Following the Beam along the path to the Dark Tower we stop at the outbreak of the A6 flu virus. A superflu that has disseminated a large portion of the population. There has been no explanation as to why some survived and some did not. Only that there were powers, beyond that of mankind that brought about this catastrophe.
The symptoms of “Captain Tripps” as it’s called by some are cold like symptoms at first, then you develop a fever and eventually, your lungs fill to capacity and you choke to death. Stephen King wrote two stories regarding the super flu: “Night Surf” which is found in the “Night Shift” collection and in one of his most highly regarded works in the epic “The Stand”.
Night Surf: Post-apocalyptic setting. The population has already been mostly wiped out by two super flus: The A2 and now the A6. A handful of teenaged survivors are hanging out on Anson Beach, New Hampshire. It is believed that the A6 began in southeast asia. The teens philosophize as to why they were immune to Captain Tripps. Some believe they were infected by the A2 so that made them immune to the A6. Some believe it is because they sacrifice other survivors to their gods as seen in one part where they are burning a man they abducted on a pyre.
The A2 immunity theory is cancelled out as some so-called A2 survivors begin to show signs of A6 infection and soon, all hope is lost and they all begin to accept their eventual death.
Not as inFLUential as The Stand, as the characters are somewhat wooden, which is a rarity in King’s work. I found myself not as attached to these teens as I was to the heroes and anti-heroes of The Stand.
The Stand: The super flu (A6/Captain Trips/Project Blue) escapes out of a military lab with a scared scientist and his family and eventually infects the entire population. Most of the earth’s population dies off and a handful of survivors are drawn by two forces; Mother Abigail (good) comes to the survivors in dreams and calls some of the survivors to Hemingford Home, NE and Randall Flagg (bad) whom comes to his followers in nightmares offering them shelter and power in Las Vegas, NV.
The two factions prepare themselves for an all out war for control of the United States and the side of good realizes they must make some personal sacrifices to save and perpetuate mankind.
Roland and his ka-tet of gunslingers find themselves in a world where a superflu has taken out most of the population, and this is also where Roland faces off with Randall Flagg.