Just after Sunset

Just after Sunset

by Stephen King

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416586654
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 09/22/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 7.54(h) x 1.25(d)

About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Institute, Elevation, The Outsider, Sleeping Beauties (cowritten with his son Owen King) and the Bill Hodges trilogy, End of Watch, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and an AT&T Audience Network original television series). His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures, with It now the highest grossing horror film of all time. He is the recipient of the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award, the 2014 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Hometown:

Bangor, Maine

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1947

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine

Education:

B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

Read an Excerpt

Not a very nice man.

One afternoon not long after July became August, Deke Hollis told her she had company on the island. He called it the island, never the key.

Deke was a weathered fifty, or maybe seventy. He was tall and rangy and wore a battered old straw hat that looked like an inverted soup bowl. From seven in the morning until seven at night, he ran the drawbridge between Vermillion and the mainland. This was Monday to Friday. On weekends, "the kid" took over (said kid being about thirty). Some days when Em ran up to the drawbridge and saw the kid instead of Deke in the old cane chair outside the gatehouse, reading Maxim or Popular Mechanics rather than The New York Times, she was startled to realize that Saturday had come around again.

This afternoon, though, it was Deke. The channel between Vermillion and the mainland — which Deke called the thrut (throat, she assumed) — was deserted and dark under a dark sky. A heron stood on the drawbridge's Gulf-side rail, either meditating or looking for fish.

"Company?" Em said. "I don't have any company."

"I didn't mean it that way. Pickering's back. At 366? Brought one of his 'nieces.'" The punctuation for nieces was provided by a roll of Deke's eyes, of a blue so faded they were nearly colorless.

"I didn't see anyone," Em said.

"No," he agreed. "Crossed over in that big red M'cedes of his about an hour ago, while you were probably still lacin' up your tennies." He leaned forward over his newspaper; it crackled against his flat belly. She saw he had the crossword about half completed. "Different niece every summer. Always young." He paused. "Sometimes two nieces, one in August and one in September."

"I don't know him," Em said. "And I didn't see any red Mercedes." Nor did she know which house belonged to 366. She noticed the houses themselves, but rarely paid attention to the mailboxes. Except, of course, for 219. That was the one with the little line of carved birds on top of it. (The house behind it was, of course, Birdland.)

"Just as well," Deke said. This time instead of rolling his eyes, he twitched down the corners of his mouth, as if he had something bad tasting in there. "He brings 'em down in the M'cedes, then takes 'em back to St. Petersburg in his boat. Big white yacht. The Playpen. Went through this morning." The corners of his mouth did that thing again. In the far distance, thunder mumbled. "So the nieces get a tour of the house, then a nice little cruise up the coast, and we don't see Pickering again until January, when it gets cold up in Chicagoland."

Em thought she might have seen a moored white pleasure craft on her morning beach run but wasn't sure.

"Day or two from now — maybe a week — he'll send out a couple of fellas, and one will drive the M'cedes back to wherever he keeps it stored away. Near the private airport in Naples, I imagine."

"He must be very rich," Em said. This was the longest conversation she'd ever had with Deke, and it was interesting, but she started jogging in place just the same. Partly because she didn't want to stiffen up, mostly because her body was calling on her to run.

"Rich as Scrooge McDuck, but I got an idea Pickering actually spends his. Probably in ways Uncle Scrooge never imagined. Made it off some kind of computer thing, I heard." The eye roll. "Don't they all?"

"I guess," she said, still jogging in place. The thunder cleared its throat with a little more authority this time.

"I know you're anxious to be off, but I'm talking to you for a reason," Deke said. He folded up his newspaper, put it beside the old cane chair, and stuck his coffee cup on top of it as a paperweight. "I don't ordinarily talk out of school about folks on the island — a lot of 'em's rich and I wouldn't last long if I did — but I like you, Emmy. You keep yourself to yourself, but you ain't a bit snooty. Also, I like your father. Him and me's lifted a beer, time to time."

"Thanks," she said. She was touched. And as a thought occurred to her, she smiled. "Did my dad ask you to keep an eye on me?"

Deke shook his head. "Never did. Never would. Not R. J.'s style. He'd tell you the same as I am, though — Jim Pickering's not a very nice man. I'd steer clear of him. If he invites you in for a drink or even just a cup of coffee with him and his new 'niece,' I'd say no. And if he were to ask you to go cruising with him, I would definitely say no."

"I have no interest in cruising anywhere," she said. What she was interested in was finishing her work on Vermillion Key. She felt it was almost done. "And I better get back before the rain starts."

"Don't think it's coming until five, at least," Deke said. "Although if I'm wrong, I think you'll still be okay."

She smiled again. "Me too. Contrary to popular opinion, women don't melt in the rain. I'll tell my dad you said hello."

"You do that." He bent down to get his paper, then paused, looking at her from beneath that ridiculous hat. "How're you doing, anyway?"

"Better," she said. "Better every day." She turned and began her road run back to the Little Grass Shack. She raised her hand as she went, and as she did, the heron that had been perched on the drawbridge rail flapped past her with a fish in its long bill.

Three sixty-six turned out to be the Pillbox, and for the first time since she'd come to Vermillion, the gate was standing ajar. Or had it been ajar when she ran past it toward the bridge? She couldn't remember — but of course she had taken up wearing a watch, a clunky thing with a big digital readout, so she could time herself. She had probably been looking at that when she went by.

She almost passed without slowing — the thunder was closer now — but she wasn't exactly wearing a thousand-dollar suede skirt from Jill Anderson, only an ensemble from the Athletic Attic: shorts and a T-shirt with the Nike swoosh on it. Besides, what had she said to Deke? Women don't melt in the rain. So she slowed, swerved, and had a peek. It was simple curiosity.

She thought the Mercedes parked in the courtyard was a 450 SL, because her father had one like it, although his was pretty old now and this one looked brand-new. It was candy-apple red, its body brilliant even under the darkening sky. The trunk was open. A sheaf of long blond hair hung from it. There was blood in the hair.

Had Deke said the girl with Pickering was a blond? That was her first question, and she was so shocked, so fucking amazed, that there was no surprise in it. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable question, and the answer was Deke hadn't said. Only that she was young. And a niece. With the eye roll.

Thunder rumbled. Almost directly overhead now. The courtyard was empty except for the car (and the blond in the trunk, there was her). The house looked deserted, too: buttoned up and more like a pillbox than ever. Even the palms swaying around it couldn't soften it. It was too big, too stark, too gray. It was an ugly house.

Em thought she heard a moan. She ran through the gate and across the yard to the open trunk without even thinking about it. She looked in. The girl in the trunk hadn't moaned. Her eyes were open, but she had been stabbed in what looked like dozens of places, and her throat was cut ear to ear.

Em stood looking in, too shocked to move, too shocked to even breathe. Then it occurred to her that this was a fake dead girl, a movie prop. Even as her rational mind was telling her that was bullshit, the part of her that specialized in rationalization was nodding frantically. Even making up a story to backstop the idea. Deke didn't like Pickering, and Pickering's choice of female companionship? Well guess what, Pickering didn't like Deke, either! This was nothing but an elaborate practical joke. Pickering would go back across the bridge with the trunk deliberately ajar, that fake blond hair fluttering, and —

But there were smells rising out of the trunk now. They were the smells of shit and blood. Em reached forward and touched the cheek below one of those staring eyes. It was cold, but it was skin. Oh God, it was human skin.

There was a sound behind her. A footstep. She started to turn, and something came down on her head. There was no pain, but brilliant white seemed to leap across the world. Then the world went dark. Copyright © 2008 by Stephen King

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Just after Sunset 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 326 reviews.
Mitch563 More than 1 year ago
This is like going back to King's very first collection of short stories, except this time the writing is so much more mature and the thrills are of the more psychological kind. No more does he rely so much on the "jump out and grab you" horror elements. Now, as with "Duma Key," King scrapes, claws and even burrows deep into your mind to find what unsettles you in everyday life. Reading these stories, especially "Rest Stop" and "Stationary Bike," you feel yourself lost in the fear of the places you never want to go because your not sure you will come back whole and sane. This time you realize that if what you were reading were actual experiences you just might SNAP! You might become something you can never find the way to leave behind you. "Willa" also reminds you of what happens when King finds the beauty in placing you in unusual territory. There is an amazing peace to this story much like that found in the best parts of "The Green Mile." Different, still unsettling to be sure ... but the amazing peace of it overwhelms you. Don't get too settled in though. "Gingerbread Girl" and "A Very Tight Place" remind you that King is still that kid around the campfire. He still wants you to scream, jump, squirm ... and, oh yeah, be very disgusted! A prime effort overall. I cannot recommend it enough!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've had a problem with King's short stories lately, but only because they end too soon. Just After Sunset is an outstanding compilation of some of the author's finest tales and my only complaint is that I wanted more and more! As usual, King does not fail to send shivers down the spine while throwing in hilarious little tidbits and silly phrases. His insight into the human psyche is more finely tuned than ever and true King fans will undoubtedly love his latest publication. He is so much more than just a horror writer.
ClarkP More than 1 year ago
Just After Sunset hooked me right from the very first story and never let up on it's grip, even after I had finished the book. It was the first collection of short stories that I have read by King, so I cannot compare it to his other collections. But I can compare it to other short story collections, and Just After Sunset surpasses all of them. It would be hard if not impossible to find another author who can match the creativity of Stephen King. He really is a master at what he does, and this collection of short stories is more proof of his greatness. This is a must-have for any Stephen King fan or anyone who wants to get a book that is deserving of their hard earned money.
Donald More than 1 year ago
This is my second favorite short story collection by Stephen King. It features some of the most beautifully written stories that are touching, heartfelt, scary and real. "Graduation Afternoon" took my breath away and "N." is just about a close to perfect you can get. "The Things They Left Behind" is a 9/11 tale that will stun you. The only story that beats all these is from my #1 collection, SKELETON CREW: and that is "The Reach." Try these tales and see that King is just getting started.
MaGicAllyGeNuisJ More than 1 year ago
I must say, I have read a lot of Stephen king short story writings. But this one to me it is his best short story book. I really enjoy the story N, to me that touch home for me cause I'm a little OCD not much but enough where sometime its unbearable. And I felt very connected with Mr.N on so many different levels. I also enjoyed 'A very tight place', that was also very good and funny. But what is the saddest of all the story is 'Ayana', that story there was very touching and also had a Stephen King twist on it as well. But 'Cat from Hell' was published in March 1977 in Cavalier.The winning entry, as well as King's complete story, was published in the magazine in June of the same year. King revised the story and it was reprinted in Tales of Unknown Horror (1978).It also was very interested and kind of gross to read at the end.LOL. But over all a very well written book. It is a must read and a must have for all Stephen King fans!!!!
--LadyGuinevere-- More than 1 year ago
Stephen King is by far one of the best authors. He really knows how to describe each scene and grab the readers in and make them feel as if they're right in the room with the characters. There are a few stories that seemed to linger in the back of my mind, even after I'd put the book down and went about my day. That's when you know an author has really grabbed his audience's attention. I would love to see some of these stories made into movies! A great read overall!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best story I have ever read/heard. Completly amazing!!! I have listened to "N" on audio book AT LEAST a hundred times. I am not even exaggerating. That story is beautifully written and utterly terrifying.
Jennmarie68 More than 1 year ago
After reading the fist few stories in this one I was thinking to myself "King has lost his touch". The first few stories were so predictable. But then it started getting really good. There were only a handful of the stories in this one that I didn't love. It wasn't that they were bad, they were just predictable. I think my favorite stories were Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, and N. I really think that they could have been turned into full-length novels. But they were still really good as short stories. N kind of had a IT feel to it. The Things They Left Behind was just weird, but in a good way. Stationary Bike was also weird. I thought it would be kind of like Thinner when I started reading it. I usually don't like to read short stories, as I don't get enough time to connect with the characters and it's hard for me to get a real feel for things. With a few exceptions in this collected that was not the case. King's ability to write a short story that doesn't seem abrupt was great. And the characters were all fairly well-rounded. This one did take me a while to read. Although at 539 pages it didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would. The short stories were fairly fast paced and so they lent themselves to be read very fast. Overall it was pretty good. The preview of Under The Dome in the back has me chomping at the bit to get my hands on that one. A review copy of this title was provided by Book Cove Reviews.
TommyBee More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, I thought he had fallen off, lost the touch etc. Mr. King However with this collection of short stories he has proven himself to be the true king of the short story horror genre.An enjoyable read that you truly hate to put down.This is definitely his best work in years!
liquidgee More than 1 year ago
After some disappointing submissions, mostly those since the "Dark Tower" last hit the stands, the modern day master of horror Stephen King has redeemed himself with this selection of short stories. "Just After Sunset" is the literary equivalent of a CD whose every track is a musical winner; likewise all the short stories in this offering are imaginary masterpieces of the written word. Each yarn stands strong on its own accounting with reoccuring threads and references cropping at times in each, not the least of which is that of obessive compulsive behavior, amongst other subtle though no less disturbing connectins with the other tales provided in these pages. Throughout, this collection is threaded into a divine tapestry of compellingly creative chilling tales. Let us hope this is a promise of King's return to prominence as a teller of tales of terror. (liquidgee@comcast.net)
Steets More than 1 year ago
Steve returns to his short story roots and turns out a work on par with Skeleton Crew and Nightmares and Dreamscapes. This book is PERFECT for travelling, as the majority of the stories are about 15 pages long and engrossing enough to make you move right on the the next story when the previous story ends. Steve has been on a roll as of late with Duma Key and now Just After Sunset. I sincerely hope he keeps it up!
nprfan1 More than 1 year ago
I'm of two minds about Stephen King's latest book. He doesn't have anything left to prove since the recent releases of "Lisey's Story" and "Duma Key", his best books in years, which re-established his place as America's best modern horror writer. But he's always struck me as someone who needs to keep doing what he loves - in this case, write horror stories - or he'll just wither away. Which in King's case wouldn't be a bad way to go, really.

But after finishing "Just After Sunset", I have to wonder if that very dark place from which King pulls his stories has (temporarily, one hopes) shut down. His style and prose are top-notch, which is why I'm giving this book four stars. He can still write rings around most of today's other so-called horrormeisters. But with the exception of "N", none of the stories in this collection fit the Stephen King definition of horror as I've come to understand it. They all deal with the dark side of the world, but none of them except for "N" would give me nightmares after finishing them.

Some of these stories, such as "Willa" and "The Cat From Hell", read as though King wrote them at the beginning of his career, before he'd found his niche. And indeed, the postscript at the end of this book indicates that for these two stories that is exactly the case.

I'm still recommending this addition to the canon, warts and all. It's light-years better than the trash King put out years ago - trash such as "Firestarter" and "Cujo". But I'm hoping that King's next book, whatever it is, will follow the path he set with "Lisey" and "Key".
edecklund on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A balanced selection of stories from the weird to the outright horrific.None of them really fail.Well read, including by Mr King himself. I listened to a library's Playaway version and had a paper copy for reference.I'm liking "Playaway" more and more. Love the lightness. Still have some minor problems with garrbled sound.
dw0rd on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A balanced selection of stories from the weird to the outright horrific.None of them really fail.Well read, including by Mr King himself. I listened to a library's Playaway version and had a paper copy for reference.I'm liking "Playaway" more and more. Love the lightness. Still have some minor problems with garrbled sound.
zsms on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I'm not a big fan of King's novels, but as people kept encouraging me to try his short stories, I picked this up. The stories are well-written, entertaining, and occasionally brilliant. They run the gamut from serial killers to ghost stories to a Lovecraft tribute and made for a great read.
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I'd like to start by saying that I'm not a big fan of short stories. There never seems to be enough time to develop anything. However, I also love Stephen King, so I found myself reading a book of his short stories thinking that it would probably be ok as one great would more than cancel out the bad. For the most part it was a great book. There were only a couple of the stories that didn't please me as much as they could have...had they been developed and expanded into full size books. So I'll give a short wrap-up of each one, but I don't want to give too much away.1. Willa was a nice short little story to get the blood flowing and the eyes working. It was sweet and happy with a bit of sadness tossed in for flavor.2. The Gingerbread Girl is a story of running, and how running can either save you or...well...not save you I guess. A woman finds herself pitted against quite a psycho.3. Harvey's dream left me with one question....What? I totally missed the point on this one. 4. Rest Stop was one of the best in the book. A look at what would you do if you found yourself in a situation you needed to handle, but weren't sure if you could.5. Stationary Bike was another excellent one, where imagination meets reality and a man may have gone too far trying to get into shape.6. The Things They Left Behind was touching and moving, but it left me wondering What? agian. It was well written, but the topic deserved to have more to it than just a short story.7. Graduation Afternoon is a great start for a book. It reads almost as if King started to write one and then stopped after the first chapter.8. N. is probably my favorite in the book and actually kept me up late to finish. Good old fashioned Stephen King horror.9. The Cat From Hell had me laughing, but I don't think I was supposed to. (Richard you will not want to read this one.)10. The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates is one I hardy even remember reading. A story about moving on and accepting death.11. Mute was very entertaining if predictable. What happens when you confess your innermost thoughts to a hitchhiker that you think is deaf and mute? Well, let me tell you it isn't what you expect.12. Ayana reminded a bit of The Green Mile. A story of healing and miracles.13. A Very Tight Place is probably my second favorite in the book. A good old fashioned suspense about a neighbor that takes his frustrations out on his gay neighbor...but maybe the tables will end up being turned.So, there you have it. It wasn't a waste of time, but I would have ripped some of those pages out had I been the editor. But if I did that then we wouldn't have the magical number of thirteen stories!3.5/5
freddlerabbit on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I generally don't read King, as I find most of his books don't live up to the complexity of The Stand (and, for my taste, resort too often to the gross-out), but the collection here was more exploratory and fantasy oriented than gross, and I found it a pleasant surprise (except for the last story, which shouldn't be read while eating, even those tiny airplane peanuts). A collection of short stories with no real theme, it's best read in pieces, rather than one after the other. The stories vary in quality, but overall present interesting takes on common themes and are well executed with the right amount of detail for a short story. Worth a read as light entertainment.
SemTeK on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Less gruesome then other collections of short stories, but the writing is really good
CBollerud on LibraryThing 10 months ago
WILLA In the movie, The Sixth Sense (one of the few movies I wasn't able to second guess) the little boy discovers with the help of a psychologist that he can talk to dead people--and that's okay--because nine times out of ten the dead are just like the living-- trying to figure things out. The neat little twist to this story is the psychologist is dead but he just doesn't know it. These dead people the little boy sees "don't know they are dead." "They see only what they want to see." Stephen King takes this idea of the oblivious dead and explores it in his short story, WILLA, the first tale in the Just After Midnight collection. What King does so well here is not describe flesh-eating zombies, or demon-possessed trains but regular people's reactions to unusal events--like realizing you're dead. The story opens with a group of folks waiting for a train except David soon realizes that his fiance, Willa is missing. Against the advice of every well-drawn character in the station, David ventures out in the dark, among the wolves, to find Willa. So at this point the story I'm thinking this is a tale is about demon-possessed wolves or that maybe Willa will turn into a She-Wolfe and eat David. But none of that happens. David discovers Willa at a bar with a loud band whose singer reminds him of Buck Owens. The terror here is understated but still very real. WILLA is an exploration of fear of the unknown, denial of reality and acceptance of what can't be changed. This is everyday experiance set in an afterlife backdrop. There are those who wait for something to happen and those who make something happen. Maybe Hell's waiting for a train that will never come and just maybe Heaven's dancing for eternity to band with a Buck Owens twang. I'm kinda hoping for the latter, truth be told, I've had a crush on ole Buck since I was twelve.
ulfhjorr on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A nice collection of classic Stephen King short stories. King is at his best in the short form, and while this is a competent grouping, it's not his best.
Justjenniferreading on LibraryThing 10 months ago
After reading the fist few stories in this one I was thinking to myself "King has lost his touch". The first few stories were so predictable. But then it started getting really good. There were only a handful of the stories in this one that I didn't love. It wasn't that they were bad, they were just predictable.I think my favorite stories were Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, and N. I really think that they could have been turned into full-length novels. But they were still really good as short stories. N kind of had a IT feel to it. The Things They Left Behind was just weird, but in a good way. Stationary Bike was also weird. I thought it would be kind of like Thinner when I started reading it. I usually don't like to read short stories, as I don't get enough time to connect with the characters and it's hard for me to get a real feel for things. With a few exceptions in this collected that was not the case. King's ability to write a short story that doesn't seem abrupt was great. And the characters were all fairly well-rounded. This one did take me a while to read. Although at 539 pages it didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would. The short stories were fairly fast paced and so they lent themselves to be read very fast. Overall it was pretty good. The preview of Under The Dome in the back has me chomping at the bit to get my hands on that one. A review copy of this title was provided by Book Cove Reviews.
bohemiangirl35 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I listened to Gingerbread Girl and Stationary Bike as stand-alone books, so I was disappointed that they were included in the collection. A few of the stories were bland. However, N. made up for all of that! If you only want to read one excellent short story, N. is it.
joannycat on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Read it for the story "N" if for nothing else. Actually, read the rest of it too.
wearylibrarian on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I was very disappointed in this Stephen King book. The first story took awhile to become interesting. I knew some twist had to be coming since it is a SK book, but I didn't enjoy the story up to that point. The only story I really enjoyed was "The Cat from Hell." Very disappointing for a Stephen King book!
LJZ on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A great collection of short stories by the fright master himself, Stephen King. Personally my favorites in this book were Cat From Hell, A Very Tight Place, and Stationary Bike. Many people claim that "N" is a great story but I found it to be boring.