Saturday, February 23, 2013

5 Stephen King Ghost Stories (Shorts)

5 bloodcurdling ghost short stories from a master storyteller to keep you awake and steal your sleep long after the last page is turned and the book is closed. These stories come with a lot of plot twists that makes the tales as entertaining as they are spine-chilling.

A story about the Ghostly Room at the Inn is how Stephen King himself explains it. Mike Enslin is a bestselling author of non-fiction works based on haunted places who does not believe in the paranormal.

His unbelief becomes his undoing at the Hotel Dolphin's Room 1408 where something resides which shakes the very foundation of his fundamentals as a man. Room 1408 which adds up to the unlucky number 13, has been left vacant for almost 20 years because of the strange things happening to people who lodge within it for an extended period of time. Occupants of the room have always met with their deaths at least, 42 deaths have been recorded so far. The hotel manager Mr. Olin tries in futility to dissuade Enslin.

Although Enslin is flustered, his pride gets in the way and he goes up to 1408. The door to the room appears crooked. At first, it tilts to the right, gets straight on observation then, leans left. In the room, Enslin experiences turn weird like somebody stoned on dope. The pictures in the room start changing then, become animated. Even the furniture are not what they seem, Enslin is hypnotized, the whole incident is totally overwhelming, he stands transfixed even though, he feels the thing in the room coming for him. He sets himself on fire to break his paralysis and rushes out of the room ablaze.

Anne is just coming out of the shower when she hears the phone ringing. Her relatives are all over the place yet, nobody answers the phone on the extension not even the answering machine kicks up as it's programmed to do after the fifth ring. She picks up the phone and the first word that comes through is her name, Annie. She recognizes the caller immediately. It's James, her husband.

Anne slumps to the bed horrified. Her relatives are in the house to prepare for his funeral and James is on the phone chatting with her. He tells her they (himself and other passengers of the plane crash he was involved in) are in a place that bears a resemblance to the Grand Central Station though, it's not. James tells Anne that maybe he was able to get through to her after he died because he was just about calling her when their plane went down. There's a recurrent beep from James' cell and he complains about not finding a spot to charge his battery.

James predicts two fatal events and warns Anne to stop going to Zoltan's bakery on sundays. He also instructs Anne not to allow some kid clean out the gutters for her though, they moved out of the apartment he refers to some time in the recent past. Both events eventually come true.

The story of the hitchhiker who got picked up by a dead man. Alan Parker is on his way home after receiving a call from a neighbor that his mother has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Alan does not have a functioning car and decides to hitchhike all the way south. First, he gets picked up by an old guy who would not take his hands off his crotch. The stench of urine is overwhelming and Alan has a vague feeling the old guy is a serial killer. This feeling prompts him to request the guy let him off even though he offers to take him all the way to the hospital.

Alan then takes a lonely road that leads through a graveyard. He's exhausted and decides to sit on a broken fence. Curiosity gets the best of him and he wanders into the burial grounds where he finds a gravestone marked "George Staub" Well begun, Too Soon Done. But Alan probably out of fear and concern for his mother misreads the epitaph as Fun is Fun and Done is Done. He interprets this as a message from his mother; she is dead. In his panic, he trips and his head collides with a rock. The impact sends him into a faint and (unbeknownst to him that he dreams) Alan thumbs down a ride. It's George Staub, the dead guy and he makes Alan choose who dies next between himself and his mother. Alan awakes beside the tombstone, after choosing his mother out of fear, to find the button the dead man was wearing in his dream pinned to his shirt.

He takes this as an omen that he would find his mother dead at the hospital. However, his mother is okay and would see many more years. After a while, Alan loses the button only to have it resurface seven years later after his mother passes away. Still bearing the inscription, I RODE THE BULLET AT THRILL VILLAGE, LACONIA.

At a train station, a bunch of people who have survived a derailment wait for the pick-up train to retrieve them. David, one of the passengers is worried about his girlfriend who has wandered off on her own into the desert. He sets out to look for Willa, his girlfriend. His fellow passengers try to discourage him saying the shuttle might arrive while he is away and that since sunset encroaches on the skies he would have to contend with wolves alone.

David goes in search of his girlfriend nevertheless, and confronts one fierce wolf which he sends scampering into the dark when he claps his hands and tells it to go away. He finds Willa at a honky-tonk sitting by herself in a high-backed booth. And in there Willa opens David's mind to accept something he's probably been aware of all along but has refused to live with.  The train passengers are all dead; they've all been dead for twenty years. No shuttle is coming to pick anybody up. David notices the customers and waitresses at the joint keep avoiding the booth they occupy. It's like they feel a ghost presence.

The two return to the train station to let everyone in on this new reality. They realize that a few of the other passengers know the truth but won't acknowledge it openly for fear of its implication. Others are adamant in their refusal of the obvious and eventually, they send David and Willa away. The two return to the honky-tonk where they find the place shut down for the night. They help themselves in, turn on the music and dance in each other's arms.

You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
One wrong turn somewhere was all it took a couple to land in the deepest mess of their lives (and death?) Clark and his wife Mary decide to go sight-seeing in Oregon just before Clark who works for a computer company goes on transfer. Things start out just fine (don't they always?) with the couple spending the night at a motel. Then farther out into their tour, the idea hits Mary that they might be lost. When she confronts her man, Clark denies the fact and uses a map to back his claims.

Mary tries not to argue with Clark but urges him to turn around while there's still time. Clark, who is apt to drop dead if he agrees he is in the wrong, tells Mary he knows what he's doing. He could all but smell Toketee Falls, which would be the trophy, the scene-stealer. Mary falls asleep and when she wakes, Clark has all but driven them into a point of no-return.

Soon, they stumble on a town and wind up in a diner where a band played. They have a hard time trying to second guess if the musicians are impostors or the real thing. By the time the truth is out, Clark and Mary are mobbed up to their mortal necks by dead music legends. While making their way out of town, they run into a bus and Jimi Hendrix summons the cops. Clark and Mary are arrested by Otis Redding (Chief of Police) and Elvis Presley (Mayor of Rock and Roll Heaven). The couple are taken back to town where they attend a rock concert that would last for years.

There are other haunted short stories by Stephen King like Sneakers; The Things They Left Behind; Sometimes, They Come Back; The Road Virus Heads North and so on. Many of these bone chillers set me in the depths of despair for the characters. I've always had a thing for ghosts especially, when it had to do with arousing their fury and wrath. Stephen King adds the twist to the ghost story.

Keep your pen bleeding!


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