ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

“I’ll try not to talk aloud,” I said.

“Very well.”

And there was silence again.

But what could you do when the omniscient was watching? When the omnipotent was about to make His move. But was He omniscient? No, that was doubtful. He had not shown any signs of knowing all that was going on and would go on. He was not omnipotent either, or He would not have been frightened off by the guard-bot. What had He said there in Harry’s cabin? He had denied that He was the immovable object, but had stated that He was the irresistible force. And that summed Him up quite well. Parts of Him could be killed. He could be temporarily defeated. But, in the end, He would win because He could tap the flow of life and return to fight again and again in other copies of Himself. So the answer to the question, “What can you do when God is out to get you,” was—”Nothing.”

No. Wait. There was one thing.

“Kill Him,” I said.

“Who?” the computer asked.

“Sorry. Thinking aloud.”

“I don’t mind. Passengers are my only—”

“Link to the outside,” I finished for it. Then we were both quiet again.

Kill Him. Yes, it was possible. Maybe. Perhaps. Possibly. I would have to go back to Cantwell, back to the mother body in the cellar of Harry’s cabin. I would have to go well enough armed to take Him out quickly and completely, so He had no chance to heal Himself. I would have to get near enough without arousing His suspicions, or without letting Him kill me. How? Well, I could think about that. I could work on it and come up with something.

Why? Why would I want to kill Him when I had gone to all that trouble to help Him? Why kill Him after I knew that He was God, and, therefore, the greatest force for good in the universe. Or was He? Who could state with assurance that this God was a benevolent one? Suddenly, I could see one instance in which He might wish to see me dead. Suppose He was not benevolent. Suppose He was not even God, as He claimed. Suppose, instead, He was what He logically appeared to be: a superior species, the first of its kind, able to reproduce in hours and at will. And suppose He would be more pleased in a world composed of his own kind. Suppose all those things, and you could not help but be a little frightened. If He were about to initiate a war against mankind, it would be quite sensible to destroy me before continuing, for I was the only one who knew His sanctuary, the only one who even partially understood what had happened to Him in the last several days.

We dipped through the clouds as a huge airliner roared into our traffic lane. The helicar bumped about in the turbulence of the other craft’s jets, then came up out of the clouds once more and leveled off, running out to sea.

So what could I do? Contact World Authority? Bring in the nukes and blast Cantwell and Harry’s cabin to hell-and-gone? At first, that seemed like the most intelligent thing to do. Then the longer I thought about it, the more stupid it appeared. How many android selves would He have circulating by this time? Enough, surely, to keep track of things to the extent that He would notice any sudden troop maneuvers, and be able to extrapolate their meaning. I reminded myself that each of His android selves had a rubber face that could be restructured in seconds. He could impersonate anyone. If He were out for world domination, He could have already moved His plastic-faded androids into WA positions of authority. He very likely had. And He would know of any proposed bombing strike. And even if the mother body were destroyed, any one of the android selves could metamorphose into another mother body. The only chance of working against Him, then, was to work in total secrecy. And that ruled out the WA.

I would have to go after the mother body itself. Maybe I could get into the cellar and talk with Him. He might let me in before killing me, just to please whatever sadistic streaks there were in Him. I could, at least, find out how many android selves there were, how many other facets of Him we would have to hunt down.

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Categories: Koontz, Dean