Tak is an extradimensional demonic entity existing within the Stephen King Universe, having been mentioned in various books, although it is the main antagonist in novels Desperation and The Regulators, which are parallel worlds of each other.
The word "tak" itself appears to mean, simply, "big" and/or "powerful".
Unlike most forces of evil in the Stephen King Universe, Tak is incorporeal and seems to be completely unable to form a body on its own; in Desperation, it possesses the bodies of living things (which quickly wear out due to the stresses Tak's energies apparently place on living tissue). In the parallel world Earth of The Regulators, it partially takes over the mind of an autistic boy named Seth (the boy's consciousness remains within the host body, unlike the minds of those possessed by Tak in Desperation).
In both cases, the creature manifests itself in Earth's dimension via an entry point (called an ini) in the bottom of a very deep well in a once abandoned but recently re-opened mine shaft in Nevada. In Desperation, its physical body is actually located in another dimension, but in The Regulators, the entirety of Tak's form consists of an intangible mist with bright red specks throughout; in both cases, it seems unable to move around in this dimension as a free-roaming, disembodied spirit for very long without a corporeal host.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Tak's powers vary within the context of the individual books in which it is featured.
In Desperation, Tak's abilities include mental control of animals and insects and the transmission of its essence into any host body in range that it chooses. It first accomplishes this by forming makeshift arms that can transmit its essence to anyone or thing close to the ini, after this it only needs to connect mouths with its next intended host. The less physically robust the victim, the less time that the host body will last; Tak's energies took nearly a full week to wear down the body of the already physically massive and healthy sheriff, Collie Entragian, while a sickened woman, Ellen Carver, lasted only a few hours. Though it primarily uses human hosts, Tak can take over large animals such as timberwolves or golden eagles, though these are not remotely as strong as human hosts, and will "burn out" in a matter of minutes. It is noted in the book that if Tak were to inhabit anything too small, it will explode instantly. The body of the host/victim physically grows in size and strength; even the relatively frail Ellen Carver's body was grown to a size nearly as large as that of her husband's after being infused by Tak. The souls of those beings, sentient or otherwise, who are invaded by Tak are seemingly forever displaced; the moment that Tak leaves a host body, it falls lifeless to the ground regardless of the damage that may or may not have been done to it. When the host body dies without Tak transmitting itself to another, all the creatures under its control at that time are killed. Tak can only inhabit one host at a time, but it can take control of other humans through the use of can tahs ("little gods") in the form of small stone animals. However, the degree of control is lesser and the affected human will die a gruesome death if separated from the can tahs.
The can tak itself - that is, the combination of the Host Body and Tak's essence - has superhuman strength, feels no pain, and has the ability of supernatural sight that allows him to "see" in an undetermined radius all around him, even through solid objects; on one occasion, Tak was able to see a name plaque inside the Carvers' RV even though he hadn't stepped foot inside or looked through any of the windows. On another occasion, while looking straight down in the front seat of his police cruiser, he brought up a loaded shotgun with his other hand and kept it locked onto the prisoner in the rear seat, Johnny Marinville, who unsuccessfully tried to avoid it. In addition to the supernatural sight enjoyed by his host body, Tak can also see through the eyes of any animal under his control, even if they don't actually see (he once located a target by literally "seeing" what a flying bat's sonar could echolocate). He can furthermore see through many pairs of eyes in this manner at exactly the same time and form a mental picture from the multiple inputs.
The Tak that exists on the Desperation Earth also has the ability to mystically "infect" over time inanimate objects that lay in the vicinity of Tak's portal to Earth, the ini; these artifacts, can tahs, quickly drive to murderous insanity almost any human beings that pick them up.
Finally, at close proximity to the ini, Tak can partially override the movements of living beings; in this way was it able to force its first victim, Cary Ripton, to open his mouth against his will and force its essence into his body.
In The Regulators, Tak's abilities are even more powerful. While in the mind of an autistic boy named Seth, Tak had the ability to alter reality itself. The nearby landscape (though, inexplicably, not the humans trapped in the area) began to take on the cartoonish aspects of the boy's childhood fantasies, albeit with Tak's murderous proclivities and appetite for chaos. At one point, Tak was able to seemingly remove Poplar Street from the world altogether, placing it into a pocket dimension of his own design (c.f. Jerome Bixby's "It's a Good Life"). Although the images are actually not there and are, in fact, just visions, the visions can cause physical damage to living beings. The most prominent example of this is the aliens and cowboys Tak sends to drive by shoot the people on Poplar Street.
Unlike its alter-Earth counterpart, this Tak seemingly cannot inhabit anyone's body but Seth's, apparently due to the boy's nascent mental powers (and, it is implied, the reason that Tak grows powerful enough to warp reality in the first place). On the one occasion that it tried to change hosts, Tak overloaded and blew up a human's head from the inside mere moments after entering the new body.
The Tak of Desperation could not repair the physical defects in his host bodies; in fact, his magical energies sped up the various defects in such host bodies to such an extent that even normally harmless defects soon burned the body out - and forced Tak to constantly look out for replacements.
In Cary Ripton's case, a case of cancer that would have killed him in months went into overdrive once Tak possessed the body, and Tak was forced to dispose of it after only about 24 hours. His next host, Brad Josephson, had a leaky heart valve, a congenital birth defect which might have persisted harmlessly for years unmolested but which was rapidly worsened by the mystic energies involved and which forced Tak to leave that body behind. His strongest host, Collie Entragian, was in almost perfect physical condition, but was easily sunburned; nevertheless, he lasted almost an entire week. Finally, his fourth and last host Ellen Carver had nothing more than an otherwise "harmless" yeast infection, but the condition was nevertheless enough for Tak's energies to cause that body to bleed out after less than twelve hours. The novel does not make it clear just how long a perfectly healthy host body would last, although Collie's body literally begins falling to pieces, which seemed unrelated to his skin sensitivity.
The Tak of The Regulators, on the other hand was almost powerless without a host body, and could only use exceptional host bodies such as that of Seth Garin's; other, non-exceptional bodies blew up from the inside out in seconds if he tried to possess them. This Tak was also completely unable to keep Seth's body running (heartbeat, respiration, circulation, et al.) without the boy's essence present. For this reason and this reason alone, it did not expel Seth's consciousness once it co-opted Seth's body. Moreover, despite his incredible appetite for cruelty, gore, and death, Tak is nevertheless thoroughly repulsed by the act of defecation, and always exited Seth Garin's body whenever the boy had to do so.
Defeat and Re-imprisonmentEdit
In both novels, Tak's underestimation of his enemies proves in the long run to lead to his downfall.
In Desperation, Tak is "outsmarted" by God Himself; most of the central characters that found themselves trapped in Desperation each had his or her role to play in either distracting Tak or confronting it outright. At the end of this novel, Tak finds itself to have been manipulated all along, bereft of host bodies, and re-imprisoned in the China Pit mine by a disastrous explosion which buried the Rattlesnake No. 1 Shaft and caved in the surrounding area to such an extent that it would appear unlikely that any mining expeditions would ever again be launched in the vicinity.
In The Regulators, Tak found itself outsmarted by the extraordinary intelligence of autistic Seth Garin, who used another character in the novel to kill himself to prevent Tak from using his powers. Tak later swore revenge on the survivors, but without a host body - and specifically, a special host body with similar powers to Seth's - was all but powerless.
Connections to The Dark Tower and other Stephen King BooksEdit
Although some phrases used by Tak in these two books make their way into various Stephen King books and short stories regarding the The Dark Tower, (e.g. can toi and mi him en tow), Tak is never mentioned by name in any other Stephen King book. Unlike many other forces of evil in the Stephen King Universe, Tak seemingly does not answer to anyone or anything else, including the Crimson King (nor does it make any reference to him). The Tak of the Desperation setting was aware of the existence of God in Earth's dimension.
In It, one of the novel's heroes describes the true form of the main antagonist, Pennywise, as "deadlights", in a way which similarly describes Tak's form in The Regulators.