The Stand-Dark Tower Interlude


I learned that, in one of Stephen King’s books in The Dark Tower series, the main characters visit the world of The Stand. The protagonists–Roland, Eddie, Susannah and Jake–have just taken a train that took them out of their world and into the world of The Stand. (I can’t remember if it is outright stated, or simply implied, that this is a parallel universe) They are surprised to find themselves in our world, and even more surprised at the lack of people.

I wish this newspaper article had been included in The Stand, but I can understand why it was not. It was not needed there because we knew what was happening. The newspaper article is absolutely needed here in order to set the context. Personally, I read The Dark Tower series before I read The Stand, so all of this totally went over my head at the time. In fact, I was kind of skimming over this part because it did not seem important at all. I did not understand why it was included. Now I know.

When Jake and Roland see some corpses in the train station, Jake finds a news stand and reads a newspaper article. I am going to post it here.

The date on the article, mentioned at the end, is June 24, 1986.

So, the Newspaper article is presumably from the original edited edition. I’m not honestly sure if this book came out before the revised unedited edition of The Stand, or if King just wanted to stick with the original date because plot reasons. It’s not really relevant to our discussion here, so we will set the matter aside.

The following is quoted from The Dark Tower Book 4: Wizard and Glass. Chapter 4:

“Captain Trips”

Superflu Rages Unchecked

Govt Leaders May Have Fled Country Topeka Hospitals Jammed with sick, Dying

Millions Pray for a Cure


There’s a picture on the cover showing

A lakeside city with its skyline in flames. CLEVELAND FIRES BURN UNCHECKED the caption read.

Didn’t Trashcan Man set fires in Cleveland? I’m too lazy to look this up, but I’m pretty sure this is the case.

America’s greatest crisis–and the world’s, perhaps–deepened overnight as the so-called superflu, known as Tube-Neck in the Midwest and Captain Trips in California continues to spread.

Although the death toll can only be estimated, medical experts say the total at this point is horrible beyond comprehension: twenty to thirty million dead in the continental US alone is the estimate given by Dr. Morris Hackford of Topeka’s St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Bodies are being burned from Los Angeles, California, to Boston, Massachusetts, in crematoria, factory furnaces, and at landfill sites.

Here in Topeka, the bereaved who are still well enough and strong enough to do so are urged to take their dead to one of 3 sites: the disposal plant north of Oakland Billard Park; the pit area at Heartland Park Race Track, the landfill on Southeast 61st street, east of Forbes Field. Landfill users should approach by Berryton Road; California has been blocked by car wrecks and at least one downed Air Force transport plane, sources tell us.

Dr. April Montoya of the Stormont Vail Regional Medical Center points out that the death-toll, horrifying as it is, constitutes only part of this terrible story. “For every person who has died so far as a result of this new flu strain,” Montoys said, “There are another 6 who are lying ill in their homes, perhaps as many as a dozen. And, so far as we have been able to determine, the recovery rate is zero.”

Coughing, she then told this reporter: “Speaking personally, I’m not making any plans for the weekend.”

In other local developments:

All commercial flights out of Forbes and Phillip Billard have been cancelled. All Amtrak rail travel has been suspended, not just in Topeka but across all of Kansas. The Gage Boulevard Amtrak station has been closed until further notice.

All Topeka schools have also been closed until further notice. This includes Districts 437, 345, 450, (Shawnee Heights), 372, and 501 (Metro Topeka.) Topeka Lutheran and Topeka Technical College are also closed, as is KU at Lawrence.

Topekans must expect brownouts and perhaps blackouts in the days and weeks ahead. Kansas Power and Light has announced a “slow shutdown” of the Kaw River Nuclear Plant in Wamego. Although no one in KawNuke’s Office of Public Relations answered this newspaper’s calls, a recorded announcement cautions that there is no plant emergency, that this is a safety measure only. KawNuke will return to on-line status, the announcement concludes, “when the current crisis is past.” Any comfort afforded by this statement is in large part negated by the recorded statement’s final words, which are not “goodbye,” or even, “Thank you for calling,” but “God will help us through our time of trial.”

There were more pictures: a burned out panel truck overturned on the steps of the Kansas Museum of Natural History; traffic on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge  stalled bumper to bumper; piles of corpses in Times Square. One body has been hung on a lamp post.

In National Developments, conviction continues to grow that, after denying the superflu’s existence during its early days when quarantine measures might still have had some effect,

I wonder how true that is.  By the time they caught up with Campion, it already seemed too late. But yes, they should have at least told people it was contagious. They might have had some hope of saving at least a good portion of the human race if they had.

national leaders have fled to underground retreats which were created as brain trust shelters in case of nuclear war. Vice-president Bush and key members of the Reagan cabinet have not been seen during the last 48 hours. Reagan himself has not been seen since Sunday morning, when he attended prayer services at Green Valley Methodist Church in San Simeon.

“They have gone to the bunkers like Hitler and the rest of the Nazi sewer rats at the end of World War 2,” said Rep Steve Sloan.

Well, no shit. I mean, yeah it’s cowardly (and I have no love for Reagan or Bush (Senior? Dubya?) but I kinda can’t blame them for doing what they have to to survive.

When asked if he had any objection to being quoted by name, Kansas’ first term representative, a Republican, laughed and said, “Why should I? I’ve got a real fine case myself. I’ll be so much dust in the wind come this time next week.”

Fires, mostly likely set, continue to ravage Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Terre Haute.

Hello there, Trashcan man.

A gigantic explosion centered near Cincinnati’s river front stadium was apparently not nuclear in nature, as was first feared, but occurred as the result of a natural gas buildup caused by unsupervised…

And with that, Jake decides to drop the newspaper and stop reading. It blows away in the wind.





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