Cain Rose Up was something of a shock to me. It was the first King story I had ever read and on top of that, it came to me right on the heels of the beginning of the school shooting spree the world is still in. I couldn’t believe someone so twisted could come from such a normal background and I read this story again and again, looking for clues. You see, I had a son who was about to enter high school and a daughter only a couple of years behind him. I was terrified something would happen to them.
The tale, Cain Rose Up, has a college student on the last days of final exams for the year. He is clearly looked up to by his peers and each one he meets in the dormitory halls asks if he got all perfect marks again for the year. This young man is neat and cleanly, and is missing his friend, who had already left the college.
He also has some nasty thoughts about those he is forced to deal with, imagining them lying dead, by his hand. He cuts these talks short and heads for the quiet safety of his room. He is clearly unhappy, stressed, but lets none of it show in his interactions and tells each person what they want to hear. One thinks he failed every test, another, he aced them all. Is he so upset over the levels of expectations on his shoulders? Has he really flunked them all and not lived up to what everyone thinks he should be? Mr. King doesn’t elaborate but the reader gets the feeling that this young man has been experiencing these levels of anxiety so long that he simply cannot take it anymore. The scores may have been the final straw but it was the stress of having to lead a perfect life that sends him over the edge.
The young man has snuck a rifle into his room, complete with ammunition for the Winchester and he sets it all up in his window, which overlooks the shopping mall next to his dorm building. He takes a minute to look at the innocent people, marveling over the fact that they do not know how close death is, and he then starts pulling the trigger. It is a gripping piece for being so short and I highly recommend it to those who can take the subject matter. It is a look into the ‘snap’ of a perfectly normal human being that you will never forget.
I gave it five stars because it’s so vivid, it made me cry.