Stanley's Reviews > Night Shift

Night Shift by Stephen King
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Feb 09, 13

bookshelves: own
Read from September 16, 2012 to February 09, 2013

** spoiler alert ** I'm currently on a really good stretch of reading with Stephen King, so I figured I would keep things going. I enjoyed Skeleton Crew allot more than I expected to. So, I decided to go back into the realm of King short stories, this time starting at the beginning with Night Shift. There are a number of stories here that I am really interested in reading.

Jerusalem's Lot - A man and his servant take over his ancestral home. They quickly discover that people in the nearest town believe the house to be cursed. They do not believe in the curse,but hear the sounds of large animals in the walls.

They eventually uncover a map showing them the layout of an ancient town named Jerusalem's Lot. They make a path through the woods to this location and find the old Puritan town in very nearly mint condition, however, with no life to support it.

Eventually, they find themselves in the church, which acts as the focal point of the town. They discover in the church imagery seeming to show the Satanic tint of the practitioners.

After fleeing the scene, the two begin to uncover documents in the home telling various stories of their family history.

Eventually, they decide to uncover what moves in the walls and go to the basement where they discover the undead movements of the last two family members to hold the house.

Later, the find themselves back at the unholy church where the unsleeping souls of the original congregation attempt to raise an Elder God. They manage to thwart the effort, but one of them dies and the other discovers that he is the final cog to allow the god to be raised in the future and decides to end his life.

The story is told in a series of letters and journal entries. The recipient of these ends up later finding out that he is a third cousin and uses the correspondence to become the new owner of the home.

I was looking forward to this story and was surprised to find it leading off the compilation. However, I did not find myself taken by it as I was with the novel 'Salem's Lot. The style of using letters and journals was interesting, but I found it difficult at times to keep up with the characters and who was contacting who and why.

Also, the attempted raising of the Elder God was interesting, but the basement attack was not descriptive enough as to what type of undead we were dealing with for me to be satisfied.

I'm hoping that things pickup from here.

Graveyard Shift - Hall is a drifter, a man taking odd jobs as he travels the country. He ends up at a factory during the heat of summer and signs up to work the week of the 4th of July where they will be cleaning out the 2nd basement level where a ton of old objects and even more rats are. Nothing will be salvaged. Stack everything by the lift in the back and hose down the floor are the instructions.

However, the rats were more than they ever expected. Some end up being the size of small cats. First one and then another is bitten by these large rodents, but they are in no way prepared for what they find next. Hall fends off a firing by the foreman by having looked up ordinances on rodents and uses this to get him down into a 3rd basement that they discover a few days in.

Inside this tomb, they discover rats as big as small dogs, then rats nearly three feet long with legs that are evolving away, and huge bats that have evolved from the rats and still sport their tails. Finally, they find the queen, who is fully the size of a small cow. Neither man makes it out of the tomb alive.

Here we go, now we are back to the King I know and love. Hall is one of those somewhat seedy "normal" guys who you are able to get behind. You enjoy how he is able to turn the tables on the manager, but aren't too upset when he finds the tables turned on him as well.

I like the idea of this dark evolution occurring beneath an established building where nobody has been the wiser for two centuries.

Night Surf - A group of people wait out what they assume to be their impending deaths by the beach. A6 or Captain Trips has killed off nearly everyone and even one of their small group appears to be showing signs. What do you do when you are one of only a handful of people left alive and don't expect to live much longer yourself.

This was a story that I would have very much liked to see beefed up by another 20 pages. I would have liked to get more into the main character's head than anything. However, as is, you really only glance at the surface here.

Were it not for the alternate universe side-by-side to The Stand (it originated in Southeast Asia in this version)I probably would not have enjoyed it as much but as it is, it is a nice companion to The Dark Tower series where Roland discusses how many worlds could have the same catastrophic events as each other.

I Am the Doorway - An astronaut on an ill fated mission to Venus returns to discover years later that he has been infected by some sort of alien race or disease. Small eyeballs open from his fingertips and he sees now both through his eyes and also through a window into the intelligence that sees through his fingers.

He confides in a friend in his small beach community that the intelligence forced his body to kill a small child the night before, so they go in search of the body.

They do not find it, but when the friend sees the truth of the man's hands, he tries to run away only to be fried by lightening called down by the intelligence.

The man tries to remedy the situation by lighting his hands on fire, leading to hook hands, but all hope is lost when a circle of eyes forms on his chest.

This story started out a bit fuzzy, but kept you guessing for a while. It brought on the big creepy at the end.

The Mangler - A detective finds himself wrapped up in a growing number of cases at an industrial laundry where people keep winding up dead. They are all strange occurrences having to do with the folding machine.

The detective quickly begins to realize that there is something supernatural going on. This is an opinion that is shared by a few people that the detective continues to run across.

A friend discovers that the press is probably possessed by some sort of demon. Through various inquiries, they delve into which demon it might be. They eventually come to a conclusion on the source and perform an exorcism. However, they have miscalculated and only manage to piss it off.

This story was allot of fun between the detective story and the botched exorcism. I even felt some connections to Poe's "The Monkey's Paw." I felt that this could have been the cause of death of the husband in that story.

The Boogeyman - A man comes into a shrink's office for the express purpose of getting the misery of his life off of his chest. He has had three children that have met apparently accidental or medically explainable deaths. However, he knows better. He knows that the sounds he has heard in his children's rooms are more than just sounds. He knows that those sounds mean that death is not far behind.

The story here is pretty good with a nice, although somewhat expected ending.

Gray Matter - During a heavy snow storm, a young boy enters a convenience store and asks for a case of beer for his father. This isn't so abnormal as it has happened often as of late, but what is, is the fact that the boy is out of sorts, is losing weight, and looks terrified.

The owner brings the boy aside and gets a grisly story from him afterwhich he sends the boy upstairs to have a solid meal with his wife. He then gathers a group of men that hang around the store to make a very special delivery.

The build up here was really good, as was the storytelling itself. The ending left allot to be desired, though, and ruined the great buildup.

Battleground -
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