Read The Servants of Twilight Online

Authors: Dean Koontz

Tags: #Suspense, #Fiction, #Thrillers

The Servants of Twilight (9 page)

BOOK: The Servants of Twilight
10.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
The man seemed to be eating. Just a workman stopped on a quiet side street to grab an early lunch. That’s all. Surely, it couldn’t be anything more than that.
Or maybe not. The man down there also seemed to be watching the front of this building. He appeared to be having a bite of lunch and running a stakeout at the same time. Charlie had been involved in dozens of stakeouts over the years. He knew what a stakeout looked like, and this sure as hell looked like one, although it was a bit obvious and amateurish.
Behind him, Christine said, “Is something wrong?”
He was surprised by her perspicacity, by how sharply attuned to him she was, especially since she was still highly agitated, still crying.
He said, “I hope you like Scotch.”
He turned away from the window and took the drink to her.
She accepted it without further protestations. She held the glass in both hands but still couldn’t keep it from shaking. She sipped rather daintily at the whiskey.
Charlie said, “Drink it straight down. Two swallows. Get it inside you where it can do some good.”
She did as he said, and he could tell that she really didn’t drink much because she grimaced at the bitterness of the Scotch, even though Chivas was about the smoothest stuff ever to come out of a distillery.
He took the empty glass from her, carried it back to the bar, rinsed it out in the small sink, and set it on the drainboard.
He looked out the window again.
The white truck was still there.
So was the man in the dark pants and shirt, eating his lunch with studied casualness.
Returning to Christine, Charlie said, “Feel better?”
Some color had crept back into her face. She nodded. “I’m sorry for coming apart on you like that.”
He sat half on the edge of his desk, keeping one foot on the floor. He smiled at her. “You have nothing to apologize for. Most people, if they’d had the scare you’ve had, would’ve come through the door blubbering incoherently, and they’d
be blubbering incoherently. You’re holding up quite well.”
“I don’t
as if I’m holding up.” She took a handkerchief from her purse and blew her nose. “But I guess you’re right. One crazy old lady isn’t the end of the world.”
“One crazy old lady can’t be
hard to deal with.”
“That’s the spirit,” he said.
But he thought: One crazy old lady? Then who’s the guy with the white truck?
Grace Spivey sat
on a hard oak chair, her ice-gray eyes shining in the gloom.
Today was a red day in the spirit world, one of the reddest days she had ever known, and she was dressed entirely in red in order to be in harmony with it, just as she had dressed entirely in green yesterday, when the spirit world had been going through a green phase. Most people weren’t aware that the spirit world around them changed color from day to day; of course, most people couldn’t see the supernatural realm as clearly as Grace could see it when she really tried; in fact, most of them couldn’t see it at all, so there was no way they could possibly understand Grace’s manner of dress. But for Grace, who was a psychic and a medium, it was essential to be in harmony with the color of the spirit world, for then she could more easily receive clairvoyant visions of both the past and future. These visions were sent to her by benign spirits and were transmitted on brilliantly colored beams of energy, beams that, today, were all shades of red.
If she had tried to explain this to most people, they would have thought her insane. A few years ago her own daughter had committed Grace to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation; but Grace had slipped out of that trap, had disowned her daughter, and had been more cautious ever since.
Today she wore dark red shoes, a dark red skirt, and a lighter red, two-tone, striped blouse. All her jewelry was red: a double strand of crimson beads and matching bracelets on each wrist; a porcelain brooch as bright as fire; two ruby rings; one ring with four dazzling ovals of highly polished carnelian; four other rings with cheap red glass, vermilion enamel, and scarlet porcelain. Whether precious, semiprecious, or fake, all the stones in her rings glinted and sparkled in the flickering candlelight.
The quivering flames, adance upon the points of the wicks, caused strange shadows to writhe over the basement walls. The room was large, but it seemed small because the candles were grouped at one end of it, and three-quarters of the chamber lay beyond the reach of their inconstant amber light. There were eleven candles in all, each fat and white, each fitted in a brass holder with an ornate drip guard, and each brass candlestick was gripped firmly by one of Grace’s followers, all of whom were waiting eagerly for her to speak. Of the eleven, six were men and five were women. Some were young, some middle-aged, some old. They sat on the floor, forming a semicircle around the chair on which Grace sat, their faces gleaming and queerly distorted in the fluttering, shimmering, eldritch glow.
These eleven did not constitute the entire body of her followers. More than fifty others were in the room overhead, waiting anxiously to hear what transpired during this session. And more than a thousand others were elsewhere, in a hundred different places, engaged upon work that Grace had assigned to them.
However, these eleven at her feet were her most trusted, valued, and capable lieutenants. They were the ones she most cherished.
She even knew and remembered their names, although it wasn’t easy for her to remember names (or much of anything else) these days, not as easy as it had been before the Gift had been given to her. The Gift filled her, filled her mind, and crowded out so many things that she had once taken for granted—such as the ability to remember names and faces. And the ability to keep track of time. She never knew what time it was anymore; even when she looked at a clock, it frequently had no meaning for her. Seconds, minutes, hours, and days now seemed like ridiculously arbitrary measurements of time; perhaps they were still useful to ordinary men and women, but she was beyond the need of them. Sometimes, when she thought only a day had passed, she discovered that an entire week was missing. It was scary but also curiously exhilarating, for it made her constantly aware that she was special, that she was Chosen. The Gift had also crowded out sleep. Some nights she didn’t sleep at all. Most nights she slept one hour, never more than two, but she didn’t seem to
sleep anymore, so it didn’t matter how little she got. The Gift crowded out everything that might interfere with the great and sacred work she must accomplish.
Nevertheless, she remembered the names of these eleven people because they were the purest members of her flock. They were the best of the best, largely untainted souls who were the most worthy of carrying out the demanding tasks ahead of them.
One other man was in the basement. His name was Kyle Barlowe. He was thirty-two, but he looked older—older, somber, mean, and dangerous. He had lank brown hair, thick but without luster. His high forehead ended in a heavy shelf of bone under which his deeply set brown eyes were watchful and shrewd. He had a large nose, but it wasn’t regal or proud; it had been broken more than once and was lumpy. His cheekbones and jawbone were heavy, crudely formed, like the plate of bone from which his forehead had been carved. Although his features were for the most part oversized and graceless, his lips were thin, and they were so bloodless and pale that they seemed even thinner than they actually were; as a result, his mouth appeared to be nothing more than a slash in his face. He was an extraordinarily big man, six-eleven, with a bull’s neck, slab shoulders, well-muscled chest and arms. He looked as if he could break a man in half—and as if he frequently did exactly that, strictly for the fun of it.
In fact, for the past three years, since Kyle had become one of Grace’s followers and then a member of her inner circle and then her most trusted assistant, he hadn’t raised a hand against anyone. Before Grace had found and saved him, he had been a moody, violent, and brutal man. But those days were gone. Grace had been able to see beyond Kyle Barlowe’s forbidding exterior, had glimpsed the good soul that lay beneath. He had gone astray, yes, but he had been eager (even if he hadn’t realized it himself) to return to the good and righteous path. All he needed was someone to show him the way. Grace had shown him, and he had followed. Now, his huge, powerful arms and his marble-hard fists would harm no virtuous man or woman but would smite only those who were the enemies of God and, even then, only when Grace
him to smite them.
Grace knew the enemies of God when she saw them. The ability to recognize a hopelessly corrupt soul in the first instant upon encountering it—that was but one small part of the Gift that God had bestowed upon her. One split second of eye contact was usually all Grace needed in order to determine if a person was habitually sinful and beyond redemption. She had the Gift. No one else. Just her, the Chosen. She heard evil in the voices of the wicked; she saw evil in their eyes. There was no hiding from her.
Some people, given the Gift, would have doubted it, would have wondered if they were wrong or even crazy. But Grace never doubted herself or questioned her sanity. Never. She knew she was special, and she knew she was always right in these matters because God had told her that she was right.
The day was rapidly coming when she would finally call upon Kyle (and upon some of the others) to strike down many of those disciples of Satan. She would point to the evil ones, and Kyle would destroy them. He would be the hammer of God. How wonderful that day would be! Sitting in the basement of her church, on the hard oak chair, in front of her innermost circle of believers, Grace shivered with anticipatory pleasure. It would be so fine, so satisfying to watch the big man’s hard muscles bunch and flex and bunch again as he brought the wrath of God to the infidels and Satanists.
Soon. The time was coming. The Twilight.
Now, the candlelight flickered, and Kyle said softly, “Are you ready, Mother Grace?”
“Yes,” she said.
She closed her eyes. For a moment she saw nothing, only darkness, but then she quickly established contact with the spirit world, and lights appeared behind her eyes, bursts and squiggles and fountains and spots and shifting-heaving-writhing shapes of light, some brilliant and some dim, all shades of red, naturally, because they were spirits and spectral energies, and this was a red day in their plane of existence. It was the reddest day Grace had ever known.
The spirits swarmed on all sides of her, and she moved off among them as if she were drifting away into a world that was painted on the backs of her own eyelids. At first she drifted slowly. She felt her mind and spirit separating from her body, gradually leaving the flesh behind. She was still aware of the temporal plane in which her body existed—the odor of burning candles, the hard oak chair beneath her, an occasional rustle or murmur from one of her disciples—but eventually all that faded. She accelerated until she was rushing, then flying, then rocketing through the light-spotted void, faster and faster, with exhilarating, now sickening, now terrifying speed—
Sudden stillness.
She was deep in the spirit world, hanging motionless, as if she were an asteroid suspended in a distant corner of space. She was no longer able to see, hear, smell, or feel the world she had left behind. Across an infinite night, redhued spirits of all descriptions moved in every direction, some fast and some slow, some purposefully and some erratically, on adventures and holy errands that Grace could not begin to comprehend.
Grace thought about the boy, Joey Scavello. She knew what he really was, and she knew he had to die. But she didn’t know if the time had come to dispose of him. She had made this journey into the spirit world for the sole purpose of inquiring as to when and how she should deal with the boy.
She hoped she would be told to kill him. She wanted so much to kill him.
The double shot
of Chivas Regal seemed to have calmed Christine Scavello, although not entirely. She finally leaned back in her chair, and her hands were no longer knotted together, but she was still tense and noticeably shaky.
Charlie continued to sit on the edge of his desk with one foot on the floor. “At least until we know who this old woman is and what kind of person we’re dealing with, I think we should put two armed bodyguards with Joey around the clock.”
“All right. Do it.”
“Does the boy go to school?”
“Preschool. He starts regular school next fall.”
“We’ll keep him out of preschool until this blows over.”
“It won’t just blow over,” she said edgily.
“Well, of course, I didn’t mean we were just going to wait it out. I meant to say that we’ll keep him out of preschool until we put a stop to this thing.”
“Will two bodyguards be enough?”
“Actually, it’ll be six. Three pairs working in eight-hour shifts.”
“Still, it’ll only be two men during any one shift, and I—”
BOOK: The Servants of Twilight
10.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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