If you thought that after publishing his massive, decades-in-the-making novel Under the Dome, Stephen King might take it easy, then you don’t know the man. Two years, a novella, and a short-story collection later, the ever-prolific horror-meister is back with another heavy, and heavy-themed, tome. 11/22/63 tells the tale of Jake Epping, a high school English teacher who time-travels back to 1958 through a portal in a diner, tasked with preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As with Under the Dome, King came up with the idea for the story back in the ’70s, but he never finished it until now. 11/22/63 doesn’t hit stores until 11/08/11 — but here’s a thrilling excerpt to whet your appetite.
I TOOK ANOTHER step forward and went down another step. My eyes still told me I was standing on the floor in the pantry of Al’s Diner, but I was standing straight and the top of my head no longer scraped the roof of the pantry. Which was of course impossible. My stomach lurched unhappily in response to my sensory confusion, and I could feel the egg salad sandwich and the piece of apple pie I’d eaten for lunch preparing to push the ejection button.
From behind me — yet a little distant, as if he were standing fifteen yards away instead of only five feet — Al said, ”Close your eyes, buddy, it’s easier that way.”
When I did it, the sensory confusion disappeared at once. It was like uncrossing your eyes. Or putting on the special glasses in a 3-D movie, that might be closer. I moved my right foot and went down another step. It was steps; with my vision shut off, my body had no doubt about that.
”Two more, then open em,” Al said. He sounded farther away than ever. At the other end of the diner instead of standing in the pantry door.
I went down with my left foot. Went down with my right foot again, and all at once there was a pop inside my head, exactly like the kind you hear when you’re in an airplane and the pressure changes suddenly. The dark field inside my eyelids turned red, and there was warmth on my skin. It was sunlight. No question about it. And that faint sulphurous smell had grown thicker, moving up the sensory scale from barely there to actively unpleasant. There was no question about that, either.
I opened my eyes.
I was no longer in the pantry. I was no longer in Al’s Diner, either. Although there was no door from the pantry to the outside world, I was outside. I was in the courtyard. But it was no longer brick, and there were no outlet stores surrounding it. I was standing on crumbling, dirty cement. Several huge metal receptacles stood against the blank white wall where Your Maine Snuggery should have been. They were piled high with something and covered with sail-sized sheets of rough brown burlap cloth.
I turned around to look at the big silver trailer which housed Al’s Diner, but the diner was gone.