ANTI-MAN by Dean R. Koontz

He must have been employed by World Authority in some capacity, for he could not otherwise have possessed a weapon. But I had worked for World Authority too. I drew my narcodart pistol and sprayed him with six low-velocity pins in the legs where the bulky coat could not deflect them. He staggered, went down on his knees. He plucked at the darts, then realized it was too late for that; the drugs they contain, chiefly Sodium Pentothal, react much too fast to be torn free. He was a big man, and he was fighting the drowsiness as best he could, though it was just a matter of time until he would be out of action. I fired again, fast, but before he passed out, he managed to get in a weak but audible call for help. It echoed through the Alaskan night.

I opened the front door of the taxi and grabbed Him by the elbow to usher Him in. A spatter of pins broke across the roof, inches from my face, ricocheting away like little slivers of light. The gunman had been trying for the back of my neck but had misjudged and fired slightly to the left. I whirled, searched the taxi stalls for the gunman.

Ping, ping, ping . . . Another burst rattled over the roof of the car, nowhere near us this time.

“I saw movement to the right,” He said, crouching with me. “Back there by that blue and yellow two-seater.” He had drawn His own dart pistol, one He had “procured” in that sports shop where we had gotten the arctic gear, lifting it and an ammunition clip from the shelf while I distracted the clerk with our big order. “Do you see which one I mean?”


“Perhaps I should—”

“Wait here,” I said, lying on my stomach and slithering along the retaining wall, keeping under the cars parked there, working my way toward the vehicle He had pointed out. There was a hard-packed layer of snow on the lot and my front side nearly froze as I slithered over it. Now and then, the snow was melted into slush where a warm taxi engine had rested near it. I felt absurd, like some cheap movie actor, but I was also afraid, which blotted out any embarrassment I might otherwise have felt. Fear can work miracles. I had hitched my star to His. If they caught us now, before He had finished His revolutionary evolution, I had no idea what they might do to me.

Behind me, He stood and fired a barrage toward our enemy, drew an answering hail for His trouble. That helped me pinpoint the location of our gunman. I moved cautiously, trying to make as little noise as possible. Still, my shoes dragged on the snow and the pavement and gave off little scraping noises that carried well in the cold air.

I circled around him, always beneath taxis except for the short spaces between them when I had to wriggle across three or four feet of exposed territory. When I had gone a row beyond him, I came out in the open and moved in on his rear. I slid along behind a limousine taxi for large parties until I felt I was directly behind his position. Raising my head carefully—narcodarts could blister and scar delicate facial tissues, puncture an eye and sink into the vulnerable brain—I looked around. Our target was a Port guard in World Authority uniform. I could not tell whether he had recognized us as the first man had or whether he was shooting just because he had seen me take out the other fellow. Either way, I had to stop him. I stepped out into the open and aimed at his buttocks.

I must have made some noise, for he turned in the last second, almost lost his balance on the slippery surface.

I struck him with a dozen pins, and he toppled to the left, grasping at the taxi. For a moment, it appeared that he was going to make a valiant effort to rise and return my fire. Then he slid noisily to the pavement and laid still, breathing softly.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65

Categories: Koontz, Dean