Since Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled an entire generation of readers with his genius as a prominent writer of short fiction. Now in his latest collection, he once again assembles a generous array of unforgettable, tantalizing tales-including those that, until recently, have never been published in a book (such as the story "Cookie Jar," which is exclusive to this edition). There are thrilling connections between these works-themes of mortality, the afterlife, guilt, and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past.
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About the Author
Date of Birth:September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:Portland, Maine
Education:B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
Read an Excerpt
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
When I was nineteen years old and attending the University of Maine, I’d drive from Orono to the little town of Durham, which is usually represented as Harlow in my books. I made this trip every three weekends or so, to see my girlfriend . . . and, coincidentally, my mother. I drove a ’61 Ford station wagon: six in a row for more go and three on the tree (if you don’t know, ask your dad). The car was a hand-me-down from my brother David.
I-95 was less traveled in those days, and nearly deserted for long stretches once Labor Day passed and the summer people went back to their workaday lives. No cell phones, either, of course. If you broke down, your choices were two: fix it yourself or wait for some good Samaritan to stop and give you a lift to the nearest garage.
During those 150-mile drives, I conceived a special horror of Mile 85, which was in the absolute nowhere between Gardiner and Lewiston. I became convinced that if my old wagon did shit the bed, it would do so there. I could visualize it hunkered in the breakdown lane, lonely and abandoned. Would someone stop to make sure the driver was okay? That he was not, perchance, stretched out on the front seat, dying of a heart attack? Of course they would. Good Samaritans are everywhere, especially in the boondocks. People who live in the boonies take care of their own.
But, I thought, suppose my old station wagon was an imposter? A monstrous trap for the unwary? I thought that would make a good story, and it did. I called it “Mile 85.” It was never rewritten, let alone published, because I lost it. Back then I was dropping acid regularly, and I lost all sorts of stuff. Including, for short periods, my mind.
Fast-forward nearly forty years. Although Maine’s long stretch of I-95 is more heavily traveled in the twenty-first century, traffic is still light after Labor Day and budget cuts have forced the state to close many of the rest areas. The combined gas station and Burger King (where I consumed many Whoppers) near the Lewiston exit was one of those shut down. It stood abandoned, growing sadder and seedier behind the DO NOT ENTER barriers marking its entrance and exit ramps. Hard winters had buckled the parking lot, and weeds had sprouted through the cracks.
One day as I passed it, I recalled my old lost story and decided to write it again. Because the abandoned rest area was a little farther south than the dreaded Mile 85, I had to change the title. Everything else is pretty much the same, I think. That turnpike oasis may be gone—as are the old Ford wagon, my old girlfriend, and many of my old bad habits—but the story remains. It’s one of my favorites.