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Watchers Dean Koontz Pdf

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It raised its mean wedge-shaped head and studied him. As a boy, he had killed scores of rattlers in these hills. He withdrew the gun from the backpack and rose from the rock.

He took a couple of steps toward the snake. The rattler rose farther off the ground and stared intensely. Soon it would realize that it could not strike at such a distance, and would attempt to retreat.

Although Travis was certain his shot was clear and easy, he was surprised to discover that he could not squeeze the trigger. He had come to these foothills not merely to attempt to recall a time when he had been glad to be alive, but also to kill snakes if he saw any.

Lately, alternately depressed and angered by the loneliness and sheer pointlessness of his life, he had been wound as tight as a crossbow spring.

He needed to release that tension through violent action, and the killing of a few snakes—no loss to anyone—seemed the perfect prescription for his distress. However, as he stared at this rattler, he realized that its existence was less pointless than his own: it filled an ecological niche, and it probably took more pleasure in life than he had in a long time. He began to shake, and the gun kept straying from the target, and he could not find the will to fire. He was not a worthy executioner, so he lowered the gun and returned to the rock where he had left his backpack.

The snake was evidently in a peaceable mood, for its head lowered sinuously to the stone once more, and it lay still. After a while, Travis tore open the package of Oreos, which had been his favorite treat when he was young. He had not eaten one in fifteen years. They were almost as good as he remembered them. To his adult palate, the stuff was far too sweet. The innocence, enthusiasms, joys, and voracities of youth can be recalled but perhaps never fully regained, he thought.

Leaving the rattlesnake in communion with the sun, shouldering his backpack once more, he went down the southern slope of the ridge into the shadows of the trees at the head of the canyon, where the air was freshened by the fragrant spring growth of the evergreens. On the west-sloping floor of the canyon, in deep gloom, he turned west and followed a deer trail. A few minutes later, passing between a pair of large California sycamores that bent together to form an archway, he came to a place where sunlight poured into a break in the forest.

At the far side of the clearing, the deer trail led into another section of woods in which spruces, laurels and sycamores grew closer together than elsewhere.

The SFFaudio Podcast #283 – READALONG: Watchers by Dean Koontz

Ahead, the land dropped steeply as the canyon sought bottom. When he stood at the edge of the sunfall with the toes of his boots in shadow, looking down that sloped path, he could see only fifteen yards before a surprisingly seamless darkness fell across the trail. As Travis was about to step out of the sun and continue, a dog burst from the dry brush on his right and ran straight to him, panting and chuffing. It was a golden retriever, pure of breed by the look of it.

A male. He figured it was little more than a year old, for though it had attained the better part of its full growth, it retained some of the sprightliness of a puppy. It stopped in front of him, sat, cocked its head, and looked up at him with an undeniably friendly expression. Filthy as it was, the animal was nonetheless appealing. Travis stooped, patted its head, and scratched behind its ears. He half-expected an owner, gasping and perhaps angry at this runaway, to follow the retriever out of the brush.

Nobody came. When he thought to check for a collar and license, he found none. Not lost, are you? He noticed that, in addition to its dirty and tangled coat, it had dried blood on its right ear.

Fresher blood was visible on its front paws, as if it had been running so long and so hard over rugged terrain that the pads of its feet had begun to crack. He continued to stroke its back and scratch its ears, but after a minute or two he realized he was seeking something from the dog that it could not Provide: meaning, purpose, relief from despair.

On your way now. He stepped past it, heading for the narrow path that descended into darkness. The dog bolted around him and blocked the deer trail. Travis frowned.

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It snapped at his legs. Travis danced back two steps. He advanced again, but the dog lunged at him more ferociously than before, still not barking but growling even deeper and snapping repeatedly at his legs, driving him backward across the clearing. He took eight or ten clumsy steps on a slippery carpet of dead spruce and pine needles, stumbled over his own feet, and fell on his butt.

The moment Travis was down, the dog turned away from him. It padded across the clearing to the brink of the sloping path and peered into the gloom below. It ignored him. Its tail was down, almost tucked between its legs. Travis gathered half a dozen small stones from the ground around him, got up, and threw one of the missiles at the retriever. Struck on the backside hard enough to be stung, the dog did not yelp but whipped around in surprise. But the dog only looked at him accusingly—and continued to block the entrance to the deer trail.

The sorry damn dog looked disappointed in him, and he was ashamed. Travis dropped the other stones. Travis could have turned back.

Or he could have found another way down the canyon. But he was seized by an irrational determination to forge ahead, to go where he wanted to go, by God. This day of all days, he was not going to be deterred or even delayed by something as trivial as an obstructive dog. He got up, shrugged his shoulders to resettle the backpack, took a deep breath of the piny air, and walked boldly across the clearing. The retriever began to growl again, softly but menacingly.

Its lips skinned back from its teeth. You know that? You look like a good dog. Its bushy tail wagged once, twice, tentatively. You and I can be friends, huh? Immediately, the dog leaped at him, snarling, and drove him back across the clearing. It got its teeth in one leg of his jeans, shook its head furiously. He kicked at it, missed.

As Travis staggered out of balance from the misplaced kick, the dog snatched the other leg of his pants and ran a circle around him, pulling him with it. He hopped desperately to keep up with his adversary but toppled and slammed to the ground again. Whining again, having reverted to a friendly mood, the dog licked one of his hands.

The dog returned to the other end of the clearing. Abruptly, it lowered its head, hunched its shoulders. The muscles in its back and haunches visibly tensed as if it were preparing to move fast. In his youth, mountain lions—specifically, cougars—had prowled these woods, and he supposed some still hung on.

The retriever grumbled, not at Travis this time but at whatever had drawn its attention. The sound was low,, barely audible, and to Travis it seemed as if the dog was both angry and afraid.

Plenty of them roamed the foothills. A pack of hungry coyotes might alarm even a sturdy animal like this golden retriever.

With a startled yelp, the dog executed a leaping-scrambling turn away from the shadowed deer trail. It dashed toward him, past him, to the other arm of the woods, and he thought it was going to disappear into the forest. But at the archway formed by two sycamores, through which Travis had come Only minutes ago, the dog stopped and looked back expectantly. With an air of frustration and anxiety, it hurried in his direction again, swiftly circled him, grabbed at his pants leg, and wriggled backward, trying to drag him with it.

It issued one woof, more a forceful exhalation than a bark. Obviously—and astonishingly—the dog had purposefully prevented him from proceeding along the gloomy stretch of the deer trail because something was down there.

Something dangerous. Now the dog wanted him to flee because that dangerous creature was drawing nearer. Something was coming. But what? Travis was not worried, just curious. Whatever was approaching might frighten a dog, but nothing in these woods, not even a coyote or a cougar, would attack a grown man. Its behavior was extraordinary. He was not its master; it owed him nothing, neither affection nor protection.

Stray dogs do not possess a sense of duty to strangers, do not have a moral perspective, a conscience. What did this animal think it was, anyway—a freelance Lassie? Travis paused at the sycamores. Frowning, he looked across the sun-drenched clearing at the night-dark hole in the forest where the descending portion of the trail began. What was coming? The shrill cries of the cicadas cut off simultaneously, as if a phonograph needle was lifted from a recording.

The woods were preternaturally silent. Then Travis heard something rushing up the lightless trail. A scrabbling noise.

A clatter as of dislodged stones. A faint rustle of dry brush. The thing sounded closer than it probably was, for sound was amplified as it echoed up through the narrow tunnel of trees. Nevertheless, the creature was coming fast. Very fast. For the first time, Travis sensed that he was in grave peril. He knew that nothing in the woods was big or bold enough to attack him, but his intellect was overruled by instinct. His heart hammered. Above him, on the higher path, the retriever had become aware of his hesitation.

It barked agitatedly. Decades ago, he might have thought an enraged black bear was racing up the deer trail, driven mad by disease or pain. But the cabin dwellers and weekend hikers—outriders of civilization—had pushed the few remaining bears much farther back into the Santa Anas.

From the sound of it, the unknown beast was within seconds of reaching the clearing between the lower and higher trails. He wanted to see what the thing was, but at the same time he had gone cold with dread, a purely instinctive fear. Farther up the canyon, the golden retriever barked urgently. Travis turned and ran. He was in excellent shape, not a pound overweight.

With the panting retriever leading, Travis tucked his arms close to his sides and sprinted up the deer trail, ducking under the few low-hanging branches.

The studded soles of his hiking boots gave good traction; he slipped on loose stones and on slithery layers of dry pine needles, but he did not fall. As he ran through a false fire of flickering sunlight and shadow, another fire began to burn in his lungs.

But now something peculiar happened. He lost control. For the first time in his life, he panicked. Fear pried into him, touching a deep and primitive level where nothing had ever reached him before. As he ran, he broke out in gooseflesh and cold sweat, and he did not know why the unknown pursuer should fill him with such absolute terror.

He did not look back. Initially, he did not want to turn his eyes away from the twisting trail because he was afraid he would crash into a low branch. But as he ran, his panic swelled, and by the time he had gone a couple of hundred yards, the reason he did not look back was because he was afraid of what he might see.

He knew that his response was irrational. The prickly sensation along the back of his neck and the iciness in his gut were symptoms of a purely superstitious terror.

But the civilized and educated Travis Cornell had turned over the reins to the frightened child-savage that lives in every human being—the genetic ghost of what we once were—and he could not easily regain control even though he was aware of the absurdity of his behavior. Brute instinct ruled, and instinct told him that he must run, run, stop thinking and just run. Near the head of the canyon, the trail turned left and carved a winding course up the steep north wall toward the ridge.

Travis rounded a bend, saw a log lying across the path, jumped but caught one foot on the rotting wood. He fell forward, flat on his chest. Stunned, he could not get his breath, could not move. He expected something to pounce on him and tear out his throat. The retriever dashed back down the trail and leaped over Travis, landing sure-footedly on the path behind him. It barked fiercely at whatever was chasing them, much more threateningly than when it had challenged Travis in the clearing.

Travis rolled over and sat up, gasping. He saw nothing on the trail below. Then he realized the retriever was not concerned about anything in that direction but was standing sideways on the trail, facing the underbrush in the forest to the east of them. The tone of savage fury in its voice was daunting. The dog was warning the unseen enemy to stay back.

It stared intently into the brush, peeling its pebbly black lips off its teeth and growling deep in its throat. Still breathing hard, Travis got to his feet and looked east into the woods. Evergreens, sycamores, a few larches. Shadows like swatches of dark cloth were fastened here and there by golden pins and needles of light. Climbing vines. A few well-worn toothlike formations of rock. He saw nothing out of the ordinary.

Travis drew a breath, held it, and listened for movement in the brush. The cicadas remained silent. No birds sang in the trees. The woods were as still as if the vast, elaborate clockwork mechanism of the universe had ceased ticking. He was sure that he was not the cause of the abrupt silence. His passage through the canyon had not previously disturbed either birds or cicadas.

Something was out there. An intruder of which the ordinary forest creatures clearly did not approve. He took a deep breath and held it again, straining to hear the slightest movement in the woods. This time he detected the rustle of brush, a snapping twig, the soft crunch of dry leaves—and the unnervingly peculiar, heavy, ragged breathing of something big.

It sounded about forty feet away, but he could not pinpoint its location. At his side, the retriever had gone rigid. Its floppy ears were slightly pricked, straining forward. The dog stared at the gun. Travis had the weird feeling that the animal knew what the revolver was—and approved of the weapon.

Come on out where I can see you. The eerie guttural resonance electrified Travis. His heart beat even harder, and he went as rigid as the retriever beside him.

For interminable ticking seconds, he could not understand why the noise itself had sent such a powerful current of fear through him. The more he listened, the more Travis decided it was neither strictly an animal nor human sound.

But if neither. He saw the high brush stirring. Straight ahead. Something was coming toward him.

Now just thirty feet away. Moving slower than it had been. A bit wary perhaps. But closing in nevertheless. The golden retriever began to growl threateningly, again warning off the creature that stalked them. But tremors were visible in its flanks, and its head shook.

Though it was challenging the thing in the brush, it was profoundly frightened of a confrontation. Retrievers were renowned for boldness and courage. They were bred to be the companions of hunters, and were frequently used in dangerous rescue operations. What peril or foe could provoke such dread in a strong, proud dog like this? The thing in the brush continued toward them, hardly more than twenty feet away now.

Though he had as yet seen nothing extraordinary, he was filled with superstitious terror, a perception of indefinable but uncanny presences. He kept telling himself he had chanced upon a cougar, just a cougar, that was probably more frightened than he was. But the icy prickling that began at the base of his spine and extended up across his scalp now intensified.

His hand was so slick with sweat that he was afraid the gun would slip out of his grasp. Fifteen feet. Travis pointed the. The blast crashed through the forest and echoed down the long canyon. The retriever did not even flinch, but the thing in the brush immediately turned away from them and ran north, upslope, toward the canyon rim.

Travis could not see it, but he could clearly mark its swift progress by the waist-high weeds and bushes that shook and parted under its assault. For a second or two, he was relieved because he thought he had frightened it off. Then he saw it was not actually running away. It was heading north-northwest on a curve that would bring it to the deer trail above them. Travis sensed that the creature was trying to cut them off and force them to go out of the canyon by the lower route, where it would have more and better opportunities to attack.

He did not understand how he knew such a thing, just that he did know it. His primordial survival instinct drove him into action without the need to think about each move he made; he automatically did what was required. He had not felt that animal surety since he had seen military action almost a decade ago. Fast as he was, however, he was not fast enough to overtake the unknown enemy. When he realized that it was going to reach the path well above him, he fired another warning shot, which did not startle or deflect the adversary this time.

He fired twice into the brush itself, toward the indications of movement, not caring if it was a man out there, and that worked. He did not believe he hit the stalker, but he scared it at last, and it turned away. He kept running. He was eager to reach the canyon rim, where the trees were thin along the ridge top, where the brush was sparse, and where a brighter fall of sunlight did not permit concealing shadows. When he arrived at the crest a couple of minutes later, he was badly winded.

The muscles of his calves and thighs were hot with pain.

The SFFaudio Podcast #283 – READALONG: Watchers by Dean Koontz

His heart thumped so hard in his chest that he would not have been surprised to hear the echo of it bouncing off another ridge and coming back to him across the canyon. This was where he had paused to eat some Oreos. The rattlesnake, which earlier had been sunning on a large flat rock, was gone.

The golden retriever had followed Travis. It stood beside him, panting, peering down the slope they had just ascended. Slightly dizzy, wanting to sit and rest but aware that he was still in danger of an unknown variety, Travis looked down the deer trail, too, and scanned what underbrush he could see.

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If the stalker remained in pursuit of them, it was being more circumspect, climbing the slopes without disturbing the weeds and bushes. It scurried across the top of the narrow ridge to a declivity by which they could make their way down into the next canyon.

Clearly, the dog believed they were not out of danger and ought to keep moving. Travis shared that conviction. His atavistic fear—and the reliance on instinct that it invoked—sent him hurrying after the dog, over the far side of the ridge, into another tree-filled canyon.

He did not look as if he would be good at waiting. He was big—over two hundred pounds, six-three, muscular—and he always seemed to be so full of energy that he might burst at any moment. His broad face was placid, usually as expressionless as the face of a cow.

But his green eyes flashed with vitality, with an edgy nervous watchfulness—and with a strange hunger that was like something you expected to see in the eyes of a wild animal, some jungle cat, but never in the eyes of a man. Like a cat, in spite of his tremendous energy, he was patient. Are you sure you want to remove Watchers from your list?

Written in English. O55 W38 The Physical Object Pagination p. You'll be next in line. Download ebook for print-disabled Other editions of this book may be available: Check nearby libraries with: WorldCat Library.

Buy this book Amazon. Share this book Facebook. History Created April 1, 12 revisions Download catalog record: Wikipedia citation Close. Dean Ray Koontz. Dean Koontz - - Strangers. Dean Koontz - - Hideaway. Koontz - Bruno. Koontz - Vision. Koontz - Chase. Dean Koontz - Ticktock. Koontz,Dean-Die Spuren. Koontz, Dean - Whispers. Recommend Documents. Dean Koontz - - Watchers file: Koontz This book is dedicated to Lennart Sane who is not only Koontz Version A fearful divorcee is relieved when her enraged ex-husbandTaking the woman by the arm again, he pulled her to her feet and dragged her into the bathroom.

You told me. He half-expected an owner, gasping and perhaps angry at this runaway, to follow the retriever out of the brush.

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The undercoat was thick and soft to provide warmth and repel water. His darkish-blond hair was cut short and neatly combed. Cats are aggressive and self-sufficient by nature. He saw the high brush stirring. Comparative analysis was strictly a human quality. The muscles of his calves and thighs were hot with pain. He loved these untamed canyons, When he was a boy, black bears had roamed the woods; they were gone now.