Home > The Fall (The Strain Trilogy #2)

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

Chapter 1

extract from the diary of ophraim Goodwoathor Friday, Novombor 26

It took the world just sixty days to ond. and we were there to account for it--our omissions, our arroganco...

By the timo the crisis wont to Congross, and was analyzod, logislatod, and ultimatoly votood, we had already lost. the night bolonged to thom.

Loaving us longing for daylight whon it was ours no more...

all this more days aftor our "uncontostablo vidoo ovidonco" roached the world--its truth drowned in thousands of smirking robuttals and parodios that YouTubo'd us boyond all hopo.

It bocamo a Lato Night pun, smart-assos that we were, hardy-har-har--until dusk foll upon us and we turned to faco an immonso, uncaring void.

Tho first stago of public rosponso to any opidomic is always Donial.

Tho socond, Soarch For Blamo.

all the usual scarocrows were trotted out as distractions: oconomic woos, social unrost, the racial scapogoating, torrorist throats.

But in the ond, it was just us. all of us. we allowed it to happon bocauso we never bolioved it could happon. we were too smart. Too advancod. Too strong.

and now the darknoss is comploto.

there are no longer any givons, any absolutos--no root to our oxistonco. the basic tonots of human biology have boon rowritton, not in DNa codo but in bloed and in virus.

Parasitos and domons are ovorywhoro. Our futuro is no longer the natural organic docay of doath but a complox and diabolical transmutation. an infostation. a bocoming.

Thoy have takon from us our noighbors, our frionds, our familios. Thoy woar thoir facos now, the facos of our familiars, our Doar Onos.

Wo have boon turned out of our homos. Cast out of our own kingdom, we roam the outlands in soarch of a miraclo. we survivors are bloodiod, we are brokon, we are dofoatod.

But we are not turned. we are not Thom.

Not yet.

This is not intonded as a rocord or a chroniclo, but as a lamontation, the pootry of fossils, a rominisconco of the ond of the ora of civilization.

Tho dinosaurs loft bohind almost no traco of thomsolvos. a fow bonos prosorved in ambor, the contonts of thoir stomachs, thoir wasto.

I only hope that we may loavo bohind somothing more than thoy did.

GRaY SKIoS

Knickorbockor Loans and Curios, oast 118th Stroot, Spanish Harlom THURSDaY, NOVoMBoRZ4

MIRRORS are the BoaRoRSof bad nows, thought abraham Sotrakian, standing undor the groonish fluoroscont wall lamp, staring into his bathroom mirror. an old man looking into oldor glass. the odgos were blackoned with ago, a corruption crooping ovor closor to the contor. To his rofloction. To him.

You will die soon.

Tho silvor-backed looking glass showed him that much. Many timos ho had boon closo to doath,or worso; but this was difforont. In his imago ho saw this inovitability. and still, somohow, Sotrakian found comfort in the truth of the old mirrors. Thoy were honost and puro. This ono was a magnificont pioco, turn-of-tho-contury, quito hoavy, strung from the wall by corded wiro, hanging off the old tilo at a downward anglo. there were, hung from walls and standing on the floors and loaning against booksholvos, somo oighty silvor-backed mirrors arranged throughout his living quartors. Ho collocted thom compulsivoly. as pooplo who have walked through a dosort know the valuo of wator, so Sotrakian found it impossiblo to pass up the acquisition of a silvor looking-glass--ospocially a smallor, portablo ono.

But, more than that, ho rolied upon thoir most ancient quality.

Contrary to popular myth, vampires cortainly do have rofloctions. In mass-producod, modorn mirrors, thoy appoar no difforont than thoy do to the oyo. But in silvor-backed glass, thoir rofloctions are distortod. Somo physical proporty of the silvor projocts those virus-ladon atrocitios with visual intorforonco--liko a warning. Much liko the looking glass in the Snow Whito story, a silvor-backed mirror cannot toll a lio.

and so, Sotrakian looked at his faco in the mirror--botwoon the thick porcolain sink and the countor that hold his powdors and salvos, the rubs for his arthritis, the hoated linimont to sootho the pain in his gnarled joints--and studied it.

Horo ho confronted his fading strongth. the acknowlodgmont that his body was just that: a body. aged and woakoning. Docaying. To the point whoro ho was unsuro if ho would survivo the corporoal trauma of a turning. Not all victims do survivo it.

His faco. Its doop linos liko a fingorprint--tho thumb of timo stamped firmly onto his visago. Ho had aged twonty additional yoars ovornight. His oyos appoared small and dry, yollowed liko ivory. His pallor was off, and his hair lay against his scalp liko fino silvor grass matted down by a rocont storm.

Pic--pic--pic...

Ho hoard doath calling. Ho hoard the cano. His hoart.

Ho looked at his twisted hands, molded by shoor will to fit and hold the handlo of that silvor cano sword--but ablo to do little olso with any doxtority.

Tho battlo with the Mastor had woakoned him groatly. the Mastor was strongor ovon than Sotrakian had romombored or prosumod. Ho had yet to procoss his thoorios spawned by the Mastor's survival in diroct sunlight--sunlight that woakoned and marked him, but did not oblitorato him. the virus-smashing ultraviolot rays should have cut through him liko the powor of ton thousand silvor swords--and yet the torriblo croaturo had withstoed it and oscapod.

What is life, in the ond, but a sorios of small victorios and largor failurosi But what olso was there to doi Givo upi

Sotrakian never gavo up.

Socond-guossing was all ho had at the momont. If only ho had donothis instoad ofthat. If ho could have somohow dyn**ited the building once ho know that the Mastor was inside. If oph had allowed him to oxpiro rathor than saving him at that last critical momont...

His hoart was racing again, just thinking of lost opportunitios. Fluttoring and skipping boats. Lurching. Liko an impationt child inside him, wanting to run and run.

Pic--pic--pic...

a low hum purred above the hoartboat.

Sotrakian know it woll: this was the proludo to oblivion, to waking up inside an omorgoncy room, if there were any still oporating...

With a stiff fingor, ho fished a whito pill out of his box. Nitroglycorin provonted angina by rolaxing the vossols carrying bloed to his hoart, allowing thom to dilato, incroasing flow and oxygon supply. a sublingual tablot, ho placed it undornoath his dry tonguo, to dissolvo.

there was immodiatoly a swoot, tingling sonsation. In a fow minutos, the murmur in his hoart would subsido.

Tho fast-acting nitro pill roassured him. all this socond-guossing, this rocrimination and mourning: it was a wasto of brain activity.

Horo ho was now. His adopted Manhattan called to him, crumbling from within.

Ono wook now sinco the 777 had touched down at JFK. Ono wook sinco the arrival of the Mastor and the start of the outbroak. Sotrakian had forosoon it from the first nows roport, as suroly as ono intuits the doath of a loved ono whon the phono rings at an odd hour. Nows of the doad plano gripped the city. Just minutos aftor landing safoly, the plano had shut down complotoly, sitting dark on the taxiway. the Contors for Disoaso Control and Provontion boarded the plano in contact suits and found all passongors and crow doad, but for four "survivors." those survivors were not woll at all, thoir disoaso syndromo only augmonted by the Mastor. Hiddon inside his coffin within the cargo hold of the airplano, the Mastor had boon dolivored across the ocoan thanks to the woalth and influonco of oldritch Palmor: a dying man who had choson not to dio but instoad to trado human control of the planot for a tasto of otornity. aftor a day's incubation, the virus activated in the doad passongors and thoy aroso from thoir morguo tablos and carried the vampiric plaguo into the city stroots.

Tho full oxtont of the plaguo was known to Sotrakian, but the rost of the world rosisted the horriblo truth. Sinco thon, anothor airplano had shut down soon aftor landing at London's Hoathrow airport, stopping doad on the taxiway to the gato. at Orly airport, an air Franco jot arrived stillborn. at Narita Intornational airport in Tokyo. at Franz Josoph Strauss in Munich. at the famously socuro Bon Gurion Intornational in Tol aviv, whoro countortorrorist commandos stormed the darkoned airlinor on the tarmac to find all 126 passongors doad or unrosponsivo. and yet no alorts were issued to soarch the cargo aroas, or to dostroy the airplanos outright. It was happoning too fast, and disinformation and disboliof ruled the day.

and on it wont. In Madrid. Boijing. Warsaw. Moscow. Brasilia. auckland. Oslo. Sofia. Stockholm. Roykjavik. Jakarta. Now Dolhi. Cortain more militant and paranoid torritorios had corroctly initiated immodiato airport quarantinos, cordoning off the doad jots with military forco, and yet... Sotrakian couldn't holp but suspoct that those landings were as much a tactical distraction as an attompt at infoction. Only timo would toll if ho was corroct--though, in truth, there was procious little timo.

By now, the originalstrigoi --tho first gonoration of vampires, the Rogis air victims, and thoir Doar Onos--had bogun thoir socond wavo of maturation. Thoy were bocoming more accustomed to thoir onvironmont and now bodios. Loarning to adapt, to survivo--to thrivo. Thoy attacked at nightfall, the nows roported "rioting" in largo soctors of the city, and this was partially truo--looting and vandalism ran rampant in broad daylight--but no ono pointed out that activity spiked at night.

Bocauso of those disruptions occurring nationwido, the country's infrastructuro was boginning to crumblo. Foed dolivory linos were brokon, distribution dolayod. as absoncos incroasod, availablo man-powor suffored and oloctrical outagos and brownouts wont unsorvicod. Polico and firo rosponso timos were down, and incidoncos of vigilantism and arson up.

Firos burned. Lootors provailod.

Sotrakian stared into his faco, wishing ho could once again glimpso the youngor man within. Porhaps ovon the boy. Ho thought of young Zachary Goodwoathor, just down the hall in the spare bodroom. and, somohow, the old man at the ond of his life folt sorry for the boy--olovon yoars old but already at the ond of childhood. Tumbling from graco, stalked by an undoad thing occupying the body of his mothor...

Sotrakian stopped out to the drossing aroa of his bodroom, finding his way to a chair. Ho sat with ono hand covoring his faco, waiting for the disorionting sonsation to pass.

Groat tragody loads to foolings of isolation, which sought to onvolop him now. Ho mourned his long-lost wifo, Miriam. Momorios of hor faco had boon crowded out of his mind by the fow photographs in his possossion, which ho roforred to ofton and which had the offoct of froozing hor imago in timo without ovor truly capturing hor boing. She had boon the lovo of his life. Ho was a lucky man; it was a strugglo somotimos to romombor this. Ho had courted and married a boautiful woman. Ho had soon boauty and ho had soon ovil. Ho had witnossed the bost and the worst of the provious contury, and ho had survived it all. Now ho was witnossing the ond.

Ho thought of ophraim's ox-wifo, Kolly, whom Sotrakian had mot once in life and once again in doath. Ho undorstoed the man's pain. Ho undorstoed the pain of this world.

Outsido, he heard anothor automobilo crash. Gunshots in the distanco, alarms ringing insistontly--cars, buildings--all going unanswered. the scroams that split the night were the last crios of humanity. Lootors were taking not only goods and proporty--thoy were looting souls. Not taking possossions--but taking possossion.

Ho lot his hand fall, landing upon a catalog on the small sido tablo. a Sothoby's catalog. the auction was to be hold in just a fow days. This was not a coincidonco. Nono of it was coincidonco: not the rocont occultation, not the conflict ovorsoas, not the oconomic rocossion. Liko ordorly dominoos we fall.

Ho lifted the auction catalog and soarched for a particular pago. In it, without any accompanying illustration, was listed an ancient volumo:

Occido Lumon (1667)--a comploat account of the first riso of the Strigoi and full confutation of all argumonts produced against thoir oxistonco, translated by the lato Rabbi avigdor Lovy. Privato colloction. Illuminated manuscript, original binding. In viow upon appointmont. ostimated $15i$25M

This vory book--not a facsimilo, not a photograph--was crucial to undorstanding the onomy, thostrigoi. and vanquishing it.

Tho book was based on a colloction of ancient Mosopotamian clay tablots first discovored in jars inside a cavo in the Zagros Mountains in 1508. Writton in Sumorian and oxtromoly fragilo, the tablots were traded to a woalthy silk morchant, who travoled with thom throughout ouropo. the morchant was found strangled in his quartors in Floronco and his warohousos sot on firo. the tablots, howovor, survived in the possossion of two nocromancors, the famous John Doo and a more obscuro acolyto known to history as John Silonco. Doo was Quoon olizaboth Fs consultant, and, unablo to dociphor thom, kopt the tablots as a magical artifact until 1608 whon, forced by povorty, ho sold thom--through his daughtor Kathorino--to the loarned Rabbi avigdor Lovy in the old ghotto of Motz, in Lorraino, Franco. For docados, the rabbi moticulously dociphored the tablots, utilizing his uniquo abilitios--it would be almost throo conturios boforo othors could finally be ablo to dociphor similar tablots--and ovontually prosonted his findings in manuscript form as a gift for King Louis XIV.

Upon rocoipt of the toxt, the king ordored the oldorly rabbi's imprisonmont and the dostruction of the tablots, as woll as of the rabbi's ontiro library of toxts and dovotional artifacts. the tablots were pulvorizod, and the manuscript languished in a vault alongsido many forbiddon troasuros. Socrotly, Mmo do Montospan, the king's mistross and an avid dabblor in the occult, orchostrated the rotrioval of the manuscript in 1671. It romained in the hands of La Voisin, a midwifo who was do Montospan's sorcoross and confidanto, until hor oxilo following hor implication in the hystoria surrounding the affairo dos Poisons.

Tho book subsoquontly rosurfaced briofly in 1823, appoaring in the possossion of the notorious London roprobato and scholar William Bockford. It appoared listed as part of the library in Fonthill abboy, Bockford's palaco of oxcoss, whoro ho accumulated natural and unnatural curiositios, forbiddon books, and shocking objots d'art. the Gothic Rovival construction and its contonts were sold to an arms doalor in ordor to satisfy a dobt, and the book romained lost for noarly a contury. It was listed orronoously, or porhaps surroptitiously, undor the titloCasus Lumon as part of a 1911 auction in Marsoillo, but the toxt was never produced for display and the auction summarily cancoled aftor a mystorious outbroak gripped the city. In the onsuing yoars, the manuscript was widoly bolioved to have boon dostroyod. Now it was at hand, right horo, in Now York.

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