Table of Contents
Praise for Dean Koontz and his masterworks of suspense
“Koontz barely lets the reader come up for air between terrors.”
—The Washington Post
“Koontz’s skill at edge-of-the-seat writing has improved with each book. He can scare our socks off.”
“Koontz’s imagination is not only as big as the Ritz, it is also as wild as an unbroken stallion.”
—Los Angeles Times
“His prose mesmerizes . . . Koontz consistently hits the bull’s-eye.”
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“An exceptional novelist . . . top-notch.”
—Lincoln Journal Star
“Koontz is an expert at creating believable characters.”
—The Detroit News and Free Press
“One of our finest and most versatile suspense writers.”
—The Macon Telegraph & News
“Koontz does it so well!”
—Baton Rouge Morning Advocate
“Koontz’s prose is as smooth as a knife through butter and his storytelling ability never wavers.”
“Koontz’s gift is that he makes his monsters seem ‘realer,’ and he makes the characters who fight [them] as normal as anyone you’d meet on a street.”
Berkley titles by Dean Koontz
THE EYES OF DARKNESS
THE KEY TO MIDNIGHT
THE HOUSE OF THUNDER
THE VOICE OF THE NIGHT
THE BAD PLACE
THE SERVANTS OF TWILIGHT
THE FACE OF FEAR
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 1981 by Leigh Nichols.
Copyright © 1996 by Nkui, Inc.
“Afterword” copyright © 2008 by Dean Koontz.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. BERKLEY
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Pocket Books edition / February 1981
First Berkley mass-market edition / July 1996
Berkley afterword edition / December 2008
Berkley trade paperback edition / April 2011
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Koontz, Dean, 1945–
The eyes of darkness / Dean Koontz.—Berkley trade paperback ed.
eISBN : 978-1-101-52536-4
1. Mothers and sons—Fiction. I. Title.
This better version is for Gerda, with love.
After five years of work,
now that I’m nearly finished improving
these early novels first published under pen names,
I intend to start improving myself.
Considering all that needs to be done,
this new project will henceforth be known
TUESDAY DECEMBER 30
At six minutes past midnight, Tuesday morning, on the way home from a late rehearsal of her new stage show, Tina Evans saw her son, Danny, in a stranger’s car. But Danny had been dead more than a year.
Two blocks from her house, intending to buy a quart of milk and a loaf of whole-wheat bread, Tina stopped at a twenty-four-hour market and parked in the dry yellow drizzle of a sodium-vapor light, beside a gleaming, cream-colored Chevrolet station wagon. The boy was in the front passenger seat of the wagon, waiting for someone in the store. Tina could see only the side of his face, but she gasped in painful recognition.
The boy was about twelve, Danny’s age. He had thick dark hair like Danny’s, a nose that resembled Danny’s, and a rather delicate jawline like Danny’s too.
She whispered her son’s name, as if she would frighten off this beloved apparition if she spoke any louder.
Unaware that she was staring at him, the boy put one hand to his mouth and bit gently on his bent thumb knuckle, which Danny had begun to do a year or so before he died. Without success, Tina had tried to break him of that bad habit.
Now, as she watched this boy, his resemblance to Danny seemed to be more than mere coincidence. Suddenly Tina’s mouth went dry and sour, and her heart thudded. She still had not adjusted to the loss of her only child, because she’d never wanted—or tried—to adjust to it. Seizing on this boy’s resemblance to her Danny, she was too easily able to fantasize that there had been no loss in the first place.
Maybe . . . maybe this boy actually
Danny. Why not? The more that she considered it, the less crazy it seemed. After all, she’d never seen Danny’s corpse. The police and the morticians had advised her that Danny was so badly torn up, so horribly mangled, that she was better off not looking at him. Sickened, grief-stricken, she had taken their advice, and Danny’s funeral had been a closed-coffin service. But perhaps they’d been mistaken when they identified the body. Maybe Danny hadn’t been killed in the accident, after all. Maybe he’d only suffered a mild head injury, just severe enough to give him . . . amnesia. Yes. Amnesia. Perhaps he had wandered away from the wrecked bus and had been found miles from the scene of the accident, without identification, unable to tell anyone who he was or where he came from. That was possible, wasn’t it? She had seen similar stories in the movies. Sure. Amnesia. And if that were the case, then he might have ended up in a foster home, in a new life. And now here he was sitting in the cream-colored Chevrolet wagon, brought to her by fate and by—
The boy became conscious of her gaze and turned toward her. She held her breath as his face came slowly around. As they stared at each other through two windows and through the strange sulphurous light, she had the feeling that they were making contact across an immense gulf of space and time and destiny. But then, inevitably, her fantasy burst, for he wasn’t Danny.
Pulling her gaze away from his, she studied her hands, which were gripping the steering wheel so fiercely that they ached.
She was angry with herself. She thought of herself as a tough, competent, levelheaded woman who was able to deal with anything life threw at her, and she was disturbed by her continuing inability to accept Danny’s death.
After the initial shock, after the funeral, she
begun to cope with the trauma. Gradually, day by day, week by week, she had put Danny behind her, with sorrow, with guilt, with tears and much bitterness, but also with firmness and determination. She had taken several steps up in her career during the past year, and she had relied on hard work as a sort of morphine, using it to dull her pain until the wound fully healed.
But then, a few weeks ago, she had begun to slip back into the dreadful condition in which she’d wallowed immediately after she’d received news of the accident. Her denial was as resolute as it was irrational. Again, she was possessed by the haunting feeling that her child was alive. Time should have put even more distance between her and the anguish, but instead the passing days were bringing her around full circle in her grief. This boy in the station wagon was not the first that she had imagined was Danny; in recent weeks, she had seen her lost son in other cars, in schoolyards past which she had been driving, on public streets, in a movie theater.
Also, she’d recently been plagued by a repeating dream in which Danny was alive. Each time, for a few hours after she woke, she could not face reality. She half convinced herself that the dream was a premonition of Danny’s eventual return to her, that somehow he had survived and would be coming back into her arms one day soon.
This was a warm and wonderful fantasy, but she could not sustain it for long. Though she always resisted the grim truth, it gradually exerted itself every time, and she was repeatedly brought down hard, forced to accept that the dream was not a premonition. Nevertheless, she knew that when she had the dream again, she would find new hope in it as she had so many times before.
And that was not good.
, she berated herself.
She glanced at the station wagon and saw that the boy was still staring at her. She glared at her tightly clenched hands again and found the strength to break her grip on the steering wheel.
Grief could drive a person crazy. She’d heard that said, and she believed it. But she wasn’t going to allow such a thing to happen to her. She would be sufficiently tough on herself to stay in touch with reality—as unpleasant as reality might be. She couldn’t allow herself to hope.
She had loved Danny with all her heart, but he was gone. Torn and crushed in a bus accident with fourteen other little boys, just one victim of a larger tragedy. Battered beyond recognition.
In a coffin.
Under the ground.
Her lower lip trembled. She wanted to cry, needed to cry, but she didn’t.
The boy in the Chevy had lost interest in her. He was staring at the front of the grocery store again, waiting.
Tina got out of her Honda. The night was pleasantly cool and desert-dry. She took a deep breath and went into the market, where the air was so cold that it pierced her bones, and where the harsh fluorescent lighting was too bright and too bleak to encourage fantasies.