A week ago, I finished Just After Sunset, Stephen King's new collection of short fiction. While King isn't as popular as he used to be, and his recent novels have left an unsatisfying taste in many mouths, I've found that his short work is as sharp as ever. In honor of this new collection, I thought it was time to dig deep and find out what the ten best Stephen King short stories were. As always with lists on the Shark Tank, the inclusions and order are my opinion only, and are--as such--unquestionably correct.
#10. "The Reaper's Image" (Skeleton Crew)
This story is all thrills and chills. It concerns an old mirror which has had a storied and urban-legendaryish history. This story is conveyed by a museum curator to an antique collector, who is our primary protagonist. Supposedly, those who have seen the image of the grim reaper in the mirror have not lived to tell the tale. Very creepy story.
#9. "Crouch End" (Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
Speaking of creepy. This is King's attempt (one of two on this list) to write about people who may have unwittingly stumbled into areas of the world H.P. Lovecraft warned us about. Quite possibly the scariest story hes ever written.
#8. "Sorry, Right Number" (Nightmares & Dreamscapes)
This is actually a teleplay for an episode of the old anthology TV show, Tales from the Darkside. It reads well, nonetheless, and packs a nice punch.
#7. "I Know What You Need" (Night Shift)
This is one of the longer stories on the list. It concerns a college girl and the guy she meets who is unhealthily obsessed with her. Yet he seems uncannily able to manipulate her into liking him. How? The answer is horrifying.
#6. "The Last Rung on the Ladder" (Night Shift)
This is the real downer of the crop. I first read this story when I was fourteen years old and it was my first indication that the mass audience had it wrong when they pegged Stephen King as "just a horror writer".
#5. "L.T.'s Theory of Pets" (Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales)
This is Stephen King's dark humor at its finest. A man relates a story about his wife, who packed up and disappeared some time ago.
#4. "Stationary Bike" (Just After Sunset)
For anyone who has ever struggled with weight loss, this is an interesting story. It concerns a man who decides--after getting some advice from his physician--to hop on a stationary bike and lose some weight. What he doesn't take into consideration is how that might affect the guys down below. The guys working for the Lipid Construction Company.
#3. "Quitters, Inc." (Night Shift)
Again, maybe this one just hits close to home because I know how hard it is to try to quit smoking. In this story, a man finds an organization that guarantees he will quit.
#2. "N." (Just After Sunset)
Another tale that flirts with the Cluthos Mythos, and in much the same horrifying fashion as Crouch End. The story is told completely from the point of view of journals and letters, which can be an interesting way to read a tale.
#1. "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" (Skeleton Crew)
Being a writer myself, I've always found King's fiction most compelling when it concerns writers. Thankfully, he has no shortage of fiction that fits this bill. Be it The Dark Half, Misery, or this story, King always has some compelling things to say about what it is that makes us want to create. This one is just about as strange as anything he's ever put to paper, and I love it.
as you wish
34 minutes ago