Three years ago a friend of Stu's had recommended a book called Watership Down, and although Stu didn't read much, one weekend was so boring and rainy that he had taken it out of the library, hoping it would be a story about mutiny at sea. The thing turned out to be about rabbits. The stupidest, most cowardly animals on God's earth... except the guy that wrote that book made them seem different. You really cared about them. It was a pretty damn good story, and Stu, who read at a snail's pace, finished it that same weekend.

The thing he remembered most from that book was a phrase: "going tharn," or just "tharn." He understood it at once, because he had seen plenty of tharn animals, and run down a few on the highway. A tharn animal would crouch in the middle of the road, it's ears flattened, watching as a car rushed toward it, unable to move from the certain oncoming death. Elder made Stu feel like that. He would look into Elder's flat blue eyes and feel all the will drain out of him. Elder probably wouldn't even need the pistol to dispose of him. Elder probably had had courses in karate, savate, and general dirty tricks. What could he possible do against a man like that? Just thinking about Elder made his will to even try drain away. Tharn. It was a good word for a bad state of mind.


An excerpt from the novel
The Stand by Stephen King.

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