ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

I was a mile from Harry’s cabin, passing some cabins on the first level, when it happened. As I was coming up a long slope, the unlighted cabin off to my right, a white-tailed deer pranced over the brow of the hill and stood looking around. He had not spotted me, but I was certain he would in seconds. Instead, he died in an instant while I watched. Out of the ground, on all sides of him, a shimmering pink-tan sheath of jelly-like substance rose into the air like tentacles of some sea beast, The deer jumped, squealed, and tried to run. The tentacles collapsed on him, dragging him down into the snow. He thumped about for a few moments, trying to shake this hoary sheath, and was still at last.

Not tentacles, I thought—pseudopods. Like the extensions of His new form that anchored Him to the walls in Harry’s basement.

I stopped the sled twenty feet from the dead deer. I could see the amoeba-like flesh wriggling over the animal, breaking it down and devouring it. Could He have grown this large? Could He have extended Himself out of the cellar to the distance of a mile and more? And if He had extended Himself through the earth of this part of the park, wouldn’t He be certain to know that I was on my way?

Again, I wanted to turn around. I had no weapons but a pin gun and a heavy projectile rifle, both purchased at that sporting-goods store. They were pitiful weapons indeed, when you thought of facing something like Him with them. Before I could give in to the part of me that wished to run, I slammed down on the accelerator and moved forward, around the deer that was all but dissolved by now. Five minutes later. I stopped in front of the cabin and looked at the dark windows and wondered what was behind them, watching me . . .

I took the two guns out of the sled, prepared them both for firing, and went up the front porch steps. There was no use being quiet, I decided. I pushed open the door, which had never been relocked after our capture, and went into the dark livingroom.

“You can put the guns down, Jacob,” He said from the cellar. “I badly need your help.”


I stood still, wondering whether I should try charging into the cellar. But for what purpose? I dropped the guns and walked to the cellar steps. “What help?” I asked.

“There have been complications.”

I looked down into the darkness, into the cold, ice-walled hole which was His home, and I tried to keep from thinking about the shapeless thing that rested down there. “What complications?” I asked.

“Come down. We have much to talk about, the two of us. Come down here where we can do it more easily.”

“No,” I said.

“What?” He sounded perplexed, as if He did not know what I was talking about, could not fathom why I would refuse Him.

“Why did you try to kill me?” I asked.

“It was not me.”

“I saw you,” I said. “You knew me by name. You even read my mind.”

“That is what I want to talk to you about. Come down.”

“You’ll kill me.”

“And I could just as easily kill you where you are standing,” He said. “There would be no necessity to have you in the cellar to kill you. Now quit this nonsense and come down here. You know damn well I would not harm you.”

It did not make sense. If it had not been Him, who had it been in the tubeways? I had seen the creature chasing me, had seen the face—and the feet that had changed into tough plates to trod down the sensory cilia. That had not been my imagination. I had the cuts and bruises to prove it had all really happened. Yet, somehow, and for some unknown reason, I believed Him now. He would not kill me. Surely, He was as good as He said. I opened the cellar door and went down the steps, turning the light on when I passed the switch.

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Categories: Koontz, Dean