[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.It was true.Something was happening all right.To him and the other Deadenders.Only not the kind of something you could make into an even passably digestible novel because no one would buy it.He didn’t buy it himself.What he did buy was the possibility that the cancer had spread from his liver to his brain and he was just climbing aboard the nonstop Super Chief to Wacky Land to join Porky in the hunt for the last of the Dodos.Not the worst way of dying, maybe.Only you aren’t dying, are you? Not anymore.You know it and Maser knows it.He just won’t admit what he can’t explain—won’t risk making himself look professionally inept…you know fussy ole Maze, always had to be the right one, just as Scroogie always had to be the rich one and Shivers always had to be the one in the spotlight.And let’s not leave out curvaceous little Laurie Seasons while we’re at it—Laurie Seasons of the bright eyes and “exotic” mind, who was more than just your first, loverboy--she was your best! Let’s get it all out in the open here, put all our hard-ons on the table, so to speak…“Allie is a wonderful lover,” Richard whispered to himself in the dark.…yeah, great tits, faithful to the end--but no Laurie, face it—no wild little Laurie-I’ll-Do-Anything-Seasons…none of them were ever like her…Richard sat there in the dark two feet from his sleeping wife feeling a million miles away and completely alone in the Universe.“Maybe,” he nodded at the silent room, “maybe…”…right…so why don’t you call her…?“She’s probably married,” Richard muttered with the voice of an automaton, face blank as the black pane of glass before him, “probably got kids…”…and probably sick of the whole thing and—knowing our Laurie—bored out of her sexy mind…why don’t you call her, Richo…you know you want to…It’s late, Richard thought.…which means hubby will be asleep…Just shut-up, huh? Just crawl back into your little Id hole and stop bothering me!Besides, I don’t have her number.…that’s why God made phone books, chicken-shit…Leave me alone.…lying over there in her own dark bedroom right now, probably…her husband’s back turned, snoring keeping her awake…thinking about the day…or maybe the old days…maybe thinking of you, sport…right this second…Richard found himself turning to the bedside nightstand, the barely discernable outline of the phone atop it.The old kind--with a rotary dialer--like the one he used to talk to Laurie with.What would he say after all these years…?As he sat staring quietly at it, the phone rang loudly in the dark.He flinched, heart crashing.Jesus!--and before it could cut the silence a second time—wake up Allie—he grabbed out and fumbled the receiver from the hook.“–yes, hello--?”“Richard?”He became aware he’d actually placed his palm against his crashing heart as if to still it.“Who is this?”“It’s Scroogie.Did I--you sound like you’re still up.”Richard had to take a deep breath to keep the shaking out of his voice.“What’s the matter, John? You sound weird.You been drinking?”Silence for a moment—Scroogie getting his own winded breath, or had he hung up?“Scroogie? You drunk?”“Rich, have you seen it?”“What? Seen what?”More silence, and now Richard could hear his friend’s distant heavy breathing—frightened breathing—as if he were holding the mouthpiece away from his mouth to cover it.“It was here, Rich! It was just here!”What? Richard started to say—wanted to say—but he knew well enough.A chill snake tracked his spine to raise gooseflesh across his shoulders.“Scroogie—you’ve had a little too much tonight, haven’t you, pal?”Not bothering to cover his panting breath now: “I did a terrible thing, Rich! A terrible thing!”“Calm down, now.What happened?”“I heard it…just like you said.It came across the backyard…got in the garage side door somehow! I could hear it coming across the foyer but I was too scared to move! When I got to the stairs I started to wake Sally—but then I thought, what if it gets her! And what about the kids!”“Scroogie, slow down, I can hardly understand you—““It came into the bedroom, Rich! Sat there at the foot of our bed, looking at me with those…those red eyes! God, the stink of it!”“Scroogie, it was only a dream…”“Huh-uh,” Scroogie agreed limply, voice trailing now, falling apart with fear, “sure, Richo…you and me and Shiv, the same dream—I don’t think so! The thing is real!”“Look…turn on all the lights, Scrooge…call the police if it’ll make you feel better—““Rich, I’m sorry!” sounding far away now, as if his head were turned from the mouthpiece, craning around in anticipation of something, “I did a terrible thing!”“Keep your voice down, you’re going to wake Sally…”“It wanted to know, Rich! Which one of us did it! I was so scared! It would have killed me if I hadn’t told it something! It would have eaten me! Maybe eaten my kids too! I-I tried to bargain with the thing! Reason with it! It wanted a name! I…oh God, forgive me Rich…”“Scroogie—““—I sent it to you!”Richard froze.He knew a wave of terror so visceral that he saw himself actually passing out from it, falling from the bed—falling lazily to the bedroom carpet as if in a dream—and was amazed to find he hadn’t, that he was still sitting there in bed clutching the phone instead, every inch of his skin clammy and vibrating.Like that time at Aunt Thelma’s when the family was staying over at Christmas and everybody got the flu and got chills and fever and then the vomiting began all over the house and he, Rich, was the last to get it, he stood around and watched the others get sick one by one but he was the last and by the time he did Mom was already feeling better and the others were laughing there in the underwear and pajamas on Christmas eve and he started to laugh too but then the chills hit him hit him hard and the fever and the rising rush of nausea and—“Rich, are you there? Did you hear me? It’s got your name! You gotta get outta the house, Rich! You and Allie both! Get outta the house now!! It’s coming to you! Rich, it’s—“The line went dead.* * *Dead.As in: no dial tone.As in: maybe no power.Richard sat there on the edge of the bed with the lifeless lifeline in his hand, suddenly unable to get the recurring scene from a movie out of his strangely ringing skull; that scene in Jaws when the shark attacks Quint’s little fishing boat at night—bang-banging at the hull until water squirts through the boards—and the cabin goes abruptly dark and Roy Scheider says: “He ate the light.”Okay.Okay, calm down.That’s what you just advised Scroogie, right? Scroogie.Who was anything but calm tonight and maybe anything but rational after another of his nightmares—okay, another of all their nightmares.Richard reached over at the dim outline of nightstand phone and, after a couple of rattling misses, found the hook and hung it up.Then he reached further, fumbled around for the Chinese lamp, found and pulled the switch.Dead.Okay.Okay, stay calm.Do not panic.The power is out, that’s all.The wind had been kicking up before they went to bed, even Allie had commented on it--not unusual in gusty old Kansas for the wind to kick up and the power to be knocked out for a few hours.Kansas knew its way around wind and tornados as well as California knew its way around earthquakes.The thing to do was stay calm, chill out [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]