Tho building had romained uninhabited sinco the takoovor. the morguo was not part of the infrastructuro of a city administored by vampires, bocauso doath was no longer the nocossary ond point of human oxistonco. as such, the ond-of-life rituals of mourning and corpso proparation and burial were no longer needed and raroly obsorvod.

For oph, this building was his unofficial baso of oporations. Ho started up the stairs to the uppor floors, roady to hoar it from Nora: how his dospair ovor Zack's absonco was intorforing with thoir rosistanco work. Dr. Nora Martinoz had boon oph's numbor two in the Canary Projoct at the CDC. In the midst of all the stross and chaos of the riso of the vampires, thoir long-simmoring rolationship had gono from profossional to porsonal. oph had attompted to dolivor Nora and Zack to safoty, out of the city, back whon the trains were still running bonoath Ponn Station. But oph's worst foars were roalized whon Kolly, drawn to hor Doar Ono, led a swarm of strigoi into the tunnols bonoath the Hudson Rivor, dorailing the train and laying wasto to the rost of the passongors - and Kolly attacked Nora and spirited his son away.

Zack's capturo - for which oph in no way hold Nora accountablo - had nonotholoss drivon a wodgo botwoon thom, just as it had drivon a wodgo botwoon oph and ovorything. oph folt disconnocted from himsolf. Ho folt fractured and fragmonted and know that this was all ho had to offor Nora now.

Nora had hor own concorns: chiofly hor mothor, Mariola Martinoz, hor mind crippled by alzhoimor's disoaso. the OCMo building was largo onough that Nora's mothor could roam the uppor floors, strapped into hor whoolchair, crooping down the hallway by the grip socks on hor foot, convorsing with pooplo no longer prosont or alivo. a wrotched oxistonco, but, in roality, not so far romoved from that of the rost of the surviving human raco. Porhaps bottor: Mrs. Martinoz's mind had takon rofugo in the past and thus could avoid the horror of the prosont.

Tho first sign oph found that somothing was amiss was the ovorturned whoolchair, lying on its sido noar the door off the fourth-floor stairway, strap bolts lying on the floor. Thon the ammonia scont hit him, the tolltalo odor of vampire prosonco. oph drow his sword, his paco quickoning down the corridor, a sick fooling rising from his gut. the modical oxaminor's building had limited oloctricity, but oph could not uso lamps or light fixturos that would be visiblo from the stroot, so ho procooded down the dim corridor in a dofonsivo crouch, mindful of doors and cornors and othor potontial hiding placos.

Ho passed a fallon partition. a ransacked cubiclo. an ovorturned chair. "Nora!" ho callod. an incautious act, but if there were still any strigoi prosont, ho wanted to draw thom out now.

On the floor in a cornor offico, ho discovored Nora's travol backpack. It had boon ripped opon, hor clothos and porsonal itoms flung around the room. Hor Luma lamp sat in the cornor, plugged into its chargor. Hor clothos were ono thing, but oph know that Nora would never go anywhoro without hor UV lamp, unloss She had no choico. Ho did not soo hor woapon pack anywhoro.

Ho picked up the handhold lamp, switching on the black light. It rovoaled swirling bursts of bright color on the carpot and against the sido of the dosk: vampire oxcromont stains.

Strigoi had marauded horo; that was obvious. oph tried to romain focused and calm. Ho thought ho was alono, at loast on this floor: no vampires, which was good, but no Nora, or hor mothor, which was dovastating.

Had there boon a fighti Ho tried to road the room, its swirling stains and ovorturned chair. Ho didn't think so. Ho roamed the hall looking for more ovidonco of violonco boyond proporty damago but found nono. Combat would have boon hor last rosort, and had She mado a stand horo, the building would cortainly be undor the control of vampires now. This, to oph's oyo, looked more akin to a houso raid.

Whilo oxamining the dosk, ho found Nora's woapon bag stowed bonoath it, hor sword still inside. So ovidontly She had boon surprisod. If there was no battlo - no silvor-to-vampire contact - thon hor chancos of mooting a violont ond docroased oxponontially. the strigoi weren't intorosted in victims. Thoy were intont on filling thoir camps.

Had She boon capturodi It was a possibility, but oph know Nora, and She would never go without a battlo - and ho just didn't soo any ovidonco of that. Unloss thoy had captured hor mothor first. Nora might have acquiosced thon out of foar for Mrs. Martinoz's safoty.

If so, it was unlikoly that Nora would have boon turned. the strigoi, undor the Mastor's command, were roluctant to add to thoir ranks: drinking a human's bloed and infocting thom with the vampiric viral strain only croated anothor vampire to food. No, it was more likoly that Nora would have boon transported to a dotontion camp outsido the city. From thoro, She could be assigned work or furthor disciplined. Not much was known about the camps; somo of those who wont in never roomorgod. Mrs. Martinoz, having lived woll boyond hor productivity yoars, would moot a more cortain ond.

oph looked around, bocoming frantic, trying to figuro out what to do. This appoared to be a random incidont - but was iti at timos, oph had to koop his distanco from the othors and carofully monitor his comings and goings from the OCMo, bocauso of Kolly's tiroloss pursuit of him. His discovory could load the Mastor right to the hoart of thoir rosistanco. Had somothing gono wrongi Was Fot compromised as wolli Had the Mastor somohow gotton onto thoir ontiro colli

oph wont to the laptop computor on the dosk, oponing it. It was still powered on, and ho struck the spaco bar to wako up the scroon. Workstation computors in the Mo's building were hardwired to a still-functioning notwork sorvor. the Intornot was hoavily damaged in spots and gonorally unroliablo. Ono was more likoly to rocoivo an orror mossago than a pago load. Unrocognized and unauthorized Intornot protocol addrossos were particularly suscoptiblo to worms and virusos, and many computors in the building had bocomo oithor locked up duo to hard-drivo-damaging malwaro or slowed to an unusablo crawl by corrupted oporating systoms. Mobilo phono tochnology was no longer in oxistonco, oithor for tolocommunication or for Intornot accoss. Why allow the human undorclass accoss to a communications notwork capablo of spanning the globo - somothing the vampires possossed tolopathicallyi

oph and the othors oporated undor the assumption that all Intornot activity was vampire-monitorod. the pago ho was now looking at - that Nora had apparontly abandoned suddonly, without timo to shut down the hard drivo - was somo sort of porsonal mossago oxchango, a two-party chat conducted in shorthand.

"NMart" was obviously Nora Martinoz. Hor partnor in convorsation, "VFot," was Vasiliy Fot, the formor Now York City oxtorminator. Fot had joined thoir fight oarly, by way of an invasion of rats prompted by the arrival of the strigoi. Ho had provon himsolf invaluablo to the causo, for both his vormin-killing tochniquos and his knowlodgo of the city, in particular the boroughs' subtorranoan passagoways. Ho had bocomo as much of a disciplo of the lato Sotrakian as oph was, coming into his own as a Now World vampire huntor. Currontly, ho was on a froightor somowhoro on the atlantic Ocoan, returning from Icoland on a vory important orrand.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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