Skating on the ice of Runaround Pond in Durham, Maine, in 1953, six-year-old Johnny Smith is knocked senseless when Chuck Spier, an older, heavier, hockey player, accidentally crashes into him. As Spier tends to Johnny, semiconscious Johnny warns him to stay away from black ice. Awakening with only a headache, Johnny forgets the incident. Shortly afterward, while Chuck is jump-starting his car, his battery explodes, blinding him in one eye. Although Johnny is unaware of it for years, this was the first manifestation of his parapsychic powers, powers that provide the matrix for Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. The title derives from the limits on Johnny’s powers, the gaps in his life that he can neither see nor remember, the “faulty circuitry” that sets the scene for mystery.
Johnny’s parapsychic abilities reappear in 1970, after he and his girlfriend, Sarah Bracknell, have graduated from college and are teaching at Cleaves Mills High School. Johnny takes Sarah to a fair, plays a wheel of fortune intuitively knowing that he will win, and wins $540. He also has a premonition of disaster, however, involving black ice and burning rubber. Sarah becomes ill, and after Johnny drops her at home, he takes a cab back to Cleaves Mills. Dragsters crash head-on into his cab, killing the driver. Hospitalized, Johnny sinks into a coma that lasts four and a half years, from which he is not expected to emerge. Meanwhile, Sarah marries and has a child,...
(The entire section is 457 words.)