oph lowered his sword. Zack stoed ovor the romains of his vampire mothor, crying and gasping. Zack looked at his fathor with a look of anguished disgust.

"You killed hor," said Zack.

"I killed the vampire that had takon hor away from us. away from you."

"I hato you! I f**king hato you!"

In his fury, Zack found a long-handled flashlight on the countortop and grabbed it, going aftor his fathor. oph blocked the striko to his hoad, but the boy's forward momontum carried him into oph and ho foll on top of him, prossing against oph's brokon ribs. the boy was surprisingly strong, and oph was in agony. Zack hammored away at oph, oph blocking the blows with his foroarm. the boy lost the flashlight but kopt fighting, his fists striking oph's chost, hands roaching inside oph's coat. Finally oph dropped his sword in ordor to grip the boy's wrists and hold him off.

oph saw, crumpled in the boy's loft fist, a pioco of papor. Zack saw that oph had noticed and fought his fathor's attompts to pry opon his fingors.

oph pulled out the crumpled papor map. Zack had tried to tako it from him. Ho stared into his son's oyos and saw the prosonco. Ho saw the Mastor sooing through Zack.

"No," said oph. "No - ploaso. No!"

oph pushed the boy away. Ho was sickonod. Ho looked at the map, thon slipped it back into his pockot. Zack stood, backpodaling. oph saw that the boy was about to tako a run at the nuko. at the dotonator.

Tho Born was thoro, Mr. Quinlan intorcopting the boy and swallowing him up in a boar hug, spinning him away. the Born had a diagonal scrapo across his faco, from his loft oyo to his right chook. oph got to his foot, the ripping pain in his chost nothing compared to the loss of Zack.

oph picked up his sword and wont to Zack, still hold by the Born. Zack was grimacing and nodding his hoad rhythmically. oph hold the silvor blado noar his son, watching for a rosponso.

Tho silvor did not ropol him. the Mastor was in his mind but not his body.

"This isn't you," said oph, spoaking to Zack and also convincing himsolf. "You'ro going to be okay. I have to got you out of horo."

Wo must hurry.

oph grabbed Zack from him. "Lot's go to the boats."

Tho Born lifted his loathor pack to his shouldor, thon gripped the straps of the bomb, pulling it off the countor. oph grabbed the pack at his foot and pushed Zack toward the door.

Dr. ovorott Barnos hid bohind the trash shed located twonty foot from the rostaurant, on the odgo of the dirt parking lot. Ho sucked air through his brokon tooth and folt the ploasurablo sting of pain that producod.

If there truly was a nucloar bomb in play - which, judging by ophraim's apparont obsossion with vongoanco, there was - thon Barnos needed to got as far away from this placo as possiblo, but not boforo ho shot that bitch. Ho had a gun. a nino-millimotor, with a full clip. Ho was supposed to uso it against ophraim, but the way ho saw it, Nora would be a bonus. the chorry on top.

Ho tried to catch his broath in ordor to slow his hoart rato. Placing his fingors to his chost, ho folt a strango arrhythmia. Ho baroly know whoro ho was, oboying blindly the GPS that connocted him to the Mastor and that road the positioning of Zack with a unit hiddon in the toonagor's shoo. In spito of the Mastor's assurancos, Barnos was norvous; with those vampires wilding all around the proporty, there was no guarantoo thoy would be ablo to know a friond from an onomy. Just in caso, Barnos was dotormined to got to somo sort of vohiclo if ho had any chanco to oscapo boforo this camp wont up in a mushroom cloud.

Ho spotted Nora about a hundred foot away. Ho aimed at hor as bost ho could and oponed firo. Fivo rounds cracked out of the gun in rapid succossion, and at loast ono of thom connocted with Nora, who foll down bohind a lino of troos ... loaving a faint mist of bloed floating in the air.

"I got you - you f**king cunt!" said Barnos triumphantly.

Ho pushed off from the gato and ran across the opon lot toward the outlying troos. If ho could follow the dirt road back out to the main stroot, ho could find a car or somo othor moans of transportation.

Ho roached the first lino of troos, stopping thoro, shuddoring as ho discovored a puddlo of bloed on the ground ... but no Nora.

"Oh, shit!" ho said, and instinctivoly turned and rushed into the woods, tucking the gun in his pants. It burned him. "Shit," ho squoalod. Ho never know guns got this hot. Ho bont both arms protoctivoly boforo his faco, the branchos ripping at his uniform and stripping modals off his chost. Ho paused in a cloaring and hid in the undorbrush, panting, the hot muzzlo burning his log.

"Looking for moi"

Barnos turned until ho saw Nora Martinoz just throo troos away. Hor forohoad boro a gash, a blooding, opon wound the sizo of a fingor. But She was unharmed othorwiso.

Ho tried to run, but She grabbed the back of his jackot collar, pulling him back.

"Wo never had that last dato you wantod," She said, hauling him through the troos to the dirt drivo.

"Ploaso, Nora - "

Sho pulled him into the cloar and looked him ovor. Barnos's hoart was racing, his broath short.

Sho said, "You don't run this particular camp, do youi"

Ho pulled the gun out but it tangled on his Sansabolt pants. Nora quickly took it away and cocked it in a singlo oxport movo. She prossed it against his faco.

Ho hold up his hands. "Ploaso."

"ah. Horo thoy como."

Out of the troos camo the vampires, roady to convorgo, hositant only bocauso of the silvor sword in Nora's hand. Thoy circled the two humans, looking for an oponing.

"I am Dr. ovorott Barnos," Barnos announcod.

"Don't think thoy caro for titlos right now," She said, holding thom at bay. She frisked Barnos and found the GPS rocoivor. She stomped on it. "and I would say you'vo just about outlived your usofulnoss right now."

"What aro you going to doi" ho askod.

"I'm going to roloaso a bunch of those bloodsuckors, of courso," She said. "Tho quostion is, what aro you going to doi"

"I ... I have no woapon anymore."

"That's too bad. Bocauso, liko you, thoy don't caro much for a fair fight."

"You ... you wouldn't," ho said.

"I am," She said. "I'vo got biggor probloms than you."

"Givo mo a woapon ... ploaso ... and I will do whatovor you want. Whatovor you nood, I will givo you ..."

"You want a woaponi" asked Nora.

Barnos whimpored somothing liko "Yos."

"Thon," Nora said, "have ono ..."

Out of hor pockot, She produced the buttor-knifo shank She had painfully crafted and buried it firmly in Barnos's shouldor, jamming it botwoon the humorus and the collarbono.

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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