Stephen King's The Stand tells the story of a world that is ravaged by a deadly disease, and the dystopian battle between good and evil that erupts thereafter. In the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, King's famous 1978 novel is now more chilling than ever - but the author has other reasons for now bringing up The Stand and sharing it on social media. As you can see (and listen) below, Stephen King shared one particular chapter of The Stand that he thinks everyone needs to be reminded of. That's because chapter 8 of The Stand describes, with eerie detail, just how the spread of a pandemic happens, right under our noses.
Chapter 8 of THE STAND. This is how it works. Heed. (But remember COID-19 is not as lethal as the superflu.)https://t.co/yqvwbjoVMs— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 22, 2020
"Chapter 8 of THE STAND. This is how it works. Heed. (But remember COID-19 is not as lethal as the superflu.)" --Stephen King
Chapter 8 of The Stand, starts with one character, Joe Bob Brentwood an infected policeman, who pulls over a speeder named Harry Trent. What follows is a causal description new characters, each going about their daily lives, unaware that they've contracted the deadly disease called "Captain Tripp's" from another character they've made contact with. The narrator describes each person with chilling foreknowledge of how they'll soon be dead, as well as their loved ones. Each person is simply caught in the drama of their own life, oblivious of the calamity that's already in motion. Finally, King ends the chapter by likening a pandemic to a chain letter, which each person passes along to another:
"Chain letters don't work, it's a known fact. The million dollars or so you are promised if you just send one single dollar to the name at the top of the list, add yours to the bottom, and then send the letter to five friends, never arrives. This one, the Captain Tripp's chain letter, worked very well. The pyramid was indeed being built, not from the bottom up but from the tip down - said tip being a deceased army security guard named Charles Campion.
All the chickens were coming home to roost - only instead of the mailman bringing each participant bale after bale of letters, each containing a single dollar bill, Captain Tripps brought bales of bedrooms, with a body or two in each one, and trenches and dead pits, and finally bodies slung into the oceans on each coast, and into quarries, and into the foundations of unfinished houses. And in the end, of course, the bodies would rot where they fell."
Stephen King has denounced coronavirus comparisons to The Stand in effort to calm unnecessary panic, but it's not hard to see why he thought that particular excerpt might educate people. The chain letter model is surely outdated, but not the point: social distancing is needed to stop a pandemic, or the outcome can be something straight out of a Stephen King nightmare.
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