The Stand Journal 7: The Walking Dead

Reading the Stand again is like driving down a long road you've been over before.  The first time you were very focused on getting to the right destination.  But when you take the trip again, you see things you previously overlooked.  There are stretches of road that are not as interesting because you know them so well.  And then there are spots in the road you don't remember at all.


The journey the major characters take is pretty familiar to me. Larry and Rita, Harold and Fran and even the early parts of Tom and Nick.  But then there is a story in the Tom and Nick episode I had completely forgotten.  In fact, I wonder if I ever read it at all!  I know I read the novel in High School.  And read it a couple times abridged.  I thumbed through the first edition of The Stand and found that the Twister is not there.  It was cut!  Or, perhaps King added it brand new to the revised edition. Either way, it is unique to the Complete and Uncut story.  It certainly spooks things up!

Soon after Nick meets Tom a Tornado descends and Tom goes running for his life.  Nick soon follows, and quickly takes refuge in a storm cellar.  Only, they aren't alone.  There is a "family" of "rat gnawed corpses" down there.  I like this set up, since they can't run away!  Usually in a scary story you think, "Just move!  Who hands out with a creepy corpse!"  (Take Amityville Horror for instance.  When the door comes open and a deep voice says, "GET OUT!"  You should move.  That's the clue that things aren't going to go well.)  But Tom and Nick can't get out, because the storm cellar is their only hope of surviving the twister.

But more is down there than just the corpses.  It is something they feel.  An evil that came out of the twister.
as the time passed, he became convinced that he and Tom were not alone in the storm cellar. (422) . . .
What he felt was the presence of another being, and he became more and more convinced who—or what—it was. It was the dark man, the man who came to life in his dreams, the creature whose spirit he had sensed in the black heart of the cyclone. (422)
Later, Tom acknowledges that he also sensed the evil presence.
“Someone was in there,” Tom said abruptly. . . 
. . . “No,” Tom said. “Not just us. Someone else. Someone who cameout of the twister.”
That's good!  Really good.  The scenes with Nick and Tom are some of the best.  Nick often picks up on things that seem quite unlikely -- but as a reader I'm willing to give Mr. King a pass on that.  Nick seems able to read lips as easily as we might read a book.  I'm not sure lip reading is that easy.  But, there has to be some means of communication to move the story forward.  I give King high marks for daring to use a character  who is both deaf and mute.

In the Mick Garris miniseries, Tom Cullen is played by Bill Fagerbakke, who was Dauber on Coach.  Now it's hard to watch Coach reruns and not see Tom.  Of course,  he's also Patrick on SpongeBob SquarePants.

Walking Dead:

I also noticed several times that King used the word, "The walking dead" in The Stand.  This is a reference of a vision Larry had in the tunnel.  Here's one reference:
It was the devil, and he was stalking Larry with a lightless grin frozen on his face. The black man wasn’t the walking dead; he was worse than the walking dead. Larry ran with the slow sludgy panic of bad dreams, tripping over unseen corpses, knowing they were staring at him with the glassy eyes of stuffed trophies from the crypts of their cars, which had stalled inside the frozen traffic even though they had some other place to be, he ran, but what good was running when the black devil man, the black magic man, could see in the dark with eyes like snooperscopes? (439)
Check this out from Stephen King's website/message board: "The Walking Dead is in the middle of it's 3rd season. It's my favorite show currently on TV. But I can't escape the thought that it resembles The Stand in more than one way. Society has been wiped out by a flu and the dictator of the evil people, The Governor seems to me to be Randall Flagg lite." (


  1. Oh dear, I knew about the "Coach" connection, the Sponge Bob connection was right out of left field.

    I get what you say though about stopping to check out things previously overlooked (no pun actually intended, believe it or not).

    For instance, on my recent read through I've stopped to examine Harold, who I always passed over on my way to other sections of the novel.

    A question I wondered is how much of Harold Lauder made it into the fictional version of Lee Harvey Oswald in 11/22/63, and is there at least some ind of ground for thinking of them as at least the same "type" of character?


    P.S. Happy Easter

  2. Chris,

    How insightful! Lee Harvy is very much like Harold.

    . . . Passover before Resurrection.


    1. Don't know if this helps or hunders, but a good book I've found is Alexander Schmemann's "For the Life of the World".