The end of the world is often a popular plot point in horror fiction. A catastrophic event wipes out the population, an infection turns groups of people into herds of ravenous zombies, and plucky groups of survivors band together to rebuild civilization and create a new world.
But, what if it didn’t happen that way? What if civilization came to a screeching halt, and you didn’t care? What if no one seemed to care?
Ennui at the end of the world is a strange concept to consider, but it’s something Stephen King grapples with in ‘Night Surf’ (collected in 1978’s Night Shift). A sort of test run for his post-apocalypse epic The Stand, ‘Night Surf’ finds a group of college students aimlessly wandering around the beaches of Maine after the world is ravaged by a super-flu.
Nothing happens. The kids smoke and drink. They fight. They behave like typical college kids home for summer vacation. Everything is normal, except the world has stopped.
No one explores the mundane in the midst of extraordinary circumstances as well as King does. Despite all of the horrific, fantastic and terrifying things that happen in his stories, there’s often nothing extraordinary about his characters, his heroes. They’re just normal, and they’re trying to stay normal, even though everything around them has changed. Life goes on. Sometimes, that’s all a story needs to tell you.
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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