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The Best & Scariest Short Stories By Stephen King
I have recently developed an interest in Stephen King's short stories and have been reading them for the past weeks. My sister is a big Stephen King fan, so she had somehow influenced me into reading Stephen King when we met at our parents' house recently. The rest, of course, is history.
Below are, in my opinion, the best and the scariest short stories (or novellas) ever written by Stephen King (or probably by anyone ever). If you are in the mood for a scary ride, hop along. The stories are listed below IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. Enjoy the ride!
1922 is a novella from the book Full Dark No Stars, and was one of the most recently written by King. Should be easy to tell by the writing style in this one; developed, seasoned. One of my top favorite. This novella actually started my journey of Stephen King short stories marathon. This was the first. The first that got me hooked.
Who could've got their 15 year old son to join him in killing his own wife, the son's very own mother? Only Stephen King could make up a plot like that and get away with it. The plot itself was haunting. The writing style was my absolute favorite, like I said, seasoned and developed, yet not dragging, clear and fast. I absolutely loved the inner thoughts of the protagonist, or what he called "The Conniving Man".
This "Conniving Man" inside him at some point probably got a hold of his mind and the next thing he knew he was plotting a murder of his wife. And it all started when his wife decided to sell their 100 acres land. Plotting a murder of your own wife surely is a bad business, and soon enough he realized this. It's a baad business. Especially when "rats" are involved. Not your usual rats either. Surely. The kind that can go inside and outside a well even after the well is filled and sealed shut.
Full Dark, No Stars
Jerusalem's Lot is a short story from the collection Night Shift. I dare not pick that book up again after finished reading the short story last night. The story was just beyond creepy. The story actually was scary. If you're looking to read something that is really eerie, this has got to be it.
After the death of an estranged relative, Charles Boone moved into a big ancestral house left behind by this relative of his. The house, he later found out, was not just a big house with histories. It was a house that trapped the souls of all the previous occupants. These souls, or whatever they had become, lurked behind the walls of the house and made strange noises that Charles Boone had first assumed were caused by rats.
Not two miles away from the house, was an abandoned village named Jerusalem's Lot. A village that had been left behind years and years, where all the villagers had vanished all at once. No one from the neighboring town had dared to go to the village since. When Charles Boone and his companion as well as servant, Calvin McCann, went to investigate the village, it was clear to them that no living things, not even birds, spiders, or roaches, lived in that abandoned village. Not a single cobwebs was present. Just dust.
This is a short story taken from the book Just After Sunset. The title of this story is a simple one character; 'N'. It's actually the first letter of a patient's name. The protagonist in the story's patient. We never knew what 'N' stands for, whether it's Nathan, Nicholas, Noah, we just never knew, which adds a little bit of mystery to it.
Out of all the Stephen King short stories I've read, this one was probably one of the most haunting. If you are familiar with an anxiety disorder, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), that is, having suffered it yourself or having your loved ones suffering from it, I think this story will amuse you.
When I was a few pages in, I thought, 'how is he (referring to Stephen King) going to tie an anxiety disorder to supernatural things?'. Having suffered a mild OCD on my own, I was skeptical as to how King was going to do this. But when he did, I was impressed.
This is probably not the kind of story that will make the hair at the back of your neck stand (at least for me), but the story itself was crafted so well it will most likely stick with you afterward when you're doing your usual errands and chores. I mean, did you notice those rocks in your backyard? There were 5 of them, right? But what about that picture you took of your 7 year old daughter? Looks like the rocks behind her weren't 5 after all, when you look closely, there were 6 of them.
Just After Sunset
The Jaunt is a short story from the book Skeleton Crew. This is a very imaginative and interesting story. Even though this is just a fiction, it could actually make you ponder over the concept of "time" and "space", how we, as humans, perceive them, and what is the real truth beyond what we perceive.
The Jaunt is probably not quite a "horror", not the kind of story that makes you not want to sleep with the lights out. But the concept and the idea that the story presents is nevertheless horrifying. Imagine a world where we can go whenever we want within nanoseconds. No cars, buses, airplanes, boats. What we need just a Jaunt station. Not only that we are free to move about wherever we want on earth, we are also able to land on Mars, Jupiters, Venus, as long as there is a Jaunt station on those planets. Why not, right? Each trip takes only nanoseconds. Except that while the physical body takes only nanoseconds to be transported to another Jaunt station, the MIND, on the other hand, takes longer than eternity to arrive. So? Ready for your first Jaunt?
Gramma is another short story by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew. The story is about a grandmother who just wants nothing more than to hug her grandson, little Georgie, even when she's dead.
The story was told in the eyes of George (little Georgie), an eleven year old boy, who was left alone at home with his bedridden grandmother when his mother had to go to the hospital. The creepiest thing about this story was the every minute George had to spend alone with his gramma, being under the same roof as the big old woman whose looks no longer resembled a human being. A gramma who, during her "bad spells", would cause something "bad" to happen somewhere else. Like vandalism of a graveyard. Or death in a sleep.
If you're ready to be eleven again and be left alone with a bedridden gramma that makes all the strangest sounds, read this story.
"The Man In The Black Suit"
The Man In The Black Suit is one of the short stories from the book Everything's Eventual. It tells a story of a nine year old boy, now an old man writing the very story in his diary. The old man believes that at nine year old, he had met a man in a black suit in the woods where he went fishing alone. At nine, he knew immediately that the man was not human. But deep in the woods all alone, with fishing rod in his hand, and the man in the black suit on top of the stream bank looking down on him, the chance of escaping was slim.
The scariest part of the story, to me, was when the boy was facing the man in the black suit all alone, knowing that the man in front of him wasn't human, becoming more and more certain as he talked to the man and saw things around them confirming his thought of the man.
It actually reminded me of my own experience when I was about six or seven (I really don't remember the real age) when I saw someone or "something" that looked like my mother in our backyard just when it was getting dark. "She" was on her knees and was shampooing her hair (her face looking down slightly) just by the pond. I ran to her, of course, calling her, with a slight excitement that probably only a child could feel. I remember my sister running after me, telling me to get back inside. My sister was no more than nine herself at the time. I was closed to reaching "my mother" when my "real" mother came calling me from behind. None of them, my mother or my sister, saw what I saw. This probably happened in no more than five minutes altogether, but I still remember that thing that looked like my mother.
If there's a Stephen King's short story that could make the hair on the back of my neck bristle, it's 1408, another short story from the collection Everything's Eventual. There's a movie adaptation of this short story starring John Cusack, but if you have watched the movie (or planning to), I should probably warn you that the short story isn't anything like the movie. The movie was, obviously, a typical Hollywood "scary" movie with a touch of cliché only Hollywood movies can do. Standing on its own the movie is probably worth to watch just maybe, to pass the time, but when comparing the movie to the short story it was adapted from, I just don't think the movie does any justice to the short story.
The short story is about THE HOTEL ROOM, 1408. The supernatural power and occurrences are generated from inside the room itself. The main character is just one of the few people that have experienced the worst of the room. However, the movie is about THE MAIN CHARACTER, MIKE. And everything that happened in the movie is about Mike. In the movie, the main character (Cusack) seems more like someone who's going through a psychological turmoil throughout, a turmoil that is more likely caused by his own mind and nothing more. But in the original short story, it's clear to us that the main character experiences whatever he's experiencing inside the room the same way all the others who've come into the room before him had experienced. And whatever he's experiencing is caused by the mysterious force inside the room, and the only way to feel sane again (if you're lucky) is to get out of the room, even if it means to jump out of the window and be dead.
I read this story when I was all alone in my house. And (it's very rare for me) I remember at one point it really made the hair on the back of my neck stand, and I actually put the book down to look around for fear that I wasn't really "alone". The short story was creepy because of how it was written, how the words play with your mind and drag you inside the story. If you're ready to get stuck inside a hotel room that plays with your sanity, then start your journey with 1408.
Did you enjoy your ride?
As you might have probably noticed by now, stories that involved the protagonist to be all alone with an inhuman being always creep me the most. I guess it's that intense feeling of knowing you are all alone and there's no one else around to help you except yourself. And that you are vulnerable to whatever this inhuman being were to do to you.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy my list and if you've got your own list of top favorite short stories by Stephen King (stories that scare you the most!), let me know in the comments below!