A couple of short stories by Stephen King read for the King’s March challenge

Mile 81

IMG_0239Abandoned service station on major stretch of highway (I have never entirely understood what a turnpike is so forgive me US friends if I’ve got that wrong), boarded up, magnet for youngsters up to no good. Small boy mildly misbehaving through boredom. Particularly suspicious looking abandoned car. Tiny (but smart) children in peril. Very clever use of magnifying glass. Moral of the story – don’t approach strange cars, keep on driving, it will only end in tears. One of King’s specialities is this type of story where extreme weirdness happens in a very ordinary setting with no rhyme or reason. Liked it.

In the Tall Grass (written with Joe Hill)

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Abandoned (sort-of) church along a relatively lonely stretch of highway. Brother and (pregnant) sister on road trip before she has baby. Pull off the road after hearing cries from the tall grass that seems to stretch for miles. Small child in peril. Getting lost. Disorientation. Ancient evil (probably). Moral of the story – don’t stop for strange cries, keep on driving, it will only end in tears (sound familiar?). An accidental companion piece to Mile 81, totally unplanned in that I didn’t really investigate the plot of either story before I started to read them. Very very dark and ultimately depressing.

Interesting to compare standalone King to a story written in collaboration with his son, whose work I have also read but have found problematic in the past (see N0S4R2 for a start). King can be very nasty on occasion but I find him to have greater humanity in his stories than Hill. Without giving anything away, In the Tall Grass seems to offer no hope at all, whereas Mile 81 gives us the possibilities of human ingenuity in fighting off the bad stuff.

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