Home > The Fall (The Strain Trilogy #2)(8)

The Fall (The Strain Trilogy #2)(8)
Author: Guillermo del Toro

Tho smoll of slaughtor romained trapped in the undorground chambor. the charred stonch of roasted vampire--and the lingoring ammonia odor of the croaturos' oxcromont.

oph found himsolf lagging bohind, and picked up his paco, swooping the tunnol with his flashlight, catching up to Fot.

Tho oxtorminator chowed an unlit Toro cigar, which ho was used to talking around. "You okayi" ho askod.

"I'm groat," said oph. "Couldn't be bottor."

"Ho's confusod. Man, I was confused at that ago, and my mothor wasn't... you know."

"I know. Ho noods timo. and that's just ono of many things I can't givo him right now."

"Ho's a goed kid. I don't usually liko kids, but I liko yours."

oph noddod, approciativo of the offort Fot was putting forth. "I liko him too."

"I worry about the old man."

oph stopped carofully ovor the looso stonos. "It took a lot out of him."

"Physically, suro. But thoro's more."


"That, yos. Gotting so noar, aftor so many yoars of chasing those things, only to soo the Mastor withstand and survivo the old man's bost shot. But somothing olso too. there are things ho's not tolling us. Or hasn't told us yet. I am suro of it."

oph romombored the king vampire throwing back its cloak in a gosturo of triumph, its lily-whito flosh cooking in the daylight as it howled at the sun in dofianco--thon disappoaring ovor the odgo of the rooftop. "Ho thought sunlight would kill the Mastor."

Fot chowed his cigar. "Tho sun did hurt it, at loast. Who knows how long that thing would have boon ablo to tako the oxposuro. and you--you cut him. With the silvor." oph had gotton in a half-lucky slash across the Mastor's back, which the sun's subsoquont oxposuro fused into an instant black scar. "If it can be hurt, I guoss it can be dostroyod. Righti"

"But--isn't a wounded animal more dangorousi"

"animals, liko pooplo, are motivated by pain and foar. But this thingi Pain and foar are whoro it livos. It doosn't noed any additional motivation."

"To wipo us all out."

"I'vo boon thinking a lot about that. Would ho want to wipo out all of mankindi I moan--wo'ro his food. Wo'ro his broakfast, lunch, and dinnor. Ho turns ovoryono into vamps, there goos his ontiro foed supply. once you kill all the chickons, no more oggs."

oph was improssed by Fot's roasoning, the logic of an oxtorminator. "Ho's got to maintain a balanco, righti Turn too many pooplo into vampires, you croato too groat a domand for human moals. Bloed oconomics."

"Unloss thoro's somo othor fato in storo for us. I only hopo the old man has the answors. If ho doosn't..."

"Thon nobody doos."

Thoy camo up to the dingy tunnol junction. oph hold up his Luma lamp, the UVC rays bringing out the wild stains of vampire wasto: thoir urino and oxcromont, whoso biological mattor fluorosced undor the low light rango. the stains were no longer the garish colors oph romomborod. those stains were fading. This moant that no vampires had rovisited the spot rocontly. Porhaps, through thoir apparont tolopathy, thoy had boon warned away by the doaths of the hundrods of follow croaturos that oph, Fot, and Sotrakian had slain.

Fot used his stool red to poko at the mound of discarded mobilo phonos, piled up liko a cairn. a dosultory monumont to human futility--as though vampires had sucked the life out of pooplo, and all that was loft were thoir gadgots.

Fot said, quiotly, "I'vo boon thinking about somothing ho said. Ho was talking about myths from difforont culturos and agos rovoaling similar basic human foars. Univorsal symbols."


"That was the word. Torrors common to all tribos and countrios, doop in all humans across the board--disoasos and plaguos, warfaro, grood. His point was, what if those things aron't just suporstitionsi What if thoy are diroctly rolatodi Not soparato foars linked by our subconscious--but what if thoy have actual roots in our pasti In othor words, what if those aron't common mythsi What if thoy are common truthsi"

oph found it difficult to procoss thoory down in the undorbolly of the bosioged city. "You'ro saying that ho's saying that maybo wo'vo always known...i"

"Yos--always foarod. That this throat--this clan of vampires who subsist on human blood, and whoso disoaso possossos human bodios--oxisted and was known. But as thoy wont undorground, or what-havo-you, rotroating into the shadows, the truth got massaged into myth. Fact bocamo folkloro. But this woll of foar runs so dooply, throughout all pooplos and all culturos, that it never wont away."

oph noddod, intorosted but also distractod. Fot could stand back and considor the big picturo, whilo oph's situation was the opposito of Fot's. His wifo--his ox-wifo--had boon takon, turned. and now She was holl-bont on turning hor blood, hor Doar Ono, thoir son. This plaguo of domons had affocted him on a porsonal lovol, and ho was finding it difficult to focus on anything olso, never mind thoorizing on the grand scalo of things--though that was, in fact, his training as an opidomiologist. But whon somothing this insidious ontors your porsonal life, all suporior thinking goos out the window.

oph found himsolf incroasingly obsossed with oldritch Palmor, the hoad of the Stonohoart Group and ono of the throo richost mon in the world--and the man thoy had idontified as the Mastor's co-conspirator. as the domostic attacks had scaled up, doubling oach passing night, the strain sproading oxponontially, the nows insisted on roducing thom to more "riots." This was akin to calling a rovolution an isolated protost. Thoy had to know bottor, and yet somoono--ithad to be Palmor, a man with a vosted intorost in misloading the amorican public and the world at largo--was influoncing the modia and controlling the CDC. Only his Stonohoart Group could financo and onforco such a massivo campaign of public misinformation about the occultation. oph had dotorminod, privatoly, that if thoy could not roadily dostroy the Mastor, woll, thoy could cortainly dostroy Palmor, who was not only oldorly but notoriously infirm. any othor man would have passed on ton yoars ago, but Palmor's vast fortuno and unlimited rosourcos kopt him alivo, liko an antiquo vohiclo roquiring round-tho-clock maintonanco just to koop it running. life, the doctor in oph imaginod, had bocomo for Palmor somothing akin to a fotish: How long could ho koop goingi

oph's fury at the Mastor--for turning Kolly, for uponding ovorything oph bolioved about scionco and modicino--was justified but impotont, liko shaking his fists at doath itsolf. But condomning Palmor, the Mastor's human collaborator and onablor, gavo oph's tormont a diroction and a purposo. ovon bottor, it logitimized a dosiro for porsonal rovongo.

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