Authors: Jeff Lindsay
Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Horror, #Suspense, #Adult, #Politics
For Hilary, as always
It is impossible to write in a vacuum. The air for this book was provided by Bear, Pookie, and Tink. My gratitude to Jason Kaufman and his aide de camp, Caleb, for their enormous help in shaping the manuscript.
And as ever, special thanks to Nick Ellison, who made it all happen.
IN THE BEGINNING
T REMEMBERED A SENSE OF SURPRISE, AND THEN FALLING,
but that was all. Then IT just waited.
IT waited a very long time, but IT could wait easily because there was no memory and nothing had screamed yet. And so IT did not know IT was waiting. IT did not know it was anything at that point. IT just was, with no way to mark time, with no way even to have the idea of time.
So IT waited, and IT watched. There was not a great deal to see at first; fire, rocks, water, and eventually some little crawly things, which began to change and get bigger after a while. They didn’t do very much except to eat each other and reproduce. But there was nothing to compare that to, so for a while that was enough.
Time passed. IT watched as the big things and the little things killed and ate one another aimlessly. There was no real joy in watching that, since there was nothing else to do and there were plenty more of them. But IT didn’t seem able to do anything but watch. And so IT began to wonder: Why am I watching this?
IT could see no real point to anything that happened and there was nothing IT could do, and yet there IT was, watching. IT thought about this a very long time, but came to no conclusions. There was still no way to think any of this through; the whole idea of purpose wasn’t quite there yet. There was just IT and them.
There were lots of them, more all the time, busily killing and eating and copulating. But there was only one of IT, and IT did none of those things, and IT began to wonder why that was, too. Why was IT different? Why was IT so unlike everything else? What was IT, and if IT actually was something, was IT supposed to do something, too?
More time passed. The countless changing crawly things slowly got bigger and better at killing each other. Interesting at first, but only because of the subtle differences. They crawled, hopped, and slithered to kill one another—one actually flew through the air to kill. Very interesting—but so what?
IT began to feel uncomfortable with all this. What was the point? Was IT supposed to be a part of what IT watched? If not, then why was IT here watching?
IT became determined to find the reason IT was here, whatever that was. So now when IT studied the big things and the little things, IT studied the ways IT was different from them. All the other things needed to eat and drink or they died. And even if they ate and drank, they eventually died anyway. IT didn’t die. IT just went on and on. IT didn’t need to eat or drink. But gradually IT became aware that IT did need…something—but what? IT could feel that somewhere there was a need, and the need was growing, but IT could not tell what it was; there was just the sense that something was missing.
No answers came as ages of scales and egg clutches paraded by. Kill and eat, kill and eat. What is the point here? Why do I have to watch all this when I can’t do anything about it? IT began to feel just a little bit sour about the whole thing.
And then suddenly one day there was a brand-new thought: Where did I come from?
IT had figured out long ago that the eggs the others hatched from came from copulation. But IT had not come from an egg. Nothing at all had copulated to bring IT into existence. There had been nothing there to copulate when IT first became aware. IT had been there first and, seemingly, forever, except for the vague and disturbing memory of falling. But everything else had been hatched or born. IT had not. And with this thought the wall between IT and them seemed to grow vastly higher, stretching up impossibly tall, separating IT from them completely and eternally. IT was alone, completely alone forever, and that hurt. IT wanted to be a part of something. There was only one of IT—shouldn’t there be a way for IT to copulate and make more, too?
And that began to seem infinitely more important, that thought: MORE of IT. Everything else made more. IT wanted to make more, too.
It suffered, watching the mindless things in their roiling riotous living. Resentment grew, turned into anger, and finally the anger turned into rage toward the stupid, pointless things and their endless, inane, insulting existence. And the rage grew and festered until one day IT couldn’t stand it any longer. Without a pause to think what IT was doing, IT rose up and rushed at one of the lizards, wanting somehow to crush it. And a wonderful thing happened.
IT was inside the lizard.
Seeing what the lizard saw, feeling what it felt.
For a long while IT forgot rage altogether.
The lizard did not appear to notice it had a passenger. It went about its business of killing and copulating, and IT rode along. It was very interesting to be on board when the lizard killed one of the littler ones. As an experiment, IT moved into one of the little ones. Being in the one that killed was far more fun, but not enough to lead to any real purposeful ideas. Being in the one that died was very interesting and did lead to some ideas, but not very happy ones.
IT enjoyed these new experiences for a while. But although IT could feel their simple emotions, they never went beyond confusion. They still didn’t notice IT, didn’t have any idea that—well, they simply didn’t have any idea. They didn’t seem capable of having an idea. They were just so limited—and yet they were alive. They had life and didn’t know it, didn’t understand what to do with it. It didn’t seem fair. And soon IT was bored once more, and growing angry all over again.
And finally one day the monkey things started to show up. They didn’t seem like much at first. They were small and cowardly and loud. But one tiny difference finally caught IT’s attention: they had hands that let them do some amazing things. IT watched as they became aware of their hands, too, and began to use them. They used them for a great variety of brand-new things: masturbating, maiming one another, and taking food from the smaller of their own kind.
IT was fascinated and watched more closely. IT watched them hit each other and then run away and hide. IT watched them steal from one another, but only when no one was looking. IT watched them do horrible things to each other and then pretend that nothing had happened. And as IT watched, for the first time, something wonderful happened: IT laughed.
And as IT laughed, a thought was born, and grew into clarity wrapped in glee.
IT thought: I can work with this.
HAT KIND OF MOON IS THIS?
OT THE BRIGHT, GLEAMING
moon of slashing happiness, no indeed. Oh, it pulls and whines and shines in a cheap and guttering imitation of what it should do, but there is no edge to it. This moon has no wind in it to sail carnivores across the happy night sky and into slash-and-slice ecstasy. Instead this moon flickers shyly through a squeaky-clean window, onto a woman who perches all cheerful and perky on the edge of the couch and talks about flowers, canapés, and Paris.
Yes, with moon-faced seriousness, Paris is what she is talking about in that far-spreading syrupy tone. She is talking about Paris. Again.
So what kind of moon can this possibly be, with its near-breathless smile and smirking lace around the edges? It batters feebly at the window, but it can’t quite get in past all the sickly-sweet warbling. And what kind of Dark Avenger could simply sit across the room, as poor Dazed Dexter does now, pretending to listen while mooning blearily on his chair?