The Stand begins when a man escapes his government job carrying a deadly flu virus (unbeknownst to him) and goes home to his wife and daughter. He packs them up and they head out of California and go east, eventually dying from the virus and spreading it to innocent bystanders. Quickly, in a matter of weeks, most of the population has been wiped out by the virus, except for a select few that have a natural immunity to it. These few are scattered throughout the United States and slowly find each other. All of them have had dreams of a black woman in Nebraska and also of a strange individual they call the "dark man," who they know is evil or at least a representation of it. This story follows the groups of people on their quest to find one another and the mysterious woman who appears in their dreams. Who is the woman? And who is this "dark man"? This book is supposedly Stephen King in his finest hour, but I think Under the Dome is much, much better.