Skeleton Crew

Published in Stephen King’s 1985 short story collection Skeleton Crew, “The Jaunt” isn’t one of King’s best by any means, especially when put alongside other stories in the collection such “The Mist”, “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” and “Survivor Type”. With that said, it’s funny how when I have a discussion aboutSkeleton Crew, people’s eyes widen when they recall “The Jaunt”.

Most of the “The Jaunt” is the history of teleportation, or jaunting, as told by a father to his curious children as they wait to jaunt to Mars. Mostly, the material is playful, and it’s clear King is enjoying the small world building that comes with the premise. But this is King, after all. The history of jaunting has its dark moments, as it’s discovered that humans can only jaunt when they’re unconscious; those who jaunted awake died instantly or turned insane. As for the story being scary, it comes down to its ending. Once the father’s story is told, it is time for the family to undergo the sleeping gas for their jaunt. When the father wakes on Mars, he discovers to his horror that his son had held his breath when given the sleeping gas. What follows next, though brief in execution, is haunting, and stays with you long after the story is over.

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