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First Chapter, First Paragraph

The Long Walk

by Stephen King

“Some of these guys will go on walking long after the laws of biochemistry and handicapping have gone by the boards. There was a guy last year that crawled for two miles at four miles an hour after both of his feet cramped up at the same time, you remember reading about that? Look at Olson, he’s worn out but he keeps going. That goddam Barkovitch is running on high-octane hate and he just keeps going and he’s as fresh as a daisy. I don’t think I can do that. I’m not tired -not really tired- yet. But I will be.” The scar stood out on the side of his haggard face as he looked ahead into the darkness “And I think… when I get tired enough… I think I’ll just sit down”

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What is The Long Walk About?

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…

First Chapter, First Paragraph of The Long Walk

“Say the secret word and win a hundred dollars.  George, who are our first contestants?  George…? Are you there, George?”  —Groucho Marx  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  ANDROSCOGGIN COUNTY  ID NUMBER 49-801-89  OK-OK-OK   

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. 


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