Columns > Published on March 13th, 2017

Every Stephen King Short Story Summarized in 140 Characters or Less (Part 1)

A few years ago, I wrote an article called “Every Stephen King Novel Summarized in 140 Characters or Less.” I don’t think it was a very good article, but I definitely had fun writing it, and for some weird-ass reason, a lot of you maniacs ate it up. I was assaulted on Twitter by hundreds of people calling me an asshole for a Dean Koontz joke I cracked. Shit was nuts, y’all. This is how much the situation spiraled out of control: one morning I woke up to an email from a representative of The Queen Latifah Show, which is a television program I didn’t even know existed. They wanted to turn my article into a comedy sketch to broadcast on the show. Let that sink in. Are you done laughing? I’m not. But I’ll never be done. Anyway, the show was canceled before the sketch ever aired, so it doesn’t really matter. What I’m trying to say is, it’s time to continue this inanity with King’s short fiction work. In this article, I’ll cover the short stories and novellas found in collections published in the 20th century. Here we go.

'NIGHT SHIFT' (1978)

“Jerusalem’s Lot”
Some nerd moves to a big mansion and spends his time writing Lovecraft fan fiction.

“Graveyard Shift”
If you’re an asshole to your employees, they will feed you to a giant rat queen the first chance they get.

“Night Surf”
A man makes fun of his fat girlfriend as the world ends.

“I Am the Doorway”
Masturbation becomes super awkward when tiny eyeballs form at your fingertips. Awkward, but not impossible.

“The Mangler”
If the same giant laundry machine is connected to multiple deaths, you should definitely set it on fire just to be on the safe side.

“The Boogeyman”
As a kid, I slept on a frameless mattress with only a dresser to store my clothes, and I have never been eaten by a monster. Coincidence?

“Gray Matter”
If you send your kid out for beer runs enough times, that little piece of shit will eventually snitch on you.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when Stephen King steps on one too many small plastic army men, here’s your answer.

Every truck on the planet gains sentience and searches for a missing Emilio Estevez.

“Sometimes They Come Back”
Sometimes it’s okay to punch a kid in the fucking face.

“Strawberry Spring”
If you attend college, it is almost guaranteed you will be murdered by some deranged serial killer. Don’t do it.

“The Ledge”
My girlfriend thought I was an idiot for purchasing those official Batman wing gliders on eBay, but NOW WHO’S LAUGHING?!?

“The Lawnmower Man”
The origin story for the killer in True Detective season one.

“Quitters, Inc.”
An honestly brilliant idea for quitting bad habits, like smoking or marathoning superhero shows on The CW. Why hasn’t this gone public yet?

“I Know What You Need”

“Children of the Corn”
Anybody named Malachi will inevitably kill a bunch of people.

“The Last Rung on the Ladder”
Two children repeatedly abuse a poor ladder and get what they deserve.

“The Man Who Loved Flowers”
A man delivers flowers to the woman he loves. Awww. Such a sweet story. Nothing awful happens at all. Classic King.

“One for the Road”
A family breaks down in the middle of the night and meets some friendly strangers.

“The Woman in the Room”
A man bonds with his mother.

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“Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”
A man wrongly convicted of murder teaches prisoners how to do their taxes.

“Apt Pupil”
A Trump voter and a teenager play dress-up and study together.

“The Body”
Four boys smoke cigarettes in the woods and say bad words.

“The Breathing Method”
A pregnant woman metaphorically and literally loses her head.

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“The Mist”
Don’t you just fucking hate going to the grocery store?

“Here There Be Tygers”
A little boy gets creative while overcoming bathroom shyness.

“The Monkey”
One of the rejected cast members from Toy Story stars in its own special.

“Cain Rose Up”
A young man gives college life a shot.

“Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut”
Some shortcuts are...TOO SHORT. *gasp*

“The Jaunt”
Teleportation: For All Ages!

“The Wedding Gig”
Weddings are for assholes.

“The Raft”
Gates exist for a reason, as do strange alien tar substances, and that reason is to eat those who climb gates.

“Word Processor of the Gods”
Stephen King masturbates in front of a mirror for several pages. It’s super hot.

“The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands”
The hands of the elderly are disgusting.

A group of astronauts mourn the death of the Beach Boys.

“The Reaper’s Image”
Duct tape solves everything.

Do you love?

“Survivor Type”
The greatest buffet of all time is now officially open.

“Uncle Otto’s Truck”
A truck throws a temper tantrum after failing to locate Emilio Estevez.

“Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)”
A milkman delivers the shit out of some milk.

“Big Wheels: A Tale of the Laundry Game (Milkman #2)”
A milkman delivers the shit out of some gasoline.

A boy bonds with his grandmother.

“The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet”
The answer to “where do you get your ideas?” is finally revealed, to the outrage of writers everywhere. Way to snitch, Steve.

“The Reach”
A woman steals her son’s long johns.

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“The Langoliers”
A plane takes a slight detour and gives all of the passengers a case of the grumps.

“Secret Window, Secret Garden”
A very popular writer is accused of plagiarizing Stephen King’s Odd Thomas.

“The Library Policeman”

“The Sun Dog”
Cameras are assholes.

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“Dolan’s Cadillac”
A high school teacher starts working out and impresses his coworkers.

“The End of the Whole Mess”
A genius screws himself over with SCIENCE.

“Suffer the Little Children”
The students of a third grade class are given a special presentation by their teacher.

“The Night Flier”
The editor of the Weekly World News hunts down the infamous Bat Boy.

A child abductor accidentally nabs more than he bargained for.

“It Grows on You”
A house goes under renovation—no charge!

“Chattery Teeth”
Anybody who buys a set of chattery teeth probably deserves whatever happens to them.

A maid drinks a writer’s discarded semen hoping it’ll bring luck to her unborn son. It works.

“The Moving Finger”
A man tests the limits of his bladder as he attempts to unclog his drain.

If you discover shoes in a bathroom, don’t talk to them.

“You Know They Got a Hell of a Band”
A bunch of famous dead musicians rock the fuck out.

“Home Delivery”
A pregnant woman kicks some major zombie ass.

“Rainy Season”
This is a story about killer toads. KILLER. TOADS.

“My Pretty Pony”
An old man gives his son a pocket watch and goes all “Rust Cohle” on him.

“Sorry, Right Number”
Phones sure are whacky!

“The Ten O’Clock People”
Stephen King tries to quit smoking again.

“Crouch End”
Two stereotypical English police constables humor a crazy person as they wait for their shifts to end.

“The House on Maple Street”
All stepfathers are heartless monsters.

“The Fifth Quarter”
This is actually a John Swithen story that Stephen King famously plagiarized. It’s so screwed up nobody seems to care.

“The Doctor’s Case”
All birth fathers are also heartless monsters.

“Umney’s Last Case”
Everybody is going to die and existence is meaningless.

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Sometimes Max comes back, again. To be continued...

About the author

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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