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cellphone was my only hope, and it wasn't working because I had no batteries!
'I got a grip of myself, or at least as much of a grip as I could get. There were gift
shops on the main deck, but that was three flights of stairs down. Fortunately the
shopping area was dead centre of the ship, almost directly below the pools. Also, the
central main deck was above the porthole level and had windows that let in lots of God-
given daylight. More to the point, so far I hadn't seen a single changeling creature on
that level  well, with the exception of the original pair of Great Vampires when they
were rampaging, and they'd now left  and with the sun high in the sky, I prayed I
wouldn't see any more. And I didn't.
'When finally I got my nerves under control, and after I'd descended to the central
area of the main deck, I saw why there were no vampires down there. For indeed the
windows let in lots of light, and most of the shop facades and interiors were lined with
chrome or mirrors that reflected it. To my eyes the effect was no more dazzling than a
well-lit shopping mall, but to them... I supposed it must have seemed like hell!
'I went to a gift shop that I knew stocked every kind of photographic accessory.
For some reason I thought I'd find the place wrecked, but that wasn't so. Indeed, it was
almost fully intact... except for the shelf that had housed the batteries. That had been
stripped clean...
'Quickly then, I tried the other shops, but to no avail.
'And so I returned to the open upper deck, but not before I'd taken socks and
shoes from a shop, a shirt and fresh coveralls from the laundry, and raided a refrigerator
in the Star's main dining room to stuff my pockets with food and a bottle of decent wine.
The power had been off for some time but the food was still good and cold.
'And still I'd seen no sign of my friend. So that I found myself wondering if he was
my friend after all... or anyone's friend, for that matter.
_
_
'I thought about using the Verey lights. Crazy! What good would it do to fire them off in
the daylight? And I doubted very much that I'd be able to do it at night... if I did it would
be the last thing I did! Anyway, I needed the Verey pistol as a weapon. Apart from a fire
axe, it was my only weapon.
'After eating I felt heavy and tired, from nervous exhaustion or whatever. And
anyway, I reckoned it would be a good idea to get as much sleep as I could right there
and then, for I had no idea how much I'd get later  dusk was only some three or four
hours away. But I did spend another hour looking for batteries without finding any. I
supposed that I might find some on the bridge... but after just a few seconds in there I
couldn't take any more. And now I knew what hell must look like.
'I climbed up to the exhaust baffle and opened a maintenance hatch in the lead
stack. I had been in there before, scaling out the flue between voyages. The burning
stench of greasy diesel residue was sickening, but with the engines at a standstill it was
just about bearable. I couldn't have gone in there when the ship was running; I would
have suffocated and fried in a matter of seconds. But these engines wouldn't ever be
running again. Not as long as the ship was parked on these rocks. There was a ledge in
there where I could even lie down, but not until I had to. Not until nightfall.
'And so I slept out on the collar, in the shade of the big exhaust array, while in the
west the sun slid down the sky...'
6
THE 'ENTERTAINMENT',
AND LEAVE IT TO THE MARINES
David Chung, ever the most nervous of the team, said, 'Ben, we have to get on.'
Glancing at his watch, Trask answered, 'We can spare a few more minutes. Let
him carry on.'
Lardis nodded and said, 'I agree. Let him get it right out of his system. And
anyway, if it's vampires you're after you'll need the night. It's like you said, Ben: with the
sun up, you'd have to hunt 'em down. But when the sun's down... they'll come looking
for you!' And winking encouragingly at the survivor, he prompted him: 'Nick?'
Rusu had gone from strength to strength. In the presence of men such as these
he felt safe for the first time in three long days and night. He was actually looking
around now, making eye contact, actually seeing people. One of Invincible's medics had
left a pack of cigarettes and a lighter on a table. After lighting up and taking a deep,
soothing drag, Rusu looked at Lardis, gave a curt, decisive nod, and continued where
he'd left off.
'So there I was asleep on the collar... until I heard this voice whispering, "Hey,
wake up!"
'I started awake and saw it was the other deckhand. He was up the maintenance
ladder, just his head and shoulders visible, and he was staring at me where I lay. I was
a little chilly and started shivering, and I could see by the length of the shadows that the
sun was almost down. Both myself and... and my former friend, we were covered by the
shadow of the exhaust array. And the way he was staring at me  all intent, and
unblinking  it was unnerving.
"'Where've you been?" I asked him. "Did you have to hide up or something? Did
you get trapped?"
"'Hide up?" he said, looking surprised. "Trapped?" And then he gave himself a
shake and seemed to come more alive. "Trapped, yes! Down below. But they didn't see
me, and I fell asleep waiting them out. Later, I couldn't find you. But then I remembered
where you came from this morning. And... and here you are." [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]