|Habitat||Snowfield, California, and possibly other locations.|
|Behind the Scenes|
|Created by||Dean Koontz|
The Ancient Enemy is an amoeboid shapeshifter that is known to have attacked Snowfield, California, and possibly other locations.
The Snowfield survivors discover that the creature consumes other life forms as sustenance, and is able to perfectly mimic any creature it consumes. It can create small "probes" or "phantoms", imitating consumed life forms, to go forth and hunt more prey, obeying the orders of its "hive mind". In addition, the creature absorbs the mental capacity and memories of those it consumes, so its mind grows more powerful, intelligent and self-aware over time. (In fact, the creature initiates contact with the survivors and personally requests Flyte to come to Snowfield, referring to him as its "biographer".) Besides being able to mimic real animals and people, the creature can also form phantoms based on mental images from its victims; it takes sadistic delight in creating phantoms in the shape of religious demons and monsters to terrorize its victims before killing. The creature also apparently emits subtle psychic vibrations that its prey can sense. It is unknown if this is part of its biology or just another way of tormenting its victims.
The shapeshifting Ancient Enemy can contort its body into the smallest of spaces (through keyholes, air ducts, etc.), which is how it managed to kill and eat people who locked themselves inside rooms and cars. It also possesses extremely keen sensory organs and extremely fast speed, which explains why even the animals around Snowfield didn't escape its predation. Conventional weapons and firearms cause no damage to its gelatinous body. It feeds by completely enveloping its victims (hence the universal bruising seen earlier) and then secreting a digestive enzyme, thus leaving no biotic traces of its victims. Toward the end of the novel the monster declares that it considers all other life forms, including humans, to be intellectually "inferior" to itself, nothing more than cattle to be consumed when it is hungry. It keeps Flyte and a few others alive as "pets" for its own amusement.
The creature discloses to Flyte and the other survivors that it has come to think of itself as Satan, due to thoughts acquired from the minds of past humans it consumed (notably a devil worshiper). The absorption of these thoughts changed the creature over time from merely predatory to overtly sadistic; it engages in a number of intentional, non-predatory evils, including torture, psychological warfare, blasphemy, profanity, bigotry, attempted rape, and overall cruelty.
Ultimately, the Ancient Enemy's arrogance and human-derived ego prove to be its downfall. It "donates" a sample of its own tissue to the survivors and allows them to study it, confident that nothing they discover can be used against it. The characters not only discover what they need to kill the creature, but they also play its own ego against it to stall for time. The survivors use this time to acquire the weapons they need. In the end, the Ancient Enemy dies feeling the same fear and despair its victims experienced.
It is implied in the story that there may be more of these creatures scattered throughout the world.
- Phantoms, by Dean Koontz (1983)
- Phantoms, film (1998)