Last Light(10)

By: Dean Koontz

“You did, huh?” He assumed that he was being played, but he was not sure of her game. “If it’s not a death wish, what is it?”

“Confidence. I belong here. I have this gift—this power, as you call it—for a reason. There’s a purpose I’m meant to fulfill before anything too bad will happen to me.”

He smirked, an expression that transformed him from a handsome man into a snarky adolescent. “What purpose would that be—building the coolest hot rod ever?”

“Maybe. But I’m pretty sure it’s way bigger than that.” She took a sip of beer. “Fact is, sometimes I think there’s someone important I’m meant to save. Like, maybe I’ll touch her and see her problem or her darkest secret, and I’ll know right away what to do. I’ll save her life or maybe turn her away from a destructive path, and she’ll go on to make a huge difference in the world.”

His soft laugh revealed less amusement than contempt. “You’re gonna save the world, are you?”

“No. Just maybe one person more important than me. You haven’t answered my question. Are you going to kill me here and now?”

“I’d love to. Except for the security cameras. I can’t work my mojo on them. Don’t know where the digital video is stored. And even if it’s on a recorder somewhere here, they probably back it up in the cloud. So it’ll be another time and place. Besides, half the fun is in the chase. And I want to pin you down and spread those pretty legs before I cut your throat.”

Makani wagged one finger at him, as if to say he was being a naughty boy. “Won’t happen. Instead, you’ll rot in Hell, and I’ll sing a little song of celebration over your grave.”

“You are refreshing. A spunky little thing. What next—gonna pretend you can go to the cops?”

“I could prove my gift just by touching them, reading them.”

“Then what kind of a life would you have? You’d be a freak. The mind reader who knows things nobody wants known. They might not stone you to death, but in time they’d be lining up to shoot you in the head. Face it—you’re more alone than any girl has ever been.”

She shrugged. “Anyway, I don’t need police. Don’t need anyone. Hasn’t it occurred to you? My first power might have sprouted another, just like yours did.”

“I would have seen it when I read you.”

“I didn’t see yours. Maybe you didn’t see mine.”

He studied her, looking for a tic or tremor that would reveal her bluff.

“Best be careful,” Makani said. “I’ve got the islands and the Irish in me. It’s a dangerous combination. Let me go my way, and I’ll let you go yours. The world’s big enough for two of us.”

Reaching across the table, he said, “Take my hand.”

She threw half a glass of beer in his face.

Startled, he gasped, inhaling some of the brew, and coughed explosively.

At nearby tables, diners turned to look. Rainer’s spell over them had been broken.

When he saw them staring, he got control of his coughing and wiped a hand over his dripping face. Everyone who’d been interested in him looked puzzled, frowned, turned their attention elsewhere, and seemed to lose interest in the lovers’ spat or whatever it had been.

As soon as she’d thrown the beer, Makani had slid out of the booth. She stood looking down at Rainer Sparks. “I won’t warn you again,” she said, and she walked out of the restaurant, under the torsional forms of the dead sharks swimming the air overhead.


On the Die

Outside of Sharkin’, where Rainer Sparks couldn’t see her, Makani broke into a run toward the pier and the parking lot that served it. Perhaps because of the dark nature of the encounter with Sparks, she expected night when she pushed through the door, but sunshine still ruled. At least an hour of the summer day remained before the sunset might brush the palette of a Maxfield Parrish painting across the western sky.

She had no second power, as she had claimed, no sprout that grew from the branch of her initial psychic gift. Maybe he believed that she, too, had another more formidable talent. Maybe he didn’t. In either case, he would not relent. Rainer Sparks was a narcissist, a megalomaniac who would abide no limits to his dominion, tolerate no one who denied him.

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