What led for the inspiration regarding "The Stand" novel?

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Jul 17, 2012
I think I may have stumbled across a short story that could have served as an important inspiration for the character of Nadine Cross, as well as the whole book-wide theme of post-apocalyptic, supernaturally pre-destined characters.

I first read this short story a very long time ago when I was about 12, but as I had not read The Stand at that point in my life, the connections did not spark until I recalled the story in question several days ago when looking for a ebook of Rod Serling Twilight Zone stories.

This story is called "The Chestnut Beads" and was written by an author named Jane Roberts, who later gained some notoriety as a spirit medium to an "entity" named Seth. "The Chestnut Beads" first appeared in the late 1950s in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It was reprinted in the mid 1960s in a Rod Serling collection called "Rod Serling"s Triple W." A sequel to "The Chestnut Beads" was also printed in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in the late 50s but was never reprinted. King was probably too young to have encountered the story in its first magazine appearance, but the timing would have been just right for him to have picked up a copy of "Rod Serling's Triple W" in 1963 or when it was reprinted in 1967.

I was given an old dog-eared copy of the 1967 printing by my father while I was in middle school. It was probably my introduction to post-apocalyptic horror, and it made quite an impression on me.

The story is about a group of young women in the 1950s who are preparing to be initiated into a sorority house at their University. A mysterious woman, one of their professors, is a leading figure in the sorority. There is quite a bit of mystery involved and the women later do not recall much of the ceremony. The next day, the central character notices that she is the only one to have been given a necklace of chestnut beads. Years pass and the women graduate, marry and have children.

About ten years after the beginning of the story, the protagonist is raising a family during a time of threatened war. One day, the unthinkable happens and they drop the bomb. She tries to keep her children alive, but they both die. Suppressed memories start coming back to her and she arms herself and begins killing to survive. Eventually the other surviving women of her sorority come together with her, seemingly compelled to do so, and it is revealed that they are a coven of witches and she was chosen to lead them to take over the remains of the world after civilization eventually collapsed. The story ends with the indication that the women will build a Maenad-like army and eventually control the world.

You can read a few pages of this story here: Rod Serling’s Triple W: Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves - Rod Serling - Google Books but is not complete.

I found the drawing together of the women and the destiny of the protagonist to be the witch queen extremely reminiscent of similar moments in The Stand. I think it is not altogether impossible that a young SK read this story and absorbed certain elements of it.
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