Read Odd Thomas: You Are Destined to Be Together Forever Online

Authors: Dean Koontz

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Suspense, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #One Hour (33-43 Pages), #Fiction

Odd Thomas: You Are Destined to Be Together Forever (3 page)

BOOK: Odd Thomas: You Are Destined to Be Together Forever
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The ceiling joists creaked and shuddered. Cracks appeared in the plaster overhead, from which a powdery debris rained down upon us. Within the walls of the room, the studs groaned as though they might buckle under some tremendous weight, and underfoot the floor began to thrum, so that I thought the room might implode upon us.

Kurt’s angry spirit, a poltergeist of singular power unique in my experience, whirled like a tornado, careening around the debris-littered bedroom, vanishing into—and reappearing out of—the walls. He passed through the door, and when an instant later he rushed back into the bedroom, he split the door in two. The portion on hinges swung open, and the other half crashed to the floor.

None of us needed prompting. We rushed across the fallen half of the door, into the upstairs hallway, and sprinted toward the stairs. Retreating from a poltergeist is not cowardly any more than running with the bulls in Pamplona is courageous; the former is an act of reasoned prudence, and the latter is foolishness bordering on lunacy. I am pleased to report that, in my haste to escape Kurt’s wrathful spirit, I only
muscling ahead of the three women, but in fact followed them through the door, down the stairs, and out of the house. Chivalry lives.

We departed by the front door and reached the yard in time to hear what sounded like second-floor windows exploding at the back of the house and a shower of glass raining upon the porch roof there. The thump-bang-rattle of Kurt’s postmortem temper tantrum continued in our absence, though I hoped that in spite of his singular power, he would be unable to follow us. Having initiated its frenzied destruction, the average poltergeist thrashes mindlessly until exhausted, whereupon it wanders off into whatever purgatorial zone serves as its retreat between our world and the next, perhaps for a while as confused as any living person with advanced dementia.

Roberta’s trembling right hand spidered across her face as if she expected to discover bleeding lacerations, and when she found nothing, she wrapped her pale bruised arms around herself, shivering as if the Mojave were as cold as the Alaskan tundra. “It’s him,” she said. “Ain’t no way it’s anythin’ else.”

“Him who?” Kristen asked. “What’re you talking about?”

“I chopped him with the cleaver, so he come back for revenge.”

“Came back from the dead?” Kristen said. “I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“I believe in what I seen,” Roberta insisted.

“There’s a word for a destructive spirit,” I said. “Something like…

“That’s a flower,” Stormy said.

“Or maybe it’s

“That’s a craven coward,” she said.


“A Polish dance.”

“Well, I’m just a fry cook.”

The fracas on the second floor seemed to be winding down.

” said Roberta.

“No,” I said, “I don’t think that’s it.”

“That’s it, all right,” Stormy said.

” Roberta insisted.

I shook my head. “No, I don’t think so.”

Kristen looked at me as if I were a candidate for the Idiots’ Hall of Fame, which was a look that I had seen before on the faces of a number of pretty girls. “What the hell’s wrong with you? Of course it’s

“I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts,” I said.

“I don’t. We’re not talking about what happened up there. We’re just talking about a word.”

“Well,” I said, “if it wasn’t a pollinosis up there, then what was it?”

“Hay fever,” Stormy said, defining the word

“Poltergeist,” Roberta repeated. “But we ain’t never gonna say what it was, if we know what’s good for us.”

I suggested.

Stormy said, “A radioactive element.”

The battered woman continued: “What we best say is Kurt done trashed the room while alive. Knocked me around some, too, give me all these bruises, black eye. Then he tried takin’ Kristen out to the shed, to the old cold cellar deep down under, where he done killed poor Hannah and hung her body, where he’d soon of killed and hung me, too. We say how I caught up with him, me all crazy with fear, and my mind snapped, and I chopped him to save Kristen.”

Beginning to shake violently again, Roberta broke into tears.

Kristen put an arm around her and said, “You saved me.”

In the house, all had gone quiet.

Before either of the women could start to wonder why Stormy and I had shown up in the first place, my girl said, “It’s over now. You two wait here. We’ll drive out to the highway, where there’s cell-phone service, and we’ll call the police.”

In my experience, the spirits of truly evil people didn’t linger long in this world, if at all. When they were reluctant to cross to the Other Side, they were soon
across against their will, as if by a bill collector for some lender to whom they owed a big debt.

Because I couldn’t share that knowledge with these women without blowing my fry-cook cover, I worried that we were leaving them in a state of high anxiety. “Will you be all right here? The sun’s pretty hot. You could move onto the shade of the porch. It’ll be safe on the porch.”

“I’ll keep myself right here,” Roberta said, “and to hell with the porch.”

“It’s over now,” I assured them. “It really is. Or you could move into the shade of the cottonwoods. I mean, if you don’t think the porch is safe. But it is safe. The porch, I mean.”

Kristen regarded me with a mix of pity and exasperation. To Stormy, she said, “Do you usually drive or does he?”

“I will,” Stormy said. “Let’s go, Oddie.”

Stormy and I started toward the cottonwoods, but then I had to hurry back to Roberta to return her rolling pin. I didn’t look at Kristen again.


While Stormy drove us to the fairground, I called Chief Wyatt Porter, who was something of a surrogate father to me, and told him what had happened, when, and where. As usual, he would do his best to keep me out of the official story.

In the fairground parking lot, Stormy wanted to sit in silence, with the windows up and the air conditioner running. We watched the late-afternoon light darkle from peach to apricot to cherry, and after a few minutes she closed her eyes, whereupon I looked not at the colorful western sky but at her.

Eventually she said, “When high school’s over and real life starts, can you go on being a fry cook?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“With everything…everything else in your life?”

“Because of everything else, being a fry cook keeps me sane.”

“Sooner or later, it’s all going to overwhelm you—what you see, what you can do, what you are.”

“I’m getting a better handle on it all the time,” I assured her. “If my messed-up parents couldn’t drive me crazy, I’m not going to go nuts just because I can see the lingering dead.”

“And have prophetic dreams.”

“Not a big deal.”

“And have psychic magnetism,” she said, referring to another gift of mine that played no role in that day’s adventure.

After a silence, I said, “Maybe what you’re really wondering is if eventually it’s all going to overwhelm


“I’m not an easy date.”

She said nothing.

The next silence was excruciating, and I became the one who at last broke it. “What I want most of all isn’t you. What I want most of all is for you to have a happy life.”

Her thick eyelashes suddenly glistened with tears that she held back. “I really want that ice-cream shop of my own.”

“I bet you’ll have a chain of them.”

“This far in life, I’ve been nobody.”

“You’ve been somebody to me. You’re everything.”

“I want to be somebody, odd one. I want to have a business that I can be proud of, a place where people like to go. When people hear my name, I want them to think of ice cream. I want my name to make them happy, the way ice cream makes them happy.”

If I assured her that she would achieve her dream, I would be failing to provide her with the one thing that she demanded of me: the truth, whether it was easy or hard to hear. I could not see the future. If I happy-talked her through this moment, if I insisted that my paranormal gifts would only enhance our lives together and would all but guarantee her success, if I minimized the difficulty of my own struggles with my sixth sense, I would be lying to her.

At last I said, “What do you want to do?”

Without opening her eyes, she reached out to me, and we held hands as the desert darkened and the carnival on the midway painted the night with more color than the aurora borealis.

After a minute, she opened her eyes, smiled at me, and answered my question with seven words that were a welcome reprieve. “I want to go to the carnival.”

We ate snow cones with orange syrup, cheeseburgers, and jalapeño french fries. We rode not just the Tilt-a-Whirl but also the Whip, the Big Drop, and the Caterpillar. Neither of us threw up.

From time to time, I saw Mr. Presley wandering the midway. He was watching people eat the hot dogs, burgers, fried ice cream, fried Almond Joys, and french-fried butter that he could no longer consume.

In time, Stormy and I came to a large tent where fancy lettering above the entrance promised
. Within, a sawdust floor spread wall to wall. In five rows stood thirty-three fortune-telling machines. Some were quaint contraptions dating from previous and more magical eras of carnival life, but others were fully of the moment, digital.

In a shadowy corner of the tent stood a machine the size of an old-fashioned telephone booth. The lower three feet were enclosed. The upper four feet featured glass on three sides. In that display sat—so a placard declared—the mummified corpse of a Gypsy dwarf who, in the eighteenth century, had been renowned throughout Europe for her predictions.

Gypsy Mummy wore much cheap jewelry and a colorful headscarf. Her eyes and lips were sewn shut, and her mottled skin pulled tight across her face. For a fortune-teller who supposedly had been counsel to three kings, her price for a prognostication was remarkably reasonable: a mere quarter.

As we arrived at the machine, a couple in their early twenties sought revelation ahead of us. The woman put her mouth to the round grille in the glass and asked, “Gypsy Mummy, tell us, will Johnny and I have a long and happy marriage?”

The man, Johnny, pushed the
button. A card slid into a brass tray. He read its message aloud: “

Stormy squeezed my hand, and we smiled at each other. Johnny and his date were not satisfied. They sought again the approval of the long-dead sage.

Gypsy Mummy’s unrelenting negativity did not at first deter them from feeding additional quarters to the machine. They’d spent two bucks before, in frustration, they threw all eight cards to the sawdust floor and, bickering about the meaning of the predictions, left the tent. In answer to their question about a long and happy marriage, some of the other warnings they had received were
; and more ominous still,
; and not least troubling of all,

“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” Stormy suggested when we were alone before the centuries-old corpse, which was more likely to have been a figure constructed of plaster and wire and latex.

Nevertheless, I gave Gypsy Mummy a quarter, and she presented to us the message that Johnny and his fiancée had hoped to receive:

“She just winked at me,” Stormy said.

“Who did?”

“Gypsy Mummy.”

“How could a sewn-shut eye wink?”

“I don’t know, Oddie. But she did, she winked.”

I am superstitious, for good reason. But you don’t have to be superstitious to think that it’s a bad idea to doubt the reliability of a fortune-teller’s prediction when it is word for word the very assurance that you desperately wanted to hear. We had no doubts as, there in the arcade called
, we kissed each other to seal the promise.

I have written this brief memoir not merely at the encouragement of my friend and mentor, Ozzie Boone, but at his
Because my paranormal talent must remain my secret, nothing that I write can be published in my lifetime. In fact, I doubt that I will ever write another piece like this, for my life with Stormy Llewellyn will be too full to allow time for memoirs. I will have my work as a short-order cook, the griddle and the deep fryer, and she will have her ice-cream career, and we will both have the needy spirits of the lingering dead to deal with in the years ahead. I believe there will be children, too, each of them as beautiful as she is, perhaps one or two as strange as their father. She and I will grow old together in Pico Mundo, too busy for the wider world beyond, grow old here with our many friends, in the warmth of family that she hardly knew before being orphaned, that I never knew with my troubled parents. We will grow old together, for so it is promised by Gypsy Mummy, and if God is good—which He is—I will be with Stormy on the distant day, decades hence, when she leaves this world. I will hold her hand at the end, and I will pass soon after, for we are one heart, and neither of us would be of use without the other.

You’ve witnessed the beginning. Join us for the end.

Don’t miss
Saint Odd
, Dean Koontz’s stunning conclusion to the Odd Thomas series.

Coming in hardcover and eBook on January 13, 2015.

BOOK: Odd Thomas: You Are Destined to Be Together Forever
12.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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