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Home Delivery

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Home Delivery is a short story originally published in the Book of the Dead Anthology, a collaboration by 18 different authors to give respects to George A. Remero. It was later published in King's short story collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

Summary

The protagonist of the story is Maddie Pace, a rather timid and indecisive young woman who lives on a small island named Gennesault (or "Jenny"), off the coast of Maine. Maddie is both pregnant and a widow, having recently lost her husband in a fishing-boat accident.

After a scattering of initial outbreaks, dead bodies all over the world begin to reanimate en masse and attack the living. The source of the phenomenon is eventually traced to a bizarre, presumably alien, construct in orbit high above the Earth's south pole (more precisely "above the hole in the ozone layer".) A space shuttle under joint American-Chinese authority visits the site, and promptly meets with disaster. One of the crew survives just long enough to report that the target object appears to be a giant ball of seething worms which attack and rip open the shuttle. He reports that the crew's mangled remains are still alive. "Ching-Ling Soong--or rather, Ching-Ling Soong's severed head, one means to say-- just floated past me, and her eyes were open and blinking. She appeared to recognize me, and to--" The Shuttle exploded three seconds later. Further attempts to destroy the ball fail, the zombie plague spreads, and civilization collapses.

All of this is witnessed by Maddie and the other inhabitants of Jenny. They gather up all the available firearms to prepare for their own attack, which all too soon erupts from the island's small cemetery. The island's men are forced to destroy the zombies of their dead loved ones as they crawl out of their graves. The still-moving pieces of the reanimated corpses are then burned with kerosene and the remains plowed underground by a bulldozer. Frank Daggett, the elderly man who did most of the organizing of the successful defense, suffers a fatal heart attack, and has himself blasted to pieces so he won't revive.

While she is hearing about the battle at the cemetery from her neighbor, Maddie recalls her own confrontation by the animated corpse of her husband, come back to get her from the bottom of the sea. She succeeds in singlehandedly destroying him/it, and faces the future, however grim, with renewed confidence and hope.

Adaptions

HomedeliveryM2

Poster for the animated short

The story was adapted into a spanish language animated "Dollar Baby" short film entitled "Servicio A Domicilio" (spanish for Home Delivery) by director Elio Quiroga. The adaption had a larger infusion of comedy, with the gore and realism downplayed. The art style consisted of simple character designs and elaborate background art. It was produced by acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro and won the International Fantasy Film Award in the category of "Best Short".

A heavily illustrated version of the story appears in the comic book anthology The Secretary of Dreams, Volume 1 by artist Glen Chadbourne.

Audiobook

The audiobook version of this story, in the Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection, is read by Stephen King.

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