ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

Problem: He can read my mind. So He knows when I come in the cellar that I have a means of destroying Him. And He will not let me do it. And even if I manage to kill Him, I will very likely kill myself without being able to transmit information about the other android selves. In effect, I would not hurt Him at all.

“I must make a turn,” the dash computer said. “If we continue out to sea, we will enter another traffic pattern not controlled by the New York central.”

“Okay,” I said.

We turned, gracefully, easily, moving back.

“Could we go under the clouds now?” I asked.


We went down. Below the cover, the snow had picked up as I thought it might have. The wipers came back on, though I would have preferred to let the snow cover the glass, and there was no driver to require a clear view.

I had reached a dead end. There was no way to stop Him. All that was left was to wait for Him to kill me, or give up trying and launch His attack on civilization with, perhaps, a hundred mother bodies producing warriors.

I had never been so depressed in my life. Not only was the situation hopeless, but I had helped to make it so. And, to make my position worse, I could not share the problem with anyone else without making them as paranoid and depressed as I. There was no help anywhere.

“Take me to the Manhattan Colossus,” I said to the computer. The Colossus was the best hotel in the city, but I felt as if I wanted to splurge tonight.

“Destination acknowledged,” the computer said.

The snow beat at us, swept by the car, whirled and eddied around the corners of the windscreen.

We settled on the roof of the Colossus, and I fumbled my credit card out of my wallet, slipped it in the payment slot. When the central computer checked with the main banking computer for the city and discovered my card was good, it popped it back out to me and opened the doors so I could get out. I stepped onto the tarmac, carrying my overnight case, and had to fend off three human bellboys who wanted to heft it for me. I don’t mind giving tips, but I despise being treated like a cripple, or a weakling who can’t manage a single case without assistance. I went to the elevator, dropped down to the first reception desk on the 109th floor, and checked in under my own name.

In my room, I stripped, showered, and fell into bed. I did not know whether I could sleep or not. How does a man sleep when he knows the world may crash down around him at any moment? Somehow, I drifted to the very edge of awareness, ready to slip away into darkness, when the room phone rang. I reached out and picked it up.

“Yes?” I said sleepily.

“Jacob . . .”

It was His voice. I hung up.

A moment later, the phone rang again. I could not help myself. I answered it.

“Jacob, I know where you are,” He said. “I know just exactly where you are.”


His face glared up at me from the screen of the phone. He was grinning. It was not the warm, winning grin that I had seen so many times before, but a twisted, unnatural thing that made me feel cold and afraid. He winked at me, then reached out to a panel below His screen and dropped His receiver into the cradle. The picture blinked off. The call was completed. Numb, I hung up too.

I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling, and the patterns of holes in the acoustical tile. It was possible, if you thought hard enough, to see all sorts of things in those patterns. I could make out the face of an ape in one square. Another, tilted at a slightly different angle, revealed a pair of eyes, staring wide, with a subtle look of uncertainty. Suddenly, I shoved to the edge of the bed and got up. He knew where I was, dammit. He would be coming for me. There was nothing to do but get out of there. Sure, I could not run from Him forever. He would find me sooner or later. But no man likes to die. And, I thought, if I could just gain some time, I might think of something, something to do to get to Him. Maybe it was a false hope, a dream, but it was one I would have to hold on to if I were to keep my sanity . . .

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Categories: Koontz, Dean