My journal notes on The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
August was searing through the calender and Abraham Setrakian, laying out beams for a suspended roof, felt its burden more than most. The sun was baking him, every day it was like this. But even more than that, he had come to loathe the night, his bunk and his dreams of home, which had formerly been his only respite from the horror of the death camp, and was now a hostage to two equally merciless masters.
So begins another interlude, but, Setrakian has plans. He may not be able to defeat his Nazi masters, but he has designs to destroy the other.
It’s an interesting little chapter, as not only does Setrakian escape the camp, (obviously, since in present day New York he’s an old man willing to help Eph) but a little is revealed about Sardu, the vampire feeding on the Nazi’s prisoners has a background, of sorts. At least now I know that Sardu himself was infected with “The Strain“. Makes me wonder about that cave. Only Sardu made it out alive, all his companions were killed, so what else was in there and why didn’t it infect all of the men instead of just one.
Did it possess a human shape before Sardu? Or some other animal, waiting for a more suitable host? How old is it? Centuries or Millennia? How did it come to possess telepathic abilities, because The Thing, as he calls it, just looks into Setrakian’s eyes and knows his name, probably other personal things too, maybe even the old horror stories his baba used to tell him.
It’s all very interesting, but I’m only given a few snippets of information, drip-fed, designed to whet my appetite I suppose.
In any case, I know why Setrakian’s hands are so riddled with arthritis now, poor man.
17th Precinct Headquarters, East Fifty-first Street, Manhattan
So, Setrakian feels like he’s blown his best chance at convincing Dr. Eph Goodweather of the dark days to come.
Must be very unnerving for him now. Here he is, waiting, languishing in a jail cell/holding tank, while evidence of the monster he has long hunted, walks into the police station. The evidence being Gus, complete with burn holes in his clothes and trying to convince the police of the monster, masquerading as a naked man, of which he has done battle with. And won.
One of the detectives came over to Setrakian’s booking sergeant’s cubicle, wiping sweat off his face with a paper towel. “Crazy-ass Mex. Two-time juvie loser, just turned eighteen. Killed a man this time, in a fight. Him and a buddy, must have jumped the guy, stripped off his clothes. Tried to roll him right in the middle of Times Square.”
Of course, in their eyes he’s just another loser. He’s just another kid who was bound to end up involved with a major crime sooner later. Why would they believe his story, it’s not rational is it, to believe that he killed something “not human”. Though at least I know his age now. From the way the authors wrote Gus’ voice, I would’ve guessed him to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s, turns out he’s much younger, only 18. I suppose that also works, he must’ve seen a lot in his short life, hard and lean times maybe. Seems like there are always too many young people in the world who have had to grow up too fast in this manner. Things haven’t changed all that much from previous centuries, the poor are still poor, and most of the rich are still taking liberties when they can get away with it. Same shit, different century 😉
As for Abraham Setrakian, maybe he can find an unusual ally in Gus, a fighter, a survivor, and obviously a man who isn’t afraid to do some dirty tricks to get by. Plus, there’s that van.
Perhaps this is fate after all, for both men.
Isolation Ward, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
Jim Kent is now being kept in observation, and he isn’t being told the full story.
Mind you, I can’t imagine Eph or Nora being able to explain it all in a logical and scientific manner. They don’t have any answers, just a growing list of unusual questions that seem impossible to answer. Their fight with Captain Doyle Redfern, is just the pinnacle of an endless mysteries, thus far.
Jim wants his phone back though. I still don’t know who he’s clandestinely updating, or why he has to. Is money involved? Or is it a sense of duty? Or does he simply have no choice? I suppose it really depends on who he’s reporting to. Eph’s superiors or someone unscrupulous, like Eldritch Palmer.
Apparently Jim has a girlfriend, who is only now being introduced.
Jim shared an apartment in the East Eighties with his girlfriend, Sylvia, a horoscope writer for the New York Post. She brought five cats to the relationship, and he brought one finch, making for a very tense household.
Tense indeed. I’ll bet that birdcage has better bars than a maximum security prison!
Tense may be the way to describe Sylvia too. She can’t visit Jim because he’s in the isolation ward, and because Redfern is now deceased, permanently, Jim has the ward all to his lonesome. Other than updates from the medical personnel, the only way for Sylvia to talk to Jim, is by phone, and I wonder how high a priority she is for Jim.
Speaking of priorities, Redfern has been moved to the morgue, under lock & key. I can understand Eph’s motives. He’s quite right, he would be hard pressed to give the authorities a satisfactory explanation, given the circumstances. It looks suspiciously like murder, more than anything else.
Nora is rightly concerned though, she’s probably thinking of the fallout this might generate, should anyone be bothered to investigate the matter properly and presuming that anyone who’s still human after the initial wave of destruction, cares enough to bother with such trivialities.
As for the autopsy, what a cave of wonder! The virus seems to have shriveled all the internal organs, but it’s also linked all of the organs together.
He used a soft rubber hose to wash away the white, bloodlike leakage and viewed the major organs beneath the rib cage. The chest cavity was a mess, cluttered with gross black masses fed by spindly feeders, veinlike offshoots attached to the pilot’s shriveled organs.
I’m reminded of The War Of The Worlds, the red weed that invades our planet and grows everywhere and over everything. In my mind the vampire strain of virus is much like this, black being the new red of course.
But for what purpose? It seems the organs are no longer required, being undead means you don’t need to process food or oxygen anymore, so it’s understandable that they’re shriveled up now. But I cannot fathom why they’re so interconnected now. The speed at which this has all happened is quite surprising though.
Nora said, “Impossible. We’re only thirty-six hours out from the plane landing.”
Taking into consideration that the survivors were still breathing as regular humans need to do, the time frame for the organs to have shriveled must’ve been exceptionally fast post death. I do wonder if they’ll have the opportunity to investigate fully, as I can’t help but think that this virus is going to spread phenomenally fast. So fast that they may only have time to destroy the infected rather than find out how the virus functions, or even if there is a hope for a cure.
For now though, they have to go back to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Manhattan
The bodies are gone then. Not much of a surprise. No sign of Doctor Bennett either. It doesn’t look good.
Eph and Nora are trying to convince their superior, Director Barnes, to bring back the remaining survivors for quarantine. Understandably, it’s difficult to convince Barnes without voicing their absolute worst fears and suppositions. They just don’t have the kind of proof they need yet. All though, before and after x-rays of Captain Redford seem to have gone a long way in helping their case. I think the new growth tissue has Barnes feeling disbelief regarding a pandemic, and I don’t think he’s totally convinced about Redfern’s attack on Jim either.
Barnes looked back and forth between them. “You’re telling me that one of the survivors of the airplane catastrophe grew a stinger and attacked Jim Kent with it?”
Eph nodded and referred to the scans again as proof. “Everett, we need to quarantine the remaining survivors.”
In all honesty though, the survivors should never have been allowed to leave without a full investigation.
Eph knows he should be tracking down the other survivors but the Director knows that this is what Eph might be planning, and warns him against doing as much. It’s apparent that Everett Barnes didn’t become the Director of the CDC without learning some political savvy along the way, but he’s not on the front lines any more. Eph, most definitely is. Along with Nora.
Then, a fortuitous moment. Remember the naked fat man from Times Square? The one who was despatched by Gus? He just got wheeled into the office of the CME, EMT’s explaining the circumstances regarding his demise to the morgue attendants. Gus seems to have had one hell of a fight though, the corpse is missing his head! The tissue & bone in the man’s neck must be a lot softer than is usual for a human, thinking of my school history lessons, even executioners with axes used to need anywhere from 1 to 3 swings/blows to decapitate someone completely. One of the reasons the guillotine was invented, it was more efficient than an axe swinging man.
Gus has managed it with just his small blade and a substantial amount of adrenaline.
Eph, spotting the now familiar white ooze that was once blood, quite rightly investigates, even spotting the wire around the dead man’s toe. The indication that this man has been declared dead once already must be an awful discovery.
Couple this man, with the missing dead from the freezers of morgues across the city, and Eph and Nora have an epiphany.
Time to find the old man. Time to find Abraham Setrakian and maybe get some answers, even though the questions may be terrifying.