Overnight, according to the radio, an airliner had crashed in Ohio. Hundreds perished. The sole survivor, a ten-month-old child, had been found upright and unscathed in a battered seat that stood in a field of scorched and twisted debris.
Throughout the morning, under the expectant sky, low sluggish waves exhausted themselves on the shore. The Pacific was gray and awash with inky shadows, as if sinuous sea beasts of fantastical form swam just below the surface.
During the night, I had twice awakened from a dream in which the tide flowed red and the sea throbbed with a terrible light.
As nightmares go, I’m sure you’ve had worse. The problem is that a few of my dreams have come true, and people have died.
While I prepared breakfast for my employer, the kitchen radio brought news that the jihadists who had the previous day seized an ocean liner in the Mediterranean and were now beheading passengers.
My experience at the Pico Mundo Grill served me well. If you can make hash browns that wring a flood from salivary glands, fry bacon to the crispness of a cracker without parching it, and make pancakes as rich as pudding yet so fluffy they seem to be at risk of floating off the plate, you will always find work.
At four-thirty that afternoon in late January, when I stepped into the parlor with Boo, my dog, Hutch was in his favorite armchair, scowling at the television, which he had muted. . . .
I left by the front door, through which Boo had already passed. The dog waited for me in the fenced yard.
An arched trellis framed the gate. Through white lattice twined with bougainvillea that produced a few flowers even in winter.
I closed the gate behind me and Boo passed through it as for a moment I stood drawing breaths of the crisp salted air.
Boo and I followed the concrete boardwalk. He was a German shepherd mix, entirely white. The moon traveling horizon to horizon moved no more quietly than did Boo.
Only I was aware of him, because he was a ghost dog.
I see the spirits of dead people who are reluctant to move on from this world. In my experience, however, animals are always eager to proceed to what comes next. Boo was unique.
His failure to depart was a mystery. The dead don’t talk, and neither do dogs, so my canine companion obeyed two vows of silence.
This technique--having a narrator of apparently sound mind abruptly say something that leaves no doubt that he is insane after speaking in a normal manner at some length about everyday topics--could launch an entire novel. In Odd Hours, however, Koontz chooses literally to mean what Odd Thomas says: the short-order cook isn’t mad; he really does see dead people.