A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Road Virus Heads North — Stephen King

So what do I have for you today from my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

roadvirus.jpgThe story concerns horror author Richard Kinnell, who stops at a yardsale on the way home from a writers conference and buys a disturbing painting titled the Road Virus Heads North. As he heads north himself, he discovers that the painting itself is changing, and something else is headed north in his wake.

This story was fairly freaky… There are times when I notice what I believe are subtle changes in artwork and other things around me. Listening to The Road Virus Heads North made me start to think that maybe the world is not as it seems. Definitely worth the listen.

Rating: 5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Everything’s Eventual — Stephen King

So what do I have for you today from my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

everything19-year-old high-school dropout Dinky Earnshaw explains that he’s got a good job now. He used to be a clerk at the Supr Savr, where he worked with morons and was relentlessly bullied by an aggressive dimwit named Skipper. But now Skipper’s dead and Dinky’s got a new job, where the main perks are that he gets his own house and his own car and virtually anything he asks for, including CDs that have not been released yet. He also gets a small wad of cash each week, provided he doesn’t look for the people who drop it through his mail slot, and that he remembers to destroy or throw away any money left over at the end of the week. He gets rid of his excess change by dropping it down the gutter by his house, and he puts his bills in the garbage disposal, each week.

As it turns out, Dinky has a certain gift. He has the ability to mentally influence people by drawing complicated designs or pictures, in a way that he does not completely understand. This is illustrated when he recalls that, as a child, he (semi-unknowingly) used this ability to drive to suicide a dog that tormented him on his way home from school. After Skipper humiliated him every day for years, Dinky makes the decision to use this power to kill Skipper, or more accurately to make Skipper kill himself.

Dinky is discovered by a man named Mr. Sharpton, who claims to work for Trans Corporation, an organization that searches across the world for people with such talents. Dinky is recruited to kill very specific targets by e-mailing them these designs that he creates on an Apple computer. He is, in return, given a life that seems ideal, complete with a house and other benefits. Mr. Sharpton tells Dinky that the people he is ordered to kill are wicked, horrible criminals that the world is better off without.

For a time, Dinky is happy with his new position, living life in a semi-mindless bliss; however, when Dinky finds an article in the newspaper about one of the individuals whom he has killed (a seemingly innocent old newspaper columnist) he begins to feel guilty for what he has done. After researching more into his other victims, Dinky realizes that the Trans Corporation has been using him to assassinate political dissidents and alternative thinkers. As the story ends, he is planning his escape from the Trans Corporation, but not before sending one final email to Mr. Sharpton, his recruiter.

While listening to this story, I was captivated. In part, it could have been the story itself but it also may have been due to the fact it was read by Justin Long. I recommend this one if you’re looking for something with a little supernatural element.

Rating: 5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Lucky Quarter — Stephen King

So what have I been listening to on my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

luckyquarterDarlene Pullen, who is a struggling single mother with two children (a rebellious teenage daughter and a sickly young son) and a lousy job as a maid, is left a tip of a single quarter with a note saying that it is a “lucky quarter”. She takes a quick gamble on it and finds that it brings her some small luck. Moving on to a real casino, she keeps trying her luck, and soon she’s winning thousands of dollars. All seems to be going exceedingly well until she suddenly reappears back in the hotel room, left with nothing but her lucky quarter. All of her success was a fantasy. As her two children come to visit her at work, she lets her son have the quarter, and as he uses it in a gamble, it starts to pay off just as it did when Darlene was fantasizing.

I did like this story but it wasn’t the favourite of mine in the collection. Still worth the listen!

Rating: 3.5 stars

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Autopsy Room Four — Stephen King

So what do I have for you today from my commute? One of the short stories from Stephen King’s Everything’s Eventual: 5 Dark Tales

Autopsyroom4.jpgHoward Cottrell awakes from some form of unconsciousness to find himself laid out in an autopsy room. As the doctors prepare to begin, Howard struggles to come to grips with what is happening.

After realizing that he is not dead, he deduces that he is in a paralysed state, and struggles to somehow inform the doctors of this fact before they cut into him.

While prepping Cottrell’s body, the doctor in charge, Katie Arlen, finds shrapnel wounds around his nether regions. While she is absent-mindedly examining these, another doctor rushes into the room to inform them that Howard is still alive. Katie looks down – to find herself holding Howard’s erect penis.

In a humorous afternote, Howard explains that he was possibly bitten by a very rare snake, causing the deathlike paralysis. Another one of the doctors discovered that same snake in his golf bag and was promptly bitten. It is presumed that he will recover. Howard adds that he and Katie dated for a while, but parted due to an embarrassing issue in the boudoir: he was impotent unless she was wearing rubber gloves.

I really enjoyed this short tale. I think my enjoyment stems from my own fear of waking up paralyzed on an autopsy table and they say that pleasure and fear can run parallel through your body. It was well told and the visuals I got while listening were enough to make me shiver. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5 stars

 

 

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Mile 81 — Stephen King

Next up on my ‘to be reviewed’ list is Mile 81 by Stephen King. The audio book also included a bonus track of The Dune by King so I’ll touch on it as well…

mile81At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded-up rest stop, a place where high school kids drink and get into the kind of trouble high school kids have always gotten into. It’s the place where Pete Simmons, armed only with the magnifying glass he got for his tenth birthday, finds a discarded bottle of vodka in the boarded up burger shack and drinks enough to pass out. Not much later, a mud-covered station wagon (which is strange because there hadn’t been any rain in New England for over a week) veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that says “closed, no services.” The driver’s door opens but nobody gets out.

By the time Pete Simmons wakes up from his vodka nap, there are half a dozen cars at the Mile 81 rest stop. But two kids and a horse are the only living things left… unless you maybe count the wagon. With the heart of Stand By Me and the genius horror of Christine, Mile 81 is Stephen King unleashing his imagination as he drives past one of those road signs.

In the bonus story The Dune, retired Florida Supreme Court Judge Harvey Beecher tells his lawyer about a mysterious sand dune on an unnamed island a short distance off the Gulf coastline of his family’s property. Harvey first visited the island at the age of ten in 1932, after his grandfather, a scoundrel and land speculator who’d created the family fortune, told him Blackbeard’s treasure might be buried there. Travelling to the island became a daily addiction for Harvey… and now his lawyer is about to discover the shocking reason why.

Mile 81 was a terrific little short – I was entranced with each moment of the unfolding story, so much so that I admit to driving around the block until it was over! The characters were vividly depicted and their demises just as gruesomely vivid. A great story to read if you’re looking for a little punch of classic King horror.

The Dune was a great tale as well though I admit to seeing the twist in the ending before the story was done. That didn’t take away from the story however, only made it more creepy as it came to its conclusion.

Both shorts are well worth the listen, or read if that’s more your style!

Rating: 4 stars