Authors: John Saul
“Saul gives us another tightly crafted horrorfest in
. But unlike the other horrormasters, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, Saul’s books race to a heartwrenching conclusion.… Great stuff, you won’t want to miss this one.”
is his best book.… This is a fast and frightening read.”
Rocky Mountain News
“One of the masters of the genre … John Saul crafts a credible and suspenseful tale.… The denouement is chilling.”
The Atlanta Journal
“Saul has written a tale with surprising twists and a full cast of characters, some delightfully malevolent.… Saul’s fans will no doubt savor this latest offering.”
The Seattle Times
“Saul … delivers a tense, high-tech psychological suspense thriller … [with] a delightful final twist.”
“The best of any horror novel (or any other kind, for that matter) to arrive this season.”
, Riverside, CA
a cognizant original v5 release november 24 2010
By John Saul:
SUFFER THE CHILDREN
PUNISH THE SINNERS
CRY FOR THE STRANGERS
COMES THE BLIND FURY
WHEN THE WIND BLOWS
THE GOD PROJECT
THE BLACKSTONE CHRONICLES:
Part 1—AN EYE FOR AN EYE: THE DOLL
Part 2—TWIST OF FATE: THE LOCKET
Part 3—ASHES TO ASHES:
THE DRAGON’S FLAME
Part 4—IN THE SHADOW OF EVIL:.
Part 5—DAY OF RECKONING:
THE RIGHT HAND OF EVIL
And now available
John Saul’s latest tale of terror
Published by Bantam Books
Published by the Ballantine Publishing Group
Published by Dell Books
This edition contains the complete text
of the original hardcover edition
NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED.
A Bantam Book
Bantam hardcover edition published July 1992
Bantam paperback edition I June 1993
All rights reserved
1992 by John Saul
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 92-1317
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying recording or by any information storage and
retrieval system, without permission in writing
from the publisher
For information address: Bantam Books
Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036
For all my friends on Lopez Island
Larry and Rita
Ron and Jennifer
Robert and Christopher
Jon and Barb
And—last, but certainly not least—
Timmy Evans woke up in shadows.
Shadows so deep he saw nothing.
Shadows that surrounded Timmy, wrapping him in a blackness so dense that he wondered if the vague memory of light that hovered on the edges of his memory was perhaps only a dream.
Yet Timmy was certain that it was not merely a dream, that there was such a thing as light; that somewhere, far beyond the shadows in which he found himself, there was another world.
A world, he was suddenly certain, of which he was no longer a part.
He had no idea what time it was, nor what day, nor even what year.
Was it day, or night?
He had no way of knowing.
Tentatively, the first tendrils of panic already beginning to curl themselves around him, Timmy began exploring the blackness of his shadowed world, tried to reach out into the darkness.
He could feel nothing.
It was almost as if his fingers themselves were gone.
He put his hands together.
Instead of the expected warmth of one palm pressed firmly against the other, there was nothing.
No feeling at all.
The tendrils of panic grew stronger, twisting around Timmy Evans like the tentacles of a giant octopus.
His mind recoiled from the panic, pulling back, trying to hide from the darkness.
What had happened?
Where was he?
How had he gotten there?
Instinctively, he began counting.
The numbers marched through his head, growing ever larger as he listened to the voice in his mind that silently intoned the words that meant the most to him in all the world.
The same voice he remembered from the suddenly dim past, when there had been light, and sounds other than the voice that whispered the numbers to him in the silence of his mind.
Even then, before he had awakened in the shadows, only the numbers had truly meant anything to him.
It had always been that way, ever since he was very small and had lain on his back, staring at an object suspended above his crib.
The numbers on the blocks hanging from the mobile had meant something to Timmy Evans.
Though he had been too young to have a word for the mobile itself, the memory of it was clear.
“One, two, three, four.”
The object, brightly colored and suspended from the ceiling on a string, turned slowly above him, the voice in his head speaking each numeral as his eyes fastened on it.
“One, two, three, four.”
Later, he’d seen another object, on the wall high above his crib.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve.”
Timmy Evans had learned to count the numbers as the hands on the clock pointed to them, though he had no idea what the clock was, nor what purpose it served. But he would lie in his crib all day, his eyes fixed on the clock, saying each number as the hand came to it.
When he’d learned to walk, he’d begun counting his steps, saying each number out loud.
Counting the steps that led down from the front porch of his parents’ house.
Counting the cracks in the broken sidewalk that separated his yard from the street.
Counting the panes in the stained-glass windows when his parents took him to church, the pillars that supported the church’s high ceiling.
Counting the slats in the Venetian blinds that covered the window of his room at home, and the neat rows of vegetables in the little garden his mother planted in the backyard.
Counting everything, endless numbers streaming through his mind.
Numbers that meant something.
Numbers that meant order.
Numbers that defined his world.
The numbers filled his mind, consumed him.
They were his friends, his toys.
He put them together and took them apart, examining them in his own mind until he understood exactly how they worked.
Multiplying them, dividing them, squaring them, and factoring them.
Even as he’d grown up and begun to talk of other things, the numbers were always there, streaming through his mind.
Now, in the terrifying darkness into which he’d awakened, he began to play with the numbers once more.
Timmy began with a million.
He’d always liked that number.
A one, with six zeros after it.
He multiplied it by nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine.
Then multiplied the total by nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight.
He kept going, the numbers in his head growing ever larger, occupying more and more of his mind.
And yet the shadows were still there, and though he tried to concentrate only on the numbers, never losing track of the total, the shadows and the silence still closed around him.
He moved the numbers into the space in the back of his mind where he could keep them going with half his mind, and used the rest of his mind to try once more to figure out where he was, and how he’d gotten into the shadows.
He’d been at school before he woke in the shadows.
A nice school. A school he liked, where the other kids were almost as good at numbers as he was.
A pretty school, with a big house set on a broad lawn, shaded by the biggest trees Timmy had ever seen.
He’d never seen trees that big before his parents had brought him to the school.
Nor had he ever had friends before.
Friends like himself, who could do things with their brains that other children couldn’t.
But now something had happened to him.
He tried to remember.
He’d been in his room.
His room on the third floor.
He’d been asleep.
And before that, he’d been crying.
Crying, because he’d felt homesick, missing his mother and father, and even his little brother, whom he didn’t even really like.
He’d cried himself to sleep, wondering if everyone was going to tease him the next morning, because he’d burst into tears in the dining-room, and run out, and up the stairs, slamming his door and not letting anyone in all evening.
Then, sometime in the night, he’d awakened and heard something.