ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

“What will you do?” I asked.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I leaped, my heart pounding. He laughed.

I turned, expecting the WA police with guns, handcuffs, and nasty faces. Instead, I stood looking at an android, an exact copy of Him as He had been back at the laboratory. “It’s you!” I managed to say.

“I made it,” He said. “It is a different facet of the same jewel, another me, not just another android. It has all the abilities I have gathered through the steps of my transformation, but has them without making those same transformations itself.”

“But what purpose—”

Frankenstein, Frankenstein!

“To help mankind, as I told you, Jacob. Forget your Frankensteins. Yes, I have known what you’ve been thinking. Another ability of mine. But I certainly don’t hold anything against you. I couldn’t even if I should, because I have developed above the level of revenge and vendetta. Jacob, believe me, I only want to help mankind. I can use my powers to liberate each man’s brain so that it is one hundred percent operable as is mine. Every man can become a superman.”

“And develop into what you’ve become?”

“No, no, no. This is only a stage, Jacob, that a few android facets of me will have to undergo in order to produce more androids—a highly sophisticated form of budding. That’s how I created this other me. Man will always look like Man, but will now have abilities far beyond anything he ever dreamed of.”

I believed Him now. There was nothing else for me to do. “Then we’ll explain it to the police—”

“No, Jacob,” He said. “There will be a long, drawn-out fight before I am accepted by mankind. We have to play for more time.”

“How, for God’s sake!” I thought of the advancing troops.

“You’ll take this one with you and let them kill him. They’ll think they have finished off the menace of the Android-Who-Wouldn’t-Take-Orders. That will give me time enough.”

I stood, looking at the android who would die, the part of Him that was to be sacrificed. “One thing,” I said.

“What is that, Jacob?” He could read my mind and find out, but He was being polite and letting me have my speeches.

“What will we do for room? You’ll not only be making Man nearly immortal, but you’ll be flooding the world with replicas of yourself, with Doppelgängers. Where will we put everyone?”

“With his entire intellect at hand, with all of his brain open to use, Man will move out into the stars, Jacob. There are no limits any longer. There is more than enough room, Jacob. I saw to that.”

“You saw to it?”

“When I formed it, Jacob. When I created the universe.”

I choked, almost fell. The new android gripped me and grinned His old grin. I looked back to the blob of tissue pulsing before me. “You are trying to say that—”

“You had no idea how unusual my flesh was, did you, Jacob? It’s the flesh, Jacob. Sorry to break it to you so suddenly, but—as you know—there is so very little time. The soldiers are almost at the front door, by the way. You had better get my other self upstairs and let them kill him. I won’t let them do anything to you, Jacob. As soon as things are straightened out here, I’ll send one of my selves to you. I’ll always be with you.”

I turned and started up the stairs behind the android. My mind was spinning wildly, unable to settle on any orderly thought progression.

“And Jacob,” He said behind me. I turned. “Man will not be nearly immortal. He will be completely immortal. The time has come. There will soon be an end to death.”

We went upstairs into the living room. We walked to the door and threw it open, stepping onto the porch overlooking all that grand scenery. He walked down the steps into the snow, His arms outstretched, and they shot Him. Half a dozen marksmen opened fire. He jerked spasmodically, danced across the white carpet, and crashed to His face, blood pouring out of His body in twenty different places.

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Categories: Koontz, Dean