Yesterday I got a flu shot. Jim works for a hospital, and every year they have a huge initiative to get as much as the staff vaccinated as possible. This year he came home acting very self important. He told me that the flu would be responsible for the Zombie Apocalypse. Since he’d been vaccinated and I hadn’t, I’d become a zombie, he’d have to put me down, and then he’d find Taylor Swift to be his replacement wife. I wasn’t about to let THAT happen. If the world is going to end, it’s going to end with Jim pestering me to clean the toilets. Taylor Swift would only write songs about his love of disinfectant- but would she disinfect?! Really, this was a flu shot of spite.
I had to go to the doctor for a checkup anyway, so when they asked if I wanted a flu shot, I accepted. I was feeling pretty smug about it, until my arm started to hurt. A lot. Stupid sore arm. Now I’m stuck battling zombies with one arm. Pfft. When Jim got the swine flu a few years back, I didn’t even get sick. I’m probably IMMUNE to the zombie virus anyway. Now I have flu shot buyer’s remorse. So… In honor of my flu shot, zombies, and infectious diseases of all kinds, we’re going to talk about The Stand by Stephen King.
The Stand is one of two Stephen King novels I’ve read. The other, Bag of Bones, gave me nightmares, and that was REALLY tame. No scary clowns, no possessed twins, no child cults. I know my psyche well enough to know I can’t handle the King. But I LOVE dystopian fiction! Every book list I came across listed The Stand as one of the all time best dystopian novels, so I got brave. The novel is nothing short of epic. I mean that literally as well as figuratively, because this sucker is long. It’s also awesome.
The basic premise of The Stand is that the US government has engineered biological weapons. One of those weapons, a super flu, is released accidentally by a lone security guard trying to escape his military base. This flu kills 99% of the population. It’s not just a virus, it’s a mega mutating virus. Once a body begins to recover from the infection the virus changes and finds another way to kill them. It’s crazy. But it’s only 99% lethal… So there are a handful of people who are immune. The survivors slowly come across one another wandering about the country (King never really says if the virus spread past the US, but it’s implied that it’s a worldwide thing. He just didn’t write about, you know, the Chinese survivors. Because he’s from Maine, what does he know about Chinese apocalypse survivors?) The American survivors all begin to have dreams of an old African American woman and are drawn to her Midwestern farm. There, the mysterious old black woman known as Mother Abigail rallies her “troops” and heads off to re-establish society in Colorado.
At the same time that Mother Abigail is gathering the righteous, a sketchy supernatural being named Randall Flagg is gathering his own dark troops in Vegas. It all comes down to an epic battle of good vs. evil with the survivors of the plague. Toward the end it gets a little bizarre. I’m not opposed to supernatural happenings or religious imagery in any way… But… The Hand of God (literally… a hand coming out of the sky) smiting the evil doers was a bit Old Testament for my taste. In any case, you should read this book. It’s creepy. It gives a great picture of what happens to humanity in a disaster scenario. It’s allegorical and meaningful… And there are weasels. How often do you get to read books with weasel imagery?! I bet you didn’t even know there were weasels in North America, did you? They like eating birds. And, according to Stephen King, Righteous Old Ladies’ hard won chickens.
December 21st is just around the corner. Any of my bookworms prepping for Doomsday? (I doubt it, because if you were prepping for Doomsday, you’d be canning tomatoes and not reading my blog right now, but you know.)