The Long Walkby Stephen King
In this #1 national bestseller, “master storyteller” (Houston Chronicle) Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, tells the tale of the contestants of a grueling walking competition where there can only be one winner—the one that survives.
“I give my congratulations to the winner among your number, and my acknowledgements of/i>
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In this #1 national bestseller, “master storyteller” (Houston Chronicle) Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, tells the tale of the contestants of a grueling walking competition where there can only be one winner—the one that survives.
“I give my congratulations to the winner among your number, and my acknowledgements of valor to the losers.”
Against the wishes of his mother, sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty is about to compete in the annual grueling match of stamina and wits known as The Long Walk. One hundred boys must keep a steady pace of four miles per hour without ever stopping...with the winner being awarded “The Prize”—anything he wants for the rest of his life. But, as part of this national tournament that sweeps through a dystopian America year after year, there are some harsh rules that Garraty and ninety-nine others must adhere to in order to beat out the rest. There is no finish line—the winner is the last man standing. Contestants cannot receive any outside aid whatsoever. Slow down under the speed limit and you’re given a warning. Three warnings and you’re out of the game—permanently....
"An illusionist extraordinaire." - Publishers Weekly
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Read an Excerpt
The Long Walk
“Say the secret word and win a hundred dollars.
George, who are our first contestants?
George . . . ? Are you there, George?”
You Bet Your Life
An old blue Ford pulled into the guarded parking lot that morning, looking like a small, tired dog after a hard run. One of the guards, an expressionless young man in a khaki uniform and a Sam Browne belt, asked to see the blue plastic ID card. The boy in the back seat handed it to his mother. His mother handed it to the guard. The guard took it to a computer terminal that looked strange and out of place in the rural stillness. The computer terminal ate the card and flashed this on its screen:
GARRATY RAYMOND DAVIS
RD 1 POWNAL MAINE
ID NUMBER 49-801-89
The guard punched another button and all of this disappeared, leaving the terminal screen smooth and green and blank again. He waved them forward.
“Don’t they give the card back?” Mrs. Garraty asked. “Don’t they—”
“No, Mom,” Garraty said patiently.
“Well, I don’t like it,” she said, pulling forward into an empty space. She had been saying it ever since they set out in the dark of two in the morning. She had been moaning it, actually.
“Don’t worry,” he said without hearing himself. He was occupied with looking and with his own confusion of anticipation and fear. He was out of the car almost before the engine’s last asthmatic wheeze—a tall, well-built boy wearing a faded army fatigue jacket against the eight o’clock spring chill.
His mother was also tall, but too thin. Her breasts were almost nonexistent: token nubs. Her eyes were wandering and unsure, somehow shocked. Her face was an invalid’s face. Her iron-colored hair had gone awry under the complication of clips that was supposed to hold it in place. Her dress hung badly on her body as if she had recently lost a lot of weight.
“Ray,” she said in that whispery conspirator’s voice that he had come to dread. “Ray, listen—”
He ducked his head and pretended to tuck in his shirt. One of the guards was eating C rations from a can and reading a comic book. Garraty watched the guard eating and reading and thought for the ten thousandth time: It’s all real. And now, at last, the thought began to swing some weight.
“There’s still time to change your mind—”
The fear and anticipation cranked up a notch.
“No, there’s no time for that,” he said. “The backout date was yesterday.”
Still in that low conspirator’s voice that he hated: “They’d understand, I know they would. The Major—”
“The Major would—” Garraty began, and saw his mother wince. “You know what the Major would do, Mom.”
Another car had finished the small ritual at the gate and had parked. A boy with dark hair got out. His parents followed and for a moment the three of them stood in conference like worried baseball players. He, like some of the other boys, was wearing a light packsack. Garraty wondered if he hadn’t been a little stupid not to bring one himself.
“You won’t change your mind?”
It was guilt, guilt taking the face of anxiety. Although he was only sixteen, Ray Garraty knew something about guilt. She felt that she had been too dry, too tired, or maybe just too taken up with her older sorrows to halt her son’s madness in its seedling stage—to halt it before the cumbersome machinery of the State with its guards in khaki and its computer terminals had taken over, binding himself more tightly to its insensate self with each passing day, until yesterday, when the lid had come down with a final bang.
He put a hand on her shoulder. “This is my idea, Mom. I know it wasn’t yours. I—” He glanced around. No one was paying the slightest attention to them. “I love you, but this way is best, one way or the other.”
“It’s not,” she said, now verging on tears. “Ray, it’s not, if your father was here, he’d put a stop to—”
“Well, he’s not, is he?” He was brutal, hoping to stave off her tears . . . what if they had to drag her off? He had heard that sometimes that happened. The thought made him feel cold. In a softer voice he said, “Let it go now, Mom. Okay?” He forced a grin. “Okay,” he answered for her.
Her chin was still trembling, but she nodded. Not all right, but too late. There was nothing anyone could do.
A light wind soughed through the pines. The sky was pure blue. The road was just ahead and the simple stone post that marked the border between America and Canada. Suddenly his anticipation was greater than his fear, and he wanted to get going, get the show on the road.
“I made these. You can take them, can’t you? They’re not too heavy, are they?” She thrust a foil-wrapped package of cookies at him.
“Yeah.” He took them and then clutched her awkwardly, trying to give her what she needed to have. He kissed her cheek. Her skin was like old silk. For a moment he could have cried himself. Then he thought of the smiling, mustachioed face of the Major and stepped back, stuffing the cookies into the pocket of his fatigue jacket.
“Goodbye, Ray. Be a good boy.”
She stood there for a moment and he had a sense of her being very light, as if even the light puffs of breeze blowing this morning might send her sailing away like a dandelion gone to seed. Then she got back into the car and started the engine. Garraty stood there. She raised her hand and waved. The tears were flowing now. He could see them. He waved back and then as she pulled out he just stood there with his arms at his sides, conscious of how fine and brave and alone he must look. But when the car had passed back through the gate, forlornness struck him and he was only a sixteen-year-old boy again, alone in a strange place.
He turned back toward the road. The other boy, the dark-haired one, was watching his folks pull out. He had a bad scar along one cheek. Garraty walked over to him and said hello.
The dark-haired boy gave him a glance. “Hi.”
“I’m Ray Garraty,” he said, feeling mildly like an asshole.
“I’m Peter McVries.”
“You are ready?” Garraty asked.
McVries shrugged. “I feel jumpy. That’s the worst.”
The two of them walked toward the road and the stone marker. Behind them, other cars were pulling out. A woman began screaming abruptly. Unconsciously, Garraty and McVries drew closer together. Neither of them looked back. Ahead of them was the road, wide and black.
“That composition surface will be hot by noon,” McVries said abruptly. “I’m going to stick to the shoulder.”
Garraty nodded. McVries looked at him thoughtfully.
“What do you weigh?”
“Hundred and sixty.”
“I’m one-sixty-seven. They say the heavier guys get tired quicker, but I think I’m in pretty good shape.”
To Garraty, Peter McVries looked rather more than that—he looked awesomely fit. He wondered who they were that said the heavier guys got tired quicker, almost asked, and decided not to. The Walk was one of those things that existed on apocrypha, talismans, legend.
McVries sat down in the shade near a couple of other boys, and after a moment, Garraty sat beside him. McVries seemed to have dismissed him entirely. Garraty looked at his watch. It was five after eight. Fifty-five minutes to go. Impatience and anticipation came back, and he did his best to squash them, telling himself to enjoy sitting while he could.
All of the boys were sitting. Sitting in groups and sitting alone; one boy had climbed onto the lowest branch of a pine overlooking the road and was eating what looked like a jelly sandwich. He was skinny and blond, wearing purple pants and a blue chambray shirt under an old green zip sweater with holes in the elbows. Garraty wondered if the skinny ones would last or burn out quickly.
The boys he and McVries had sat down next to were talking.
“I’m not hurrying,” one of them said. “Why should I? If I get warned, so what? You just adjust, that’s all. Adjustment is the key word here. Remember where you heard that first.”
He looked around and discovered Garraty and McVries.
“More lambs to the slaughter. Hank Olson’s the name. Walking is my game.” He said this with no trace of a smile at all.
Garraty offered his own name. McVries spoke his own absently, still looking off toward the road.
“I’m Art Baker,” the other said quietly. He spoke with a very slight Southern accent. The four of them shook hands all around.
There was a moment’s silence, and McVries said, “Kind of scary, isn’t it?”
They all nodded except Hank Olson, who shrugged and grinned. Garraty watched the boy in the pine tree finish his sandwich, ball up the waxed paper it had been in, and toss it onto the soft shoulder. He’ll burn out early, he decided. That made him feel a little better.
“You see that spot right by the marker post?” Olson said suddenly.
They all looked. The breeze made moving shadow-patterns across the road. Garraty didn’t know if he saw anything or not.
“That’s from the Long Walk the year before last,” Olson said with grim satisfaction. “Kid was so scared he just froze up at nine o’clock.”
They considered the horror of it silently.
“Just couldn’t move. He took his three warnings and then at 9:02 AM they gave him his ticket. Right there by the starting post.”
Garraty wondered if his own legs would freeze. He didn’t think so, but it was a thing you wouldn’t know for sure until the time came, and it was a terrible thought. He wondered why Hank Olson wanted to bring up such a terrible thing.
Suddenly Art Baker sat up straight. “Here he comes.”
A dun-colored jeep drove up to the stone marker and stopped. It was followed by a strange, tread-equipped vehicle that moved much more slowly. There were toy-sized radar dishes mounted on the front and back of this halftrack. Two soldiers lounged on its upper deck, and Garraty felt a chill in his belly when he looked at them. They were carrying army-type heavy-caliber carbine rifles.
Some of the boys got up, but Garraty did not. Neither did Olson or Baker, and after his initial look, McVries seemed to have fallen back into his own thoughts. The skinny kid in the pine tree was swinging his feet idly.
The Major got out of the jeep. He was a tall, straight man with a deep desert tan that went well with his simple khakis. A pistol was strapped to his Sam Browne belt, and he was wearing reflector sunglasses. It was rumored that the Major’s eyes were extremely light-sensitive, and he was never seen in public without his sunglasses.
“Sit down, boys,” he said. “Keep Hint Thirteen in mind.” Hint Thirteen was “Conserve energy whenever possible.”
Those who had stood sat down. Garraty looked at his watch again. It said 8:16, and he decided it was a minute fast. The Major always showed up on time. He thought momentarily of setting it back a minute and then forgot it.
“I’m not going to make a speech,” the Major said, sweeping them with the blank lenses that covered his eyes. “I give my congratulations to the winner among your number, and my acknowledgments of valor to the losers.”
He turned to the back of the jeep. There was a living silence. Garraty breathed deep of the spring air. It would be warm. A good day to walk.
The Major turned back to them. He was holding a clipboard. “When I call your name, please step forward and take your number. Then go back to your place until it is time to begin. Do this smartly, please.”
“You’re in the army now,” Olson whispered with a grin, but Garraty ignored it. You couldn’t help admiring the Major. Garraty’s father, before the Squads took him away, had been fond of calling the Major the rarest and most dangerous monster any nation can produce, a society-supported sociopath. But he had never seen the Major in person.
A short, chunky farmboy with a sunburned neck gangled forward, obviously awed by the Major’s presence, and took his large plastic 1. He fixed it to his shirt by the pressure strip and the Major clapped him on the back.
A tall boy with reddish hair in jeans and a T-shirt. His jacket was tied about his waist schoolboy style and flapped wildly around his knees. Olson sniggered.
“That’s me,” Baker said, and got to his feet. He moved with deceptive leisure, and he made Garraty nervous. Baker was going to be tough. Baker was going to last a long time.
Baker came back. He had pressed his number 3 onto the right breast of his shirt.
“Did he say anything to you?” Garraty asked.
“He asked me if it was commencing to come off hot down home,” Baker said shyly. “Yeah, he . . . the Major talked to me.”
“Not as hot as it’s gonna commence getting up here,” Olson cracked.
“Baker, James,” the Major said.
It went on until 8:40, and it came out right. No one had ducked out. Back in the parking lot, engines started and a number of cars began pulling out—boys from the backup list who would now go home and watch the Long Walk coverage on TV. It’s on, Garraty thought, it’s really on.
When his turn came, the Major gave him number 47 and told him “Good luck.” Up close he smelled very masculine and somehow overpowering. Garraty had an almost insatiable urge to touch the man’s leg and make sure he was real.
Peter McVries was 61. Hank Olson was 70. He was with the Major longer than the rest. The Major laughed at something Olson said and clapped him on the back. “I told him to keep a lot of money on short call,” Olson said when he came back. “And he told me to give ’em hell. Said he liked to see someone who was raring to rip. Give ’em hell, boy, he said.”
“Pretty good,” McVries said, and then winked at Garraty. Garraty wondered what McVries had meant, winking like that. Was he making fun of Olson?
The skinny boy in the tree was named Stebbins. He got his number with his head down, not speaking to the Major at all, and then sat back at the base of his tree. Garraty was somehow fascinated with the boy.
Number 100 was a red-headed fellow with a volcanic complexion. His name was Zuck. He got his number and then they all sat and waited for what would come next.
Then three soldiers from the halftrack passed out wide belts with snap pockets. The pockets were filled with tubes of high-energy concentrate pastes. More soldiers came around with canteens. They buckled on the belts and slung the canteens. Olson slung his belt low on his hips like a gunslinger, found a Waifa chocolate bar, and began to eat it. “Not bad,” he said, grinning. He swigged from his canteen, washing down the chocolate, and Garraty wondered if Olson was just fronting, or if he knew something Garraty did not.
The Major looked them over soberly. Garraty’s wristwatch said 8:56—how had it gotten so late? His stomach lurched painfully.
“All right, fellows, line up by tens, please. No particular order. Stay with your friends, if you like.”
Garraty got up. He felt numb and unreal. It was as if his body now belonged to someone else.
“Well here we go,” McVries said at his elbow. “Good luck, everyone.”
“Good luck to you,” Garraty said, surprised.
McVries said: “I need my fucking head examined.” He looked suddenly pale and sweaty, not so awesomely fit as he had earlier. He was trying to smile and not making it. The scar stood out on his cheek like a wild punctuation mark.
Stebbins got up and ambled to the rear of the ten wide, ten deep queue. Olson, Baker, McVries, and Garraty were in the third row. Garraty’s mouth was dry. He wondered if he should drink some water. He decided against it. He had never in his life been so aware of his feet. He wondered if he might freeze and get his ticket on the starting line. He wondered if Stebbins would fold early—Stebbins with his jelly sandwich and his purple pants. He wondered if he would fold up first. He wondered what it would feel like if—
His wristwatch said 8:59.
The Major was studying a stainless steel pocket chronometer. He raised his fingers slowly, and everything hung suspended with his hand. The hundred boys watched it carefully, and the silence was awful and immense. The silence was everything.
Garraty’s watch said 9:00, but the poised hand did not fall.
Do it! Why doesn’t he do it?
He felt like screaming it out.
Then he remembered that his watch was a minute fast—you could set your watch by the Major, only he hadn’t, he had forgotten.
The Major’s fingers dropped. “Luck to all,” he said. His face was expressionless and the reflector sunglasses hid his eyes. They began to walk smoothly, with no jostling.
Garraty walked with them. He hadn’t frozen. Nobody froze. His feet passed beyond the stone marker, in parade-step with McVries on his left and Olson on his right. The sound of feet was very loud.
This is it, this is it, this is it.
A sudden insane urge to stop came to him. Just to see if they really meant business. He rejected the thought indignantly and a little fearfully.
They came out of the shade and into the sun, the warm spring sun. It felt good. Garraty relaxed, put his hands in his pockets, and kept step with McVries. The group began to spread out, each person finding his own stride and speed. The halftrack clanked along the soft shoulder, throwing thin dust. The tiny radar dishes turned busily, monitoring each Walker’s speed with a sophisticated on-board computer. Low speed cutoff was exactly four miles an hour.
“Warning! Warning 88!”
Garraty started and looked around. It was Stebbins. Stebbins was 88. Suddenly he was sure Stebbins was going to get his ticket right here, still in sight of the starting post.
“Smart.” It was Olson.
“What?” Garraty asked. He had to make a conscious effort to move his tongue.
“The guy takes a warning while he’s still fresh and gets an idea of where the limit is. And he can sluff it easy enough—you walk an hour without getting a fresh warning, you lose one of the old ones. You know that.”
“Sure I know it,” Garraty said. It was in the rule book. They gave you three warnings. The fourth time you fell below four miles an hour you were . . . well, you were out of the Walk. But if you had three warnings and could manage to walk for three hours, you were back in the sun again.
“So now he knows,” Olson said. “And at 10:02, he’s in the clear again.”
Garraty walked on at a good clip. He was feeling fine. The starting post dropped from sight as they breasted a hill and began descending into a long, pine-studded valley. Here and there were rectangular fields with the earth just freshly turned.
“Potatoes, they tell me,” McVries said.
“Best in the world,” Garraty answered automatically.
“You from Maine?” Baker asked.
“Yeah, downstate.” He looked up ahead. Several boys had drawn away from the main group, making perhaps six miles an hour. Two of them were wearing identical leather jackets, with what looked like eagles on the back. It was a temptation to speed up, but Garraty refused to be hurried. “Conserve energy whenever possible”—Hint 13.
“Does the road go anywhere near your hometown?” McVries asked.
“About seven miles to one side. I guess my mother and my girlfriend will come to see me.” He paused and added carefully: “If I’m still walking, of course.”
“Hell, there won’t be twenty-five gone when we get downstate,” Olson said.
A silence fell among them at that. Garraty knew it wasn’t so, and he thought Olson did, too.
Two other boys received warnings, and in spite of what Olson had said, Garraty’s heart lurched each time. He checked back on Stebbins. He was still at the rear, and eating another jelly sandwich. There was a third sandwich jutting from the pocket of his ragged green sweater. Garraty wondered if his mother had made them, and he thought of the cookies his own mother had given him—pressed on him, as if warding off evil spirits.
“Why don’t they let people watch the start of a Long Walk?” Garraty asked.
“Spoils the Walkers’ concentration,” a sharp voice said.
Garraty turned his head. It was a small dark, intense-looking boy with the number 5 pressed to the collar of his jacket. Garraty couldn’t remember his name. “Concentration?” he said.
“Yes.” The boy moved up beside Garraty. “The Major has said it is very important to concentrate on calmness at the beginning of a Long Walk.” He pressed his thumb reflectively against the end of his rather sharp nose. There was a bright red pimple there. “I agree. Excitement, crowds, TV later. Right now all we need to do is focus.” He stared at Garraty with his hooded dark brown eyes and said it again. “Focus.”
“All I’m focusing on is pickin’ ’em up and layin’ ’em down,” Olson said.
5 looked insulted. “You have to pace yourself. You have to focus on yourself. You have to have a Plan. I’m Gary Barkovitch, by the way. My home is Washington, D.C.”
“I’m John Carter,” Olson said. “My home is Barsoom, Mars.”
Barkovitch curled his lip in contempt and dropped back.
“There’s one cuckoo in every clock, I guess,” Olson said.
But Garraty thought Barkovitch was thinking pretty clearly—at least until one of the guards called out “Warning! Warning 5!” about five minutes later.
“I’ve got a stone in my shoe!” Barkovitch said waspishly.
The soldier didn’t reply. He dropped off the halftrack and stood on the shoulder of the road opposite Barkovitch. In his hand he held a stainless steel chronometer just like the Major’s. Barkovitch stopped completely and took off his shoe. He shook a tiny pebble out of it. Dark, intense, his olive-sallow face shiny with sweat, he paid no attention when the soldier called out, “Second warning, 5.” Instead, he smoothed his sock carefully over the arch of his foot.
“Oh-oh,” Olson said. They had all turned around and were walking backward.
Stebbins, still at the tag end, walked past Barkovitch without looking at him. Now Barkovitch was all alone, slightly to the right of the white line, retying his shoe.
“Third warning, 5. Final warning.”
There was something in Garraty’s belly that felt like a sticky ball of mucus. He didn’t want to look, but he couldn’t look away. He wasn’t conserving energy whenever possible by walking backward, but he couldn’t help that, either. He could almost feel Barkovitch’s seconds shriveling away to nothing.
“Oh, boy,” Olson said. “That dumb shit, he’s gonna get his ticket.”
But then Barkovitch was up. He paused to brush some road dirt from the knees of his pants. Then he broke into a trot, caught up with the group, and settled back into his walking pace. He passed Stebbins, who still didn’t look at him, and caught up with Olson.
He grinned, brown eyes glittering. “See? I just got myself a rest. It’s all in my Plan.”
“Maybe you think so,” Olson said, his voice higher than usual. “All I see that you got is three warnings. For your lousy minute and a half you got to walk three . . . fucking . . . hours. And why in hell did you need a rest? We just started, for Chrissake!”
Barkovitch looked insulted. His eyes burned at Olson. “We’ll see who gets his ticket first, you or me,” he said. “It’s all in my Plan.”
“Your Plan and the stuff that comes out of my asshole bear a suspicious resemblance to each other,” Olson said, and Baker chuckled.
With a snort, Barkovitch strode past them.
Olson couldn’t resist a parting shot. “Just don’t stumble, buddy. They don’t warn you again. They just . . .”
Barkovitch didn’t even look back and Olson gave up, disgusted.
At thirteen past nine by Garraty’s watch (he had taken the trouble to set it back the one minute), the Major’s jeep breasted the hill they had just started down. He came past them on the shoulder opposite the pacing halftrack and raised a battery-powered loudhailer to his lips.
“I’m pleased to announce that you have finished the first mile of your journey, boys. I’d also like to remind you that the longest distance a full complement of Walkers has ever covered is seven and three-quarters miles. I’m hoping you’ll better that.”
The jeep spurted ahead. Olson appeared to be considering this news with startled, even fearful, wonder. Not even eight miles, Garraty thought. It wasn’t nearly as far as he would have guessed. He hadn’t expected anyone—not even Stebbins—to get a ticket until late afternoon at least. He thought of Barkovitch. All he had to do was fall below speed once in the next hour.
“Ray?” It was Art Baker. He had taken off his coat and slung it over one arm. “Any particular reason you came on the Long Walk?”
Garraty unclipped his canteen and had a quick swallow of water. It was cool and good. It left beads of moisture on his upper lip and he licked them off. It was good, good to feel things like that.
“I don’t really know,” he said truthfully.
“Me either.” Baker thought for a moment. “Did you go out for track or anything? In school?”
“Me either. But I guess it don’t matter, does it? Not now.”
“No, not now,” Garraty asked.
Conversation lulled. They passed through a small village with a country store and a gas station. Two old men sat on folding lawn-chairs outside the gas station, watching them with hooded and reptilian old men’s eyes. On the steps of the country store, a young woman held up her tiny son so he could see them. And a couple of older kids, around twelve, Garraty judged, watched them out of sight wistfully.
Some of the boys began to speculate about how much ground they had covered. The word came back that a second pacer halftrack had been dispatched to cover the half a dozen boys in the vanguard . . . they were now completely out of sight. Someone said they were doing seven miles an hour. Someone else said it was ten. Someone told them authoritatively that a guy up ahead was flagging and had been warned twice. Garraty wondered why they weren’t catching up to him if that was true.
Olson finished the Waifa chocolate bar he had started back at the border and drank some water. Some of the others were also eating, but Garraty decided to wait until he was really hungry. He had heard the concentrates were quite good. The astronauts got them when they went into space.
A little after ten o’clock, they passed a sign that said LIMESTONE 10 MI. Garraty thought about the only Long Walk his father had ever let him go to. They went to Freeport and watched them walk through. His mother had been with them. The Walkers were tired and hollow-eyed and barely conscious of the cheering and the waving signs and the constant hoorah as people cheered on their favorites and those on whom they had wagered. His father told him later that day that people lined the roads from Bangor on. Up-country it wasn’t so interesting, and the road was strictly cordoned off—maybe so they could concentrate on being calm, as Barkovitch had said. But as time passed, it got better, of course.
When the Walkers passed through Freeport that year they had been on the road over seventy-two hours. Garraty had been ten and overwhelmed by everything. The Major had made a speech to the crowd while the boys were still five miles out of town. He began with Competition, progressed to Patriotism, and finished with something called the Gross National Product—Garraty had laughed at that, because to him gross meant something nasty, like boogers. He had eaten six hotdogs and when he finally saw the Walkers coming he had wet his pants.
One boy had been screaming. That was his most vivid memory. Every time he put his foot down he had screamed: I can’t. I CAN’T. I can’t. I CAN’T. But he went on walking. They all did, and pretty soon the last of them had gone past L.L. Bean’s on U.S. 1 and out of sight. Garraty had been mildly disappointed at not seeing anyone get a ticket. They had never gone to another Long Walk. Later that night Garraty had heard his father shouting thickly at someone into the telephone, the way he did when he was being drunk or political, and his mother in the background, her conspiratorial whisper, begging him to stop, please stop, before someone picked up the party line.
Garraty drank some more water and wondered how Barkovitch was making it.
They were passing more houses now. Families sat out on their front lawns, smiling, waving, drinking Coca-Colas.
“Garraty,” McVries said. “My, my, look what you got.”
A pretty girl of about sixteen in a white blouse and red-checked pedal pushers was holding up a big Magic Marker sign: GO-GO-GARRATY NUMBER 47 We Love You Ray “Maine’s Own.”
Garraty felt his heart swell. He suddenly knew he was going to win. The unnamed girl proved it.
Olson whistled wetly, and began to slide his stiff index finger rapidly in and out of his loosely curled fist. Garraty thought that was a pretty goddam sick thing to be doing.
To hell with Hint 13. Garraty ran over to the side of the road. The girl saw his number and squealed. She threw herself at him and kissed him hard. Garraty was suddenly, sweatily aroused. He kissed back vigorously. The girl poked her tongue into his mouth twice, delicately. Hardly aware of what he was doing, he put one hand on a round buttock and squeezed gently.
“Warning! Warning 47!”
Garraty stepped back and grinned. “Thanks.”
“Oh . . . oh . . . oh sure!” Her eyes were starry.
He tried to think of something else to say, but he could see the soldier opening his mouth to give him the second warning. He trotted back to his place, panting a little and grinning. He felt a little guilty after Hint 13 just the same, though.
Olson was also grinning. “For that I would have taken three warnings.”
Garraty didn’t answer, but he turned around and walked backward and waved to the girl. When she was out of sight he turned around and began to walk firmly. An hour before his warning would be gone. He must be careful not to get another one. But he felt good. He felt fit. He felt like he could walk all the way to Florida. He started to walk faster.
“Ray.” McVries was still smiling. “What’s your hurry?”
Yeah, that was right. Hint 6: Slow and easy does it. “Thanks.”
McVries went on smiling. “Don’t thank me too much. I’m out to win, too.”
Garraty stared at him, disconcerted.
“I mean, let’s not put this on a Three Musketeers basis. I like you and it’s obvious you’re a big hit with the pretty girls. But if you fall over I won’t pick you up.”
“Yeah.” He smiled back, but his smile felt lame.
“On the other hand,” Baker drawled softly, “we’re all in this together and we might as well keep each other amused.”
McVries smiled. “Why not?”
They came to an upslope and saved their breath for walking. Halfway up, Garraty took off his jacket and slung it over his shoulder. A few moments later they passed someone’s discarded sweater lying on the road. Someone, Garraty thought, is going to wish they had that tonight. Up ahead, a couple of the point Walkers were losing ground.
Garraty concentrated on picking them up and putting them down. He still felt good. He felt strong.
What People are Saying About This
"An illusionist extraordinaire." - Publishers Weekly
Meet the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy—Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel), Finders Keepers, and End of Watch; the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams; Revival; Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
- Bangor, Maine
- Date of Birth:
- September 21, 1947
- Place of Birth:
- Portland, Maine
- B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The Long Walk is the story of 100 boys who must complete an unimaginable long walk to obtain a prize; a prize that everyone desires. This book is a masterpiece. Stephen King does such a great job relating the characters with the reader. Whenever a likable character or friend to Garraty (protagonist) dies, you feel as if you have lost a good friend. King's creativness is really hit home in this book. From the very beginning, you do not want to stop reading because you want to know many answers. Throughout the book, King reveals those answers and sometimes they're a bit shocking. The end is great. This book is wonderful and any Stephen King fan will love it. The only flaw with the book is the language. You cannot read a page without curse words. This isn't too big of a deal and doesn't take away from the book. If you are looking for a thrilling and exciting read, this is the one.
This is the first Stephen King novel I've read, but not the last if the rest are as good as this one. I actually cried when two of the boys died--that is how deeply you get involved in this story. The characters are well developed and the story is unique. This is a must-read for any book enthusiast. It's heartbreaking, touching and sometimes painful to read, but well worth the time and discomfort. I still haven't gotten this story out of my mind. Definitely one of my favorites....
The Long walk by Stephen King, is a disturbing report of a contest, in which the losers pay with their lives. The Long Walk consists of one hundred walkers. Only the elite of those who registered, were entered into the contest. The prize being literally anything that the winner would ever desire, plus a monetary prize of millions of dollars. Throughout the story the reader watches the main character develop mentally, while he watches those around him die. Unlike most authors, King develops his characters through their experiences, as opposed to just describing them. This gives the reader a better feel of the personality of the individuals in the novel. This kind of understanding of characters makes the story much more enjoyable. The morbidity of this story evolves even the reader. A new understanding of the brutality transpiring within the military is reached through the novel. King¿s depiction of this military sponsored escapade, showed his respect for military obedience, and lack of respect for their morals. He shows them to be robots to the commands of the `beloved general.¿ Of course the soldiers were respected, until peers started dying. Most people respect the authority of the military. The military has an excess of power, and lacks the ethics to back the authority, implies King through this book. The only alternate novel by King that is as thought provoking as this is The Rage. It is another shorter novel, This novel is remarkably illuminating. Never had I imagined that my life could be changed by a book. This book convinced me that my previous beliefs were wrong. This fiction forced me to revise all of my moral beliefs, for it makes one realize all of the death and destruction going on in the world. I would instantly reccomend this book to anyone wishing for something different, and eye opening.
The psychological roller-coaster not withsranding nor the character development and twisted plot. I think most of the responses on here are absurd. This book is fantastic. No action? It's a book. If there is not enough action for you, you either- have no imagination or, need to stick to your xbox and, leave the reading to someone else.
Now this book I admit was good reading. I kept reading and reading and reading. Pretty predictible. Then it seems like the writer got tired and just did not feel like closing the story. POW!!! Just dropped you. I ended up with a cheated feeling and angry that I wasted my time reading.
In general the book was fantastic. It was full of suspense, humor, and a little scary but the ending gets u really pissed off..... i knew that the ending was not great before i read it but the book was really good.
The Long Walk is an excellent book. It has got a very simple story line, but very descriptive. I don't recommend it to the youngen's because it has got descriptive violence and sexual content, but i do recommend it to many adults. It is definitely a suspensful book, and don't read it if you plan to put it down
This book is the best book i got so far and will always stay with me it just kept pulling me in
I normally write reviews a few days after i have read the book, so i know what has stuck with me, and if it even warrants a review. Now, looking back three or so days later, i can trully tell you that this is a good one! King wrote this as Bachman, which i've come to notoce is his "cloudy day" type of personality. This book is dark in its own way, and scary in that you hate to watch characters die even though its self explanitory that only one muat live at the end. This book has really impactd me. I find muself womdering if im walking four miles an hour (the mandatory speed for which i really hope you read about) and analyzing the paims in my feet to see how much longer i could walk. In conclusion, i really hope you read this. Its very well written, and im quite sure you will ne thinking about it long after you have finished reading. After all, isnt that what a book is for? To take you away from this world?
If you like pretty packages with a cute bow...... this one you should skip ! I couldn't stop reading but when it ends Stephen King truly leaves you wanting more!
I have read most of Kings books and, to me, "The Long Walk" is one of the most unforgetable. It was one of four stories published together. The other stories, Roadwork... etc. were memorable but The Long Walk really stood out. I remember actually feeling the fatigue of Ray as if I was walking with him.
Reminded me a little of the book series the hunger games. I liked this book. Pretty good. You should read it.
Couldn't put it down
Stephen King's The Long Walk was very well written. Behind ever page was another suprise. When I started reading it I couldn't put it down. I think this book had a very interesting ending leaving it up to the imagination of the reader to decide what happens. I rate this book with five stars because it was very well written with great suspense with yet a touch of horror. The characters were great. The whole plot was outstanding and I thought the book was one of the best in his Bauchman series.
This book had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. You know everything and nothing at the same time. King/Bachman had me laughing, gagging, and crying all at the same time. The only downside is the end, a little confusing and disappointhing
This book just seems to latch on to you. I would recomend this book to every one.
It was a very suspenseful and also dramatic book.
I just loved this book, it was one of the best books he ever wrote.
The Long Walk is an incredibly good book. Once I started reading I couldn't stop.
I love this book and those boysl
This book is, well....disturbing, to say the least. Its probably one of Kings best. To think that something like this has happened or could take place is just crazy. I actually have no real way to describe the truely disturbing nature and reality that is portrayed in this book. Definitely a 5 Star read. Btw, hope you can handle and/or enjoy the mental and emotional roller-coaster that you're about to go on. Bet you read the entire book in one sitting. There can only be (ONE), one winner, that is. Good luck!
This book was very entertaining and creepy. At some points I had the chills. It was also emotional and I got choked up towards the end. Definitely an unforgettable story with great characters. I did not quite understand the ending but I guess it is for each reader to interpret for themselves. My first of many King books!
Nothing short of a masterpiece. King IS king!
Excellent King book written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. This was my first of his Bachman books so didn't know what to expect. Although the book was written very early in his career, he still had a gift for developing interesting characters that are injected into a surreal experience. As a runner, I enjoyed this novel.
Not the best Stephen King book but pretty damn good