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The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower #7)
Author:Stephen King

The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower #7)
Stephen King


Part One THE LITTLE RED KING

Chapter I:CALLAHAN AND THE VAMPIRES

ONE

Pere Don Callahan had once been the Catholic priest of a town, 'salem's Lot had been its name, that no longer existed on any map. He didn't much care. Concepts such as reality had ceased to matter to him.

This onetime priest now held a heathen object in his hand, a scrimshaw turtle made of ivory. There was a nick in its beak and a scratch in the shape of a question mark on its back, but otherwise it was a beautiful thing.

Beautiful and powerful. He could feel the power in his hand like volts.

"How lovely it is," he whispered to the boy who stood with him. "Is it the Turtle Maturin? It is, isn't it?"

The boy was Jake Chambers, and he'd come a long loop in order to return almost to his starting-place here in Manhattan.

"I don't know," he said. "She calls it the skoldpadda, and it may help us, but it can't kill the harriers that are waiting for us in there." He nodded toward the Dixie Pig, wondering if he meant Susannah or Mia when he used that all-purpose feminine pronoun she. Once he would have said it didn't matter because the two women were so tightly wound together. Now, however, he thought it did matter, or would soon.

"Will you?" Jake asked the Pere, meaning Will you stand.

Will you fight. Will you kill.

"Oh yes," Callahan said calmly. He put the ivory turtle with its wise eyes and scratched back into his breast pocket with the extra shells for the gun he carried, then patted the cunningly made tiling once to make sure it rode safely. "I'll shoot until the bullets are gone, and if I run out of bullets before they kill me,

I'll club them with the... the gun-butt."

The pause was so slight Jake didn't even notice it. But in that pause, the White spoke to Father Callahan. It was a force he knew of old, even in boyhood, although there had been a few years of bad faith along the way, years when his understanding of that elemental force had first grown dim and then become lost completely. But those days were gone, the White was his again, and he told God thankya.

Jake was nodding, saying something Callahan barely heard.

And what Jake said didn't matter. What that other voice said-the voice of something

(Gan)

perhaps too great to be called God-did.

The boy must go on, the voice told him. Whatever happens here, however it falls, the boy must go on. Your part in the story is almost done. His is not.

They walked past a sign on a chrome post (CLOSED FOR PRIVATE FUNCTION), Jake's special friend Oy trotting between them, his head up and his muzzle wreathed in its usual toothy grin. At the top of the steps, Jake reached into the woven sack Susannah-Mio had brought out of Calla Bryn Sturgis and grabbed two of the plates-the 'Rizas. He tapped them together, nodded at the dull ringing sound, and then said: "Let's see yours."

Callahan lifted the Rugerjake had brought out of Calla New York, and now back into it; life is a wheel and we all say thankya.

For a moment the Pere held the Ruger's barrel beside his right cheek like a duelist. Then he touched his breast pocket, bulging with shells, and with the turde. The skoldpadda.

Jake nodded. "Once we're in, we stay together. Always together, with Oy between. On three. And once we start, we never stop."

"Never stop."

"Right. Are you ready?"

"Yes. God's love on you, boy."

"And on you, Pere. One... two... three." Jake opened the door and together they went into the dim light and the sweet tangy smell of roasting meat.

TWO

Take went to what he was sure would be his death remembering two things Roland Deschain, his true father, had said. Battles that last five minutes spawn legends that live a thousand years. And You needn't die happy when your day comes, but you must die satisfied, for you have lived your life from beginning to end and ka is always served.

Jake Chambers surveyed the Dixie Pig with a satisfied mind.

THREE

Also with crystal clarity. His senses were so heightened that he could smell not just roasting flesh but the rosemary with which it had been rubbed; could hear not only the calm rhythm of his breath but the tidal murmur of his blood climbing brainward on one side of his neck and descending heartward on the other.

He also remembered Roland's saying that even the shortest battle, from first shot to final falling body, seemed long to those taking part. Time grew elastic; stretched to the point of vanishment. Jake had nodded as if he understood, although he hadn't.

Now he did.