- For the adaption of the character, see Charlie Campion.
Charlie had white skin that turned deathly pale when he was nervous or frightened; his dark eyes bulged and stared.
Charles Campion's parents died in a house fire when he was fairly young, something that traumatised him to his dying day.
At the beginning of the novel, Campion is a member of the military police guarding a top-secret military installation in California. In the TV miniseries, Campion wears the uniform and rank badges of a Specialist (E-4) in the US Army. The facility Campion is posted at is the headquarters for Project Blue, a "black op" government program for developing deadly pathogens to be used for biological warfare.
When one of these organisms — a genetically modified, shifting-antigen strain of influenza, with a "99.4% communicability rate" — escapes containment, the facility goes on lockdown while those within start to die with terrifying speed.
Campion panics, abandons his post, runs to his house, grabs his wife Sally and three-year-old daughter LaVon, and manages to escape through an open gate at the outer perimeter of the base. Unaware that he has already been exposed to the virus, Campion is about to become the vector through which it enters the general population.
Travelling across four states, Campion and his family sicken; by the time they near the Texas-Arkansas border, Sally and LaVon are both dead. Delirious, Campion reaches the town of Arnette, and crashes his car into the fuel pumps at Bill "Hap" Hapscomb's gas station.
Campion dies en route to the hospital, but not before exposing Hapscomb, the three other men present including Stu Redman, and the Arnette volunteer ambulance crew.
The virus becomes a national, then a global epidemic, wiping out over 99% of the world's population.
- "I was gettin' hazard pay, but they ain't paying me enough to hang around here."
- ―Charles Champion
Behind the Scenes
- Campion's wallet is specified in the novel as holding a military ID card which indicates he was in the Army until 1997. The latest date stated for the present day in the various versions of the novel is 1990. Additionally, Campion deserted his post while on active duty, so he could not have possibly already been discharged from the Army and been carrying an expired ID card.
- Campion's military rank is only shown, not mentioned, in the 1994 miniseries, and is never given in any versions of the novel. Campion's E-4 rank in the miniseries makes sense, however, as his role at the base clearly indicates a low-ranking enlisted man.