ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

I had planned, once we seemed free of our tails in San Francisco, to stay at the cabin a few months, knowing Harry rarely came in the wintertime, his carousing saps apparently low until the rebirth of spring. But now that we had been spotted in Cantwell, our time would be severely cut short. Three days would be stretching it some. “Well,” I said, trying to sound as confident as possible under the circumstances, “the first thing they are going to do is check monorail and low-altitude air traffic records to see whether we transferred to some other system and left Cantwell—which is what they will be expecting. We have been running for seven days, skipping from port to port, and there is no reason for them to presume that we have suddenly changed our operating procedure. When they find that we did not leave by other means, they’ll go over the travel records of our taxi and the three decoys I dispatched with every electronic wonder instrument in the Investigation Bureau bag. They won’t find much. We can count on that, at least. They’ll see maybe thirty or forty trip records from those four taxis that departed the Port at the same general time. In minutes, they’ll be down to the four that are important. True, one of those records will show that someone came to the park, but that will be expected to be a tourist’s taxi, or one belonging to someone who rents one of these cabins. Even if it’s narrowed down farther, the taxi will show that it came to the park and then followed a random pattern. That should arouse their suspicions. It will present the possibility that we jumped out of the cab somewhere along that impromptu route. So we should have a day or two days before they start thoroughly investigating the park. They might think to do it earlier, but they’ll put it off until last, because it is such a damnably big job.”

“I’m interested in the food,” He said.

“What do you mean?”

“I hope there’ll be a lot of it. I’m going to need it to get energy for the changes I’m making in myself.”

“Big changes?” I asked.

He grinned again. ,”Just wait, Jacob. Just wait.”

I pulled my mask back up and worked my jaw to unstiffen it. He did not bother to replace His mask. The cold no longer bothered Him. He had adapted to it . . .


We left the road when I judged we were nearing the fork that would reveal to us the first ranger station and tourist information bureau. Getting over the plowed snowbanks at the edge of the road proved even more difficult than it looked, and it looked quite difficult indeed. Somehow, we clambered through, damp and disheveled when we came out into the snowy, but more or less open fields,

I had only been in the park three times before, all three back when I had been an intern and Harry had given me the keys and wished me luck with whatever nurse had recently fallen for my limited charms and unlimited line. Admittedly, an unusual act of friendship for a hospital staff director to show to a lowly intern, but then Harry was the one who had gotten me interested in medicine back when I was still toddling around in wet pants (he had given me a doctor play kit), the one who took care of me after my mother and father were killed in one of the early intercontinental rocket flights, the one who had seen that I prepared for and was accepted by the best medical school in the country. Our relationship at City General, then, was bound to be somewhat unorthodox. Harry never made my internship easy, understand. It was only socially that he treated me kindly; in the hospital I was as gruffly handled as the rest, perhaps even more so. I wondered what Harry thought of me now. Then the brush grew denser, the snow deeper and more heavily drifted, and there was not time for thinking about anything but breaking through into open country.

He moved ahead now, breaking a path with His larger bulk, kicking the drifts apart and forging on like a flesh tank or a large, thick-skinned jungle animal that has never met the immovable object. Thorn vines snagged our suits and held us up, but I was confident we could make the cabin by morning. It was only a matter of keeping a steady pace, even a somewhat cautious one hampered by drifts and thorns. In time, we came out into fields and stopped for a breather, though He would not have required one. I checked the compass, which had a luminous face, and looked at the softly glowing map I had brought out of my wallet. The background of the map was a gently shimmering green, the various lines and grids either crimson or orange or white. At arms length, it somewhat resembled an old-fashioned psychedelic light show. “Straight across that field,” I said. “And we had better break out the snowshoes.”

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Categories: Koontz, Dean