The Stand Chapter 13 and 14
We now return to Stu Redman, who has been locked up in the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. He has just informed the doctor that he will not cooperate until someone talks to him about what’s really going on.
Finally a man enters who is wearing a nose filter. He introduces himself as Dick Deitz. He asks Stu what he wants to know.
“First, I want to know why ou’re not wearing one of those space suits.”
“Because Geraldo there says your’e not catching.” Deitz pointed to a guinea pig behind the double-paned window. “Geraldo’s been breathing your air for the last 3 days, via connector. This disease that your friends have passes easily from humans to guinea pigs and vice versa. If you were catching, we figure Geraldo would be dead by now.”
I would really be interested in knowing if the CDC figured this out before or after the Captain Trips got out to the general public. That seems like something the military would do, create a ridiculously strong disease to use as a weapon against humans and then experiment on poor innocent guinea pigs.
Stu notes the nose filter, and Deitz points out that taking chances is not in his contract. Stu asks what disease he has.
“As to what disease you’ve got, well, so far as Denninger and his colleagues have been able to ascertain, you don’t have any at all.”
When Stu asks what the others have, Deitz says that that’s “classified.”
“My guess was that he was in the army. And there was an accident someplace.”
In the original novel, the prologue showing Campion running away from said accident didn’t exist. In the original novel, we are almost as much in the dark as Stu is.
Deitz refuses to confirm or deny any of this, saying he could go to jail just for telling Stu he doesn’t have the virus.
Then why is he in there? If he still won’t tell Stu anything, why bother sending him at all? You need permission from higher up, then go GET permission from higher up.
“You should be glad we’re not telling you more than we are,” Deitz said. “You know that, don’t you?”
Stu needs it spelled out for him, so Deitz obliges.
“You’re classified too, you know. You’ve disappeared from the face of the earth. If you knew enough, the big guys might decide that the safest thing would be for you to disappear forever.”
Stu is exactly as horrified by this as I am.
Deitz said he didn’t come here to threaten Stu, but to obtain his cooperation. He tells Stu that most of the people who came here with him are dead, except a 4 year old girl named Eva.
“Well, how is she?” Asks Stu.
“I’m sorry, that’s classified.”
Stu gets angry, then. He gets up and shakes Deitz. Some people in “space suits” come to stop him, but Deitz waves them off. I’m not sure if it’s because Deitz knows, somehow, that he deserves this, or if it’s because he doesn’t want to risk making the situation worse.
And then we get to the part that should really make Stu angry.
“Listen to me,” Deitz said. “I’m not responsible for you being here….if there was a responsible party it was Campion, but you can’t lay it all on him, either. He ran. But under the circumstances, you or I might have run, too.”
When I read the original novel, the prologue had ben taken out. It seemed to me like Campion knew that he was infected, but he left anyway because he was an asshole coward who didn’t care about anyone but himself. Because we have the prologue, we know that Campion had reason to think he wasn’t infected, and so we can sympathize a little bit (though I still do not cut him much slack. On some level, he had to know it was possible he was infected.)
“The situation exists. We are all trying to cope with it, all of us. But that doesn’t make us responsible.”
“Then who is?”
“Nobody,” Deitz said, and smiled.
Fuck you, Deitz. And fuck you Stephen King if you expect me to accept this. Because somebody is responsible. Like the people who developed this fucking virus in the first place. But of course the US military would never take responsibility for its actions. At least, not in this universe.
“On this, the responsibility spreads in so many directions that it’s invisible.”
Well, let’s see, there were the people that made the virus (the US military), the people who allowed the people who made the virus to make the virus (the president?), there’s “that imbecile Campion,” who had to have known on some level that he was infected….
Actually, let’s talk for a minute about this. In the movie, it is heavily implied that Randall Flag, aka the Dark Man, is responsible for the spread of the plague. In The Dark Tower book…. 5 or 6 I believe, the protagonists actually go to this universe and meet up with Randal Flagg, who outright states that he caused the plague.
So as he is writing this, on some level, conscious or unconscious, Stephen King has to know that the Dark Man is ultimately responsible for the spread of the plague, if not the disease itself.
But regardless of whether the dark man caused the spread of it, the military is absolutely to blame for creating it in the first place, and maybe if we all spent as much effort helping people as we did trying to kill each other we wouldn’t even need a military in the first place.
Stu either accepts that nobody is to blame, or he doesn’t feel like arguing, because he asks about some of the other people who he came in with. Deitz says that they are classified, and asks if he is going to shake him some more. Deitz tells Stu to go ahead and shake him if it will make him feel better, and despite not liking Deitz, I like Deitz. He understands that Stu is frustrated, and even though he’s a little shit who sides with the “it’s totally not our fault” creators of he virus, he’s trying to give Stu what little information he feels he can give him without putting Stu in even more danger than he’s already in.
Finally, Deitz tells Stu that some of the other people from Arnette are alive, and that eventually, Stu may see them.
Hang onto that though. I’ll be discussing it again in a few weeks.
“What about Arnette?”
“Who’s dead there?”
“Sorry you think so.”
Deitz, you just told him that nearly all the people that came from Arnette with him are dead. Of course he knows you’re lying through your teeth.
Stu asks when he can leave, and Deitz says he doesn’t know. When Stu bitterly asks if it’s too “classified,” Deitz tells him it’s not, it’s just that he really truly honest to God doesn’t know.
“You don’t seem to have this disease. We want to know why you don’t have it. Then you’re home free.”
My guess is that they are planning to let Stu go when they find a cure for the disease, which they hope to do by studying him.
Stu and Deitz start arguing about whether or not Stu will be allowed to shave himself, when Stu starts coughing violently. Deitz scrambles to leave the room. But Stu laughs at Deitz, saying he was faking it the entire time.
“But why? Why would you want to do something like that?”
“Sorry, that’s classified.”
“You shit son of a bitch.”
Well, can you blame him? Because I can’t.
Next we are shown Stu’s dream. I get that these dreams are important to the plot but Christ on a cracker I hate reading about them. Not just these dreams, any dreams. And I generally hate reading books where dreams are a huge part of the story.
Stu dreams of a black woman in a house near a cornfield strumming a hymn on a guitar. Then Stu feels the presence of the Dark Man and gets scared.
And that’s it, for now. The end. Boring. At least the other dreams people will later have have actual content.
Chapter 14 wasn’t included in the original edited version of the novel, and I like having it in here because it humanizes Deitz. I can kinda see why it got cut, because for the most part it just develops character for a person we will never see again. It’s also basically a recap of the previous chapter from the other person’s point of view. Valuable in the writing process, not necessarily something the audience wants to read. And so I can see why this got the ax.
However, I feel like some of the information in here was needed in the original novel because—we’ll get there.
The chapter is basically Deitz sitting by a tape recorder making records. He refers to Stu, for some reason, as “Prince.”
Deitz is talking about the incident where Stu fake coughed and scared him.
“I was almost pissed enough to hit him, because he scared the living Jesus out of me. I am not pissed anymore, however. The man put me into his shoes, and for just a second there I knew exactly how it feels to shake in them.”
See, Deitz is capable of empathizing.
But then he goes on to say that Stu could find all sorts of ways to mess with their tests, and that it’s a pity he has no close family they can use to “put a hammerlock on him,” and sweet satan Deitz, that’s horrible. Bad Deitz, bad. I don’t care how dire the situation is, you shouldn’t threaten an innocent party.
We are then told that Denninger wants to use physical force, but Deitz wants to hold off, partly because he thinks it will take more force than Denninger realizes, and partly because he believes that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Anecdotal: I once was trying to trap fruit flies. I set out two honey traps and 2 vinegar traps. The honey traps caught zero flies, the vinegar traps caught about 2 each. Make of that what you will.
Dietz goes on to state that more people have died, including Joe Bob Brentwood, which is unfortunate because Brentwood did seem to be responding to the vaccine they were trying out on him. But the vaccine didn’t work for very long before the disease took over again.
Hang on, is “vaccine” the right word here? Aren’t vaccines preventative? I don’t think you can use a vaccine as a cure. What they are testing out on Brentwood are cures, not vaccines. Vaccines innoculate. They prevent you from ever getting the disease in the first place. But from my understanding, by the time you’ve caught the disease, it’s already too late.
In any case, the medical team believes that it was the vaccine that killed Joe Bob Brentwood rather than the actual disease. Which might be, but I mean, the disease was going to kill him anyway, so meh.
Deitz says he saved the worst for last.
“We can declassify Princess back to plain old Eva Hodges, female, aged 4, caucasian. She’s downhearted of course, but other than that seems perfectly normal…”
Huh. I have no idea why Stephen King thinks a 4 year old is going to be more cooperative than the grown-ass man. See, a scared child who’s just lost everyone she’s ever known and is taken to a scary place where nobody will tell her anything isn’t likely to be very compliant for very long. Stu’s refusal to accept treatment is nothing compared to a 4 year old’s tantrums.
In any case, Eva Hodges is sick. She has the virus, and I wonder why she was negative for so long, because literally everyone else we’ve seen has shown symptoms right away. So, was she actually negative and one of the nurses somehow infected her? Tthey tried to say that Campion was negative for a while too, but we all know that’s bullocks because he definitely showed symptoms as soon as he was infected. We know this because we read the prologue. In the original novel where the prologue didn’t exist, this was a lot more believable.
So this thing about Eva Hodges not showing any signs of being infected for days and days would’ve made more sense if the prologue wasn’t there. But we also just plain didn’t have this chapter in the original version, so it wouldn’t have been an issue.
“Denninger showed me her sputum slides, and they’re lousy with those wagon wheel germs he says aren’t really germs at all, but incubators.”
Unfortunately, Deitz says that Denninger just spews jargon at him when he asks him to clarify what that means. –I– want to know what that means because this part of the book is the msot fascinating to me.
But at least we get to know what happens to her. In the original novel we just don’t get to know.
“We’ve got a disease that’s got several well defined stages…but some people may skip a stage. Some people may backtrack a stage. Some people may do both. Some people stay in one stage for a relatively long time and others zoom through all four as if they were on a rocket sled.”
Ellipses are original to text. I did not leave anything out.
I wish this chapter had been kept in the original, just for this paragraph. I spent the entire first half of the original novel wondering if Stephen King was aware that the speed at which the virus kills is flexible depending on the needs of the plot. Apparently King is very aware and this was intentional, which got lost somewhere in the edits. Good to know.
Deitz goes on to talk about Stu. The CDC is desperately trying to find out what’s different about Stu, but can only come up with about 4 things:
1. He has more moles than usual
2. A slight hypertensive condition, too slight to bother medicating
3. Mild tic under his left eye when he’s under stress
4. Stu dreams more than average, almost all night.
That last one may be more significant than Deitz thinks. It has been speculated in discussion groups that the plague survivors survived because they’re the type who can receive the dreams. It is even speculated that no atheists survived for this very reason; their brains don’t allow them to believe in the supernatural.
Deitz then goes on about how this disease scares him because nobody will go to the doctor over what they think is a slight cold. Deitz says that this is because it’s too hard to get a doctor to look at you unless you’re dying, so people don’t bother. Deitz ignores the fact that it is just as likely a cost issue—no one can afford to go to the doctor unless they think they’re dying, and he also ignores the fact that educating the public would help with this.
I get that you want to avoid panic, but still, if you tell people the facts, you’re more likely to get a handle on stopping this thing. Or at least save some lives. But no, Deitz would rather sit there and piss and moan about it on his tape recorder than actually suggest that someone educate at least the doctors.
“So far, no one who’s coming down with it has gotten better. Those sons of bitches out in California did this job a little too well for my taste.”
Yes. Those sons of bitches out in California who are totally not responsible for the plague that they created. Wankers.
That’s the end of that chapter. I may go ahead and do chapter 15, here, because it’s the last chapter before we actually change gears and move on from the CDC.
The chapter opens with Patty Greer, one of the nurses, sitting at the nurses station thinking about her patients. Hap, who will still be awake, watching TV, and joking about how hard it is to pinch her ass through the hazmat suit Patty has to wear.
I thought we were supposed to like Hap.
Patty then compares Hap, who is a “good sport” with Stu, who is an “old poop.” To Patty, all patients are either good sports of old poops. Patty has very little patience with the latter category.
It sounds like Patty is terrible at her job. I’m currently in a CNA course, and the instructors are heavily emphasizing compassion and empathy. People like Patty Greer would not last long in my class. But this was the 1980s when this was originally written and maybe attitudes were different then.
The clock strikes midnight, and Patty starts to make her rounds. On her way to be helped into her suit, she starts to sneeze. Patty thinks nothing of this whatsoever, even though there’s a sign on the nurse’s station that says in big bold letters that any and all cold symptoms are to be reported to the supervisor at once.
They were worried that whatever those poor people from Texas had might spread outside the sealed rooms, but she also knew that it was impossible for even a tiny viurs to get inside the self contained environment of the white suits.
I’m not sure if Patty believes this because Patty has been told this and is gullible enough to believe it, or if she believes this because she is just not the sharpest crayon in the box.
In any case, the chapter ends with Patty infecting at least 3 different people, and thus the CDC has been breached.