When cell phones fight back
Driving down the road, and not paying real close attention. In the men’s or ladies’ room, one stall over. At the check-out line in the grocery store. Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, oblivious to everything but a little voice, held in one hand.
Remember when talking on the telephone meant actually sitting down at a table or desk and staying there? Does it seem like nearly everyone is a slave to the cell phone?
In the new novel, “Cell” by Stephen King, that last question may be more valid than you think.
For once, Clayton Riddell is on top of his game. He’s finally landed a dream job: drawing comics for a major client in Boston. It’s the kind of work Clay has always wanted, the job he told his ex-wife, Sharon, that he would one day have. Sharon told him she believed in him. Clay can’t wait to get back to the hotel, to call her and share his good news.
And then the strangest thing happens. Right in front of his eyes, a well-dressed woman who is chatting on her cell phone suddenly goes crazy. A teenaged girl, also on her cell, attacks the well-dressed woman and rips the woman’s throat out. Cars are crashing and mowing down pedestrians, blood is everywhere. People with vacant eyes are slaughtering others on the street.
As Clay and another unaffected man, Tom, hurry to the safety of a small hotel, they see carnage and mayhem everywhere. A young girl they shelter and befriend at the hotel confirms what the men have only barely considered. The cell phones have driven everyone insane.
Beside himself with worry, Clay remembers a certain birthday present that his young son, Johnny, simply had to have: a small red cell phone, which mostly sits gathering dust on the bedside table, the “shine” worn off the gift. Now Clay has to get back home to Kent Pond, Maine. He hasn’t checked lately, and he needs to know. Is it possible that the phone still sits, unused, in Johnny’s bedroom?
Is it possible that Stephen King has a cell phone? He says not.
And I’m glad mine didn’t ring while I was reading this book, because I’m not sure I would have answered it.
The great news is the Stephen King that early fans came to love is back with an all-too-plausible story line that puts the “EEEEE” in “creepy.” Like many of his other novels, King lovingly writes of gore and blood and humanity, beset with insanity, in a way that will make you squirm. The characters in this book are guy-next-door types, the kind you’d trust with your house key. And the evil undead?
Well, what can I say?
After all, this is a Stephen King book, you know.
If you’re ready for some old-fashioned skin-crawling frights, then flip this book open. “Cell” isn’t a turn-on-the-lights-and-lock-the-door kind of scary, but you’ll never again hear a ring tone in a public place without looking for somewhere to run if you need it. VT