The Jaunt is a scary story about a family who are traveling to mars via a teleportation device called The Jaunt. This is just a brief summary of a story written by Stephen King. The original story is generally regarded as one of the scariest horror stories of all time.
It was the year 2424 and the Oates family were taking a trip to Mars. Mark Oates, his son Ricky and his wife Marilyn sat side by side, strapped into their seats. People were shuffling down the aisles and putting their luggage into the overhead compartments.
The speakers crackled and a female voice announced, “Last call for Jaunt 701 to Mars. All passengers please take your seats. We will be leaving shortly.”
The stewardesses went from row to row with gas cannisters and masks. They administered the gas to each passenger to knock them out before take-off.
“Dad, will you tell me about the Jaunt now?” Ricky asked. “You promised.”
It was Ricky’s first Jaunt and he was excited.
“Well, back in the old days space travel took a really long time,” Mark began. “Scientists were looking for a way to transport people over long distances. They did a lot of experiments involving teleportation and what they invented was The Jaunt.
At first they just teleported small things, like a pencil, a pair of scissors, a chocolate bar. They put them through one portal and seconds later, they emerged from another portal, safe and sound. Then, they started experimenting with mice, but there was a bit of a problem…”
Mark didn’t want to scare his son, so he didn’t mention exactly what that problem was. When they put the first mouse through, it emerged on the other side and it seemed to be OK. But then, it just collapsed and died. They put a second mouse through and the exact same thing happened.
“What about the mice, Dad?” Ricky asked. “What happened to the mice?”
“Well they performed more experiments,” said Mark, glossing over the uncomfortable truth. “They sedated the mice and sent them through the portal. When they came out on the other side, they were perfectly fine.”
“When did they start with people, Dad?” Rick asked.
“Well the first people to go through the Jaunt were actually prisoners,” Mark continued. “They were offered a chance to get out of prison early if they participated. Six prisoners were selected for the experiment. They were gassed and sent back and forth through the portals again and again. Of course all six of the volunteers came back feeling just fine and dandy.”
There were other things Mark didn’t want to tell his son. He didn’t mention the rumors he had heard about The Jaunt. He didn’t mention that there had been a seventh prisoner… A man by the name of Rusty Goggins. He was a convicted serial killer who had been sentenced to death for the murders of 4 young women.
The scientists wanted to see what would happen if a human being went through the portal without being gassed. They visited Rusty Goggins in prison and offered him a one time, take-it-or-leave-it deal. If he agreed to take the Jaunt while wide-awake, he would get out of jail and be given a complete pardon. The serial killer agreed.
They brought him to the lab under armed guard. The scientists had their equipment all set up. Rusty Goggins stepped through the portal and disappeared. When he reappeared at the other side, he was still alive, but something had gone drastically wrong. When he came shuffling out of the portal, he was horribly aged and completely insane. All he was able to say was, “It’s eternity in there,” before he suddenly dropped dead of a massive heart attack.
“So how does The Jaunt work?” Ricky wanted to know. “What happens when you’re inside?”
“Well,” Mark said slowly “even now no one really knows. But all the experiments seemed to indicate that while the Jaunt only takes a few seconds physically, it takes a much, much longer time mentally.”
Ricky was looking at his father thoughtfully. “So that’s why we get knocked out before we go through?” he asked.
“Yes,” Mark said. “That’s why.”
Something was dawning in Ricky’s eyes. “It isn’t just teleportation, is it, Dad?” he said. “It’s something more.”
“In a way,” Mark said. “Maybe we can’t even understand or conceive what it might be. Who knows how long it takes and all that time spent alone with your own thoughts…”
Just then, the stewardess finally reached their row and Mark didn’t get a chance to finish what he was saying.
“Are you ready?” the stewardess asked with a smile.
Mark nodded and she placed the mask over his face. He breathed in the gas and everything went black.
Minutes later, when they had reached their destination, Mark was awoken by the shrill screams of his wife. He opened his eyes and looked around. As his eyes adjusted, other people began to shout and there were more screams. He turned and looked at the seat beside him.
Where Ricky had been sitting, there was now a wrinkled and wizened old thing with white hair and wide, bulging eyes. It was shaking and writhing with a kind of horrid, obscene glee and its gnarled hands clawed at the air.
“It’s longer than you think, Dad!” it cackled insanely. “It’s longer than you think! I held my breath when they gave me the gas! I wanted to see what happened! It’s longer than you think!”
The thing began screeching and screaming as the stewardesses pulled it away, but Mark didn’t hear it because he was already screaming himself.