ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

“Wait a minute,” I said, grabbing Fenner by the arm and towing him to the wall at the edge of the roof, away from the landing pad where there was a busy rush of arriving and departing officers. “What the devil is going on? I thought I was in serious straits. They don’t issue bail to people in the maximum security cells.”

“You were put into maximum security only because the WA wanted to make a big issue of your apprehension. All of your crimes are bailable except assault with intent to kill. But I have talked with Justice Parnel.”

“And he reduced the charge?”

“Not only that. He withdrew his complaint altogether.”


“He dropped the charges.”

“I shoot a man, send him to the hospital for a week or two, and he drops the charges?” I shook my head. “What was his price?”

“You don’t buy the Justice Parnel!” Fenner said.

“Then who is your mutual relationship?”

“You insinuate that I deal illegally to get my clients lighter sentences?” His tone of voice had changed. It bordered on anger now, was tainted with a sour, ugly streak.

“Okay,” I said. “It was done honestly. But, Leonard, how in hell did you do it?”

He smiled and was his old, jovial self again. “I had a long talk with the Justice. I know his political leanings. I researched him well before I went to see him. I convinced him, without directly perjuring myself, that you had the same leanings and that your stealing the android that had been condemned to destruction was a manifestation of your political beliefs. I told him that I could not reveal all the circumstances behind the decision to destroy the android and behind your decision to rescue Him, but Justice Parnel was speaking warmly of you when I departed. He understood your ideals behind the theft, understood you thought he was a WA trooper about to shoot you when you returned fire. It was enough, I guess.” He shrugged his shoulders.

“You’re fantastic,” I told him.

“Never. Just thorough. Now, can I drop you someplace in my copter?”

“At the Cul-de-sac. Grid 40I. You know it?”

“Best French restaurant in town,” he said. “Of course, I know it. We lawyers are not necessarily slobs.”

At the Cul-de-sac, the maitre d’ gave me a corner table in a dark section of the main room and left me to the top-heavy, young blonde waitress who gave me a menu, requested my wine order, asked if I wanted a drink of any sort, and went away to get my Whiskey Sour while I perused the menu. All in all, it was a delightful meal, and I managed not to think about anything but the taste of the food—and whether or not the young blonde’s blouse-bulging attributes were real or silicone-induced. I had no compunction against marrying a girl with chemically-created allurements, so long as they were indistinguishable from the real thing. As far as I could tell, these were. I played a game with myself, trying to decide whether or not I should ask her to marry me. I listed what I could see of her faults and her virtues. In the end, I decided to come back in a day or two and look the merchandise over again.

Outside, in the corridor, I boarded a pedwalk, one of the faster ones, and rode it a block and a half to a Bubble Drop station. There, I got off, moved through the turnstile, and onto the drop platform. The destination keyboard slid quickly down in front of me. I keyed my address in less than five seconds, then walked forward and sat down in the hard plastic seat that had slid in front of me. Attached to the bottom of the seat were the compressed air cylinders. A moment later, the chair moved into the tunnel, through the bubbling foyer where it moved over a discharge vent that blew the plastic around me in a teardrop. The plastic hardened instantly, and I shot forward into the sucking wind of the tunnel, pulled by the constant currents kept in operation there and also propelled by my own cylinders. At the hundreds of crossroads where tube slashed through tube, I sped by Bubbles going opposite ways, sped across the intersections inches ahead of them, saw others zip behind me, missing me by millimeters. The computer routed perfectly, but it was still a bit difficult to sit and watch the journey in a Bubble Drop tubeway.

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Categories: Koontz, Dean