Stephen King apologized last night for predicting the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being interviewed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The tongue-in-cheek apology came as a result of his 1978 novel The Stand, which documents a flu-like sickness that kills 99.4% of the world’s population.
The story starts with a weaponized strain of influenza (Captain Trips) created in a laboratory. One infected man leaves the base and spreads the infection that destroys the unsuspecting world populace.
When Colbert asked King if the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic was panning out in a way that he might have written, the horror author responded by talking about his 1970s horror story.
The Carrie author explained that he wrote a “book in 1975 or 1976 called The Stand, and I’m still apologizing for it.”
He says people come up to him all the time wearing surgical masks, telling him that “they feel like they’re in a Stephen King story.”
King said: “My response is, ‘I’m sorry for that.'”
Stephen King wrote the book after he got the idea for a pandemic
He then explained that he got the idea for the book in the 1970s after a chemical spill in Utah.
At the time, he went to a doctor he knew and asked them, “could you give me a scenario for a pandemic that wipes out 99 percent of the Earth’s population?”
King said his doctor friend suggested the flu would be ideal for his book as “it’s a virus, it’s not dead, it’s not alive… no really knows what it is.”
King then referred to the flu as “the gift that keeps on giving,” because every year, the flu comes back in a different form.
He then stated that his fear about COVID-19 is that, like influenza, it will keep mutating and could come back in a more virulent and deadly form.
Trust Stephen King to think of the worst-case scenario, but then, as he admitted in the interview, his mind always imagines the “nightmare scenario.”
He said, “I’m sorry” for that too.
A massive reason why The Stand is such a terrifying read is the feeling that the storyline is very plausible indeed.
Many on Twitter wondered if The Stand predicted COVID-19
Twitter has been full of people wondering if Stephen King knew all about COVID-19 before it began its sinister spread across the globe.
People need to read CHAPTER 4 of The Stand by King Stephen. He knew it was coming. pic.twitter.com/JmGSuVXaUZ
— Ardentcrest (@Ardentcrest) April 28, 2020
I’m not sure if anyone else will actually agree with me on this one but with the world’s current situation right now I literally feel like I am living in 2 Stephen king novels the stand and the dead zone lol #NationalParanormalDay pic.twitter.com/ZGGtsbMeLx
— chris (@chris65510539) May 3, 2020
In March, the man himself took to Twitter in an attempt to calm everyone down when he wrote: “No, coronavirus is NOT like THE STAND. It’s not anywhere near as serious. It’s eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.”
No, coronavirus is NOT like THE STAND. It’s not anywhere near as serious. It’s eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 8, 2020
The Stand was subsequently made into a TV mini-series on ABC in 1994 starring the likes of Molly Ringwald, Gary Sinise, and Rob Lowe, and an updated modern version is expected to arrive soon.
While no date for its release has been confirmed yet, we can expect the show to be found on CBS All-Access and to star James Marsden in a leading role. Amber Heard, Whoopi Goldberg, and Greg Kinnear are also expected to star.