When the telephone in Dean R. Koontz's office rang on the afternoon of September 20, 1988, he answered it without a second thought. Since the horror/suspense fiction author’s number was unlisted, he knew he’d hear a familiar voice greeting him on the other end.
Which he did. The voice was distant, but he still recognized it as belonging to his beloved mother Florence.
“Be careful!” she told her son. She repeated this brief warning three more times before the line went silent. After a few moments Koontz hung up the phone, dumbfounded by what had just occurred.
His astonishment was partly based on his mom’s message – “what does it mean?!?” he asked himself in bewilderment.
But primarily he was shocked because his mother Florence had passed away two decades earlier.
Yes, it seems Dean R. Koontz’s mother had phoned not from the family home in Pennsylvania but from a phone booth located somewhere in the cloudy realms of the afterlife.
Koontz tried to convince himself he’d been tricked and that the voice had belonged to someone else. But his phone number was private, and he couldn’t imagine anyone he knew making calling and imitating his mother as a prank, or as a way to get attention.
Two days later, his “mom’s” words still on his mind, Koontz went to visit his father Ray in the psychiatric ward where the latter had been living. Dean’s father was a diagnosed sociopath who’d abused him terribly in his youth. But still the famous author had agreed to pay for his dad’s care at a live-in mental health facility near his California home.
On the day Dean R. Koontz stopped by his father had been misbehaving, shouting at facility staff members and threatening other residents. After Dean took his dad back to his room the cagey old predator pounced; he pulled a sharp fishing knife out of a drawer and attacked his son with malice and ferocity.
Koontz had been uneasy in Ray’s presence that day and reacted quickly to the attack, wrestling the knife away before his father could consummate the murderous assault. To this day Dean credits the phone call from his mother – if it was from her – for putting him on alert and in the proper state of mind to defend his life when it was in danger.
“I don’t claim it was a ghost,” Koontz told one interviewer when speaking about the call. “I don’t know what I believe … I think you always have to keep some skepticism about things like this, but it’s comforting to think there may be a realm where the personality survives.”
Thanks to the warning he received from that mysterious concerned caller Dean R. Koontz’s personality survived, right here on Earth, where millions of readers have continued to enjoy his scary and imaginative best-selling novels.
The top image is an except from the book cover for the book "Deeply Odd" by Dean Koontz.