Tue, Oct 10
31 HORROR STORIES – "The Jaunt" (1981)@ 12:00 PM
All you Stephen King haters can suck Randall Flagg's dick.
I know he's had some lean years, quality-wise. You can watch the decline through the short story collections -- NIGHT SHIFT is rocket fuel, SKELETON CREW is Jack Daniels and Coke, and NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES is room temperature Capri Sun. But have you read EVERYTHING'S EVENTUAL? He's mellowed, but now there are deeper, darker tones -- horror in broad daylight, and wearing chinos. It's as if King, mastering every aspect of vampires, demons, ghosts and serial killers, sees horror with Kryptonian vision.
And yeah, there's so many of his stories I wanted to pick. I was even tempted to cheat and pick "The Mist", which is a novella. The fact that it's one of the Scariest Things Ever Written, I think, gives it a pass.
But I'm picking "The Jaunt", because the sheer horror of it was reassuring. After NIGHT SHIFT, I was worried about some of the duds in SKELETON CREW. And the fact that "The Jaunt" is hard science fiction (he consulted Ben Bova!) and still manages to give me daymares shows the permanence of King's talent. I don't think a month has gone by when I haven't thought of this story. The ending is bad enough -- the perils of teleportation. Yes, teleportation.
But there's a moment, halfway through -- an ANECDOTE, fer chrissakes -- that'll sneak up and grab your scream nerve. You'll know it when it happens.
And that's why he's the King.