The Shining

Part Five. Matters of Life and Death Chapter 41. Daylight


Danny awoke with a muffled gasp from a terrible dream. There had been an explosion. A fire. The Overlook was burning up. He and his mommy were watching it from the front lawn.
Mommy had said: "Look, Danny, look at the hedges."
He looked at them and they were all dead. Their leaves had turned a suffocant brown. The tightly packed branches showed through like the skeletons of halfdismembered corpses. And then his daddy had burst out of the Overlooks big double doors, and he was burning like a torch. His clothes were in flames, his skin had acquired a dark and sinister tan that was growing darker by the moment, his hair was a burning bush.
That was when he woke up, his throat tight with fear, his hands clutching at the sheet and blankets. Had he screamed? He looked over at his mother. Wendy lay on her side, the blankets up to her chin, a sheaf of straw-colored hair lying against her cheek. She looked like a child herself. No, he hadn't screamed.
Lying in bed, looking upward, the nightmare began to drain away. He had a curious feeling that some great tragedy
(fire? explosion?)
had been averted by inches. He let his mind drift out, searching for his daddy, and found him standing somewhere below. In the lobby. Danny pushed a little harder, trying to get inside his father. It was not good. Because Daddy was thinking about the Bad Thing. He was thinking how
(good just one or two would be i don't care sun's over the yardarm somewhere in the world remember how we used to say that al? gin and tonic bourbon with just a dash of bitters scotch and soda rum and coke tweedledum and tweedledee a drink for me and a drink for thee the martians have landed somewhere in the world princeton or houston or stokely on carmichael some fucking place after all tis the season and none of us are)
He recoiled in terror from that mental voice, his eyes widening, his hands tightening into claws on the counterpane. It hadn't been the voice of his father but a clever mimic. A voice he knew. Hoarse, brutal, yet underpointed with a vacuous sort of humor.
Was it so near, then?
He threw the covers back and swung his feet out onto the floor. He kicked his slippers out from under the bed and put them on. He went to the door and pulled it open and hurried up to the main corridor, his slippered feet whispering on the nap of the carpet runner. He turned the corner.
There was a man on all fours halfway down the corridor, between him and the stairs.
Danny froze.
The man looked up at him. His eyes were tiny and red. He was dressed in some sort of silvery, spangled costume. A dog costume, Danny realized. Protruding from the rump of this strange creation was a long and floppy tail with a puff on the end. A zipper ran up the back of the costume to the neck. To the left of him was a dog's or wolf's head, blank eyesockets above the muzzle, the mouth open in a meaningless snarl that showed the rug's black and blue pattern between fangs that appeared to be papier-mache.
The man's mouth and chin and cheeks were smeared with blood.
He began to growl at Danny. He was grinning, but the growl was real. It was deep in his throat, a chilling primitive sound. Then he began to bark. His teeth were also stained red. He began to crawl toward Danny, dragging his boneless tail behind him. The costume dog's head lay unheeded on the carpet, glaring vacantly over Danny's shoulder.
"Let me by," Danny said.
"I'm going to eat you, little boy," the dogman answered, and suddenly a fusillade of barks came from his grinning mouth. They were human imitations, but the savagery in them was real. The man's hair was dark, greased with sweat from his confining costume. There was a mixture of scotch and champagne on his breath.
Danny flinched back but didn't run. "Let me by."
"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin," the dogman replied. His small red eyes were fixed attentively on Danny's face. He continued to grin. "I'm going to eat you up, little boy. And I think I'll start with your plump little cock."
He began to prance skittishly forward, making little leaps and snarling.
Danny's nerve broke. He fled back into the short hallway that led to their quarters, looking back over his shoulder. There was a series of mixed howls and barks and growls, broken by slurred mutterings and giggles.
Danny stood in the hallway, trembling.
"Get it up!" the drunken dogman cried out from around the corner. His voice was both violent and despairing. "Get it up, Harry you bitch-bastard! I don't care how many casinos and airlines and movie companies you own! I know what you like in the privacy of your own h-home! Get it up! I'll huff... and I'll puff... until Harry Derwent's all bloowwwwn down!" He ended with a long, chilling howl that seemed to turn into a scream of rage and pain just before it dwindled off.
Danny turned apprehensively to the closed bedroom door at the end of the hallway and walked quietly down to it. He opened it and poked his head through. His mommy was sleeping in exactly the same position. No one was hearing this but him.
He closed the door softly and went back up to the intersection of their corridor and the main hall, hoping the dogman would be gone, the way the blood on the walls of the Presidential Suite had been gone. He peeked around the corner carefully.
The man in the dog costume was still there. He had put his head back on and was now prancing on all fours by the stairwell, chasing his tail. He occasionally leaped off the rug and came down making dog grunts in his throat.
"Woof! Woof! Bowwowwow! Grrrrrr!"
These sounds came hollowly out of the mask's stylized snarling mouth, and among them were sounds that might have been sobs or laughter.
Danny went back to the bedroom and sat down on his cot, covering his eyes with his hands. The hotel was running things now. Maybe at first the things that had happened had only been accidents. Maybe at first the things he had seen really were like scary pictures that couldn't hurt him. But now the hotel was controlling those things and they could hurt. The Overlook hadn't wanted him to go to his father. That might spoil all the fun. So it had put the dogman in his way, just as it had put the hedge animals between them and the road.
But his daddy could come here. And sooner or later his daddy would.
He began to cry, the tears rolling silently down his cheeks. It was too late. They were going to die, all three of them, and when the Overlook opened next late spring, they would be right here to greet the guests along with the rest of the spooks. The woman in the tub. The dogman. The horrible dark thing that had been in the cement tunnel. They would be-
(Stop! Stop that now!)
He knuckled the tears furiously from his eyes. He would try as hard as he could to keep that from happening. Not to himself, not to his daddy and mommy. He would try as hard as he could.
He closed his eyes and sent his mind out in a high, hard crystal bolt.
And suddenly, in the darkness behind his eyes the thing that chased him down the Overlook's dark halls in his dreams was there, right there, a huge creature dressed in white, its prehistoric club raised over its head:
"I'll make you stop it! You goddam puppy! I'll make you stop it because I am your FATHER!"
"No!" He jerked back to the reality of the bedroom, his eyes wide and staring, the screams tumbling helplessly from his mouth as his mother bolted awake, clutching the sheet to her breasts.
"No Daddy no no no-"
And they both heard the vicious, descending swing of the invisible club, cutting the air somewhere very close, then fading away to silence as he ran to his mother and hugged her, trembling like a rabbit in a snare.
The Overlook was not going to let him call Dick. That might spoil the fun, too.
They were alone.
Outside the snow came harder, curtaining them off from the world.