ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

I scurried about, flung open cupboard doors on all sides until, at the next to the last place to look, I found what I wanted. There was a lantern and a gallon can of kerosene, a box of matches. Even in this modern day and age, a generator had been known to break down. The ancient lantern would come in handy at such times. Besides, it helped preserve the illusion that those living in the cabins were roughing it; it was a conversation piece to show their friends when they came up for a weekend.

I took out the matches and the kerosene and hurried back into the living room. It occurred to me, as I went through the door between rooms, that the mother body might be waiting for me. Luckily, it was still concerned with getting itself in shape. Crossing toward it, I fired two more bullets into it to keep it busy, then opened the can of kerosene and poured the contents over the thing. It did not like the burning fluid and wriggled to get away from it. I stepped back a dozen feet, struck a big kitchen match on the side of the matchbox, and threw it onto the Hyde mother body.

The flames burst up like a crimson blossom.

The Hyde mother body stood on end, rippled up into a tower of flesh. It began attempting to change itself back into the android form, but could only half form the legs and arms and head of a humanoid creature. The mass pitched forward, writhing.

I fired the last two shots into it, got the other three bullets from my pocket, loaded, and used those too. The fire was intense, catching the wooden floor and curling away to the walls and ceiling. In a moment, the place would be an inferno. I went to the door and looked back. The Hyde mother body was considerably smaller. It seemed to be cracking apart, trying to separate itself from those parts already hopelessly destroyed by fire and bullets. But the flames closed in more relentlessly. At last, I went out into the night and boarded my sled, confident that the schizoid split of His personality had been rectified. Jekyll lived, back in Harry’s cellar. Hyde had been done away with. I started the sled and took it back up the slope, back to tell the Jekyll about our success.

I stopped outside the cabin, got out, leaving my guns.

I went up the steps, across the porch, into the living room.

The lights were still on.

“Congratulations,” He said.


“I read your mind, Jacob.”

“Of course,” I said. I would have to get used to that, have to learn to accept the fact that He knew what was going on inside my head every bit as well as I did.

“We can go ahead now. I have defeated myself and am free to proceed.”

“One thing,” I said. “I’m curious. When you have changed us, will we have the ability to read each other’s minds?”

“Yes,” He said.

“But what is that going to do to the world?”

“It will be difficult at first—”

I went down the cellar steps. “I would imagine!”

“But remember that your intellects will increase in every way. You will not merely receive new abilities and retain your old, more savage outlook on things. You will be able to learn to accept mind reading as a natural part of life.”

“The death of language,” I said, suddenly startled by this implication.

“That’s correct,” He said. “There will be a single, universal language, the telepathic language of the mind.”

I sat down on the steps.

“Come closer,” He said.

“What now?”

“What we have been fighting for, what we have been looking forward to. What you kidnapped me from the laboratory for. What we ran and hid for.”

I stood up and went to the pulsating mass of the Jekyll mother body, realized that I could drop the identifying tags now that the Hyde creatures had been destroyed. “I’m afraid,” I said, feeling a tinge of my old inferiority complex, “that I am just a little too dense to get your meaning.”

“It’s time,” He said.

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