Stephen King’s new book Revival, in stores on November 11th, is a modern-day Frankenstein story about a electricity-obsessed minister that turns on God after his family dies and his five-decade relationship with a drug-added rock guitarist. “I’ve had the idea for this book since I was a kid,” says King. “I drew a lot of inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I wanted to make the story as warm as possible, because the best way to scare people is to really make the reader care about these characters.” Listen to the audio version of the excerpt here, too, and don’t miss our extensive interview with King — one of the few print Q&As he’s done since a van accident nearly killed him 15 years ago — in the current issue of Rolling Stone.
Chapter VI – The Electrical Treatment. A Nighttime Excursion. One Pissed-Off Okie. A Ticket on the Mountain Express.
Jacobs’s electrical workshop was in West Tulsa. I don’t know what that part of town is like now, but in 1992 it was a forlorn industrial zone where a lot of the industries seemed to be dead or dying. He pulled into the parking lot of an all-but-destitute strip mall on Olympia Avenue and parked in front of Wilson Auto Body.
“It was standing empty for a long time, that’s what the Realtor told me,” Jacobs said. He was dressed in faded jeans and a blue golf shirt, his hair washed and combed, his eyes sparkling with excitement. Just looking at him made me nervous. “I had to take a year’s lease, but it was still dirt cheap. Come on in.”
“You ought to take down the sign and put up your own,” I said. I framed it with hands that were only shaking a little. “‘Portraits in Lightning, C. D. Jacobs, Proprietor.’ It would look good.”
“I won’t be in Tulsa that long,” he said, “and the portraits are really just a way of supporting myself while I conduct my experiments. I’ve come a long way since my pastoral days, but I’ve still got a long way to go. You have no idea. Come in, Jamie. Come in.”
He unlocked a door and led me through an office that was empty of furniture, although I could still see square clean patches on the grimy linoleum, where the legs of a desk had once stood. On the wall was a curling calendar with April 1989 showing.
The garage had a corrugated metal roof and I expected it to be baking under the September sun, but it was wonderfully cool. I could hear the whisper of air conditioners. When he flicked a bank of switches—recently modified, judging from the makeshift way the wires stuck out of the uncovered holes where the plates had been—a dozen brilliant lights came on. If not for the oil-darkened concrete and the rectangular caverns where two lifts had once been, you would have thought it was an operating theater.
“It must cost a fortune to air-condition this place,” I said. “Especially when you’ve got all those lights blazing.”
“Dirt cheap. The air conditioners are my own design. They draw very little power, and most of that I generate myself. I could gener- ate all of it, but I wouldn’t want Tulsa Power and Light down here, snooping around to fifind out if I was volt-jacking, somehow. As for the lights . . . you could wrap a hand around one of the bulbs with- out burning yourself. Or even heating your skin, for that matter.”
Our footfalls echoed in all that empty space. So did our voices. It was like being in the company of phantoms. It just feels that way because I’m strung out, I told myself.
“Listen, Charlie — you’re not messing with anything radioactive, are you?”
He grimaced and shook his head. “Nuclear’s the last thing I’m interested in. It’s energy for idiots. A dead end.”
“So how do you generate the juice?”
“Electricity breeds electricity, if you know what you’re doing. Leave it at that. Step over here, Jamie.”