ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

Silence, but for the hissing.


Hissing . . .

I looked over the snow fields, searching for movement, almost wishing I would see some, so that I would not feel as utterly useless as I did now. But there was nothing out there—just whiteness and coldness and wind.

Then the hissing ceased, and there were footsteps on the stairs. I sighed with relief, for I knew the Hyde mother body could not walk. It had to be my Jekyll android coming back. Or … The thought came to me like a grenade exploding in front of my face. Or: the Hyde android, the one who had shot at me, and who had broken into my apartment, the one who had chased me through the tubeways of the Bubble Drop system . . . The Hyde android might have been down there when the mother body was destroyed through the Jekyll’s chain reaction in its molecular structure. The Hyde may have been waiting for the Jekyll. And, now that the fight was over, it could be either of them coming up those stairs . . .


For an eternity, for eons and eons, the footsteps sounded on the cellar stairs, rising slowly toward me. My hands trembled, so that the rifle would not remain steady, and I was sweating although there was no heat in the cabin. Frantically, I tried to think of some way to differentiate between the benevolent Jekyll android and the malevolent Hyde. They looked exactly the same, were of the same height and the same weight. Undoubtedly, they would walk the same, sound the same, gesture in the exact same way. There was only one thing . . . I would never forget the difference in their eyes. The eyes of the Hyde android were wild, rimmed with white all around, open wider than the eyes of the Jekyll android.

Then the cellar door pushed open wider, and an android entered the room. In the shadows, I could not see its eyes . . .

“It wasn’t quite dead,” the android said. “I finished it off.”

“Wait a minute,” I managed to say, my words hoarse and dry in my throat.

The android stopped, a dozen feet from me, still hidden by the shadows of the room. A swath of moonlight cut through a window and fell four feet in front of it, but where it now stood was in total blackness. “What’s the matter, Jacob?”

“I’m not sure about you,” I said, holding the rifle on it, my hands shaking, but my finger ready on the trigger.

“Not sure?” He started forward.


He stopped. “Jacob, I don’t understand what you’re saying. It’s me. I’m not going to hurt you. The Hyde mother body is dead. Down there in the cellar. You want to go down and take a look? You want to prove it to yourself?”

“I’m sure the mother body is dead,” I said. “But how can I know if the Hyde android was also down there— and that maybe it defeated the Jekyll android I came with?”

“You think I’m the Hyde android? The one that chased you through the tubeways?”

“That’s right.”

He laughed and started forward, holding out His hands. He took two steps casually, then, as He was about to step into the swath of moonlight where I would be able to see His eyes, He leaped.

Unsteady as I was, I managed to fire the rifle and score a hit. The sound of the explosion in the room was like a thunderclap in a closet. The windows rattled, and my ears popped. The bullet must have ripped through His left shoulder, for He spun around like a top, clutching at it with His other hand, and went down in a heap. His fingers scrabbled at the baseboard as He tried to pull Himself up. I backed away from Him, until I was up against the doorsill. “You are Hyde, aren’t you?”

Despite the wound, He got to His feet and stood swaying, looking at me with eyes that were now plainly in view in the swath of moonlight. Mad, wild, ugly eyes. He did not answer me. He did not have to.

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Categories: Koontz, Dean