The Festering Wound of Stephen King

The horror comes for us all.

Stephen was alone for the weekend. He and his wife, Tabitha, had another row and she took the kids off to her mother’s.

“So long!” he called to her as she pulled out of the driveway.

“You’re an asshole!” she yelled back.

Now that he was alone in the big old house, he decided he would take the opportunity to get totally fucked up. He had four bottles of Jack Daniels, enough cocaine to turn an entire bus full of nuns into sex addicts, and even five tabs of the most spectacular LSD you could find in Reagan’s America. It was, he mused, going to be a perfect weekend.

Stephen was also finishing up his latest novel, “The Bike,” about a pair of teenagers who find a bicycle that’s a demonic portal to an alternate Earth where nefarious telepathic trees control humanity. He was very proud of it. After Tabitha left he finished up the last chapter, and as the sun set later that day, he typed the last words of the book, “The horror comes for us all.”

Now, he told himself, it was time for that Jack Daniels.

It was 1981, and Stephen was the premier horror writer in America. He was rich, famous, and at the height of his skills and talent. While his work wasn’t considered “serious” literature, he didn’t care. He was being paid to write and he was damn sure going to enjoy it.

A few hours after finishing his book, he was thoroughly wasted on the whiskey and cocaine and listening to Led Zeppelin really fucking loud. It came to his attention that he was fucked up, but he could stand to be much more fucked up, so he unwrapped the LSD from its aluminum foil and placed three of the tabs on his tongue. This is going to be great, he thought.

At the same time, his belly noisily told him he was hungry. He had not eaten all day. Stephen went to the kitchen and pulled two meat patties out of the freezer. He was going to cook himself some cheeseburgers. Everybody liked cheeseburgers.

He got the frying pan going on the stove and went to the trash can to throw away the paper slips that had covered the patties. He was astonished to find tiny white maggots crawling all over the waste basket. When was the last time someone took the damn trash out? he wondered, then remembered it was his responsibility.

He opened the basket and pulled the trash out, maggots and all, and tied it up and headed outside to the trash. The October night was cool. Stars looked down on him, and the moon was full. The street was quiet.

Stephen carried the nasty trash out to the garbage can and slammed it in. Then he clapped and wiped his hands, hoping to get rid of any stray maggots. As he did so, he felt a terrible presence near, and then heard a heavy, labored

(the horror comes for us all)

breathing. Before he knew it, a giant furred creature slammed into him, and he felt sharp fangs clamp into his flesh where his neck met his left shoulder. The beast growled and chewed at him, knocking him onto his back. In his inebriated state, Stephen’s body only half-listened to him, but he lifted his arms to fight off the creature, placing his hands on its large head, trying to push it away. As he dug his fingers into its fur, he found the soft organ of an eye, and in a moment of clarity, stuck his finger deep into the soft mass.

The beast shrieked and let go of him, running down the street.

Stephen gasped, trying to catch his breath. The pain was immense. He could feel hot blood all over him and knew he had to get out of the street in case the creature came back, and he struggled to get up. He ran back to his house, where the Led Zeppelin was still blaring.

The bathroom light flickered as he turned it on, giving him flashes of his pale, wounded body. He pulled his shirt off and gaped at the wound – it was impossibly huge across his neck and shoulder, giant bite marks and torn flesh ragged, blood racing out of it.

He decided quickly that although he probably should go to the hospital, his fucked-up state would get him arrested. Besides, the acid hadn’t even kicked in yet. What a mess I’ve made, he thought.

Taking a towel to dab and clean the wound, he coughed and then vomited into the sink. So long, Jack Daniels. When he was done, he collected himself and went back to cleaning the wound. He probably needed to sanitize it. Realizing that would hurt like hell, he chose to postpone such action.

The fire alarm went off. The burgers! He ran to the kitchen and took the flaming pan off the stove. Well, that was ruined. He wasn’t hungry anymore, anyway.

He could feel the pain of his wound in every cell of his body, in his bones, chilling his flesh, and shaking his fingers. He just needed to rest for a while.

Stephen collapsed in his arm chair and passed out.

When Stephen awoke some time later, the wound hurt much, much worse, his chest was caked with blood, and the LSD was definitely kicking in. His mind felt enormously wide and spry, his thoughts jumped and frittered, and everything seemed significant.

He went to the bathroom to piss. Afterwards he examined his wound again. His chest was covered in dried blood. Deep, crimson red teeth marks lined his neck and shoulder, dripping yellow pus.

Stephen stared at his face in the mirror. He was on acid alright. His pupils were huge. He was more concerned though with the writhing hair on his jaw. He could have sworn he had shaved recently, and now he almost had a half beard. The hair follicles looked like tiny black worms crawling over his skin.

He left the bathroom shivering. He was very cold and decided to start a fire in the Ben Franklin stove in his office. This took a while, as he almost forgot how to do it, and he also became distracted with peering at the bark on the logs, which pulsed. Finally, he got the fire going.

The pain of his wound was incessant, but his mind was abuzz enough to forget about it for long moments. He reclined back in his desk chair and picked up his manuscript for “The Bike”. He tried to read it but the words danced. He was suddenly aware that it was five hundred pages of gibberish. Why couldn’t he write something about real world stuff? There was such misery across the country, and here he was writing childhood fantasies gone mad. Shouldn’t he be doing something that mattered? He was such a disappointment to himself.

In a fury, he decided to burn the manuscript, opening the iron door of the stove and casting in the entire manuscript. It burned quickly, flaring up on the bed of the logs. But when a wind struck the house and went down the chimney, the stove spat out a flaming page that danced around the air of the room. Stephen chased it until it landed on his desk, where he beat it out with a first edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories – a gift from Tabitha. He looked at the words on the page once the fire was out –

More gibberish!

Afterwards, he gasped, feeling winded and exhausted. He felt like a wreck. Pivoting his head so he could look at his wound, he found it was bleeding blood and pus again – he must have aggravated it chasing the flaming page.

Stephen went back to the bathroom where he dabbed at the wound with a damp towel. He looked at his reflection again and was bewildered by what he saw – his face was so pale to be almost green, and he could swear his beard had gotten thicker and his eyes had turned black. When he looked closely, he could swear he could see the hair on his chin and cheeks actually slowly growing. He then stared at his teeth – they looked as though they had grown sharper. The flesh on his face undulated as though the bones underneath were reconfiguring.

Leaving the bathroom for his office again, a heavy weight fell upon his shoulders, and he wondered just what it was that had attacked him. The beast had been too big to be a dog, maybe too big to be a wolf. He remembered its black fur and terrible bloodshot eyes. It had growled and huffed like a monster out of Greek epics.

Maybe it wasn’t just a dog or a wolf. Maybe it was…something else.

Stephen began to ruminate on the possibilities, and things quickly added up – the size of the beast, its ferocity, its massive jaws and its untold hunger – all in congruence with a full moon. An onslaught of abhorrent reality broke upon his LSD-riddled brain. Was it so farfetched to think of the creature who attacked him as something more than the natural world could explain? Had evil legend intruded in his life in a tragic way?

He was sure of it.

And he knew – then and there – that not only had he been attacked by a werewolf – but soon he would be one too.

The next day, a harshly metallic dawn arose, and Stephen was struck by its oppressively ominous light. Cold October wind blew in, and as he stood on his porch, he watched brown leaves scuttle across the streets, a sign of the season of the dead. He had thrown a coat with a tall collar upon his back to both warm and cover his wound. He smoked a cigarette while his hand trembled ridiculously. He felt like he was coming down from the acid, and pulled the other two tabs from his pocket, thinking that the LSD was killing the pain. He popped the rest of it into his mouth and sucked the paper into his tongue.

Stephen sadly realized, as he watched the world before him, that the only way out of his condition was to destroy himself. It would not be easy. A normal bullet wouldn’t do it – he’d just shrug it off. He needed a silver bullet. Where would he get that?

He knew that if he did not do this, he would turn into a beast himself, and probably ravage someone as he had been ravaged, in an endless cycle of mayhem and bloodlust. That could not be permitted.

He sat on the porch rocker and twitched for a while. When that grew boring, he grabbed a portable radio from the house and flipped it on. The music was soothing. The commercials were insane. He did lines of coke. As he snorted the white powder, his eyes widened, and his nostrils flared. Yessiree! he thought to himself.

When both he and the sun were high enough, Stephen found his car keys and jumped in the car. It took him a couple minutes to figure it out, but soon he was gliding down the road with the cold air coming through the windows. He was shivering but damn did he feel alive. Stephen knew there was a Guns and Ammo shop downtown. He knew just where it was, as he had passed it many times. It was probably open now, he thought, and they would be able to help him.

When he arrived, he made sure the parking brake was on, which took a couple minutes, and then he zipped his coat up to cover up his wound. He checked his face in the mirror. He was pale and sickly as fuck, but he also knew gun stores refused business to nobody.

The door rang as he entered. An older man in his sixties was behind the counter.  He greeted Stephen. “Hello, youngster, what can I do for you?”

“I need a gun,” he replied.

“Well you’ve come to the right place. We have plenty. What do you have in mind?”

“Uh, a revolver maybe,” Stephen answered.

“We got those,” said the old man. “Come over here and take a look.” The old man pulled a couple from beneath the counter and placed them on the glass.

Stephen didn’t know much about guns. “Which one is easiest?” he asked. “I need one that will just… do.”

“Well,” said the old man. “This one here is simple enough, a woman could use it. Powerful too, and small. Has a nice, but not too strong kick.”

“Okay,” said Stephen, “I’ll take it.”

“You’re going to need bullets too, I reckon,” said the old man. “We got those too.”

“Yeah, definitely,” said Stephen. Then he remembered the last detail. “I need silver bullets,” he said.

“Silver?” the old man laughed. “I don’t think we have any of those.”

“You sure?” Stephen asked, desperate. “I need them.” His wound itched.

“Don’t have ‘em,” said the old man.

“Do you know where I could get some?”

“They’re really not common,” the old man replied.

“I just want a straight answer!” Stephen bellowed, surprising himself.

The old man pulled a sawed-off shotgun from behind the counter and pointed it at Stephen’s head. “Here’s your straight answer, young fella,” he snarled. “I don’t know where to get any goddamned silver bullets.”

Stephen knew the old man couldn’t kill him with the shotgun, but the idea of being shot still seemed a terrible discomfort. “Alright, alright,” he said. “I’ll just take the revolver and some regular bullets.”

“Cash or check?” the old man asked, putting away the shotgun.

After he left the Guns and Ammo store with his new, heavy gun, Stephen got back into his car and headed home. Traffic was light, and he managed the car as best he could. Unfortunately, as he made his way back, he started tripping out on the hair on his arms and crashed the car into a ditch.

As he gathered himself afterwards, he felt immensely thankful he had spent five minutes putting on his seatbelt. He unbuckled himself and went to examine the state of the car. It was fucked. Smoke rose out of the hood. And the axle looked broken.

Stephen grabbed his gun and his keys and started walking down the road home. A cold wind blew as the gray sun shone down. He stuck out his thumb as cars passed, but no one stopped. Finally, a station-wagon full of teenagers slowed down and pulled off.

“Thank you, thank you!” Stephen said as he approached. But as he neared, the car raced off and the teens erupted in laughter. Stephen shook his wrist at them and yelled angrily, “The horror comes for us all, fools!”

He had almost given up when he stuck his thumb out at a small import car coming down the road. The car slowed and stopped next to him, and the passenger door was pushed open. “Do you need a ride, my son?” asked the sixty-ish bearded man inside.

Stephen saw the driver wore a white priest’s collar. “I do, sir,” he said.

“Well, come on, hop in, we’ll get you home,” said the priest.

Stephen climbed in and fumbled buckling his seatbelt. The priest drove off and they rode down the street calmly.

“Do you live near?” asked the priest.

“Just down a bit,” Stephen answered, nervous. He wondered – was this his last chance at penance? Should he confess all his sins? Should he confess everything? Was this moment fortuitous or an evil omen?

“Red Sox are looking good this year,” said the priest, as he turned the sports news on the radio up.

Red Sox? How could the priest talk about sports at a time like this? Couldn’t he see how wretched Stephen was, how he stood at the abyss with the devil hounding him?

“Yeah they do,” Stephen spoke, almost unable to contain himself from breaking into tears. Would the priest know how to deal with a man suffering from lycanthropy? Who else would? At last, Stephen only said, “It’s the next left up here.”

“Up there?”

“Yes.”

The priest took a left and pulled into the neighborhood.

“It’s at the end of the street,” said Stephen. “The brown one nestled in the trees.”

“I see,” said the priest. He pulled in front of Stephen’s house. “Here we are!” he announced.

“Thank you, I really appreciate it,” said Stephen as he stepped out of the car and shut the door. Help me, please! His mind screamed.

“May God be with you, my son,” said the priest, speeding off.

As Stephen climbed his porch steps his belly rumbled and he felt enormously hungry. He went to the kitchen and opened the fridge, looking for something to eat. His eyes darted to one of the few things inside – the raw eye-of-round Tabitha had bought to make roast beef. Certain that bloodlust coursed through him, he took out the raw meat and peeled back its cellophane covering, biting into it and chewing the metallic taste into his mouth. He devoured nearly half of it before he quit and laid it on the counter, feeling sick.

            It didn’t take long before his intestines convulsed, and he felt nauseas at the same time. In the next moment, he sat on the toilet, vomiting and having explosive, painful diarrhea at the same time. Terror reverberated though him as he guessed his transition into a werewolf was nearing its pinnacle. He sat shivering as his body expelled the last of its humanity.  

            After it seemed like it had stopped, he managed to stand. He looked at himself in the mirror. Brown blood covered his torso and the wound was red and purple on his neck and shoulder like an alien parasite. In certain areas, his skin had turned black and limpid green. His genitals had shrunk. His beard was thick, his lips were white, his teeth were pink from the blood of the raw meat, and his eyes were red.

It will begin soon, he thought, looking at the afternoon light coming through the window. He knew the full moon waited, that night waited, that the beast waited inside his flesh. There was no turning back, no escape, it was inevitable now. He was doomed.

            The doorbell rang.

            Stephen pulled up his pants and threw his coat back on, zipping it up to the top. Then he peered out the front windows – two cops so clean cut you could cut vegetables with their heads. Unable to think of what else to do, he decided to try to play it cool and opened the door.

            “Hey officers,” he said. “What can I do ya for?”

            “Mr. King?”

            “Yes?”

            “We found your car crashed by the side of Anchor road.”

            Stephen scratched his beard. “Oh. That. I had a bit of car trouble,” he explained.

            “How so?”

            “Uh, it just kicked out on me, I guess…”

            “There was also an incident at the Guns and Ammo store with you earlier?”

            “Oh,” started Stephen. “We just had a disagreement.”

            “Do you still have the gun you purchased, sir?”

            He had forgotten about it completely. It was in his coat pocket. “I have it right here in my pocket,” he said, reaching for it.

            “Sir! Stop what you’re doing!” shouted the policeman as his compatriot pulled his own gun.

            “Uh, okay, sure,” Stephen said, stopping his movement.  

            The policeman reached into his pocket and pulled out the gun .“Have you fired this weapon, sir?”

            “No.”

            “Why did you purchase it?”

            “Uh, to protect myself.” He added, “And other people too.”

            “How so?”

            “You wouldn’t understand,” he muttered finally.

            “Sir, you’re going to have to come with us.”

            “But,” said Stephen, stepping back. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I want to stay here.”

            Before he knew it, the officer had pinned back his arms and handcuffed him.

            “Please, you don’t understand! I don’t want to hurt anybody!” Stephen whimpered.

            “Oh, we understand, sir,” the policeman said. He led Stephen out of the house down the front stairs towards the police car.

            “Please!” Stephen protested. “There isn’t time! I’m changing rapidly! It’s almost too late! I’m not a violent man!”

            The policemen did not reply. They put him in the back of the car. It was a short drive to the police station as Stephen continued to rant, explaining that he was a danger to everyone, and that they must find a cure soon. The world flashed out the car windows. Before he knew it they were walking him into the police station, where they took off the cuffs and stuck him in a holding cell.

            “Please!” he shouted as they locked the door behind him. “You can’t do this!”

            The police closed the outer door of the holding area and he was alone by himself.

            There was a slit of a window in the wall. Late afternoon light crept through it. Now what? he wondered.

            Then it dawned on him – he was safe at last! There was no way out of here. When the moon arose, and he turned into a wolf, he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone. He wouldn’t be able to escape. The town would be safe from him. He would be safe from himself. He would go through the night in a cage, and then be himself again in the morning.

            It was brilliant!

            Stephen sat himself on the bed and smiled. Despite the pain he felt, despite the madness, and fear, and the devouring beast in his blood, he finally felt that something good had happened, and that things weren’t so bad after all. Salvation had come. He could just lock himself in the jail until the full moon passed, and then figure out a cure afterwards. There had to be a cure. He filled with hope.

            Soon, content, he fell asleep.

After what felt like ages, he woke up when he heard a cop coming into the holding area. He looked at the window – orange light seeped in – it must have been morning. He was freezing cold but covered in sweat. He had survived the night. He wondered if he had turned; he had no memory of it. He must have blacked out. What had it been like? Did the cops know what he was now?

“You’ve been bailed out, King. Time to go,” said the cop. He opened the cell. “Come on.”

Bailed out? Stephen got up and left the cell. “What?” he asked.

“Your wife’s here. Time to go.”

His wife? Tabitha. She was here! Elation flooded through him. He followed the officer out of the holding area to where Tabitha was waiting. His happiness evaporated when he saw her fuming face.

“What have you goddamned done now, Steve?” she asked in her mad voice.

“I…” he said, not knowing how to explain.

“For Christ’s sake, Steve, what are you doing? You look terrible! We’re supposed to be adults,” she said.

“But…” he whispered. Words failed him.

“Let’s go, Steve!” She grabbed him by the coat and led him out of the building. “The kids are in the car,” she said.

The sun outside was blaring. Tabitha opened the passenger seat of the car and pushed Stephen in, closing the door after him. She got into the driver’s seat.

“What’s wrong with daddy?” asked one of the kids.

“Daddy’s in big trouble,” Tabitha grunted.

He was so cold. So, so cold. He sat back, clutching the car around him.

“You okay?” Tabitha asked him.

Stephen took a deep breath. “It-it comes for us all,” he stuttered, his teeth chattering.

“I’m sure it does,” she replied, pulling out of the police station.

THE END