The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone is a horror novel by Stephen King published in 1979. It concerns Johnny Smith, who is injured in an accident and enters a coma for nearly five years. When he emerges, he can see horrifying secrets but cannot identify all the details in his "dead zone", an area of his brain that suffered permanent damage as the result of his accident. Much of the novel is played out against the historical backdrop of the 1970s. It has been suggested that the story might be based on self-proclaimed "psychic" Peter Hurkos, who received a head injury in a fall from a ladder, and afterward claimed to be able to know things about people by touching objects that belonged to them, psychometry. The Dead Zone was nominated for the Locus Award in 1980. The prologue narrates two unconnected episodes in the lives of the principal and subsidiary characters. In January of 1953, in Maine, a young boy named Johnny Smith is knocked out cold while ice-skating. As he regains consciousness, he is helped to his feet by Chuck Spier, an adult at the scene, to whom he mumbles, "Don't jump it no more." Chuck pays no mind to this, but a few months later, he is seriously injured when a car battery he's trying to jumpstart explodes. Johnny forgets this incident as time passes. Two years later, a young Bible salesman named Greg Stillson, suffering emotional issues, kicks an aggressive dog to death outside of a farm in Iowa. As he drives away, he dreams about greater things in his life. The story properly begins in 1970. Johnny is now a high school teacher and dating a fellow teacher named Sarah Bracknell. As they leave, Johnny decides to try his luck at a Wheel of Fortune stand. A small crowd gathers as Johnny keeps winning. After winning a substantial amount of prize money, Johnny takes Sarah home and decides to take a taxicab to his place. The cab is hit by a car that is drag racing, the cab driver is killed, and Johnny is sent flying through the windshield and into a pond by the side of the road. A short while later, Johnny's parents, Herb and Vera are informed that Johnny has gone into a coma. Vera begins to lose her sanity, and her already problematic religious obsessions intensify. After nearly five years, Johnny wakes from his coma, and is shocked to learn that it is 1975. He is also dismayed to learn that Sarah has gotten married and has a son. As he recovers, Johnny undergoes a series of tests and makes the news when the public learns his story. During one test, it is discovered that he has trouble visualizing certain objects (and more specifically their physical location, the "where" of things), because those memories were lodged in a damaged part of his brain, called his "dead zone." Johnny has several other experiences during his stay in the hospital. He predicts that the eye surgery his nurse's son is facing will be a success and that his physical therapist's house is on fire. When both predictions turn out to be true, a small press conference is held. During the conference, Johnny is handed a necklace by a disbelieving reporter and asked if he can sense anything from it. Johnny tells the reporter that the necklace belonged to his sister, who died of a drug overdose. The reporter becomes tearful and passes out. Johnny receives national attention for his newfound abilities. In the time that has passed since Johnny left the hospital, Stillson decides to run for the House of Representatives, and begins his campaign by blackmailing a local businessman into raising funds for him.More time passes, and Sarah visits Johnny again, introducing him to her son, Denny. She tells him that he was right about the ring, and after having dinner with Johnny and Herb, returns home. It is mutually understood that the encounter is a one-time event, a sort of making-up for all that might have been. Johnny once again makes the news, but now loses his teaching offer because the school believes him to be "too controversial to be effective as a teacher." He begins to question his mother's dying words. After losing the teaching opportunity, Johnny takes a tutoring job for a young man named Chuck Chatsworth, who has a reading disorder. He befriends Chuck's family and their Vietnamese gardener, Ngo Phat, who is in the process of becoming a citizen. During his tutoring career, Johnny takes up an interest in politics, and becomes concerned when he watches a rally for Stillson. Later on, Johnny meets presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and shakes his hand. Having another clairvoyant incident, he tells Carter that he is going to be president. Johnny then makes a hobby out of meeting politicians to see their futures, although he still can't take his mind off Stillson. As time goes on, Johnny's health starts to worsen. He contemplates how he might impede Stillson's career, and finds out that his father is going to be remarried. As Johnny continues to contemplate whether or not to kill Stillson, Chuck graduates high school, and plans on attending a massive senior graduation party at a restaurant called Cathy's. Chuck, so thankful that Johnny was able to help him learn to read, hugs Johnny at the commencement, and Johnny has another vision. At the rally, Stillson begins his speech, when Johnny decides it's now or never. He begins to fire at Stillson, but misses several times. Stillson's bodyguards open fire on him, but don't mortally wound him. Johnny has Stillson in his sight and is about to pull the trigger when Stillson grabs a young child and holds him up as a shield. Johnny pauses, not being able to shoot, and is shot twice by the bodyguards, falling off the balcony, breaking his legs and back. Meanwhile, the young photographer Johnny met earlier gets a few pictures of Stillson using the child as a shield and runs off. When Johnny touches Stillson again, he sees and feels nothing, and knows that the terrible future Stillson would bring around as President will never come to pass (thanks to the photograph of Stillson hiding behind the child, which utterly destroys his reputation). Knowing he has prevented a war and saved countless lives, Johnny closes his eyes and passes away, content. (reference : Wikipedia)


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