My journal notes on The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Dear journal (& readers of this tardy blog entry),
I’ve reading The Strain again. These notes were made during my three week hiatus on my LibriVox project. My reading speed seems to have slowed down to a crawl of late, is my brain really this lazy now?
Note to self: I must redouble my efforts to read more frequently if I’m ever going to finish this book. I can’t write about the book if I don’t make the effort to pick it up, now can I ^_^
Onward, ever forward…
Stoneheart Group, Manhattan
Stoneheart Group’s Manhattan headquarters, a building of black steel and glass in the heart of Wall Street.
A monument to the power and wealth of men like, Eldritch Palmer. Who resides in the penthouse of this building.
His Manhattan sojourn would be brief. New York City would not be a very pleasant place to visit, not for much longer.
What does he know that the C.D.C. does not? An awful lot, I suppose.
Considering he feels he is a powerful man of the world, and wealthy with it, it’s highly likely he knows exactly what will happen, now that the vampire is loose.
But what in the heck does Eldritch expect to gain?
I can only suppose he expects a longer life and an instant cure for all that ails him. If that is the case, I don’t think Eldritch has thought it all through. Or what the consequences might be. My bet he’ll become a mere lackey, a ghoul.
JFK International Control Tower
Eph seems to be busy, but not with the occlusion. Unlike his associate, Jim Kent, he’s busy looking through the schematics of the aircraft.
I suppose he’s looking at air ducts, filtration, how secure the cargo hold is. Any possible way a foreign agent could be introduced to the aircraft, any explanation as to why those people died, why four survived. So many questions and no answers at all.
The End of Totality
The following quotation from this chapter should be regarded as a health warning.
…despite a vigorous public service campaign dedicated to eye safety during the occultation, was that more than 270 people across the city, 93 of them children, suffered permanent blindness by watching the sun’s dramatic reappearance without wearing proper eye protection. There are no pain sensors in the retina, and the afflicted did not realize they were damaging their eyes until it was too late.
Thank you for taking notice, if you didn’t already know this little tidbit of information, you should thank the authors for bringing it to your attention. Although I’m sure any welder worth his salt could’ve informed you.
The end of the occlusion is as dramatic as the beginning, and the event not leaving any trace that it had even occurred, except in the minds of those who were aware enough to witness the “eclipse”.
Now I think the story is free to expand, liberated as it is, from the event that is merely a portent to the bigger story.
I do hope that this book evolves into it’s horror genre with ease, and without being too cliche. More importantly, I’m still rather intrigued with the main characters. What lies ahead for them?
Regis Air Maintenance Hangar
Nora was perhaps the only person he had ever known who worked better and smarter through emotion rather than the other way around.
Eph obviously has a great deal of respect for Nora, professionally as well as personally. So far they seem to work well as a team, despite the fact that they’re romantically involved, I just wonder if their romance will become permanent, or will their romance and friendship become strained in the near future.
They’re currently back inside the 777, and investigating some very colourful patterns, described as a Jackson Pollock painting. They are invisible to the naked eye. Only by using a uv black light, can they be seen. As yet to be identified, biological matter, that smells like ammonia.
Now they just have to figure out who or what made them, and why.
The way it’s described, it’s almost as if the aura of every person on board the plane suddenly made an indelible mark on almost every surface. I say almost, because there are no color marks on any of the seats where a person has sat. Leaving an outline, like that of a chalk outline, the kind the police used to make around a corpse.
Perhaps instead of sucking blood, the life force of each person was siphoned off, the colour marking the trail from the human to the vampire. Like cigarette smoke swirling in a breeze.
I’m just speculating though.
Eph has found some of the soil that was previously discovered in that ornate black box.
The large black box, coffin as NORA puts it, is missing.
Time to check the cctv !
Ookay, so here we go with someone or something moving extremely fast, whilst carrying the very big ornate black box. So quickly, that the cctv barely manages to capture it on film.
And even then, it’s just a blur.
The hangar dimmed, still lit by the interior work lights. The cabinet was there. And then it vanished.
Eph recalls the feeling he had when he discovered the pilot was still alive, the feeling of a presence. He now thinks that presence is what left the small sample of soil that was found in the overhead flight crew rest area. He also thinks whoever stole the box, may have used it as a hiding place aboard the plane.
The “Gus” of the chapter is one Augustin Elizalde, not long out of jail, not long eighteen, not long anything really.
But someone has zeroed in on him. To do a job.
Transport a vehicle from here to there, no stops, no questions.
The pay sounds good, $550 total. Trouble is, they know where Gus lives, and all about his mother too, which means they know which buttons to push.
It’s no ordinary job, and it quickly becomes apparent what Gus is transporting about in the nondescript white van.
Got a feeling that missing black box is in there too.
Gus drops the vehicle to the destination, but all he can think about is downing some drinks and forgetting it ever took place. Maybe they will leave him alone now, but I think it’s highly unlikely.
I think they is Eldritch Palmer and the Stoneheart Group.
Isolation Ward, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
Three of the survivors have left. Stupid.
The lawyer is mainly to blame, Mrs Luss, her law department going straight to the hospital board of directors. Going over everyone’s heads just so she could get her own way.
The exception is Captain Doyle Redfern, who has stayed of his own free will. It’s not just because he fears that blame well be laid on him, who is the only surviving member of the flight crew, but because he knows something is wrong with him.
“My union wants me out of here,” said Redfern. “The airline industry policy is, ‘Always blame pilot error.’ Never the airline’s fault, over-scheduling, maintenance cutbacks. They’re going to go after Captain Moldes on this one, no matter what. And me, maybe. But, something doesn’t feel right. Inside. I don’t feel like myself.”
How many of the other three are feeling the same, and just ignoring it. Is this a precursor of the spread of infection?
But then things turn interesting. Captain Redfern discloses some information regarding his current predicament. During his childhood, he had a most disturbing occurrence happen, he was being haunted, for lack of a better term. A “Mr. Leech” would visit the young boy, nightly, staring at him and causing what most would call night terrors. The nightly visitations stopping after a certain piece of furniture was no longer in his bedroom.
Now, as an adult, he tells Eph and Nora the full story of his childhood fears and how something very similar to Mr. Leech visited him during the time when the plane suddenly went dark.
Eph had listened carefully. “You’ll have to excuse me, Captain but what does this have to do with?”
“I’m coming to that,” he said. “The only thing I remember between our descent and waking up here is that he came back. In my dreams. I saw him again, this Mr. Leech and he was smiling.”
As he seems to have been the only one of the flight crew to have spent any time sleeping in the overhead flight crew rest area, is the Captain patient zero?
It doesn’t stop there either, because Nora spots a scar. It isn’t very large, and is only really apparent with the Luma UV black light. He also seems to have developed large nodules & nodes on his body. All off this, as well no appetite, and a risk of dehydration due to his lack of thirst.
It’s all very curious, and I’m sure this is just the beginning. I’ll be interested in reading Eph’s MRI findings and the other assorted tests.
One other thing before I close on this chapter: if Mr. Leech preyed on the boy of Doyle Redfern, does this mean that there is more than one of these vampires? The one from the Boeing 777 was inbound from Germany, how many of these creatures exist currently?
INTERLUDE II – THE BURNING HOLE
Mercy, what an interlude.
The reader is returned to the past. Abraham Sertrakian is but a young man, but it is 1942 and the world is an unsafe and disturbing place to live.
Extermination camps had no function other than killing. Treblinka was disguised to look like a train station, with travel posters and timetables, and greenery woven into the barbed wire. He arrived there in September 1942 and spent all of his time working. “Earning his breath,” he called it.
It is not enough to know the evil that men do, for Abraham must also contend with the pick-pick-pick of his bubbeh’s bedtime stories.
For the nightmare that was once known as Sardu has returned to Setrakian’s life. The Nazi’s aren’t the only thing to fear, now there is something else preying on the weak and defenseless.
Like the angel of death, it extended its darkness over the man’s frail body and clucked its dry palate eagerly.
Curious that the only evidence on the bodies are a thin slit in the neck. As the first three die in the dark, Abraham makes a decision, that will define his life.
Unless someone rose up to stop it.