Weeds (short story)
|Genre(s)||Horror short story|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Publication date||May 1976|
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"Weeds" is a darkly humorous story about a backwoods hick farmer in New Hampshire named Jordy Verrill who thinks his newfound discovery of a meteorite will provide enough riches to pay off the remaining $200 of his bank loan, but he instead finds himself overcome by a rapidly spreading plant-like organism that arrives in the meteorite. He makes the mistake of taking a bath to relieve the itching caused by the grass, which waters it instead.
The story ends with Verrill, completely covered by the alien grass and barely resembling a human at this point, killing himself by shotgun, as the grass continues to grow across his property and beyond.
Some aspects of the story are loosely based on "The Colour Out of Space," a short story by King's fellow New Englander and noted influence H.P. Lovecraft. In Lovecraft's story, however, the meteor and the alien life it harbors, cause vegetation to take on a luminescence and grow to unprecedented size before crumbling away to gray ash.
Stephen King himself plays the doomed protagonist in the film adaptation. In it, the location of Verrill's farm is changed to Maine. The story is interspersed humorously by Verrill daydreaming about trying to sell the meteor to an imagined "Department of Meteors" at the community college and Jordy's decision not to seek medical attention as he fears a doctor would amputate his fingers. Throughout the film, Jordy is drinking Ripple and watches his old television, which is first showing a wrestling match featuring Bob Backlund and Samoan Number 1, with play by play being provided by Vince McMahon, at Madison Square Garden, then is followed by A Star Is Born and an inspirational Christian message. (Radios and/or televisions playing in the background is a common theme found in the works of George Romero). As the film progresses, the viewers see that plant growth is affecting everything Jordy touches as well as all parts of his body hair save for his head, including a humorous off-camera yell "No, not there!".
As Jordy is drawing a bath he is visited by the ghost of his deceased father, who warns him "Jordy Verrill, you get in that tub you might as well sign your death warrant!" Jordy rationalizes "I'm a goner already, daddy." and indulges in one last pleasure by taking a bath to relieve his irritation, which by the next morning causes his entire body to become a plant man, which he ends by taking his own life.
The end was given a cliffhanger ending: a radio forecaster predicts that long periods of rain and sunshine will soon follow, as Jordy's dirt farm along a 1950s style rural route is shown now entirely overrun by the alien plant which is spreading rapidly, implying Earth may be terraformed into a green planet.