31 Days Of King – Day 10: The Road Virus Heads North

Image courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Sometimes, you wonder if Stephen King didn’t rip his ideas from the scripts of un-produced episodes of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.

In ‘The Road Virus Heads North,’ writer Richard Kinnell stops at a garage sale on his way home from a conference. At the sale, he buys a horrifying painting, one that depicts a man speeding down the highway behind the wheel of a muscle car. The passenger seat is covered in blood, and the man’s teeth are all fangs.

It’s gruesome, yes, but it doesn’t scare our protagonist, at least, not until the picture begins to change. All of a sudden, the landscapes behind the hideous driver become familiar, and landmarks passed only hours before appear. Whatever is in that painting is following Kinnell home.

Image courtesy of StephenKing.com

This is a tale you could picture yourself watching on TV with the lights off, long after midnight, as the wind howls outside. Each moment the painting changes, King twists the tension tighter and tighter, creating an atmosphere filled with nothing but dread. He zeros in on the intricacies of the painting: the widening smile of the terrifying driver, a brief flash of a tattoo on his arm, splashes of blood. Each new detail increases the terror as a horrific fate moves closer and closer to Kinnell’s doorstep.

Wait until dark to read this one if you dare, but you may feel safer while there’s still light in the sky. The Road Virus may not travel by day.

Trey Wydysh is The Geekiverse’s resident Stephen King superfan. You can find all of our 31 Days Of Stephen King posts here. Got a King question? Looking for a recommendation? Feel free to ask Trey on Twitter.

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