Cell is a novel written by Stephen King, published in early 2006. The book is set inside of an apocalyptic world and follows a New England artist named Clayton Riddell in an attempt to reunite with his son and soon-to-be-ex-wife. At the beginning of the novel, a mysterious signal broadcast is aired over the global cell phone network and turns the majority of humankind into mindless, vicious animals.
Within the first part of the book, titled “The Pulse,” Clay stands behind three women (which he calls Pixie Light, Pixie Dark, and “the woman in the power suit”) in line at an ice cream truck and sees them spiral out of control, as well as a man with his dog in the park near where he stands. Pixie Light holds a peppermint-colored cell phone, and Pixie Dark listens to the conversation going on as her friend holds the phone so they can both hear. The woman in the power suit is holding her phone to her ear and attempting to speak to a woman on the other end when suddenly, she pounces on the man inside of the truck and kills him. Then, Pixie Dark kills her, neither of them using a thing but their bare hands to do the deed. The friend, Pixie Dark, only catches a small portion of the broadcast and begins wandering the sidewalk, asking, “Who am I, who are you?” repeatedly running into a light post.
Clayton soon meets a man named Tom McCourt, who helps him with one of what they take to calling the “phone crazies” or “phoners” that comes after the two of them with a steak knife. The men soon make their way to the hotel Clay is staying in, where they find a young girl, named Alice Maxwell, hiding. Eventually, Clay convince Alice and Tom to let him venture on his trip to find his son, and they decide to go with him. The three catch disturbing hints about the activities of the phoners, who still attack non-phoners on sight.
They arrive at an academy with only one remaining teacher and just as many students. Jordan, the 12-year-old computer geek, and the teacher, Charles Ardai show the small group where the local phoner flock goes at night: they pack themselves into the Academy’s soccer field and “switch off” until morning. Together, they all assume that the phoners have become a hive mind and are developing psychic abilities and soon decide they must destroy the flock, and, using two propane tankers, they succeed in doing so.
That night, all of the survivors share the same horrific dream: each sees him- or herself in a stadium, surrounded by phoners, as a disheveled man wearing a Harvard University sweatshirt approaches, bringing their death. Waking, the heroes share their frightening dream experiences, dub him “the Raggedy Man,” and soon learn that he is the metaphorical spokesman of the flock.
(to be continued…)