I‘ve written in the past how most stories and books typically classified as “scary” don’t really scare me. I can count on one hand the number of stories I’ve read that have sent shivers down my spine. There’s Harlan Ellison’s “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” (and that elevator scene in particular). There’s Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” which was just chilling. Parts of Connie Willis’ Passage were also rather scary on my overall “scary” meter.
For the last week or so, I’ve been listening to the audio book of Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. Why I chose this particular book is quite simple. I’ve been slowly going through and trying to read all of Stephen King’s works. This comes and goes in waves. But I recently listened to the audio book version of Misery. I really liked the book (not scary, but I still liked it) and I especially loved Lindsay Crouse’s reading. So when it came to select my next book, I found the only other Stephen King book that was narrated by Lindsay Crouse–and that was Gerald’s Game.
I must admit that until my 10am walk today, the story moved slowly and I really began to wonder if an entire book could be written about a woman handcuffed to a bed who had accidentally killed her husband during a romantic interlude. Sure, the inner voices were interesting, but the only thing that kept me going is–I like Stephen King’s style of writing. He can make the smallest details interesting. So I persisted, listening to half an hour here and there, while working out or while going on my daily 10am walk.
I’m not going to spoil anything here, but halfway through my walk this morning, the book took a turn, and what happened has to count among the most frightening things I’ve ever read. Period. The fact that I was walking along a busy street, in broad daylight, and still got chills says just how scary I found it. I can only imagine how I might have reacted if I was reading this home in bed, with the lights out, and the sky dark, and the house quiet. I must admit that I suspect the audio added to the drama. When you read, you can some times sneak your eyes a few lines ahead and get a hint of what’s coming. No so with an audio book. And what came was so unexpected and so frightening, that I ultimately ended up laughing. Laughing because–good on you, Stephen King,you write something that really frightened me and the experience was marvelous!
For those who’ve read Gerald’s Game and are wondering what I’m talking about: I’m talking about what happens when Jesse awakens from her dark dreams in the midst of her first night sleeping in the cabin, handcuffed to the bed. That should be enough to tell you what I’m talking about.