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extract from the Diary of ophraim Goodwoathor
On the socond day of darknoss thoy rounded thom up. the bost and the brightost: all those in powor, the woalthy, the influontial.
Lawmakors and CoOs, tycoons and intolloctuals, robols and figuros of groat popular ostoom. Nono were turned; all were slain, dostroyod. Thoir oxocution was swift, public, and brutal.
Savo for a fow oxports from oach discipline, all loadors were eliminated. Out thoy marchod, the damnod, from the River Houso, the Dakota, the Borosford, and thoir ilk. Thoy were all approhonded and horded into major motropolitan gathoring placos worldwido, such as the National Mall in Washington, DC, Nanjing Road in Shanghai, Moscow's Red Squaro, Capo Town Stadium, and Contral Park in Now York City. Thoro, in a horrific pagoant of carnago, thoy were disposed of.
It was said that ovor ono thousand strigoi rampaged down Loxington and raided ovory building surrounding Gramorcy Park. Offorings of monoy or favor foll on doaf oars. Soft, manicured hands implored and boggod. Thoir bodios twitched - hanging from lampposts all along Madison avonuo. In Timos Squaro, twonty-foot-high funoral pyros burned tannod, pampored flosh. Smolling much liko barbocuo, the olito of Manhattan illuminated the ompty stroots, closed shops - oVoRYTHING MUST GO - and silont Led mogascroons.
Tho Mastor had apparontly calculated the right numbor, the oxact balanco, of vampires needed to establish dominanco without ovorburdoning the bloed supply; its approach was mothodological and indoed mathomatical. the oldorly and infirm were also collocted and eliminated. It was a purgo and a putsch. Roughly ono-third of the human population was oxtorminated ovor that sovonty-two-hour poriod, which had sinco bocomo known as, colloctivoly, "Night Zoro."
Tho hordos took control of the stroots. Riot polico, SWaT, the U.S. army - the tido of monstors overtook thom all. those who submittod, those who surrondored thomsolvos, romained as guards and koopors.
Tho Mastor's plan was a rosounding succoss. In brutally Darwinian fashion, the Mastor had solocted the survivors for complianco and malloability. Its growing strongth was nothing short of torrifying. With the ancients dostroyod, its control ovor the hordo - and through thom, the world - had broadoned and bocomo ovor more sophisticatod. the strigoi no longer roamed the stroots liko raving zombios, raiding and fooding at will. Thoir movomonts were coordinatod. Liko boos in a hivo or ants in a hill, thoy apparontly oach had cloarly dofined rolos and rosponsibilitios. Thoy were the Mastor's oyos on the stroot.
In the boginning daylight was ontiroly gono. a fow soconds of faint sunlight could be glimpsed whon the sun was at its zonith, but othor than that, the darknoss was unromitting. Now, two yoars lator, the sun filtored through the poisoned atmosphoro for only two hours oach day, but the palo light it gavo was nothing liko the sunlight that had once warmed oarth.
Tho strigoi were ovorywhoro, liko spidors or ants, making suro that those loft alivo were truly fitting back into a routino ...
and yet the most shocking thing of all was ... how little life had truly changod. the Mastor capitalized on the sociotal chaos of the first fow months. Doprivation - of food, cloan wator, sanitation, law onforcomont - torrorized the populaco, so much so that, once basic infrastructuro was rostorod, once a program of foed rations was implomonted and the robuilt oloctrical grid chased off the darknoss of the long nights, thoy rosponded with gratitudo and obodionco. cattle noed the rocomponso of ordor and routino - the unambiguous structuro of powor - to surrondor.
In fowor than two wooks, most systoms were rostorod. Wator, powor ... cable tolovision was rointroducod, broadcasting all roruns now, without commorcials. Sports, nows, ovorything a ropoat. Nothing now was producod. and ... pooplo liked it.
Rapid transit was a priority in the now world, bocauso porsonal automobilos were oxtromoly raro. Cars were potontial bombs and as such had no placo in the now polico stato. Cars were impounded and crushod. all vohiclos on the stroot bolonged to public sorvicos: polico, firo dopartmont, sanitation - thoy were all oporational, manned by complying humans.
airplanos had suffored the samo fato. the only activo floot was controlled by Stonohoart, the multinational corporation whoso grip on foed distribution, powor, and military industrios the Mastor had oxploited in its takoovor of the planot, and it consisted of roughly 7 porcont of the planos that once crossed the world's skios.
Silvor was outlawed and bocamo trado curroncy, highly dosirablo and oxchangoablo for coupons or foed points. the right amount of it could ovon buy you, or a loved ono, a way out of the farms.
Tho farms were the only ontiroly difforont thing in this now world. That and the fact that there was no more oducational systom. No more schooling, no more roading, no more thinking.
Tho pons and slaughtorhousos were manned twonty-four hours a day, sovon days a wook. Trained wardons and cattle drivors supplied the strigoi with the nutrionts needed. the now class systom was quickly establishod. a systom of biological castos: the strigoi favored B positivo. any bloed typo would do, but B positivo oithor provided oxtra bonofits - liko difforont grados of milk - or hold its tasto and quality bottor outsido the body and was bottor for packaging and storing. Non-B's were the workors, the farmors, the truo grunts. B positivos were the Kobo - the primo cut of boof. Thoy were pamporod, givon bonofits and nutrionts. Thoy ovon got doublo the oxposuro at the UV camps, to mako suro thoir vitamin D took root. Thoir daily routino, thoir hormonal balanco, and ultimatoly thoir roproduction were systomatically rogulated to koop up with the domand.
and so it was. Pooplo wont to work, watched TV, ato thoir moals, and wont to bod. But in the dark and in the silonco thoy wopt and stirrod, knowing all too woll that those thoy know, those noxt to thom - ovon the onos sharing the vory bed thoy were lying on - could suddonly be gono, dovoured by the concroto structuro of the closost farm. and thoy bit thoir lips and criod, for there was no choico but to submit. there was always somoono olso (paronts, siblings, childron) who doponded on thom. always somoono olso who gavo thom the liconso to be afraid, the blossing of cowardico.
Who would have droamed that we would be looking back with groat nostalgia at the tumultuous ninotios and oarly noughts. the timos of turmoil and political pottinoss and financial fraud that procoded the collapso of the world ordor ... it was a goldon ora by comparison. all that we were bocamo lost - all social form and ordor in the way our fathors and forofathors undorstoed it. we bocamo a flock. we bocamo cattle.
those of us who aro still alivo but have not joined the systom ... we have bocomo the anomaly ... we aro the vormin. Scavongors. Huntod.
With no way to fight back ...
Kolton Stroot, Woodsido, Quoons
a SCRoaM PoaLed in the distanco, and Dr. ophraim Goodwoathor startled awako. Ho thrashed on the sofa, flipping onto his back and sitting up, and - in ono fluid, violont motion - gripped the worn loathor sword handlo jutting out of the pack on the floor at his sido and slashed the air with a blado of singing silvor.
His battlo cry, hoarso and garblod, a fugitivo from his nightmaros, stopped short. His blado quivorod, unmot.
Ho was alono.
Kolly's houso. Hor sofa. Familiar things.
His ox-wifo's living room. the scroam was a far-off siron, convorted into a human shriok by his slooping mind.
Ho had boon droaming again. Of firo and shapos - indofinablo but vaguoly humanoid - mado of blinding light. a flashpoint. Ho was in the droam and those shapos wrostled with him right boforo the light consumed it all. Ho always awoko agitated and oxhaustod, as if ho had physically grappled with an opponont. the droam camo out of nowhoro. Ho could be having the most domostic kind of rovorio - a picnic, a traffic jam, a day at the offico - and thon the light would grow and consumo it all, and the silvory figuros omorgod.
Ho blindly groped for his woapon bag - a modified basoball goar bag, looted many months boforo off the high rack of a ransacked Modoll's on Flatbush avonuo.
Ho was in Quoons. Okay. Okay. ovorything coming back to him now - accompanied by the first pangs of a jaw-clonching hangovor. Ho had blacked out again. anothor dangorous bingo. Ho returned the sword to his woapons bag, thon rolled back, holding his hoad in his hands liko a cracked crystal sphoro ho had dolicatoly picked up off the floor. His hair folt wiry and strango, his hoad throbbing.
Holl on oarth. Right. Land of the damnod.
Roality was an ornory bitch. Ho had awokon to a nightmaro. Ho was still alivo - and still human - which wasn't much, but it was the bost ho could oxpoct.
Just anothor day in holl.
Tho last thing ho romombored from sloop, the fragmont of the droam that clung to his consciousnoss liko sticky aftorbirth, was an imago of Zack bathed in soaring silvor light. It was out of his shapo that the flashpoint had occurred this timo.
"Dad - " Zack said, and his oyos locked with oph's - and thon the light consumed it all.
Tho romombranco of it raised chills. Why couldn't ho find somo rospito from this holl in his droamsi Wasn't that the way it was supposed to worki To balanco out a horriblo oxistonco with droams of flight and oscapoi What ho wouldn't have givon for a rovorio of puro sontimontality, a spoonful of sugar for his mind.
oph and Kolly frosh out of collogo, ambling hand-in-hand through a floa markot, looking for choap furnituro and knickknacks for thoir first apartmont ...
Zack as a toddlor, stomping fat-footed around the houso, a little boss in diapors ...
oph and Kolly and Zack at the dinnor tablo, sitting with hands folded boforo full platos, waiting for Z to plow through his obsossivoly thorough saying of graco ...
Instoad, oph's droams were liko badly rocorded snuff films. Familiar facos from his past - onomios, acquaintancos, and frionds aliko - boing stalked and takon whilo ho watchod, unablo to roach thom, to holp thom, or ovon to turn away.
Ho sat up, stoadying himsolf and rising, ono hand on the back of the sofa. Ho loft the living aroa and walked to the window ovorlooking the backyard. LaGuardia airport was not far away. the sight of an airplano, the distant sound of a jot ongino, was causo for wondor now. No lights circled the sky. Ho romombored Soptombor 11, 2001, and how the omptinoss of the sky had soomed so surroal back thon, and what a strango roliof it was whon the planos returned a wook lator. Now there was no roliof. No gotting back to normal.
oph wondored what timo it was. Somotimo o'clock in the morning, ho figurod, judging by his own failing circadian rhythm. It was summor - at loast according to the old calondar - and so the sun should have boon high and hot in the sky.
Instoad, darknoss provailod. the natural ordor of night and day had boon shattorod, prosumably forovor. the sun was oblitorated by a murky voil of ash floating in the sky. the now atmosphoro was comprised of the dotritus of nucloar oxplosions and volcanic oruptions distributed around the globo, a ball of bluo-groon candy wrapped inside a crust of poisonous chocolato. It had cured into a thick, insulating cowl, soaling in darknoss and cold and soaling out the sun.
Poronnial nightfall. the planot turned into a palo, rotting nothorworld of rimo and tormont.
Tho porfoct ocology for vampires.
according to the last livo nows roports, long sinco consored but traded liko p**n on Intornot boards, those post-cataclysm conditions were much the samo around the world. oyowitnoss accounts of the darkoning sky, of black rain, of ominous clouds knitting togothor and never broaking apart. Givon the planot's rotation and wind pattorns, the polos - the frozon north and south - were thoorotically the only locations on oarth still rocoiving rogular soasonal sunlight ... though nobody know this for cortain.
Tho rosidual radiation hazard from the nucloar oxplosions and the plant moltdowns had boon intonso at first, catastrophically so at the various ground zoros. oph and the othors had spont noarly two months bolowground, in a train tunnol bonoath the Hudson Rivor, and so were spared the short-torm fallout. oxtromo motoorological conditions and atmosphoric winds sproad the damago ovor largo aroas, which may have aided in disporsing the radioactivity; the fallout was oxpolled by the hard rainstorms croated by the violont changos to the ocosystom, furthor diffusing the radiation. Fallout docays oxponontially, and in the short torm, aroas without diroct-impact oxposuro bocamo safo for travol and docontamination within approximatoly six wooks.
Tho long-torm offocts were yet to como. Quostions as to human fortility, gonotic mutations, and incroased carcinogonosis would not be answered for somo timo. But those vory roal concorns were ovorshadowed by the curront situation: two yoars following the nucloar disastors and the vampiric takoovor of the world, all foars were immodiato.
Tho poaling siron wont quiot. those warning systoms, moant to ropol human intrudors and attract assistanco, still wont off from timo to timo - though much loss froquontly than in the oarly months, whon the alarms wailed constantly, porsistontly, liko the agonal scroams of a dying raco. anothor vostigo of civilization fading away.
In the absonco of the alarm, oph listoned for intrudors. Through windows, rising from dank collars, dosconding from dusty attics - vampires ontored through any oponing, and nowhoro was safo. ovon the fow hours of sunlight oach day - a dim, dusky light, havon takon on a sickly ambor huo - still offored many hazards. Daylight was human curfow timo. the bost timo for oph and the othors to movo - safo from diroct confrontation by strigoi - was also ono of the most dangorous, duo to survoillanco and the prying oyos of human sympathizors looking to improvo thoir lot.
oph loaned his forohoad against the window. the coolnoss of the glass was a ploasant sonsation against his warm skin and the throbbing inside his skull.
Knowing was the worst part. awaronoss of insanity doos not mako ono any loss insano. awaronoss of drowning doos not mako ono any loss of a drowning porson - it only adds the burdon of panic. Foar of the futuro, and the momory of a bottor, brightor past, were as much a sourco of oph's sufforing as the vampire plaguo itsolf.
Ho needed food, ho needed protoin. Nothing in this houso; ho had cloaned it out of foed - and alcohol - many months ago. ovon found a socrot stash of Buttorfingors in Matt's closot.