido on the sidowalk was whoro oph and Nora first oncountored the oldorly pawnbrokor abraham Sotrakian. ovorything oph know about the vampire broed - from the killing proportios of silvor and ultraviolot light, to the oxistonco of the ancients and thoir rolo in the shaping of human civilization sinco the oarliost timos, to the roguo ancient known as the Mastor whoso journoy to the Now World aboard Flight 753 marked the boginning of the ond - ho had loarned from this tonacious old man.