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Stephen King Short Stories

Howard is an avid short story reader who likes to help others find and understand stories.

Stephen King is known best for his novels, but he's also written over 200 short stories. This page lists a few of them with a short teaser. I try not to give away too much of the plot.

I hope you find a new story to check out.

If you're interested in a collection, it seems that they haven't been compiled into a single large volume yet. His first collection, Night Shift, has several of his most famous short stories, including two of the stories on this page, "Graveyard Shift" and "Strawberry Spring".

stephen-king-short-stories

"Cain Rose Up"

Garrish enters his dorm. His classmate, the Beaver, complains about the difficult test they just had. He thinks he failed. Garrish heads for his room. He doesn't think much of his fellow students. At his door, he has an interaction with the floor-counsellor and has uncharitable thoughts about him, as well. Garrish's roommate has already left for summer break, so the room is nearly empty. Garrish goes to the closet and takes something out.

"Cookie Jar"

A thirteen-year-old boy, Dale, is visiting his great-grandfather, Rhett, at the Good Life Retirement Home. Dale has to talk to his oldest living relative and then write a report on how much things have changed. They cover the obvious things, like TV and radio. Rhett gets distracted by some vivid memories of riding the bus with his brother, Jack, and his peculiar childhood. Thinking of the few years or months he has left, Rhett decides to tell Dale something he's never told anyone.

"The Cat From Hell"

Halston, a hitman, is at the house of an old man. He's used to seeing death, and he recognizes it in this old man—he looks sick, afraid and he's in a wheelchair. The meeting is safe, having been arranged by a reliable intermediary. The old man has a job for Halston. He reveals that the target is in the house with them. Despite years of experience in the field, Halston is surprised.

Halston moved quickly. His reflexes were his life and they were always set on a filed pin. He was off the couch, falling to one knee, turning, hand inside his specially tailored sport coat . . .

— "The Cat From Hell"

"A Death"

Jim is in his shack reading when Sheriff Barclay and a group of deputies arrive. Jim doesn't ask what they want. Barclay asks Jim where his hat is, but Jim doesn't know. He's taken into custody. His shack is searched. He's questioned about his activities earlier that day. Jim isn't known for his intelligence; he does a poor job of defending himself. Barclay takes Jim to the jail in town.

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"Harvey's Dream"

Harvey, a sixty-year-old, is a success on Wall Street. He has energy during the workweek, but on Saturdays he appears at breakfast looking old and sloppy. His wife, Janet, hates the contrast, viewing it as a preview of his retirement. She's disillusioned with life. Harvey, who slept in the guest room last night, surprises Janet by saying it's a good thing they were apart. He had a bad dream last night—so bad that he screamed himself awake.

"Graveyard Shift"

It's 2 a.m. on Friday. Hall is on a smoke break at the textile plant. It's hot and the mill is rat-infested. He makes a decent wage and is a solitary person. Warwick, the foreman, comes up to the third floor, which is unusual. The mill is going to be shut down for Fourth of July week. Staff of less than a year, like Hall, will be laid off. Warwick offers Hall a spot on a cleanup crew. The basement has been neglected for years. It's full of rats and filthy. The pay sounds good, so Hall accepts.

Damp, dark, full of spiders and rotted cloth and ooze from the river—and rats. Maybe even bats, the aviators of the rodent family.

— "Graveyard Shift"

"Here There Be Tygers"

A third grade student, Charles, has to go to the bathroom. Miss Bird catches him squirming, and points it out in front of the class. She sends him to go. The class is silent until he leaves the room. Charles heads for the basement, which is where the bathroom is. He thinks about how Miss Bird embarrassed him. When he reaches the bathroom, he gets a surprise.

"The Jaunt"

The Oates family is getting ready for a jaunt—a teleportation—to Mars. Mark, Marylis and their two children lie side by side on couches at the Port Authority Terminal. Jaunting has been around for hundreds of years, but this is the family's first trip. They're a bit nervous about it. The children want to learn about jaunting while they wait. The parents tell them the story while the attendants prepare them for the trip.

"The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands"

A group of men are gathered at a private club. George Gregson tells everyone he once saw a murder in the very room they all sit in. Even though no jury would have convicted the man, he convicted himself. The others are curious and urge George to continue. The incident happened long ago—the current butler's grandfather was employed there at the time. The story involves a card game and a new man, Henry, who would never shake hands.

"Strawberry Spring"

The narrator is reminded of his time at New Sharon Teachers' College. He sees the name Springfield Jack in the newspaper. Eight years ago, while he was attending the college, a girl was found dead in the parking lot. She was an art major. Lots of stories spread about what she was like and what happened. Shortly after, her boyfriend was taken into custody.

And at ten minutes after eleven on that night a junior named John Dancey on his way back to his dormitory began screaming into the fog . . .

— "Strawberry Spring"

"Premium Harmony"

Mary and Ray have been married for ten years. Most of it has been happy, but now they argue, often and in the same way. They've decided to sell the house because they can't afford it anymore. They're headed to Wal-Mart for some grass seed, to fix the lawn. Mary wants to stop at the Quik-Pik to get a gift for her niece. Everything leads to an argument, often circling back to Ray's smoking and Mary's weight gain. She goes in to the store. It's hot in the car as Ray waits.

"The Raft"

A group of students arrive at Cascade Lake, which is about forty miles from their university. Deke, Randy, Rachel and Laverne decided on it last minute. Rachel had told a story of swimming out to an anchored raft on the lake. Randy said it was still there, even though it was October. At the lake, they encounter an unusual oil-like substance.

"The Wedding Gig"

The narrator is playing with his jazz band at a speak-easy out in the country. After their set, he makes his way to a woman who had been looking at him. Before he can get to her, he's accosted by a big man in a white suit. It's Mike Scollay, a racketeer from Chicago. They go outside. Scollay wants to hire the band for his sister's wedding reception. He offers a large fee due to the special circumstances.

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