ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

It was decided by the project directors, who sit behind large desks with nothing to do but decide things they know absolutely nothing about, to junk the project and disassemble—disassemble: that’s just the word the idiots used!—the first android, partly because of His ability to increase Man’s lifespan (after scientists had been working frantically to hold it down to eighty-five, after World Authority Secret Police had liquidated countless researchers who were trying to lick the immortality secret on the sly in private laboratories), and mostly because it was frightening for the military to face a superhuman who could evolve Himself, who could adapt His body, given sufficient time, to the optimum efficiency. They saw Him as a potential threat, not as a tool by which men could learn and grow. They didn’t even want to know how He was able to restructure Himself. They just wanted to “disassemble” as completely and swiftly as possible, striking all knowledge of the project from the records.

That same night, I kidnapped Him.

Don’t ask my why. If we had to explain ourselves, life would be one constant flow of words, and still the angels would shake their heads in dissatisfaction. I guess it had to do with seeing Him revive men I had left for dead. That shakes a physician, believe me. I just could not allow those marvelous hands or the mind that made them to be broken down into pseudo-flesh components, smashed and burned in modern witchcraft. It was as if Picasso had been standing by when the drunken SS troops destroyed priceless paintings on Paris museum walls with the points of their bayonets. What was there to do but act?

I went to the lab that night, woke Him, told Him the situation, and left with Him. I had the keys to the lab, keys to His quarters, and the guards thought nothing of my coming and going. They thought nothing of me taking Him with me, for they had never seen Him, had no way of knowing He was more than just another doctor or technician. The laboratory remained peaceful. Until the next morning.

That had been a week ago. We had been running ever since.


Now, in the bathroom of the world-circling commercial rocket miles above the western edge of the old United States, He removed His shirt and stood before me, a magnificent specimen, all muscle and no fat He had developed a new tissue-building process, He told me, by which all food material not used for energy was converted into a new sort of muscle fiber which dissolved as easily as fat when needed to produce energy, though the body- did not have to suffer the burden of useless tissue when it was not needed. The wound on His right shoulder was an inch or so deep and three to four inches long. It had stopped bleeding, though no scab or clotting seemed to have formed. I guess He stopped the blood, though I don’t know exactly how.

“It’ll need stitches,” I said, spreading the sides of it and surveying the torn flesh. It wasn’t pretty at all, and it had a faintly bluish tinge that I could not identify except as a bruise, which it was not. “I can do a rough stitching with what I have in my bag, but-”

“No,” He said. “I’m completing new systems.”


“I’ll be able to speed heal myself in another half hour.”

“You serious?” Sometimes I am exceedingly dense.

“That’s why I said you did not have to bother.”

I swallowed, let the wound go. The flesh snapped back into place as if it were made of rubber. “I see.”

He put His arm on my shoulder, and we had quite suddenly exchanged roles so that He was the father image, I the son. Again I wondered how the terror of the interns had come to this low point. There was paternal concern in His stabbing blue eyes, a faint, anxious smile playing about His thin, red lips. “I still need you, Jacob. I’ll always need someone to talk to, someone who understands me. You’re such a part of me now that our relationship can never cease to be a vibrant one.”

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Categories: Koontz, Dean