Co-creator of “Fear The Walking Dead” Dave Erickson is set to develop Stephen King’s short story “The Jaunt” for indie studio MRC (Media Rights Capital) Television.
According to Deadline, this is part of a multi-year deal in which Erickson will exclusively work on the creation and development of an unspecified number of television shows on which he will serve as writer and/or showrunner.
“The Jaunt” was published in the June 1981 issue of “The Twilight Zone Magazine.” The story takes place in the early 24th century, when teleportation (referred to as “Jaunting”) is commonplace, allowing for instantaneous transportation across enormous distances, even to other planets in the solar system.
It follows a family who are waiting at an airport-like location to be transported from New York to Mars. While they wait, the father entertains his two children by telling them the story of how teleportation technology was discovered and developed. He explains how the scientist who invented it found that conscious living creatures emerged from a jaunt insane and erratic and quickly died. This is why every human being who uses the instantaneous teleportation must be unconscious in order to survive the “jaunt effect.”
It’s believed that while jaunting occurs virtually instantaneously to our physical bodies, to a conscious mind it lasts an eternity. To that person, they are utterly alone in an endless, blank void for what is thought to be anywhere from hundreds to billions of years, unable to die.
While his two young children are spared one or two of the fine details of this fascinating fable, the reader learns of some of the unpleasant events in this chapter of history, including some 30 or so human test subjects that went through conscious – and subsequently all emerged insane before dying — and even that the machine had been used on more than occasion as a murder weapon; one jaunt research pushed his wife through without setting a destination.
“This had raised the terrible specter of the woman, discorporeal but somehow still sentient, screaming in limbo … forever.”
When it’s their turn to get seated and sedated, they are subjected to the sleeping gas and jaunted to Mars. But when the father awakens, he hears his wife and attendants scream. His curious son had deliberately held his breath while being administered the anesthetic so that he could experience the jaunt while conscious. The crinkled, frail body of what was once his son writhes and screams and he shrieks, “It’s longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!” before clawing out his own bloodshot eyes as he is wheeled away.
Peak Stephen King. No doubt about that.
To be honest, we’re surprised it’s taken this long to adapt this incredible story, although we rather thought it might be a movie, rather than a TV show. That said however, it could also work well as a limited series. Let’s just hope it’s not utterly butchered like “Snowpiercer” has been.
“We’ve long admired Dave’s visionary creative work and are thrilled to welcome him to MRC,” said Elise Henderson, President of MRC Television. “A true master of his craft, he’s the ideal partner to build upon the work of Stephen King, and create and develop more originals as the studio continues to expand.”
MRC Television’s recent credits to date include “Ozark,” “House of Cards” and “The Outsider.”