Reviewing the Pages: Night Shift

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More than twenty-five stories of horror and nightmarish fantasy transform everyday situations into experiences of compelling terror in the worlds of the living, the dying, and the nonliving.

“Jerusalem’s Lot” Previously unpublished
“Graveyard Shift” October 1970 issue of Cavalier
“Night Surf” Spring 1969 issue of Ubris
“I Am the Doorway” March 1971 issue of Cavalier
“The Mangler” December 1972 issue of Cavalier
“The Boogeyman” March 1973 issue of Cavalier
“Gray Matter” October 1973 issue of Cavalier
“Battleground” September 1972 issue of Cavalier
“Trucks” June 1973 issue of Cavalier
“Sometimes They Come Back” March 1974 issue of Cavalier
“Strawberry Spring” Fall 1968 issue of Ubris
“The Ledge” July 1976 issue of Penthouse
“The Lawnmower Man” May 1975 issue of Cavalier
“Quitters, Inc.” Previously unpublished
“I Know What You Need” September 1976 issue of Cosmopolitan
“Children of the Corn” March 1977 issue of Penthouse
“The Last Rung on the Ladder” Previously unpublished
“The Man Who Loved Flowers” August 1977 issue of Gallery
“One for the Road” March/April 1977 issue of Maine
“The Woman in the Room” Previously unpublished

Night Shift is a collection of twenty short stories that are all designed to fill you with terror and dread. And it does a very good job of that. Whether it’s continuing on with some of the stories in his already extensive library; or creating new stories that will become a part of horror culture, in both good and bad ways. There are a lot of stories here that have become either big screen or made-for-TV movies, or either TV shows or mini-series. Each one of these short stories contain the right amount of horror for the length that the story was. Which is good. Sometimes there’s too much horror in a short piece, and not enough time within the pages to dissipate it. For those of you who like short horror, and haven’t read many from Stephen King, then this read is one worth checking out.

Well, there’s not much more that I want to elaborate on.  I will add in my thoughts on the individual short stories as I had posted them during the course of my reading through this book.

“Jerusalem’s Lot”–King dipped into Lovecraftian horror with this one, which ties in to ‘Salem’s Lot in a way.

“Graveyard Shift”–What is it with rats and horror? In this case…the rats ARE the horror.

“Night Surf”–A precursor, or prequel-in-idea story to The Stand, the horror isn’t in the horror of catching A6, it’s the human fear of dying.

“I Am the Doorway”–not even space can escape King’s touch of horror. Couldn’t imagine having that happen to me.

“The Mangler”: almost by pure chance, a demon possesses a powerful machine and causes havoc.

“The Boogeyman”–a very…unique take on talking to the monster. Lots of in-depth analysis to be had here.

“Grey Matter”–not much I can explain about this one. Man drinks a foul beer and becomes a giant grey blob that is starting to divide.

“Battleground”–I love this story! Such a fun concept.

“Trucks”–What happens when an unexplained event causes machines (in this case, tractor-trailers) gain a mind of their own? This short story gives us an idea.

“Sometimes They Come Back”–Ghosts and demons, a perfect horror mix with childhood trauma as the catalyst event for it.

“Strawberry Spring”–Interesting premise for this tale. Weather phenomenon causing one person to get…murderous? Ending leaves the story in ambiguity.

“The Ledge”–Well, what would you expect when you try to run away with the wife of a criminal syndicate boss that has known to be a little sadistic? With the crime boss’ penchant to lie, the ending is a little ambiguous.

“The Lawnmower Man”–This is what happens when you let a Greek god start a lawn service.

“Quitters Inc.”–Interesting short story. Unlikely to happen in today’s society, but still, interesting concept.

“I Know What You Need”–A little bit of black magic to gain love? Don’t you know that any sort of magic won’t get you love?

“Children of the Corn”–Religion and horror don’t mix very often, but it can certainly be scary.

“The Last Rung on the Ladder”–A story, which while the premise is more suspenseful than terrifying; it’s the underlying terror of drifting apart and the guilt of not contacting loved ones before they leave our plane of existence. A theme that hits to close to home this week.

“The Man Who Loved Flowers”–This story almost didn’t seem like it was going to have a tinge of darkness in it, until the very end.

“One for the Road”–So, we got a prequel for ‘Salem’s Lot, and now we get a sequel…of sorts. More like a small continuation of the story that falls a few years after the ending.

“The Woman in the Room”–Horror based in reality can always be the scariest, and watching a loved one wither away can be downright terrifying.

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