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Panther Tales

The student news site of Great Bend High School

Panther Tales

The student news site of Great Bend High School

Panther Tales

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The Jaunt – A Cold Death

The Jaunt - A Cold Death

‘The Jaunt’, by Stephen King, is a haunting short story which delves into the horror of eternity and the impossibility of the future. Stephen King himself is already famous for his takes on horror, like ‘Carrie’ and ‘Pet Cemetary’, but this short story somehow manages to take it a step further. 

“He’s a pretty wacky dude. He’s written some pretty interesting books. He’s also had some interesting movie adaptations…” Thomas Henrikson, a soon-to-be alumnus of Great Bend High School, commented on the infamous author. 

Nathaniel Campbell, a junior at GBHS, said, “It, and… didn’t he write ‘The Shining’?” 

‘The Jaunt’ takes a stab at the mythological science-fiction horror genre, a subtype within a subtype that is done often, but not very well. For every ‘Alien’ there’s a thousand ‘Event Horizons’. 

Henrikson continued, “There have been some really good and iconic things that have come out of (Science Fiction), such as, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Star Trek’, and other science fiction shows along those lines…” 

You should give ‘The Jaunt’ a read before going any further, but to give a brief summary of it, a family is going through an advanced teleportation method before the father tells his children exactly how it was discovered. In the past, death row inmates were used to test it in exchange for their freedom, and one of them was put through while conscious. The man came out the other end of the portal with white hair and bloodshot eyes.

The father concludes his story, before he and the rest of his family are put under to go through the machine. However, his son held his breath while taking the anesthetic, staying awake through it all. 

‘Longer than you think! Held my breath when they gave me the gas! Wanted to see! I saw! I saw! Longer than you think,’ the son yelled. 

The man’s son proceeded to attempt to claw his own eyes out before he was taken away, the story ending alongside his departure and presumed death. A rather grim finale, but one that’s bound to leave the readers speculating on what exactly it was that the child saw. 

Earlier in the story, scientists speculate that the conscious mind, while Jaunting, experiences thousands or millions of years of isolation, despite the process in actuality only taking an instant. Every person who Jaunted while conscious died or went insane before death the moment they finished the process. 

Notably, there are significant similarities between ‘The Jaunt’ and ideas of the afterlife without a haven to be found. Atheists often tout death as something similar to sleep, a dark void you aren’t quite aware of. But what if you were aware of it? An eternity in the deepest black imaginable, only allowed your own thoughts to keep you comfortable. I’d go insane within a month, likely less, and by a year my consciousness would be nothing more than animalistic screaming. 

We wouldn’t be allowed bodily comforts to keep us distracted, the pain of malnutrition or the primal thirst of someone’s innate need for water, only having our mind. 

And that’s exactly what ‘The Jaunt’ shows. A cold death, in which the shattered and fractured minds left of an atheistic death come back. Obviously it’s not a hard destruction of atheism, at least traditional atheism which is more in-line with agnosticism, but rather an exploration of what he sees as hopeless mortality devoid of stimulation. 

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