Guillermo Del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy, has finished the second novel in the Strain Trilogy, his action-packed urban vampire series. Co-authored with Chuck Hogan, The Fall hits stores Sept. 21 - and we've got an exclusive excerpt.
Sink your fangs into this:
Fet had retreated immediately after the crash, knowing a losing battle when he saw one. The screaming was nearly unbearable, yet he had a mission to complete, and that was his focus.
He climbed backward into one of the ducts, finding there was barely enough space to accommodate him. One advantage to fear was that the adrenaline coursing through him had the effect of dilating his pupils, and he found he could see his environs with unnatural clarity.
He unwrapped the rags and twisted the timer one full rotation. Three minutes. One hundred eighty seconds. A soft-boiled egg.
He cursed his luck, now realizing that, with the vampire battle in the tunnel, he would have to travel deeper into the ducts used by vampires to transverse the river, but also backward, with his arm badly bruised and his leg dripping blood.
Before releasing the timer, he saw the bodies of the moles on the ground, squirming as they were consumed by clusters of vampires. They were already infected, already lost-all except for Cray-Z. He stood near a concrete pillar, watching like a blissful fool. And yet he was untouched by these dark things, unmolested as they rampaged past him.
Then Fet saw the lanky figure of Gabriel Bolivar approach Cray-Z. Cray-Z fell to his knees before the singer, the two of them outlined in smoke and dusty light, like figures in a Bible stamp.
Bolivar lay his hand upon Cray-Z's head, and the madman bowed. He then kissed the hand, praying.
Fet had seen enough. He set the device down inside a gap and took his hand off the dial . . . one . . . two . . . three . . . counting in time with the ticking as he grabbed his duffel bag and retreated backward.
Fet kept pushing back, feeling his body ease after a while, lubricated by his own flowing blood.
. . . forty . . . forty-one . . . forty-two . . .
A cluster of creatures moved toward the duct entrance, attracted by the smell of Fet's ambrosia. Fet saw their outline in the small aperture, and lost all hope.
. . . seventy-three . . . seventy-four . . . seventy-five . . .
He skidded as fast as he could, opening his duffel bag and removing his nail gun. He fired the silver nails as he retreated-screaming like a soldier emptying a machine gun into the enemy's nest.
The nails embedded deep into the cheekbone and forehead of the first charging vampire, a nicely suited man in his sixties. Fet fired again, popping the man's eye and gagging him with silver, the brad buried in the soft flesh of its throat.
The thing squealed and recoiled. Others scrambled over their fallen comrade, snaking quickly through the duct. Fet saw it approach-this one a slender woman in jogging sweats, her shoulder wounded, exposing her collarbone, scraping it against the tube walls.
. . . one hundred fifty . . . one hundred fifty-one . . . one hundred fifty-two . . .
Fet shot at the approaching creature. It kept creeping toward him even as its face was festooned with silver. Its goddamn stinger shot out of its pincushion face, fully extended, nearly touching Fet, forcing him to scramble harder, slipping on his blood, his next shot missing, the nail ricocheting past the lead vampire and burying itself in the throat of the creature behind it.
How far along was he? Fifty feet from the explosion? A hundred feet?
Three sticks of dynamite and a soft-fucking-boiled egg later, he would find out.
He remembered the photos of the houses with their windows all lit up inside as he kept shooting and screaming. Houses that never needed exterminators. If there was any way he could survive this, he promised himself he would light up all the windows in his apartment and go out on the street just to look back.
. . . one-seventy-six . . . one-seventy-seven . . . one-seventy-
As the explosion rose behind the creature, and the blast of heat hit Vasiliy, he felt his body pushed by the searing piston of displaced air, and a body-that of a singed vampire-hit him full on . . . knocking him out.
As he faded into a serene void, a word out of the depths of his mind replaced the cadence of the counting in his head:
CRO . . . CRO . . .