News From The Dead Zone #114

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Scribner has issued this plot synopsis of the upcoming 1120-page novel Under the Dome:

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mills, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.

It looks like It will be remade as a feature film. Warner Bros. has hired Dave Kajganich to adapt the novel, with Dan Lin and Vertigo’s Roy Lee and Doug Davison producing. Though it’s hard to take stories seriously at this point, when the script hasn’t even been written, the rumor is that it will focus on the adult Losers rather than flipping back and forth between the two eras. Kajganich is also attached to a remake of Pet Sematary.

News From The Dead Zone #113

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

This weekend’s issue of USA Weekend magazine features a King cover story, 35 Scary Years with Stephen King. The article is also online at the USA Weekend website. To find out what newspapers carry the insert in your area, go here.

Here’s an article where King’s agent, Ralph Vicinanza, discusses “Ur.” The story is now available for iPhone users, too, but not for general audiences yet.

Director Mick Garris and producer Mark Sennet met with Maine Governor John Baldacci last week to discuss the possibility of filming Bag of Bones in Maine and to explore financial incentives for the film. Bag of Bones has a $20 million budget, and Sennet expects to spend $10 million wherever the film is made. Filming could begin as early as this summer.

Here’s a new website for the film adaptation of Dolan’s Cadillac.

Here are interviews with Robin Furth and Tony Shasteen from New York Comic Con, discussing the Del Ray graphic adaptation of The Talisman. There have been reports of an Issue 0 installment featuring an episode that does not appear in the book itself, but serves as a prequel to the whole story.

In Entertainment Weekly: Torture and “24” and I love Breaking Bad

News From The Dead Zone #112

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

February 10, 2009: A brief update about yesterday’s announcement concerning King’s new novella, “Ur,” which features the Amazon Kindle. An Amazon official estimates that “Ur” would run about 100 traditional print pages. There’s a video of King reading from “Ur” on YouTube and an interview here.

Shivers 5 Free Read: “One More Day” by Brian Freeman

chizmar14Cemetery Dance Publications is proud to announce the fifth entry in this award-nominated and best-selling anthology series!  Shivers V contains over twenty short stories from today’s most popular authors, including Stewart O’Nan, Graham Masterton, Mick Garris, Chet Williamson, Simon Clark, R. Patrick Gates, Ronald Kelly, John Skipp & Cody Goodfellow, Al Sarrantonio, Rick Hautala, Kealan Patrick Burke, Robin Furth, Nick Mamatas, Scott Nicholson, Del James, and many others.  Featuring original dark fiction with a handful of rare reprints, Shivers V is available only as a beautiful perfect-bound trade paperback from Cemetery Dance Publications.

Today we’re pleased to present Brian Freeman’s story “One More Day” for free here in the Free Reads section:

“One More Day”

by Brian Freeman

Michael wasn’t sure exactly how long he had been chained naked to the floor of the Big Man’s Punishment Room, but he did know the Big Man would be coming back soon.  Then the bleeding and the screaming and the torture would start again.  Michael wasn’t sure he could survive another night.

The coldness of the Punishment Room had long ago seeped through his skin and taken hold of his bones.  The smooth concrete floor and the metal drain near his feet were stained with dried blood.  On the wall across from him was the wide mirror that relentlessly showed his reflection.  He couldn’t help but stare into it, watching himself deteriorate.

The hallucinations were growing stronger and more vivid with each passing day.  His body was exhausted and his eyes burned from the horror of the things he had seen and done… but still, he prayed to live for one more day.

That was how you made it through this sort of thing–or so he had decided early on as the days and the nights blurred together.  There were no windows in the Punishment Room, of course, just that damned mirror, but Michael believed the Big Man didn’t come to see him until after dark.  It was just a hunch, though.  The time between visits was horrible and the nights were full of their own terrors, but now the nightmares weren’t nearly as bad as what happened when Michael was awake. In fact, the nightmares were almost comforting in their own bizarre way.  At least in his dreams, he was in control.  He didn’t have to do the terrible things the Big Man demanded… or face the consequences for non-compliance.

Assuming Michael managed to escape this hellhole with his sanity and his life–and those odds were looking worse and worse with each passing visit of the Big Man–he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to go on living with the knowledge of what he had done to survive… but then again, that was a dilemma he wouldn’t mind being forced to deal with, given the finality of the alternative. He took the pain and the punishment one day at a time, hoping each day would be the last time he ever came face to face with the Big Man.  And when the Big Man entered the Punishment Room like clockwork and made his unspoken demands, Michael would do what he had to do to keep on living for another day, his eyes never leaving his own reflection in the mirror.

Every night the Big Man gave him the same two options, and Michael hated the cold eyes staring back at him in the mirror as he made his choice.  He never stopped staring at himself, judging himself for what he had done, contemplating how he had ended up here in the first place.

Michael knew he might eventually escape from this endless Hell–there was always a slim chance, he was certain of that–but there was no escaping his own tired, bloodshot eyes.  Some days he gazed at his reflection for so long he felt like he was watching someone else, a spooky feeling under the best of conditions.  The growing darkness in his eyes scared him, but what else could he do all day long?

So he sat and he waited and he watched the mirror.  He barely recognized the man in the reflection, the man sitting upright against a bloodstained cinderblock wall.  The prisoner’s hands were chained to heavy anchors in the floor, but he had enough range of movement to do what the Big Man demanded… if he didn’t want to suffer more than necessary.  If he didn’t want to choose his other option.

Day after day after day passed.  The nightmares grew worse, the Big Man’s terrible choices became more maddening, and soon Michael saw movement in the mirror when he was all alone.  Darkness shifting and jumping in the corners.  His own eyes, big and red and tired, peering back at him, searching for some escape from the terror.  The eyes in the mirror moved while his own eyes remained still.

And as always, after another string of endless hours spent staring at himself, watching those strange eyes he didn’t recognize, Michael heard the footsteps echoing down the stairs.  Then the door hidden in the corner of the room opened.

Michael’s heart began to race and he closed his eyes.  He didn’t want to know what the next punishment would be–and he definitely didn’t want to see who the Big Man might have brought with him today.

Yet keeping his eyes closed meant nothing when he heard the small voice whisper: “Mikey?”

His eyes flew open and he stared in horror at his little sister.  He had practically raised Alicia.  He had changed her diapers and taken her to the doctor when she was sick; he had enrolled her in elementary school and helped with her homework; he had explained the real reason why the boys on the playground were picking on her; he had encouraged her to make friends and learn as much as she could and to take chances and think for herself.  Alicia meant the world to him and he would have done anything for her, to protect her.  He would never hurt her… and she would never hurt him.

Alicia wore her best Sunday dress and she had obviously been crying.  She knew why she was here.

Towering above her was the Big Man dressed all in black with the mask protecting his face.  He led Michael’s little sister by the hand–his gloved hand was huge, engulfing her small fingers–but his grip wasn’t tight and Alicia didn’t struggle the way Michael had when he first awoke in this terrible place.  Her eyes were big, yet she showed no fear.  She understood what had to be done.

In her left hand, Alicia held a pair of pliers.

“Oh Alicia, no,” Michael whispered.  He tried to believe that she was a hallucination–maybe he had finally lost his mind for good, maybe this was just another nightmare–but he had known the truth the instant he heard her voice.

The Big Man let go of Alicia’s hand and she crossed the room and sat down on the floor in front of her big brother.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

He began to cry.  So did she.

The Big Man watched the events unfold with his usual detached silence.  This was his room–he controlled what happened and when, yet he said nothing.

“I am, too,” Michael replied, staring at the grimy metal drain in the concrete floor.  He couldn’t even look his little sister in the eyes as he considered his options one more time.  He could finally take his own life and end the pain for good–which would also allow his little sister to go free without suffering through the horror of what was to come–or he could do what the Big Man silently asked him to do.

These were the same two options Michael was presented every evening–just with a different person waiting in front of him, holding a different tool or weapon–and as Michael grew more tired, as the eyes in the mirror became darker and darker, the two options seemed more and more similar.

Michael looked at Alicia, and she nodded and tried to hand him the pliers.

She was closer to him than anyone in the world, but deep down Michael knew he wanted to live for another day.

Another hellish, terrible day.

Another day of hoping to escape.

Another day of praying to live to regret what he had done.

Just one more day.

So he looked up and he watched in the mirror as the stranger he didn’t recognize took the pliers and did what needed to be done.

#

Later, after the Big Man had disposed of yet another body, the pool of Alicia’s blood continued to drip down the metal drain while Michael stared at the stranger’s eyes in the mirror.  He didn’t blink for the longest time, but his mouth moved silently.

After a few minutes of this unspoken conversation with his reflection, Michael pulled his left hand close to his mouth, the security chains growing taut between him and the heavy anchor in the floor.  He began to chew on his wrist.

The blood came soon after.

#

“Oh my God!  I can’t stand to watch this anymore.”

Like always, the gray haired lady had been given the best seat in the house: she sat in a stiff, plastic chair directly on the other side of the large two-way mirror facing the prisoner.  The viewing room was cold and sterile, and the witnesses for the State murmured at the latest development occurring before their eyes.  Michael Cooper, prisoner 82726782B, really was chewing at his wrist.

“That’s acceptable, Mrs. Lawson,” the Government Official said from his chair in the control booth.  “You know Mr. Cooper’s punishment ends as soon as you tell us he’s been rehabilitated and your family is satisfied that society has been repaid for his crimes.  Is this what you’re saying?”

The little old woman rubbed her face with her brittle fingers and contemplated what had happened since the prisoner ran out of appeals, what had been done on the other side of the mirror, the horrors she had witnessed.

She whispered: “I just never imagined it would be so… gruesome.  The way he keeps staring at me….”

“You can set him free whenever you’d like.  That is how the system works, after all.”

The old woman sat behind the mirror, watching the boy who had killed her granddaughter.  She watched him and her heart dropped into her stomach and she heard her granddaughter’s sweet laughter at a Thanksgiving dinner long lost to the past.

The old woman flinched as the boy chewed at his bloody arm, and she asked herself again and again how much more she could really stand to see, to hear, before she’d go mad.  How much more punishment did this boy deserve until everything had been made right?  And how much more could she take?

Then she heard her granddaughter’s laughter again, and she remembered that cold day many years before when she found the little body huddled on the bedroom floor, stripped and broken.

There had been so much blood.

Her little granddaughter never had a chance.

The old woman remembered all of this for the millionth time and then she said: “I think I can stand the sight for another day.  Just one more day.”

And then she watched the prisoner consume his own flesh while the witnesses for the State whispered their words of reassurance.

— end —

News From The Dead Zone #111

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

King’s next novella, “Ur,” was inspired by the Amazon Kindle book reader. At today’s launch of the Kindle2, Amazon announced that “Ur” would be available on the newest version of the device. Early indications were that it was to be an exclusive release, but there may be a non-Kindle version available for purchase as well. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Here’s a description of the story: “Following a nasty break-up, lovelorn college English instructor Wesley Smith can’t seem to get his ex-girlfriend’s parting shot out of his head: ‘Why can’t you just read off the computer like the rest of us?’ Egged on by her question and piqued by a student’s suggestion, Wesley places an order for Amazon.com’s Kindle eReader. The [pink?] device that arrives in a box stamped with the smile logo – via one-day delivery that he hadn’t requested – unlocks a literary world that even the most avid of book lovers could never imagine. But once the door is open, there are those things that one hopes we’ll never read or live through.”

King appeared at the Kindle2 launch and read from “Ur.” There are pictures of him reading from his Kindle here (images 4 & 5 of the slideshow) and a Q&A with King at USA Today.

News From The Dead Zone #110

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

USA Weekend will have a cover story on Stephen King in its March 6-8 issue. Lorrie Lynch flew up to Maine to talk to him in December. “We got into a discussion of popular authors vs. the academic elite, a subject he has strong opinions about, and I asked him if his mainstream success over the past 35 years paved the way for the massive careers of Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and Twilight author Stephenie Meyer.” Click read more for King’s feelings about those two as well as some other best-selling authors.

There’s a new video interview with King at Borders to promote the release of Stephen King Goes to the Movies.

Captain Trips, the first series of graphic novels adapting The Stand, will be released in a hardcover omnibus edition on March 10th.

Dark Tower: Guide to Gilead will be out this month. Since the Golden Age of Eld — when Gilead was first named the capital of the fledgling Kingdom of All-World — the city has served as Mid-World’s most influential urban center. In the latest DARK TOWER handbook, explore Gilead’s seedy Lower Town and its affluent West End corridor! Learn about the religions of Buffalo Star and the Queen o’ Green Days! Marvel at the legend of Lord Perth! Beware the threats posed by the Blue-Faced Barbarians and Kuvian Night Soldiers! The Guide to Gilead is the only way to navigate the past, present and future of this magnificent metropolis!

This will be followed on March 11th by a single-issue installment Dark Tower: Sorcerer, “probing deeply into the incredible life of Marten Broadcloak. We learn his deadly secret agenda and true goal is not to serve the Crimson King, but to climb to the top of the Dark Tower itself and become the overlord of all existence!”

There’s a new Dark Tower critique out: Inside the Dark Tower Series: Art, Evil and Intertextuality in the Stephen King Novels by Patrick McAleer. “Stephen King is no stranger to the realm of literary criticism, but his most fantastic, far-reaching work has aroused little academic scrutiny. This study of King’s epic Dark Tower series encompasses the career of one of the world’s best-selling authors and frames him as more than a “horror writer.” Four categories of analysis–genre, art, evil, and intertextuality–provide a focused look at the center of King’s fictional universe. This book reaches beyond popular culture treatments of the series and examines it against King’s horror work, audience expectations, and the larger literary landscape.”

A new stage version of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption will have its world premiere at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin on May 19 with previews starting on May 14. Adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns and directed by Peter Sheridan.

According to an article an earlier article in USA Weekend: Stephen King has gone multimedia. “N.,” one of the tales in the best-selling author’s latest short story collection, Just After Sunset, was turned into an original Web video series in conjunction with Marvel Comics. The collaboration has inspired King, 61; he’s thinking about doing a YouTube video for his novel Under the Dome, out later this year. Such projects are definitely fun, King says. “But with all these multimedia things, the story is the story still, the book is the book, and that’s the source material. As J.R.R. Tolkien might say, ‘That’s the one ring.’ It rules the other one.”

Del Rey announced the adaptor and artist on the comic book and graphic novel versions of The Talisman which debuts early this fall. The book will be penciled and inked by Tony Shasteen, and will be scripted by Robin Furth. Lettering and project management will be handled by Dabel Brothers Publishing.

King’s best of 2008 columns:

And two other recent EW columns:

Have you visited the virtual office at King’s official web site yet? The Cafe Press storefront is also open.

News From The Dead Zone #109

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Just After Sunset is now out. King sat down with the people at Borders to conduct this interview about the book. Here are recent reviews:

New issues of Dark Tower: Treachery and The Stand are out this week from Marvel.

Under the Dome will be released by Scribner in the Fall of 2009, according to SK’s MB moderator. In a new interview with Salon magazine, King says, “it deals with some of the same issues that The Stand does, but in a more allegorical way.”

The master of suspense picks three contemporary classics for Barnes and Noble Review.

King has an essay entitled “The Genius of “The Tell-Tale Heart” in the MWA collection In the Shadow of the Master: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe and Essays

King weighs in on the election campaign in this Entertainment Weekly article: The HD Candidates.

Frontis for the deluxe Lettered Edition of A Chapbook For Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis, and Ministers by Ray Bradbury

Bradbury Chapbook

This artwork is available only with the deluxe Lettered Edition of A Chapbook For Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis, and Ministers by Ray Bradbury. Artwork © Alan M. Clark.