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Nightmare Fuel / The Stand

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See also NightmareFuel.Stephen King.

Spoilers abound below, so be wary during your travels.

  • The CDC hospital in Vermont — every single chapter involving it.
    • While Stu is kept there, he has no knowledge of what is going on outside the lab until his desperate escape. The employees are reluctant even to tell him what happened to his friends. The statement that ignorance is bliss does not apply when one is sealed up in a lab while his friends, and a lot more people, may be dying excruciating deaths from an unstoppable disease.
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    • The miniseries has the doctors at the lab take care to dress in a Tychem suit that should protect them from the virus. One evening, a doctor (Dietz) feverishly stumbles into Stu's room while not in a suit, which is particularly alarming: The precautions don't matter anymore.
    • The miniseries also has, just after the aforementioned incident, Stu spotting an elevator trying to close while there's a gurney stuck in it. He pulls the gurney out of the way, and a dead doctor lands on him.
  • The death of Judge Farris, one of the three spies sent out from Boulder to gather intel on Las Vegas, and what happens to his killer. For context, Randall Flagg orders his minions to kill the Judge without inflicting any head wounds, so that Flagg can send his severed head back to Boulder as a warning. The two guards who stop Farris end up getting into a shootout, with one of them accidentally killing the other and blowing Farris' head to pieces. When the surviving guard realizes his mistake, he starts inwardly panicking and plotting to flee south...only for Flagg himself to come charging up the road, grinning with rage, and shift into a Humanoid Abomination as he attacks the poor bastard. The narration makes it clear that Flagg took his time killing the man.
    There were worse things than crucifixion.
    There were teeth.
  • Nick Andros (a deaf-mute) being the last person alive in an isolated small town.
    • The fact that he winds up painfully blinded in one eye after someone gouges it. Just imagine what would happen if he lost the other one...
  • The buildings in every town have dead bodies in them strewn about "like cordwood", turning every town and city in the world into a massive, open air morgue.
  • The common cold and flu season will make you scared after reading this book. Seriously, sniffles and coughs have never sounded more terrifying.
  • The Walkin' Dude himself, Randall Flagg. There's several unsettling implications that he's not even fully human, just evil given a human face and name, wandering from place to place (hence the nickname "Walkin' Dude") sowing discord and violence wherever he goes. His introduction chapter has him fondly recalling beating, raping, and even castrating people while part of The Klan, helping a black nationalist go on a killing spree against police officers, and blowing up power plants. Viewing Captain Trips as a golden opportunity, he sets up a near cultish society in Las Vegas, with himself at the helm, metes out punishments such as crucifixion for dissent, and begins building an army to wipe out the Boulder Free Zone.
    • Flagg's power goes beyond just being a silver-tongued dictator, however. He has control over animals such as wolves and crows, sending out the former to kill The Kid (see below) and the latter to use as spies across the nation. One of Flagg's henchmen recalls a rumor going around that the Walkin' Dude was talking to a group of crows, who started suddenly speaking in plain English chanting his name. Later on Lloyd recalls having seen Flagg causing someone to go into a giggling catatonia after giving the man a Death Glare.
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    • He's literal Nightmare Fuel for the survivors of Captain Trips, as he gives the protagonists vivid nightmares where he menaces them on various ways. For example, he gives Frannie Goldsmith, a pregnant woman, a nightmare where he ruthlessly chases her with a coat hanger in his hands and a Slasher Smile on his face.
    • Even after the nuke goes off in Las Vegas to wipe out Flagg's society, he survives and re-awakens on a tropical island somewhere, getting the natives to fear and worship him as a God.
  • The Trashcan Man is a mentally challenged Pyromaniac who cannot control his urges to burn things. After Captain Trips rips through the country, Trash starts setting fire to large oil tanks, causing citywide blazes and earning himself a broken wrist and an armload of burn scars. He becomes totally devoted to Randall Flagg and has an almost sixth sense for procuring devastating military weaponry for Flagg's army.
    • Trash's final appearance in the miniseries; after hauling the A-bomb across the desert to Vegas, he...wasn't looking so great. The illustration of him in the uncut text isn't exactly a picnic, either.
  • Nadine inadvertently communicating with Flagg in college, via ouija board. WE ARE IN THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD NADINE.
  • The Kid is a violent, unhinged, low functioning psychopath that Trashcan Man briefly travels with on the way to Las Vegas. Aside from driving like a lunatic while heavily drunk, he threatens to kill Trashy if he doesn't chug a flagon of beer without throwing it up. In the extended edition he goes as far as sodomizing Trashcan Man with a pistol. According to King himself, The Kid is heavily based on the teenaged spree killer Charles Starkweather, who King was fascinated by in his youth. The real Starkweather is mentioned in passing at one point, where Flagg, who remembers very little about his own past beyond the early 1960's, has a vague recollection about having been Starkweather's classmate in high school.
    • His death is not much better. After holding Trash at gunpoint and threatening to kill him unless he removes a blockage in the road, a pack of wolves with red eyes, sent by Randall Flagg himself, corners him into an abandoned car. After spending several days in there with no food or water, and with the wolves having remained outside the car the whole time, The Kid tries to fight them off and has his throat bitten out. His corpse is found later by the spies from Boulder, who estimate from his skin-and-bones condition that he was holed up for a week.
  • After the virus settles down, there are a series of vignettes about a secondary die-off as the survivors get themselves into trouble and no one is left to help them out of it. A man gets bitten by a rattlesnake and doesn't know how to administer an antidote, a girl falls off a bicycle and dies of a skull fracture, and so on. One of these victims is a young man who steps on a rusty nail while swimming. When his foot swells up with tetanus, he tries to hacksaw it off and dies of blood loss after he faints from the pain.
    • Particularly gruesome is the death of a five-year-old, the only survivor of his entire town and family of six. After he's left all alone, he wanders off in a confused and grief-filled haze to a field. He falls down a well, breaks both legs, and dies in agony and misery 24 hours later. Also qualifies as Tear Jerker material.
    • One of the most memorable ones involves a young woman who utterly loathed her husband and didn't care about her newborn child. After the superflu kills them, she puts their bodies inside the walk-in freezer they got with the house...and looks at their bodies three or four times a day. Then one day she forgets to use the door stopper. Her story ends as such:
    "It was then that she noticed, after two years of coming and going down here, that there was no inside knob on the freezer door. By then it was too warm to freeze, but not too cold to starve. So Judy Horton died in the company of her son and husband after all."
  • The rape gang and their "zoo". A group of four army deserters decide to set up traps for passing travelers, killing all the men and taking the females to abuse and molest. To keep the women from running away or fighting back, the men force feed them drugs to instill apathy. One survivor of this group testifies that one of the rapists sodomized a woman with barbed wire in a sadistic haze.
    • Also of unsettling note is when it's related that one of them shot one of the girls in the face in a rage when she refused to perform an act that an adult narrating the event later was unwilling to describe. Said girl was only 12.
  • The bit where Larry finds a rotten dead guy in the bathroom at Yankee Stadium. It sounds silly out of context, but it's actually really, really squicky. That and Larry's observation of how horribly New York City starts to stink thanks to all the decaying flu victims.
    • The uncut adaptation has a lovely illustration of the dead guy.
  • Private Bruce, a dead guy lying with his face in a bowl of soup in the cafeteria of Project Blue, the laboratory where Captain Trips was released, several days after the accident that started the whole mess. Which is mentioned several times across the book in disturbing detail thanks to General Starkey being able to see him through his monitors, causing him to develop an obsession with him.
  • The whole chapter or two when the reader knows Flagg has found out Dayna's identity and she still thinks she's successfully incognito. The reader wants her to catch on as soon as possible but knows that she doesn't have a hope of escaping, especially when the henchmen get into her hotel room. With the whole build up to her meeting with Flagg where she notices his hands and what happens afterwards. To avoid giving away the identity of the third spy, Dayna rams her head through a window in Flagg's office and slashes her own throat with the broken glass.
  • When Nick and Tom hide inside of a storm shelter to escape a tornado. They see dead bodies down there, but they both gradually realize that they're not alone...
  • Any time one of the protagonists starts getting Sanity Slippage.
    • Stu's escape from the Stovington Plague Center is laden with references to Watership Down, during which he compares his growing desperation and paranoia to going tharn.
    • Larry's trip through the Lincoln Tunnel, which involves him slowly walking through the dank, corpse-filled darkness with only his lighter to guide him. The further he goes, the more he thinks someone - or something - is stalking him, and he starts getting jumpy at his own echoes. Then he starts bumping into dead bodies. Then he fumbles and loses the lighter.
      • Larry gets another one after Rita Blakemoor dies. Not only is he incapable of burying her, but his first action is to go to the nearest town to get new clothes, just so he wouldn't have her scent on him. On the way back, he crashes his motorcycle. He tries to shrug it off with his usual machismo, but his inner monologue reveals more: He could have hit his head the right way and fractured his skull and he would have lain there in the hot sun until he died. Or strangled to death on his own puke like a certain now-deceased friend of his. He keeps riding the motorcycle...but is too afraid to push it above 20 MPH. When he shows up again, he's gone half-mad from the heat, exhaustion, self-loathing, and morbid guilt.
    • Frannie briefly loses it after her father dies. Her entire inner monologue starts rhyming and going off on random tangents. It's not as bad as some other characters' breakdowns, but it was pretty creepy seeing it happen to her of all people. Then Flagg starts showing up in her dreams...
  • Nadine being into raped into catatonia by Flagg.
    • And his never ending streams of cold, cold semen.
    • During the rape, Nadine gets to see what kind of creature Randall Flagg really is. It's strongly implied, but never outright shown, that whatever he has for a penis is something very wrong, and while Flagg is looming over her she sees a different face - a slavering, furry, yellow-eyed monster with a forked tongue, like a demon straight from Hell.
    • When Flagg takes her back to Las Vegas, he smugly shows her off to the crowd at the hotel, and gets into an elevator to go up to his suite. As the doors are closing, Nadine has a brief moment of lucidity, stares at the crowd, and says, "We. Are Dead. And. THIS. IS. HELL!" What makes this especially creepy is she has a smile on her face, and almost laughs with that last word.
  • The army trying to contain everyone even though the entire country's going to shit. And by contain they mean everyone; doctors, reporters, radio announcers, university students. Many, many people are killed by the military as they try (and fail) to both quarantine Captain Trips and prevent anyone from knowing the full extent of the problem.
    • The description of the news report Nick watches, with the nervous, coerced anchors and things being "off", like having no video footage of anything or vague weather and sports reports.
  • The chapter that deals with Joe Bob Brentwood and how the virus travels from him to a traveling insurance salesman he pulls over, to the waitress in a little diner ("He left her a dollar tip that was crawling with death"), to a New York family vacationing in Texas, to some old women, etc. It's chilling.
  • While Lloyd is still locked in his prison cell after everything has gone quietly to hell, he realizes that nobody will be coming by to give him food and he starts looking speculatively at the dead inmate in the next cell over. That's bad enough, but then he remembers a rabbit that he begged his mother to get for him, promising that he would take care of it and feed it and everything. His mother assented, saying that it would be his responsibility and his alone. Sometime later, young Lloyd realizes that he hadn't even thought about the rabbit in about two weeks, let alone fed or cared for it. When he goes to check on it, he finds it has starved to death, and its front paws are all mangled and bloody. The first possibility, that it had tried to dig out of its enclosure, isn't anywhere near as awful as his second guess—that it had gotten so hungry that it had tried to eat itself. Good luck reading that without wanting to cuddle your pets afterwards.
  • The fact that, in this reality, all the characters and protagonists from King's other stories, such as Danny Torrance and Dick Hallorann from The Shining, Charlie McGee from Firestarter, Sheriff Alan Pangborn from The Dark Half and Needful Things, the Losers Club from IT and Ralph Roberts from Insomnia, to name just a few, very likely perished from the superflu.
    • The vampires of 'Salem's Lot, however, would be totally fine...and starving.
  • The utter loathsomeness of the people responsible for creating the virus. Why would you do such a thing?
    • Explained on the Headscratchers page. It is arm's race logic. If a weapon can be created, it will be created. If they didn't create it, somebody else would have. So it is better to be first, and thus also have a headstart on creating the vaccine/cure. Which might make it even more nightmarish, because these were not some evil, loathsome people - merely normal people doing their duty.
  • While the reader is shown a handful of glimpses of society breaking down, such as the black army unit executing people, both their white comrades and innocent civilians, in a depraved game show on live TV, the overflowing hospital Larry takes his dying mother to, or the mob breaking into the Bank of America to lynch the military commander there, most of the real chaos and panic takes place off-screen. What makes this scary is the way it plays out; the characters wake up one day and it seems like everyone is just... gone. The streets are deserted, the stores are closed or boarded up, even the military checkpoints and roadblocks are abandoned. There aren't even that many corpses around, as most people had died in their cars, or in their homes, leaving all of Earth as a virtual Ghost Planet.