It was sunny when Daniel Torrance returned to the Overlook Hotel.
The Overlook didn't look that different than his memories. Maybe the Shine made the memories stick; maybe he'd picked them up from all Mom had remembered.
He knew, deep inside, that he shouldn't have come back, that the Overlook would want him, would never stop looking for what was inside of him. The power.
But he was an adult now, and he'd come to terms with that power. He knew, now, what was inside him, how to wield and control it. And he'd come in summer; no way he was taking any chances with the snow.
As it was, he felt the voices murmur as he crossed the threshold. They knew he was back. Dad would know he was back.
But that was why he was here, after all. The hotel had taken his father. Maybe they'd wanted him all along, but his father had been an adequate substitute.
His father had been violent, and dark, and dangerous, but he'd also told him funny stories and barbecued in the backyard and dressed up as Santa Claus every Christmas. He'd loved Daniel's mother, once. He didn't deserve to be here. No one at the Overlook did, not really.
One man, even one with a power as strong as Daniel's, could save everyone. But he'd spent years learning his craft, and he thought he could take the hotel on for a lost soul or two. Arrogant, of course. He'd inherited that from his father. But he figured he'd inherited his mother's strength, too. He’d brought a plan. He’d brought a team.
There weren't many people like Daniel in the world--he'd realized years ago why Mr. Hallorann had been so excited to meet him. But he wasn't alone, and he'd put some discreet ads in a few newspapers and magazines once he hit high school. He knew nineteen people who weren't frauds or hoaxes. Two children.
No way in hell Daniel was inviting any children to the Overlook.
Most of the people with the Shine couldn't afford to come out here anyway. It was hard to keep a steady job. People didn't always trust you. Most of them had grown up without anyone around to guide their power, which only made things more difficult. It meant you didn't have a lot of money, or a job that you could drop for a vacation to the most isolated hotel in the Rockies. Daniel was one of the lucky ones; a degree, a teaching job, which meant summers off. There were plenty of people who’d been made more vulnerable or sick by the power, too.
But six people had come to the Overlook for this fight. Carol and Daria, twin sisters a few years younger than Daniel. Alan, a retired naval officer, who had maybe the most control of anyone Daniel had ever met. Sam, who'd been a hippie and still believed in crystals and chanting. Hell, if it worked for her, Daniel was all for it. Sophie, who was nearing ninety, and didn't expect to leave the Overlook alive. Daniel had tried to convince her not to come, but she pointed out that she had little to lose. "And I'm a grandmother, dear," she'd added. "You need someone who's good with children."
That was another thing the Shine made harder. When you picked up secrets without even trying, relationships were a struggle. Daniel hadn't even come close to getting married. And the thought of having children--be honest, the thought of being Dad--terrified him. Alan had been married, but had never had children, and the rest of them were single. He or Sophie were the best chance to reach the Grady girls, if the girls remembered him.
He still dreamt about the girls. Come play with us, Danny. They hadn't had a mother as strong--or as lucky, maybe both--as he had. Dick Hallorann hadn't come just in time with a snow cat for them. Play with us forever and ever and ever.
They would be twenty years lonelier now.
The Overlook’s grand lobby looked different. Less gilt, more modern. The brochure said they had cable TV and a modern phone in every room. Probably the same radio relay as his mother had fought with all those years ago, though. Probably the same freezers and storerooms.
It wasn't anything they'd talked about much. They'd moved to Florida, found a condo. His mother worked at a restaurant. Young Danny had bussed tables as he'd gotten older, and it'd given him a chance to learn to control the Shine a little better. Crowds were hard. Exposure helped. Without that work, he might never have made it through college.
Everyone he’d brought had agreed to check in separately; Carol and Daria should already be in place. The hotel probably wouldn't be fooled, but why take chances when you didn't have to?
Well. Daniel had known it was going to happen. He didn't realize it would be so damn fast. Hi, Dad.
He could sense his father’s breath before him, cold and sharp as ice. Dad had been a little shorter than Daniel was now. He’d forgotten that. About time you came back here. Wow, you've grown.
Daniel squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. He could see Dad, the way he was when times were good, when he could be loving, kind. Don't think of the snow. Don't think of the screaming. That's just going to show...them...weakness.
Dad’s voice was happy. Excited. You're old enough to have a drink, now. The bar's great. They have some kind of neon crap up there, but the booze is still good. They don't water down the top shelf. Don't bother with the rest.
I'll remember that, but let me check in, will you, Dad? They'll think I'm crazy if I start talking with you here.
Right. Crazy. His father chuckled.
That answered two questions, right away: The Overlook had kept his dad, and they sure weren't through with screwing with Daniel Torrance.
Daniel squeezed the totem in his hand. He'd gotten that three years ago, from a Russian immigrant who had spent most of his life dealing with ghosts. It wouldn't make them go away--nothing would--and it sure wouldn’t quiet the voices, but it would reduce their power.
You wanted me, you got me, he thought defiantly, before he could think better of it.
He heard laughter in reply. His father's, joined with more voices. The mocking laughter of adults at a dinner party. No fear in it at all.
What the hell had he been thinking? A hundred years of death and mayhem and addiction. A million little sins behind the doors. And he'd brought six people and a little bone carving. Arrogant.
Not arrogant, Tony said, in his mind. Tony was just an echo now, but an echo Daniel knew he could trust. Caring. That's what your mother had. That's how she saved you and got out. That's how we'll get out.
I hope you're right.
Have I ever steered you wrong?
Not really, Daniel admitted, and rolled his luggage up to the registration desk.