(TMU) — Headline news has been nothing short of terrifying in recent weeks—unthinkable just a few months ago.
From reports of rotting corpses being abandoned in major city streets to the transformation of once-bustling locales like Disneyland and New York’s Times Square into ghost towns and animals taking over major metropolitan zones, the coronavirus pandemic has transformed our familiar spaces into eerie and unsettling environments—not unlike a Stephen King novel.
Indeed, the disturbing news reports that have flooded social media feeds over the past month almost seem like they were lifted directly from his popular 1978 novel The Stand, which details a major pandemic that wipes out 99 percent of the world’s population. The tale begins with the creeping spread of the virus—beginning with mild cold-like symptoms such as a cough and fever—before rapidly transforming into a post-apocalyptic nightmare.
The STAND (far away from me)
— Mr. Bat-MAN it is cold out! (@JPTHANOSSNAP) April 7, 2020
The survivors, in the meantime, are saddled with lucid, upsetting dreams—a phenomenon that has actually unfolded amid the CoViD-19 pandemic.
The resemblance of current events to his own strangely prophetic work isn’t lost on the author who recently sat down for an interview with NPR to acknowledge this.
The author explained:
“I keep having people say, ‘Gee, it’s like we’re living in a Stephen King story,’ … And my only response to that is, ‘I’m sorry.’ “
For King, who has authored 61 novels and roughly 200 short stories—many of which continue to be turned into popular films and TV shows—a pandemic on this scale was only a matter of time in our globalized, interconnected, and interdependent world.
Acknowledging that the novel virus outbreak was “bound to happen,” King said:
“There was never any question that in our society, where travel is a staple of daily life, that sooner or later, there was going to be a virus that was going to communicate to the public at large.”
Like many other people from the baby boomer generation, King also acknowledges that the pandemic is sure to leave a permanent imprint on the psyche of current generations—not unlike the way in which the Great Depression left a deep impression on his late mother.
“It made a scar. It left trauma behind. And I think that … my granddaughter—who can’t see her friends, can only Skype them once in a while. She’s stuck in the house … when [she’s grown and] her children say, ‘Oh my God, I’m so bored, I can’t go out!’ … [my granddaughter] is going to say, ‘You should have been around in 2020, because we were stuck in the house for months at a time! We couldn’t go out. We were scared of germs!’”
People writing novels (including me) set in the present are going to re-think a great deal of their works in progress. To quote Bob Dylan, "Things have changed."
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 20, 2020
And while the unequaled Master of Horror’s job is creating stories that shock and fascinate us in ways we’ve never felt, King’s own feelings about the ongoing pandemic are exactly like our own.
When asked how he’s managing the fear and anxiety of the current crisis, the prolific author explained:
“The short answer to that is I’m not. What I’m living with and what I suspect a lot of people are living with right now is cabin fever.
… It’s not terror that I feel, that I think most people feel, it’s a kind of gnawing anxiety where you say to yourself, I shouldn’t go out. If I do go out, I might catch this thing or I might give it to somebody else.”
However, King has made the most of his time continuing to write his latest novel. After all, he acknowledged, “it’s a good way to get away from the fear.”
King concluded by acknowledging that while the world may be a frightening place right now, horror fiction like his own can still provide an immersive escape valve for those who are willing to embrace it.
“Well, they’re like dreams, aren’t they? You’re able to go into a world that you know is not real. But if the artist is good—the filmmaker or the novelist or maybe even the painter—for a little while, you’re able to believe that world, because the picture of it and the depiction of it is so real that you can go in there.
And yet there’s always a part of your mind that understands that it’s not real, that it’s make-believe.”
… or so we hope!
Keep your distance.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 22, 2020
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.