The Ultimate Stephen King Collection

For me, at least.  I’ve been thinking about King’s short stories lately (I’m finally plucking my way through The Dark Tower), and I decided to sit down with the collections and piece together my favorites.  In the near future, I’ll probably read all of these stories in order.  ANyway, here goes, ordered by collection in which they appear…

NIGHT SHIFT

JERUSALEM’S LOT – A dark tale with ties to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  Written as a series of journal entries that detail a man’s arrival to a new house that might have rats in the walls and his subsequent find of a deserted village in the forest behind his home.  Builds and builds to a terrifying climax.

GRAVEYARD SHIFT – Workers in a rat-infest industrial laundry spend the weekend cleaning out the lower levels.  When they find a trap door leading to an unknown subbasement, they encounter a new breed altogether.  Terrifying in its description of the lower level and the rat-things that live there.

GRAY MATTER – A man waits to see what will arrive, his friend, or the hideous translucent creature that might have gobble said friend up.  THe story of how he got to this point is as moody and frightening as King has ever been.

SKELETON CREW

MRS. TODD’S SHORTCUT – Mrs. Todd loves to find the shortest distance between two points.  SHe loves it so much, she manages to find routes that are far shorter than they should be, and the things that live around those shortcuts aren’t from around here.

THE JAUNT – In the future, travel is largely accomplished through taking a Jaunt, a form of mass teleportation.  The only hitch is that you have to be asleep when you take the Jaunt.  A boy decides to find out why and suffers terrible consequences.

GRAMMA – A boy is left alone with his ailing grandmother for the evening.  He’s terrified of the woman, and he doesn’t feel much better when he finds her dead.  When she wakes up, though…  Oppressive atmosphere and visceral energy in this one.

NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES

THE MOVING FINGER – A man goes to the bathroom one morning to find a finger poking out of his sink drain.  Gruesome, terrifying wackiness ensues.

YOU KNOW THEY GOT A HELL OF A BAND - A couple on a roadtrip get lost and find themselves in a small time.  Over the course of their stay, they realize the town is inhabited with dead rock stars.  Wonder soon turns to terror as the rockers want to give the couple a concert they’ll never forget.

RAINY SEASON – Another couple on another trip wind up at a cabin during the rainy season.  They soon learn that water doesn’t fall from the sky during this season, but carnivorous frogs.  This one has a wonderful B Movie flavor.  Very enjoyable!

EVERYTHING’S EVENTUAL

THE MAN IN THE BLACK SUIT – A boy out fishing runs into a man who may or may not be Satan.  A calm, creepy story that gets under your skin.

1408 – Probably my favorite of King’s stories.  A man who investigates bogus haunting for travel books enters room 1408 in a fabled hotel.  He soon finds himself WAY over his head.  This story is notable for the hotel manager’s account of past events that have occured in the room, which serve to get the heart pumping before room 1408’s door is even opened.