The Plant was an exercise in web publishing that, for the most part, went awry. After the success of King’s first web publishing venture, Riding the Bullet, King attempted to use the honor system with his fans and offer the story in installments as an electronic download. After downloading, fans were expected to keep their end of the bargain and pay the $1 fee for the download.
When King realized that more people were downloading than paying, he upped the price and, eventually, lost readers. This caused King to put the project to bed for good. What followed is a point of consternation for fans and readers who to this day have trouble finding the full story online. Of course, being that it was originally a digital download and, with the exception of chapbooks made for personal friends, no prints were ever made, there’s little to no chance of fans and readers finding it in bookstores, used or new.
The story itself surrounds an editor, Carlos Detweiller who receives a promising query letter from a hopeful author who has written a book on demonic manifestation. Sending back a letter of interest to the author, Carlos receives a disturbing manuscript in return including graphic photographs of what appears to be a human sacrifice.
Rightfully spooked, Carlos contacts the police and soon an investigation surrounds the would-be author. Infuriated by Carlos reaction to his manuscript and the ensuing police investigation, Carlos then receives a plant, which goes by the title of Zenith the Common Ivy, from the author.
After Carlos receives the plant, his life enters a nightmarish roller coaster of events taking The Plant from the spooky into the suspenseful and disturbing. The story itself is told in the form of letters, memos, and other documents, as if the reader is discovering the story for themselves. This makes The Plant not only creative in distribution, but also execution.
The Plant is a worthy work in King’s resume that, unfortunately, failed in the world of online publishing (depending on how you view failure, that is). Still, it’s worth a read if you can actually find it.
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