In The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah Eddie and Roland pay a visit to Stephen King in 1977, after learning that he apparently wrote about Pere Callahan's story. In order to learn what is really going on and how King knows about Roland and the Tower, he hypnotizes him, which leads to King telling about an event from his early childhood, where he had to saw wood in the barn of his uncle and was attacked by a group of little red spiders coming from dead chickens, only to be saved by Eddie and Cuthbert Allgood.

    "In the barn." King's voice dropped. His lips had begun to tremble. "Auntie sent me out because we tried to run away. [...] Me and my brother Dave. They caught us and brought us back. They said we were bad, bad boys." [...]
    "That was your punishment."
    "Yes." A tear welled in the corner of King's right eye. It slipped down his cheek to the edge of his beard. "The chickens are dead. [...] Uncle Oren says it was avian flu. Their eyes are open. They're . . . a little scary." [...]
    "You couldn't leave the barn?"
    "Not until I saw my share of the wood. David did his. It's my turn. There are spiders in the chickens. Spiders in their guts, little red ones. Like specks of red pepper. If they get on me I'll catch the flu and die. Only then I'll come back. [...] I'll be a vampire. I'll be a slave to him. His scribe, maybe. His pet writer. [...] The Lord of the Spiders. The Crimson King, Tower-pent."
    "Christ, Roland," Eddie whispered. He was shuddering. What had they found here? What nest had they exposed? "Sai King, Steve, how old were you — are you?"
    "I'm seven." A pause. "I wet my pants. I don't want the spiders to bite me. The red spiders. But then you came, Eddie, and I went free." He smiled radiantly, his cheeks gleaming with tears.

Apparently this early experience was the first moment where Stephen King was tempted or attacked by the Crimson King in order to drag him and his creative powers onto his side and where he was ultimately drawn to the ways of Gan instead by Eddie and Cuthbert.

What I wonder is how much this event actually resembles a real event, or even trauma, from Stephen King's childhood. Many parts of the finctionalized King's story in The Dark Tower seem autobiographical to some degree. Was all of this childhood story just made up or does this resemble a real sitaution that happened to Stephen King? Could we even go as far as this experience, if it happened, influencing the imagery of the Crimson King as a big red spider or was that just retrofitted into the existing, possibly less traumatic, real memory?

  • 1
    King has spoken about his childhood in interviews, but I can't find any reference to an incident like this.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 26, 2018 at 22:49


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.