Columns > Published on October 23rd, 2018

How I Would've Died In 20 Stephen King Novels

Plague strikes. Pets and children return from the dead. A bunch of kids get fried at the prom. 

Stephen King has a talent for killing folks in his books. I'm pretty sure we're meant to read one of his horror novels and think how we'd handle the situation, and I'm pretty sure that I would handle most Stephen King situations by dying immediately. I'm no survivor set on rebuilding society. I'm no brave kid venturing into the sewers to battle evil. I'm one of the many bodies that litter the pages. 

How exactly would I die in some of King's books? I'm glad you asked. 

1. "The Shining"

Jack asked, “I don’t suppose there’s one of those fancy theaters built in here?”

Ullman replied, “For a brief time the Overlook prided itself on its movie viewing options. However, one of our previous caretakers, a man I knew only as Pete, took his own life after being driven insane by repeated viewings of the only film reel left behind for the winter. We’ve since done away with it.”

Jack pondered aloud, “I wonder what movie it was...”

Casino Royale,” Ullman said. “That wretched Casino Royale film. Nearly buried a franchise, you know.”

Get The Shining at Bookshop or Amazon


2. "Carrie"

I die in a “50 years later” epilogue, shortly after my 50 year high school reunion. Which wouldn’t be a very happy affair. Because, you know. The deaths and the burnings alive and so on.

I was mostly safe as I spent the evening of my high school prom at home, hot gluing aluminum cans together to make “robots,” all the while muttering “Seriously? Carrie goes and not me? What the hell, man?”

For quite some time I was relieved to miss the prom, although as the years passed I started thinking what a sad life I’d lived. I wasn’t even popular enough to be hated and elaborately pranked. But I still have my robots. Always my robots...

Get Carrie at Bookshop or Amazon


3. "IT"

Pennywise seemed to appear to the kids of Derry as the monster they most feared in their late childhood and early teens. I seemed to have some sort of fear of basic hygiene at that time, so I reckon I’d be killed by a giant toiletry kit. Garrotted by dental floss, my fingernails pulled out by tweezers. Stuff like that.

Get IT at Bookshop or Amazon


4. "The Long Walk"

Eventually I’d stop enough times to fiddle with my secret weapon, a prototype for Reebok Pumps, that I’d meet my end.

Get The Long Walk at Bookshop or Amazon


5. "Pet Sematary"

Absolutely massacred by a string of deceased, cheap pets, including two birds, a gerbil, a crawdad, a swarm of lightning bugs, countless fish and a lizard that I managed to kill within a single day.

Sometimes dead’s better, but geez, you’d think a lizard would last the better part of a week.

Get Pet Sematary at Bookshop or Amazon


6. "Thinner"

When I minorly insulted an old man, he pointed at me and said, “Immortal.” I didn’t know what he meant, but oddly, the longer I had my iPhone 4, the longer the battery seemed to last and the more durable it was. Sure, I couldn’t update anything or download any new apps, which meant no Uber or Lyft for Peter, but it was cool. Until the year 2055 when I was still using an iPhone 4 and couldn’t bring myself to spend the massive future bucks to buy a new phone. I end up dying of complications after selling a handful of internal organs in order to purchase a charger cord for my phone, which had been discontinued for decades. They buried me with a fully functioning iPhone 4.

Legend says, if you go near my grave around 7:30 AM, you’ll hear my alarm from under the soil. Which is Katrina and the Waves’ “Walkin’ on Sunshine,” which kinda takes the spookiness out of it.

Get Thinner at Bookshop or Amazon


7. "Misery"

Not killed by a fan of my work so much as someone who’s a fan of the lore of Konami’s Contra series and didn’t take kindly to some handjob erotica I wrote using Contra’s characters. Which, I have to say, is understandable.

Get Misery at Bookshop or Amazon


8. "Christine"

Killed by my wife who eventually grows so fed up with the car that’s been sitting in our garage for 5 years that I’m “Totally getting around to restoring.”

Get Christine at Bookshop or Amazon


9. "Cujo"

Holding a stump where there used to be a hand, my last words: “St...Bernard...rolled over so I could rub its *guh* belly. I...regret...nothingggggg….”

Get Cujo at Bookshop or Amazon


10. "Salem’s Lot"

After being turned into a vampire, I die a second death as I’m unable to feed due to jacked up teeth. Most people think all vampires have perfect teeth, but that’s a lie perpetrated on us by Big Vampire. And good luck finding an orthodontist who has office hours after dark. Those people buzz in about 11 AM and they’re home by 3.

Get 'Salem's Lot at Bookshop or Amazon


11. "Under the Dome"

Pete, never one to be involved in local politics, is mostly unaware of the power struggles going on in his hometown of Chester’s Mill after the dome comes down.

However, ALWAYS one to be involved in wacky schemes, Pete sets up a dome clarifying business (kind of a scam, like those headlight restoring kits) so residents can ask him to improve the view through parts of the dome near their homes. He is killed when he falls off a ladder, which he tried leaning against the dome.

Get Under the Dome at Bookshop or Amazon


12. "The Mist"

Pete is shoved out of the supermarket after non-stop singing “Into the Mystic” and saying, “No, get it? Like into the MIST-ic? Because the mist outside?”

No one ever mentions that it was done, but all agree it had to be done.

Get The Mist at Bookshop or Amazon


13. "The Body"

I’d puke from the leech, I’d puke from the pie story, I’d puke when I saw the body. “Dehydration” would be the official cause of death, but it’s just from all the puking.

Get The Body at Bookshop or Amazon


14. "The Dead Zone"

When a patient wakes up after a 4-year coma and seems to have psychic powers, he touches me and says, “Maybe get new tires more than once every decade.” I scoff and ignore him. He tries to show me the trick where you stick a quarter in the treads to test their depth, but I shake him off and say, “Peasant! Show me a trick that’s useful, one that utilizes a $100 dollar bill! That’s something I’m likely to have.” Then I strut out of the room, impressing no one. I die weeks later on a perfectly dry road when my bald tires fail to create purchase on a mildly steep hill.

Get The Dead Zone at Bookshop or Amazon


15. "Needful Things"

I walk into the Needful Things shop, walk past a piece of Noah’s Ark and find a 4th gen iPod nano at a very reasonable price. The owner of course tells me I have to play a prank on someone, so I shortsheet my brother’s bed. To get back at me, he hits me in the stomach with a medieval battle axe while I’m asleep. I know that sounds excessive, but that’s sort of how this book works.

Get Needful Things at Bookshop or Amazon


16. "The Stand"

There was that one dude who died in the lab, face down in some soup. That’d be me, but replace “soup” with “pulled pork.” Also, it’s important to note that I died face down in the pulled pork not because I was sick and lost consciousness and my face hit the bowl, but because I’d already smothered myself while eating swine-style. 

Get The Stand at Bookshop or Amazon


17. "The Running Man"

In a world where many people turn to sex work as a means of survival, I would certainly starve. 

Get The Running Man at Bookshop or Amazon


18. "Gerald's Game"

Years and years later in a passionless marriage. What? I'm just not kinky that way. 

Get Gerald's Game at Bookshop or Amazon


19. "The Tommyknockers"

Gaining just enough genius to make a workable-ish jetpack is pretty much a guarantee of my demise. 

Get The Tommyknockers at Bookshop or Amazon


20. "Dreamcatcher"

The much-mocked idea of dying on the toilet is the odds-on favorite in my real-life death pool, and it hits a little too close to home to really get joke-y here. Other favorites include "Changing a lightbulb while standing on a rolling office chair" and "salt."

Get Dreamcatcher at Bookshop or Amazon



About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

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