Author: Stephen King.
Genre: Fiction, literature, horror.
Publication Date: 1987.
Summary: They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they were grown-up men and women who had gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them could withstand the force that drew them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end and the evil without a name... It. (Refer to PART 1 and PART 3 for the rest of the quotes.)
My rating: 8.5/10.
♥ "The Legion of White Decency was the Northerners' version of the Ku Klux Klan, you see. They marched in the same white sheets, they burned the same crosses, they wrote the same hate-notes to black folks they felt were getting above their station or taking jobs that were meant for white men. In churches where the preachers talked about black equality, they sometimes planted charges of dynamite. Most of the history books talk more about the KKK than they do about the Legion of White Decency, and a lot of people don't even know there was such a thing. I think it might be because most of the histories have been written by Northerners and they're ashamed."
♥ But who knows how long a grief may last? Isn't it possible that, even thirty or forty years after the death of a child or a brother or a sister, one may half-awaken, thinking of that person with that same lost emptiness, that feeling of places which may never be filled.. perhaps not even in death?
♥ If the wheels of the universe are true, then good always compensates for evil—but good can be awful as well.
♥ It's in The Lord of the Rings, I think, where one of the characters says that "way leads on to way"; that you could start at a path leading nowhere more fantastic than from your own front steps to the sidewalk, and from there you could go... well, anywhere at all. It's the same way with stories. One leads to the next, to the next, and to the next; maybe they go in the direction you wanted to go, but maybe they don't. Maybe in the end it's the voice that tells the stories more than the stories themselves that matters.
It's his voice that I remember, certainly: my father's voice, low and slow, how he would chuckle sometimes or laugh outright. The pauses to light his pipe or to blow his nose or to go and get a can of Narragansett (Nasty Gansett, he called it) from the icebox. That voice, which is for me somehow the voice of all voices, the voice of all years, the ultimate voice of this place—one that's in none of the Ives interviews nor in any of the poor histories of this place... nor on any of my own tapes.
My father's voice.
♥ His dying scared me and enraged me, but it embarrassed me, too; it seemed to me then and it seems to me now that when a man or woman goes it should be a quick thing. The cancer was doing more than killing him. It was degrading him, demeaning him.
We never spoke of the cancer, and in some of those silences I thought that we must speak of it, that there would be nothing else and we would be stuck with it like kids caught without a place to sit in a game of musical chairs when the piano stops, and I would become almost frantic, trying to think of something—anything!—to say so that we would not have to acknowledge the thing which was now destroying my daddy, who had once taken Butch Bowers by the hair and jammed his rifle into the shelf of his chin and demanded of Butch to be left alone. We would be forced to speak of it, and if we were I would cry. I wouldn't be able to help it. And at fifteen, I think the thought of crying in front of my father scared and distressed me more than anything else.
♥ And then I saw that I had company in the night, as I slept.
The tracks, drying to faint muddy impressions, led from the front door of the library (which I locked; I always lock it) to the desk where I slept.
There were no tracks leading away.
Whatever it was, it came to me in the night, left its talisman... and then simply disappeared.
Tied to my reading lamp was a single balloon. Filled with helium, it floated in a morning sunray which slanted in through one of the high windows.
On it was a picture of my face, the eyes gone, blood running down from the ragged sockets, a scream distorting the mouth on the balloon's thin and bulging rubber skin.
I looked at it and I screamed. The scream echoed through the library, echoing back, vibrating from the circular iron staircase leading to the stacks.
The balloon burst with a bang.
♥ ..and just a feeling that Derry was cold, that Derry was hard, that Derry didn't much give a shit if any of them lived or died, and certainly not if they triumphed over Pennywise the Clown. Derryfolk had lived with Pennywise in all his guises for a long time... and maybe, in some mad way, they had even come to understand him. To like him, need him. Love him? Maybe. Yes, maybe that too.
♥ ..he sat there studiously bent over his work (Bill saw him), which lay in a slant of crisp white winterlight, his face sober and absorbed, knowing that to be a librarian was to come as close as any human being can to sitting in the peak-seat of eternity's engine.
♥ And he felt suddenly that It was the seventh; that It and time were somehow interchangeable, that It wore all their faces as well as the thousand others with which It had terrified and killed... and the idea that It might be them was somehow the most frightening idea of all. How much of us was left behind there? he thought with sudden rising terror. How much of us never left the drains and the sewers where It lived... and where It fed? Is that why we forgot? Because part of each of us never had any future, never grew, never left Derry? Is that why?
♥ "So I'll just say it once. You're fat up here." And he tapped my forehead right where his damned whistle had bonked me. "That's where everybody's fat. You put what's between your ears on a diet and you're going to lose weight.'"
♥ "Maybe people really don't change as much as we think. Maybe they just... maybe they just stiffen up."
♥ They glanced around at each other almost furtively, embarrassed, as Americans always seem to be, by the raw fact of their own success—as if cash were hardcooked eggs and affluence the farts that inevitably follow an overdose of same.
♥ And he thought, If there are certain preconditions for the belief in magic that makes it possible to use the magic, then maybe those preconditions will inevitably arrange themselves. It was not a very comforting thought. It made him feel like a man strapped to the nosecone of a guided missile.
♥ "What's the purpose, Mike?" Ben asked.
"I'm not entirely sure. You have to understand that I'm going pretty much on intuition here—"
"But this has got a good beat and you can dance to it," Richie said.
The others smiled. Mike did not; he nodded instead. "That's as good a way of putting it as any. Going on intuition is like picking up a beat and dancing to it. Using intuition is a hard thing for grownups to do, and that's the main reason I think it might be the right thing for us to do. Kids, after all, operate on it about eighty percent of the time, at least unto they're fourteen or so."
♥ I'm trying to justify it somehow, he thought, meaning it not in the moral sense but rather in the mathematical one. Buildings are built by observing certain natural laws; natural laws may be expressed by equations; equations must be justified. Where was the justification in what had happened less than half an hour ago?
Let it alone, he told himself, not for the first time. You can't justify it, so let it alone.
Very good advice; the problem was that he couldn't take it. He remembered that the day after he had seen the mummy on the iced-up Canal, his life had gone on as usual. He had known that whatever it had been had come very close to getting him, but his life had gone on: he had attended school, taken an arithmetic test, visited the library when school was over, and eaten with his usual heartiness. He had simply incorporated the thing he had seen on the Canal into his life, and if he had almost been killed by it... well, kids were always almost getting killed. They dashed across streets without looking, they got horsing around in the lake and suddenly realized they had floated far past their depth on the rubber rafts and had to paddle back, they fell off monkey-bars on their asses and out of trees on their heads.
Now, standing here in the fading drizzle in front of a Trustworthy Hardware Store that had been a pawnshop in 1958 (Frati Brothers, Ben recalled, the double windows always full of pistols and rifles and straight-razors and guitars hung up by their necks like exotic animals), it occurred to him that kids were better at almost dying, and they were also better at incorporating the inexplicable into their lives. They believed implicitly in the invisible world. Miracles both bright and dark were to be taken into consideration, oh yes, most certainly, but they by no means stopped the world. A sudden upheaval of beauty or terror at ten did not preclude an extra cheesedog or two for lunch at noon.
But when you grew up, all that changed. You no longer lay awake in your bed, sure something was crouching in the closet or scratching at the window... but when something did happen, something beyond rational explanation, the circuits overloaded. The axons and dendrites got hot. You started to jitter and jive, you started to shake rattle and roll, your imagination started to hop and bop and do the funky chicken all over your nerves. You couldn't just incorporate what had happened into your life experience. It didn't digest. Your mind kept coming back to it, pawing it lightly like a kitten with a ball of string... until eventually, of course, you either went crazy or got to a place where it was impossible for you to function.
♥ But there, less than forty yards from where he stood, people walked back and forth in their shirtsleeves. There, less than forty yards from where he stood, was a tubeway of bright white light, thrown by the overhead fluorescents. Little kids giggles together, high-school sweethearts held hands (and if the librarian saw them, she would make them stop). It was somehow magical, magical in a good way that he had been too young to account for with such mundane things as electric power and oil heat. The magic was that glowing cylinder of light and life connecting those two dark buildings like a lifeline, the magic was in watching people walk through it across the dark snowfield, untouched by either the dark or the cold. It made them lovely and Godlike.
..The force of memory almost dizzied him for a moment as he stepped into the mild light of the hanging glass globes. The force was not physical—not like a shot to the jaw or a slap. It was more akin to that queer feeling of time doubling back on itself that people call, for want of a better term, déjà vu. Ben had had the feeling before, but it had never stuck him with such disorienting power; for the moment or two he stood inside the door, he felt literally lost in time, not really sure how old he was. Was he thirty-eight or eleven?
♥ That's what happened when you got back to your used-to-be, as the song put it. The frosting on the cake was sweet, but the stuff underneath was bitter. People forgot you, or died on you, or lost their hair and teeth. In some cases you found that they had lost their minds. Oh it was great to be alive. Boy howdy.
♥ That's what we all should have done, just stayed away. We've got no business here. Coming back to where you grew up is like doing some crazy yoga trick, putting your feet in your on mouth and somehow swallowing yourself so there's nothing left; it can't be done, and any sane person ought to be fucking glad it can't...
♥ The flesh on his heavy face hung in putrescent strings and runners. One eyesocket was empty. Things squirmed in his hair. He wore a moss-slimed baseball-glove on one hand. He poked the rotting fingers on his right hand through the diamonds of the chainlink fence, and when he curled them, Eddie heard a dreadful squirting sound which he thought might drive him mad.
♥ The hand tightened for a moment, then gave way. He turned. It was Greta Bowie. She was dead. Half of her face was gone; maggots crawled in the churned red meat that was left. She held a green balloon in one hand.
"Car crash," the recognizable half of her mouth said, and grinned. The grin caused a unspeakable ripping sound, and Eddie could see raw tendons moving like terrible straps. "I was eighteen, Eddie. Drunk and done up on reds. Your friends are here, Eddie."
♥ Calling it a simple schoolgirl crush was like saying a Rolls-Royce was a vehicle with four wheels, something like a hay-wagon. She did not giggle wildly and blush when she saw him, nor did she chalk his name on trees or write it on the walls of the Kissing Bridge. She simply lived with his face in her hearts all the time, a kind of sweet, hurtful ache. She would have died for him.
♥ Yes, Ben had told her so (although she could not now remember, not for the life of her, just when or under what circumstances he had actually said it out loud), and although his love for her had been almost as well hidden as the love she had felt for Bill
(but you told him Bevvie you did you told him you loved)
it was obvious to anyone who really looked (and who was kind)—it was in the way he was always careful to keep some space between them, in the draw of his breath when she touched his arm or his hand, in the way he dressed when he knew he was going to see her. Dear, sweet, fat Ben.
It had ended somehow, that difficult pre-adolescent triangle, but just how it had ended was one of the things she still couldn't remember. She thought that Ben had confessed authoring and sending the little love-poem. She thought she had told Bill she loved him, that she would love him forever. And somehow, those two tellings had helped save all of their lives... or had they? She couldn't remember. These memories (or memories of memories: that was really closer to what they were) were like islands that were not really islands at all but only knobs of a single coral spine which happened to poke up above the waterline, not separate at all but one piece. Yet whenever she tried to dive deep and see the rest, a maddening image intervened: the grackles which came back each spring to New England, crowding the telephone lines, trees and rooftops, jostling for places and filling the thawing late-March air with their raucous gossip. This image came to her again and again, foreign and disturbing, like a heavy radio beam that blankets the signal you really want to pick up.
♥ I won't ring the bell.
This was a firm decision, at last! The decision that opened the gate to a full and useful lifetime of firm decisions! She walked down the path! Back to downtown! Up to the Derry Town House! Packed! Cabbed! Flew! Told Tom to bug out! Lived successfully! Died happily!
Rang the bell.
♥ At the same time he had begun to understand the real principle that moved the universe, at least that part of the universe which had to do with careers and success: you found the crazy guy who was running around inside of you, fucking up your life. You chased him into a corner and grabbed him. But you didn't kill him. Oh no. Killing was too good for the likes of that little bastard. You put a harness over his head and then started plowing. The crazy guy worked like a demon once you had him in the traces. And he supplied you with a few chucks from time to time. That was really all there was. And that was enough.
♥ Its eyes were widening, widening, and in those black pupils, each as big as a softball, Richie saw the mad darkness that must exist over the rim of the universe; he saw a shitty happiness that he felt would drive him insane. In that moment he understood It could do any of these things and more.
♥ He turned one of the skateboards scuffed wheels with his finger, liking the speedy ease with which it turned—it sounded like there was about a million ball-bearings in there. It was a good sound. It called up something very old in Bill's chest. Some desire as warm as want, as lovely as love. He smiled.
"What do you think?" the kid asked.
"I think I'm g-gonna kill myself," Bill said, and the kid laughed.
♥ "The place makes it news as much as what happened in the place, sonny. That's why there are bigger headlines when an earthquake kills twelve people in Los Angeles than there are when one kills tree thousand in some heathen country in the Mideast."
Besides, it happened in Derry.
I've heard it before, and I suppose if I continue to pursue this I'll hear it again... and again... and again. They say it as if speaking patiently to a mental defective. They say it the way they would say Because of gravity if you asked them how come you stick to the ground when you walk. They say it as if it were a natural law a natural man should understand. And, of course, the worst of that is I do understand.
♥ "Yes, Daddy," Mike said, thinking of Bob Gautier at school, who had tried to explain to Mike that nigger could not be a bad word, because his father used it all the time. In fact, Bob told Mike earnestly, it was a good word. When a fighter on the Friday Night Lights took a bad beating and managed to stay on his feet, his daddy said, "That man works like a nigger." "And my daddy is just as much a Christian as your daddy," Bob had finished. Mike remembered that, looking at Bob Gautier's white earnest pinched face, surrounded by the mangy fur of his handmedown snowsuit-hood, he had felt not anger but a terrible sadness that made him feel like crying. He had seen honesty and good intent in Bob's face, but what he had felt was loneliness, distance, a great whistling emptiness between himself and the other boy.
♥ Glamour, he said, was the Gaelic name for the creature which was haunting Derry; other races and other cultures at other times had different words for it, but they all meant the same thing. The Plains Indians called it a manitou, which sometimes took the shape of a mountain-lion or an elk or an eagle. These same Indians believed that the spirit of a manitou could sometimes enter them, and at these times it was possible for them to shape the clouds themselves into representations of those animals for which their houses had been named. The Himalayans called it a tallus or taelus, which meant an evil magic being that could read your mind and then assume the shape of the thing you were most afraid of. In Central Europe it had been called eylak, brother of the vurderlak, or vampire. In France it was le loup-garou, or skin-changer, a concept that had been crudely translated as the werewolf, but, Bill told them, le loup-garou (which he pronounced "le loop-garoo") could be anything, anything at all: a wolf, a hawk, a sheep, even a bug.
.."The H-H-Himalayans had a rih-hi-hitual to g-get rih-rid of i-i-it, but ih-it's pretty gruh-gruh-gruesome. ..I-I-It was cuh-called the R-R-Ritual of Chü-Chüd," Bill said, and went on to explain what that was. If you were a Himalayan holy-man, you tracked the taelus. The taelus stuck its tongue out. You stuck yours out. You and it overlapped tongues and then you both bit in all the way so you were sort of stapled together, eye to eye. .."W-W-Well," Bill said, "this sounds cuh-cuh-crazy, b-but the book s-said that th-then y-you started telling juh-jokes and rih-riddles. ..F-First the t-taelas monster would tell o-o-one, then y-y-you got to t-t-tell o-one, and y-you w-w-went o-on like thuh-that, t-tay-takin t-turns—— ..M-Maybe it was suh-sug-suhpposed to be tuh-telepathy," Bill said. "A-Anyway, i-if the h-h-human laughed f-f-first in spi-hite of the p-p-p-p—"
"Pain?" Stan asked.
Bill nodded. "—then the taelus g-got to k-k-kill h-him and e-e-e-eat him. His soul, I think. B-but i-if the muh-man c-c-ould make the t-taelus l-laugh f-f-first, it had to go away for a huh-huh-hundred y-years."
♥ Bill began to laugh, Eddie began to laugh, and after a moment even Stan joined in. The sound of it drifted across the broad shallow expanse of the Kenduskeag on that day before July 4th, a summer-sound, as bright as the sunrays darting off the water, and none of them saw the orange eyes staring at them from a tangle of brambles and sterile blackberry bushes to their left. This brambly patch scrubbed the entire bank for thirty feet, and in the center of it was one of Ben's Morlock holes. It was from this raised concrete pipe that the eyes, each more than two feet across, stared.
♥ That moment of understanding seemed nearly eternal to Mike—looking into Henry's crazed sweat-ringed eyes and his rage-blackened fire, it seemed to him that he understood a great many things for the first time, and the fact that Henry was far crazier than Mike had ever dreamed was only the least of them. He realized above all that the world was not kind, and it was more this than the news itself that forced the cry from him: "You honky chickenshit bastard!"
Henry uttered a shriek of rage and attacked the fence, monkeying his way toward the top with a brute strength that was terrifying. Mike paused a moment longer, wanting to see if that adult voice that had spoken inside had been a true voice, and yes, it had been true..
♥ They all look at Bill then, as they had in the gravel-pit, and Mike thinks: They look at Bill when they need a leader, at Eddie when they need a navigator. Get down to business, what a hell of a phrase that is. Do I tell them that the bodies of the children that were found back then and now weren't sexually molested, not even precisely mutilated, but partially eaten? Do I tell them I've got seven miner's helmets, the kind with strong electric lights set into the front, stored back at my house, one of them for a guy named Stan Uris who couldn't make the scene, as we used to say? Or is it maybe enough just to tell the to go home and get a good night's sleep, because it ends tomorrow or tomorrow night for good—either for It or us?
None of those things have to be said, perhaps, and the reason why they don't has already been stated: they still love one another. Things have changed over the last twenty-seven years, but that, miraculously, hasn't. It is, Mike thinks, our only real hope.
♥ He glanced briefly at Beverly. He remembered it all so clearly now, how the sun had suddenly seemed intolerably dazzling on the brass of his horn and the chrome of the cars, the music too loud, the sky too blue. The clown had raised one white-gloved hand (the other was full of balloon strings) and had waved slowly back and forth, his bloody grin too red and too wide, a scream turned upside-down. He remembered how the flesh of his testicles had begun to crawl, how his bowels had suddenly felt all loose and hot, as if he might suddenly drop a casual load of shit into his pants. But he coudn't say any of that in front of Beverly. You didn't say stuff like that in front of girls, even if they were the sort of girls you could say things like "bitch" and "bastard" in front of. "...I felt scared," he finished, feeling that was too weak, but not knowing how to say the rest. But they were nodding as if they understood, and he felt an indescribable relief wash through him. Somehow that clown looking at him, smiling his red smile, his white-gloved hand penduluming slowly back and forth... that had been worse than having Henry Bowers and the rest after him. Ever so much worse.
♥ And telling it, watching their faces grow concerned and scared but not disbelieving or derisive, he felt an incredible weight lift from his chest. Like Ben with his mummy or Eddie with his leper and Stan with the drowned boys, he had seen a thing that would have driven an adult insane, not just with terror but with the walloping force of an unreality too great to be explained away or, lacking any rational explanation, simply ignored. Elijah's face had been burned black by the light of God's love, or so Mike had read; but Elijah had been an old man when it happened, and maybe that made a difference. Hadn't one of those other Bible fellows, this one little more than a kid, actually wrestled an angel to a draw?
He had seen it and he had gone on with his life; he had integrated the memory into his views of the world. He was still young enough that view was tremendously wide. But what had happened that day had nonetheless haunted his mind's darker corners, and sometimes in his dreams he ran from that grotesque bird as it printed its shadow on him from above. Some of these dreams he remembered ans some he did not, but they were there, shadows which moved by themselves.
How little of it he had forgotten and how greatly it had troubled him (as he went about his daily round: helping his father, going to school, riding his bike, doing errands for his mother, waiting for the black groups to come on American Bandstand after school) was perhaps measurable in one one way—the relief he felt in sharing it with the others. As he did, he realized it was the first time he had even allowed himself to think of it fully sine that early morning by the Canal, when he had seen those old grooves... and the blood.
♥ It was like some comic-book villain. Because they saw it that way? Thought of it that way? Yes, perhaps so. It was kid's stuff, but it seemed that was what this thing thrived on—kid's stuff.
♥ Their laughter echoed through the green and jungly ravine that was the misnamed Barrens, causing birds to take wing and squirrel to freeze momentarily on limbs. It was a young sound, penetrating, lively, vital, unsophisticated, free. Almost every living thing within range of that sound reacted to it in some way, but the thing which had tumbled out of a wide concrete drain and into the upper Kenduskeag was not living. The previous afternoon there had been a sudden driving thunderstorm (the clubhouse-to-be had not been much affected—since digging operations had begun, Ben had covered the hole carefully each evening with a ragged piece of tarpaulin Eddie had scrounged from behind Wally's Spa; it smelled painty but it did the job), and the stormdrains under Derry had run with violent water for two or three hours. It was that spate of water that had pushed this unpleasant baggage into the sun for the flies to find.
It was the body of a nine-year-old named Jimmy Cullum. Except for the nose, his face was gone. There was a churned and featureless mess where it had been. This raw meat was dotted with deep black marks that perhaps only Stan Uris would have recognized for what they were: pecks. Pecks made by a very large beak.
♥ Eddie glanced briefly at Bill, who was looking into the clubhouse, and there was all the love and hero-worship in that gaze needed to answer such a question but Eddie said softly, "Some stuff has to be done even if there is a risk. That's the first important thing I ever found out I didn't find out from my mother."
A further silence, not quite uncomfortable, followed.
♥ ...kids whose parents had simply taken them AWAY. Bill could understand that. He knew some kids who wanted to go AWAY, frightened by the boogeyman stalking Derry this summer, but suspected there were more parents frightened by that boogeyman. People who had planned to take their vacation at home suddenly deduced to go AWAY
(Gstaad? was that in Sweden? Argentina? Spain?)
instead. It was a little like the polio scare of 1956, when four kids who went swimming in the O'Brian Memorial Pool had gotten the disease. Grownups—a word absolutely synonymous in Bill's mind with mothers and fathers—had decided then, as now, that AWAY was better. Safer. Anyone able to clear out had cleared. Bill understood AWAY, and he could muse over a word of such fabulous wonder as Gstaad, but wonder was cold comfort compared with desire; Gstaad was AWAY; Derry was desire.
And none of us have gone AWAY, he thought, watching as Ben and Mike pounded used nails out of used boards, as Eddie strolled off into the bushes to take a whiz (you had to go as soon as you could, in order to avoid seriously straining your bladder, he told Bill once, but you also had to watch out for poison ivy, because who needed a case of that on your pecker). We're all here in Derry. No camp, no relatives, no vacations, no AWAY. All right here. Present and accounted for.
♥ "1945," Mike said.
The Derry News again. The headline: JAPAN SURRENDERS—IT'S OVER! THANK GOD IT'S OVER! A parade was snake-dancing its way along Main Street toward Up-Mile Hill. And there was the clown in the background, wearing his silver suit with the orange buttons, frozen in the matrix of dots that made up the grainy newsprint photo, seeming to suggest (at least to Bill) that nothing was over, no one had surrendered, nothing was won, nil was still the rule, zilch still the custom; seeming to suggest above all that all was still lost.
Bill felt cold and dry and scared.
♥ Beverly screamed. The clown had left off its antics when Ben withdrew his hand. It rushed toward them, its paint-bloody mouth gibbering and laughing. Bill winced back but held onto the book all the same, thinking it would drop out of sight as the parade had done, and the marching band, and the Boy Scouts, and the Cadillac convertible carrying Miss Derry of 1945.
But the clown did not disappear along that curve that seemed to define the edge of that old existence. Instead, it leaped with a scary, nimble grace onto a lamppost that stood in the extreme left foreground of the picture. It shinnied up like a monkey on a stick—and suddenly its face was pressed against the tough plastic sheet Will Hanlon had put over each of the pages in his book. Beverly screamed again and this time Eddie joined her, although his scream was faint and blue-breathless. The plastic bulged out—later they would all agree they saw it. Bill saw the bulb of the clown's red nose flatten, the way your nose will flatten when you press it against a windowpane.
"Kill you all!" The clown was laughing and screaming. "Try to stop me and I'll kill you all! Drive you crazy and then kill you all! You can't stop me! I'm the Gingerbread Man! I'm the Teenage Werewolf!"
And for a moment It was the Teenage Werewolf, the moon-silvered face of the lycanthrope peering out at them from over the collar of the silver suit, white teeth bared.
"Can't stop me, I'm the leper!"
Now the leper's face, haunted and peeling, rotting with sores, stared at them with the eyes of the living dead.
"Can't top me, I'm the mummy!"
The leper's face aged and ran with sterile cracks. Ancient bandages swam halfway out of its skin and solidified there. Ben turned away, his face as white as curds, one hand plastered over his neck and ear.
Can't stop me, I'm the dead boys!
"No!" Stan Uris screamed. His eyes bulged above bruised-looking crescents of skin—shockflesh, Bill thought randomly, and it was a word he would use in a novel twelve years later, with no idea where it had come from, simply taking it, as writers take the right word at the right time, as a simple gift from that outer space
where the good words come from sometimes.
♥ He saw the gratitude in their eyes and felt a measure of gladness for them... but their gratitude did little to heal his own horror. In fact, there was something in their gratitude which made him want to hate them. Would he never be able to express his own terror, lest the fragile welds that made them into one thing should let go? And even to think such a thing wasn't really fair, was it? Because in some measure at least he was using them—using his friends, risking their lives—to settle the score for his dead brother. And was even that the bottom? No, because George was dead, and if revenge could be exacted at all, Bill suspected it could only be exacted on behalf of the living. And what did that make him? A selfish little shit waving a tin sword and trying to make himself look like King Arthur?
Oh Christ, he groaned to himself, if this is the stuff adults have to think about I never want to grow up.
His resolve was still strong, but it was a bitter resolve.
♥ Richie had felt a mad, exhilarating kind of energy growing in the room. He had done cocaine nine or ten times over the last couple of years—at parties, mostly; coke wasn't something you wanted just lying around your house if you were a bigga-time disk jockey—and the feel was something like that, but not exactly. This feeling was purer, more of a mainline high. He thought he recognized the feeling from his childhood, when he had felt it every day and had come to take it merely as a matter of course. He supposed that, if he had ever thought about that deep-running aquifer of energy as a kid (he could not recall that he ever had), he would have simply dismissed it as a fact of life, something that would always be there, like the color of his eyes or his disgusting hammertoes.
Well, that hadn't turned out to be true. The energy you drew on so extravagantly when you were a kid, the energy you thought would never exhaust itself—that slopped away somewhere between eighteen and twenty-four, to be replaced by something much duller, something as bogus as a coke high: purpose, maybe, or goals, or whatever rah-rah Junior Chamber of Commerce word you wanted to use. It was no big deal; it didn't go all at once, with a bang. And maybe, Richie thought, that's the scary part. How you don't stop being a kid all at once, with a big explosive bang, like one of that clown's trick balloons with the Burma-Shave slogans on the sides. The kid in you just leaked out, like the air out of a tire. And one day you looked in the mirror and there was a grownup looking back at you. You could go on wearing bluejeans, you could keep going to Springsteen and Seger concerts, you could dye your hair, but that was a grownup's face in the mirror just the same. It all happened while you were asleep, maybe, like a visit from the Tooth Fairy.
No, he thinks. Not the Tooth Fairy. The Age Fairy.
♥ We're in the ago, a million year back, maybe, or ten million, or eighty million, but here we are and something's going to happen.
..There was a steady low vibration—he could feel it more than hear it, working against the tight flesh of his eardrums, buzzing the tiny bones that conducted the sound. It grew steadily. It had no tone; it simply was:
(the word in the beginning was the word the world the)
a tuneless, soulless sound. He groped for the tree they stood near and as his hand touched it, cupped the curve of the bole, he could feel the vibrations caught inside. At the same moment he realized he could feel it in his feet, a steady tingling that went up his ankles and calves to his knees, turning his tendons into tuning forks.
It grew. And grew.
It was coming out of the sky. Not wanting to but unable to help himself, Richie turned his face up. The sun was a molten coin burning a circle in the low-hanging overcast, surrounded by a fairy-ring of moisture. Below it, the verdant green slash that was the Barrens lay utterly still. Richie thought he understood what this vision was: they were about to see the coming of It.
The vibration took on a voice—a rumbling roar that built to a shattering crescendo of sound. He clapped his hands to his ears and screamed and could not hear himself scream. Beside him, Mike Hanlon was doing the same, and Richie saw that Mike's nose was bleeding a little.
The clouds in the west lit with a bloom of red fire. It traced its way toward them, widening from an artery to a stream to a river of ominous color; and then, as a burning, falling object broke through the cloud cover, the wind came. It was hot and searing, smoky and suffocating. The thing in the sky was gigantic, a flaming match-head that was nearly too bright to look at. Arcs of electricity bolted from it, blue bullwhips that flashed out from it and left thunder in their wake.
A spaceship! Richie screamed, falling to his knees and covering his eyes. Oh my God it's a spaceship! But he believed—and would tell the others later, as best he could—that it was not a spaceship, although it might have come through space to get here. Whatever came down on that long-ago day had come from a place much farther away than another star or another galaxy, and if spaceship was the first word to come into his mind, perhaps that was only because his mind had no other way of grasping what his eyes were seeing.
There was an explosion then—a roar of sound followed by a rolling concussion that knocked them both down. This time it was Mike who groped for Richie's hand. There was another explosion. Richie opened his eyes and saw a glare of fire and a pillar of smoke rising into the sky.
It! he screamed at Mike, in an ecstasy of terror now—never in his life, before or after, would he feel any emotion so deeply, be so overwhelmed by feeling. It! It! It!
.."It came from... outside. I got that feeling. From outside."
"Outside where, Richie?" Eddie asked.
"Outside everything," Richie said. "And when It came down... It made the biggest damn hole you ever saw in your life. It turned this big hill into a doughnut, just about. It landed right where the downtown part of Derry is now."
He looked at them. "Do you get it?"
Beverly dropped the cigarette half-smoked and crushed it out under one shoe.
Mike said, "It's always been here, since the beginning of time... since before there were men anywhere, unless maybe there were just a few of them in Africa somewhere, swinging through the trees or living in caves. The crater's gone now, and the ice age probably scraped the valley deeper and changed some stuff around and filled the crater in... but It was here then, sleeping, maybe, waiting for the ice to melt, waiting fro the people to come."
"That's why It uses the sewers and the dra'ins," Richie put in. "They must be regular freeways for It."
"You didn't see what It looked like?" Stan Uris asked abruptly and a little hoarsely.
They shook their heads.
"Can we beat It?" Eddie said in the silence. "A thing like that?"
No one answered.