Stephen King Short Stories & Collections: Short Fiction

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive collection of Stephen King’s short stories, but he has several available to check out.

Stephen King Short Fiction Collections & Stories

Here are some Stephen King short stories to browse divided by the collection they appear in. For now, there are stories from the following collections:

  • Night Shift
  • Skeleton Crew
  • Nightmares and Dreamscapes
  • Everything’s Eventual
  • Just After Sunset
  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
  • Uncollected Stories

Night Shift (1978) Short Stories

“Jerusalem’s Lot”

Charles Boone has inherited his deceased cousin’s old ancestral home, Chapelwaite, and has moved there with his manservant, Calvin McCann. The house and grounds are untended, and it has a sinister aspect. He arranges to get his deliveries from the nearby village, and learns that the villagers think he’s crazy for living in the house. It has a bad reputation—there are noises in the walls, and it’s been the scene of deaths and other accidents. Calvin finds a map of a town nearby called Jerusalem’s Lot. They decide it would be interesting to look for it.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of Night Shift.

“Graveyard Shift”

Hal is on a break late at night at the textile plant. The boss, Warwick, is looking for a cleaning crew for the basement, which has been neglected for years. It’s filthy and overrun with rats. The pay will be good, and Hal knows he’s going to be laid off soon. He accepts the job. They find it’s even worse than they imagined.

“Battleground”

Mr. Renshaw, a hit-man, is back home after a successful job. The target was Hans Morris, owner of the Morris Toy Company. There’s a package waiting for Renshaw. It’s postmarked five days ago from Miami, where he’s just come from. He opens it cautiously. There’s a toy set from the Morris Toy Company.

“Gray Matter”

The regulars are gathered at a store during a storm. Timmy Grenadine comes in looking worried. He wants Henry to bring his dad his beer because he’s too afraid to go back. Ritchie Grenadine was hurt and is on compensation. He’s gained weight and hasn’t been seen around in a while. Henry talks to Timmy a while and agrees to go check on his dad.

“I Am the Doorway”

Arthur has told his friend that he was used to kill someone and then buried him nearby. It all started with his flight to Venus. On the way back, there was an accident that left him badly beaten up and in a wheelchair. His hands are bandaged and itch him terribly. Arthur says he’s a doorway for a creature that can somehow see through his hands.

“The Ledge”

Norris is in Cressner’s penthouse apartment, forty-three stories up. He’s been having an affair with Cressner’s wife, Marcia, and is in love with her. Cressner is a powerful man, so this meeting was unavoidable. He explains to Norris that a plan is in motion that will result in Norris going to prison for a long time for drug possession. But Cressner loves making wagers, so he offers Norris a way out. If he succeeds he can have Marcia and $20,000.

“The Man Who Loved Flowers”

A young man walks on Third Avenue. People around can tell he’s in love just by looking at him. He comes to a flower cart and decides to get some for Norma. Bad news pours out of the radio, but no one pays it much attention. He picks out a nice bouquet and continues on his way.

“Night Surf”

A small group walk to what used to be a public beach. It’s deserted now; A6 has killed most of the population. One of the members of the group, Needles, thinks he might be infected.

“The Boogeyman”

Lester goes to Dr. Billings, a psychiatrist, to talk about his three children, who have all died. He claims to be responsible for their deaths. Before starting, Lester wants to see the inside of the closet. Satisfied that it’s a normal closet, he begins. Lester claims a bogeyman from the closet killed his three children.

“Strawberry Spring”

The narrator sees the name Springheel Jack in the newspaper. It reminds him of his time eight years ago at New Sharon Teachers’ College. Late one spring night a student started screaming in the fog.  A female student, Gale Cerman, was found murdered in the campus parking lot.

Read “Strawberry Spring”

Skeleton Crew (1985) Short Stories

The Mist

A serious storm takes out the electricity in Bridgton, Maine, a small town. A lot of trees have come down and the Drayton’s  boathouse is beat up. While inspecting their property , David and Steff see a dense fog covering half the lake, which is unusual. It’s not moving off, even though the wind is against it. David talks with his neighbor, Norton, about the damage to their properties. Along with David’s young son, Billy, they go into town for some supplies.

Some of this novella can be read in the preview of Skeleton Crew: Stories. (16% in)

“Cain Rose Up”

Garrish enters the coolness of his dorm and talks to Beaver about their last exam. The semester is almost over and summer break is starting. Garrish walks up to his own room. He has a poor opinion of his fellow students and the staff. When the time is right, he goes to his locked closet door.

“Here There Be Tygers”

Charles, a third-grader, needs to go to the bathroom and he can’t wait. Miss Bird sees him squirming and puts him on the spot in front of the class. She let’s him go. He’s gone a long time.

“The Jaunt”

A family is waiting at the Port Authority Terminal for a jaunt—a teleportation—to Mars. Jaunting is common, but this is the family’s first trip. Mark’s company has transferred him to the Mars branch for two years. While they wait he and his wife, Marilys, explain jaunting to their kids. It’s vital to be under anesthetic during the jaunt.

“The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands”

At his private club, George Gregson talks about a murder he witnessed in that very room. But no juror would have convicted the man of it. In the end he convicted himself. His friends are curious and urge him to tell the story. It was over sixty years ago. He was playing cards at the club with a small group, including a new man, Henry Brower. One of the other men tried to shake his hand, but Brower recoiled. He never shook hands.

“The Wedding Gig”

The narrator’s jazz band is playing at a speakeasy. Mike Scollay, a small-time racketeer from Chicago, approaches him after his set. His sister is getting married. He wants the band to play at the reception. He offers a generous fee to compensate for the complications. First, there’s tension with a rival that could be dangerous. Second, he wants the music loud so no one will laugh at his sister, who’s fat, or her fiancé, an Italian.

“The Raft”

Four students from Horlicks University—Deke, Randy, Rachel and Laverne—drive to Cascade Lake. They swim out to a raft anchored out on the lake. Randy is the first one to notice a black patch on the water that looks like an oil slick. When they all get in the raft it surrounds them. Randy is worried but the rest aren’t sure what to make of it.

Nightmares and Dreamscapes (1993) Short Stories

“Dolan’s Cadillac”

A man has been watching Dolan, a crime boss, for seven years. He follows him as much as his schedule as a teacher allows. He’s gotten to know the man’s routine well. Dolan is always accompanied by two large guards. Dolan had the man’s wife killed because she witnessed something and was going to testify. He’s been trying to come up with a plan for revenge. One day, while driving he thinks maybe he could trap Dolan with false “Detour” signs.

This longer story can be read in the preview of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: Stories. (16% in)

“The End of the Whole Mess”

The narrator, Howard, wants to tell us how everything ended. He doesn’t have much time. His brother, Robert, who was the messiah, died a few hours ago. The brothers are from a bright family. Howard is smart but Bobby was beyond what anyone could have expected. Eventually, Bobby became obsessed with why people are so bad. He invented something he called The Calmative.

This story can be read in the preview of Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (12% in)

“The Doctor’s Case”

Watson remembers a case where he solved the mystery before Holmes. Lestrade burst in at 221B Baker Street and urged Holmes to come investigate a perfect locked-room mystery. Lord Hull was found that morning in his study with a knife in his back and his will in front of him. He was a thoroughly unpleasant man, in business and at home. His family endured the mistreatment for the sake of inheriting his money.

This story can be read in the preview of The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes(18% in)

“Home Delivery”

Maddie Pace lives on a small island. She’s pregnant, and her husband has recently died in a boating accident. She’s always relied on others. There’s a report that the President and other notable officials have been attacked by zombies.

“Suffer the Little Children”

Miss Sidley is a small, graying, no-nonsense teacher. She’s able to use the reflection in her glasses to monitor the class even when her back is turned. During a spelling lesson, she see Robert, a quiet student, change in some way. It’s only a flicker, and when she spins around he looks perfectly normal and composed. The next day, she experiences the feeling that the children are somehow different.

“The Fifth Quarter”

Jerry is parked around the corner from Keenan’s house. He has Barney’s gun with him, which might lend a sense of justice to what he’s about to do. He approaches the house cautiously and enters the carport. He hides in the car and waits. After a while, another car pulls in next to him. It’s Sarge, another guy he’s looking for. Unknown to them, Barney was able to reach Jerry before he died, and he told him the story.

Everything’s Eventual (2002) Short Stories

“Autopsy Room Four”

Howard has been in the dark for a while, and has the sensation of movement. He hears a squeaky wheel and feels contact on his body. There are voices. Now he’s being moved. He thinks he’s in a hospital. He can’t move or speak. Everything feels too real to be a dream.

This story can be read in the preview of Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales. (25% in)

“Everything’s Eventual”

Dinky Earnshaw, a nineteen-year-old dropout, has a good job. It doesn’t pay a lot, but it comes with a house, a car, and weekly delivery of what he wants. He’s not allowed to contact any of his old friends. He’s also not allowed to save any money—whatever is left at the end of the week has to be discarded. Dinky has only met his boss, Mr. Sharpton, once. He doesn’t see who drops off his pay or the cleaners. Mr. Sharpton recruited Dinky for a special ability he possesses.

“All That You Love Will Be Carried Away”

Alfie, a salesman, pulls into a Motel 6 for the evening. He takes his notebook with him but leaves his samples in the car. He won’t need them tonight, or ever. On his way in, he sees the lights of a farmhouse in the distance and thinks about the family inside. He settles into his room, opens his briefcase, takes out the gun, and puts it at the head of the bed. He reads through some of the entries in his notebook that he’s been compiling for the last seven years. He gets ready to end everything, but is a bit concerned about the impression the notebook might give.

“The Death of Jack Hamilton”

Some people don’t think it was John Dillinger the authorities shot outside the Biograph Theater. Among other things, they cite a scar on the dead man’s lip that they claim Dillinger didn’t have. Homer Van Meter, a member of John Dillinger’s gang, says it’s true—Dillinger is dead. He tells the story of how he got the scar. The gang escaped out the back of the Little Bohemia Lodge, commandeered a car and got out of there. The police pursued and there was a gunfight. Jack Hamilton was hit.

“In the Deathroom”

Fletcher is brought into a deathroom—they don’t call it that, but he can tell. A guard leads him roughly to a chair. There are three people sitting behind a table—Escobar, Heinz and an older woman. Escobar tells Fletcher that he will soon be on a plane back to America. He just needs some information first. He asks about Fletchers role as an informant, to the benefit of a Communist insurgent named Núñez. Fletcher tries to maintain his composure under the extreme stress.

“L. T.’s Theory of Pets”

L. T. likes to tell the story of how his wife left him, but he doesn’t like talking about how she’s likely dead now, a victim of the Axe Man. Arriving home from work one day he found the garage door open and her car gone. Inside, there’s a note from her on the fridge telling him she’s left him and detailing her reasons. L. T. believes a lot of their problems came from their two pets—a dog she bought for him and a cat he bought for her. She says she’s going to her mother’s but she never arrives.

“The Road Virus Heads North”

Richard Kinnell, a horror writer, stops at a yard sale on the way home from a writer’s conference. He spots a picture and is immediately struck by it. It’s of a man with sharp teeth driving a car over a bridge at sunset. He has to have it. The woman running the sale, Judy, recognizes him from his work. She tells him the story of the painting. It was done by a local man who killed himself at twenty-three. Before ending his life, he burned all of his work except for this painting.

“Lunch at the Gotham Café”

Steven Davis’s wife, Diane, tells him by note that she’s left him and seeking a divorce. He’s confused and unsettled, but eventually realizes his behavior contributed to this. He’s contacted by Diane’s lawyer, Humboldt, and they arrange a lunch meeting—Steven and Diane and the lawyers—to sort out some details. It turns out to be one of the worst days of Steven’s life.

“That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is In French”

Carol and Bill, married twenty-five years, are on their second honeymoon, driving to their destination. Carol experiences déjà vu; voices and images keep coming to her mind. Their drive comes to an end and she finds herself at an earlier point in their trip.

“Luckey Quarter”

Darlene, a hotel maid, is upset when a guest leaves her a quarter tip. She’s a single mother of two with lots of expenses. Inside the envelope is a note saying it’s a lucky quarter. The man was polite enough and didn’t leave a mess, so she soon gets over it. After work in the lobby, she decides to rid herself of the quarter by putting in the slot machine. It hits and quarters start pouring into the tray.

Just After Sunset (2008) Short Stories

“Willa”

David is at a train station along with several other stranded people. There’s been a wreck, and they’re waiting for the rescue train to pick them up. David can’t find Willa, his fiancé. She might have headed for the town in the confusion. He’s warned against going after her because there are coyotes and wolves around. He has to do something, so he sets out.

This story can be read in the preview of Just After Sunset(20% in)

“Rest Stop”

John Dykstra, a suspense novelist, drives home from a writer’s meeting. He thinks about who he is at different times—John Dykstra or his writing alter-ego Rick Hardin. He had several beers before leaving and desperately needs to stop somewhere. He pulls off at a rest stop he’s used before. There’s only one other car there. As he walks toward the men’s room he hears a commotion from the women’s room.

“Stationary Bike”

Richard Sifkitz, a freelance artist, gets the results of the physical he had been putting off. His cholesterol is 226 and marked in red. His doctor gives him a speech about that, his weight and where his current pattern is leading him. On his way home on the bus, Richard gets an idea for a painting, inspired by a metaphor his doctor used. He works at it diligently, even losing a few pounds during the process. Halfway through he also buys a stationary bike and has it put in the basement of his building facing a bare wall. He plans on creating a variation of the painting on the wall.

“Graduation Afternoon”

Janice is at her boyfriend Buddy’s house for his graduation party. His family is richer than hers and she feels this fact from his family. They play tennis and swim. She thinks about where their lives will go after this.

“The Things They Left Behind”

Scott Staley, a researcher, remembers a day from August 2002 when he helped a fellow tenant, Paula Robeson, with her air conditioner. It marked the beginning of the unusual occurrences shortly after. About a week later, he returns to his suite after picking up some material for a job. On his table in the foyer, he sees something that takes his strength away—a pair of distinctive sunglasses that can’t possibly be there. Looking over into a corner, he also sees a familiar baseball bat. Feeling he’s going crazy, he takes the sunglasses and goes looking for the doorman.

“Harvey’s Dream”

Janet is at the kitchen sink when her husband of almost thirty years, Harvey, sits at the table. He looks much older on Saturdays in his t-shirt and boxers. During the week he’s in a suit and works on Wall Street. She’s worried that eventually it will be like this every morning. She thinks about her grown daughters and wonders how life turned into this. Harvey succeeds in rousing Janet’s interest when he says he had a terrible dream last night.

“The Cat From Hell”

A hitman, Halston, meets with an old, sick looking man in a wheelchair. The man got his name from a reliable go-between. He has a target he needs eliminated. Halston is surprised to hear the target is in the room with them.

Read “The Cat From Hell”

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015) Short Stories

Almost all of the long story “Mile 81”, about a mysterious station wagon that pulls into a rest area, can be read in the preview of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams(20% in)

“The Dune”

Harvey Beecher, a ninety-year-old retired judge, has been visiting a sand dune on a little island for the past eighty years. The dune has lasted despite going through many big storms that could have blown it away. Although he’s lost interest in most other things, this site continues to draw him. He makes the difficult trip and looks at the dune, to see if anything is written there this time.

“Afterlife”

William Andrews dies after a long, painful illness with his family at his bedside. As he passes away, he finds himself in a hallway with a manager’s door at the end. He’s wearing the clothes he died in, and his body is back in reasonable shape. He enters the office of Mr. Isaac Harris. Apparently, William has been here before. Mr. Harris explains the situation, which isn’t exactly reincarnation, and what William’s options are.

“Under the Weather”

Brad wakes up from a recurring bad dream and finds his dog, Lady, under the bed. His wife, Ellen, is still asleep; she hasn’t been well lately. Brad takes Lady out for a walk, careful not to wake Ellen. He hears from Carlo, the doorman, that exterminators are coming to enter Mrs. Warshawski’s suite. She’s away in Vienna and there’s a terrible smell that everyone has complained about. There must be a dead rat inside. Brad goes to his job at an advertising agency. He thinks about some significant moments in his life.

“Obits”

Michael Anderson is on the verge of looking for work as an advertising copywriter when he’s hired by a website that covers celebrity news. He sent in a nasty obituary for a young actor and they wanted more. He’s put in charge of the obituary column and it becomes a big success. Michael asks for a raise due to the money he’s generating for the company, but his boss turns him down. When he suffers from writer’s block on his next assignment, he vents his feelings by writing an obituary for his boss.

“A Death”

Jim Trusdale is sitting in his shack reading when Sheriff Barclay and his deputies arrive. Barclay wants to know where Jim’s hat is; Jim doesn’t know. He’s ordered into the back of the wagon. Some of the men search Jim’s shack but they don’t find anything. Jim admits to being in town that afternoon. He’s taken to a cell and searched. He’s charged with the murder of Rebecca Cline. There isn’t a proper lawyer in town, so a business owner with some education is appointed to defend Trusdale.

“Premium Harmony”

Ray and Mary have been married ten years. They argue a lot now. Ray smokes and Mary has gained weight. They talk about their house which they’re going to have to sell.  Mary goes into the Quik-Pik to get a purple ball for her niece. Ray waits in the car with their dog, Biz. It’s really hot and Mary is gone a long time.

Read “Premium Harmony”

“Cookie Jar”

Dale, a boy of thirteen, goes to visit his great-grandfather Rhett. He’s going to interview him for a school project. He has to find out what life was like when Rhett was his age, and write about the biggest differences. They talk about TV and radio and then Rhett decides to reveal something he’s never told anyone. It involves his mother, who was peculiar. She left the family for their own safety. Rhett and his brother Jack used to visit her regularly. She had an unusual cookie jar.

Read “Cookie Jar”

Uncollected Short Stories

“The Blue Air Compressor”

Gerald Nately knocks at the door of a tall, unusual house. It’s answered by Mrs. Leighton, who’s rented out a cottage on her property to Gerald. He’s struck by how big and old Mrs. Leighton is. Gerald is a writer and he agrees to let her see some of his work. At this point, Steve King interjects with some comments on the story.

This story can be read in the preview of Shining in the Dark(27% in)

“Weeds”

A meteor lands on Jordy Verrill’s country property. He rushes to the scene with a bucket of water and puts out the small grass fire it started. Jordy is hopeful that the university will be willing to pay good money for the specimen. He takes some pictures and thinks about the best way to start making some money.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of Dark Screams: Volume One(30% in)

“The Old Dude’s Ticker”

A Vietnam vet has been spooked since coming home. He’s sure he’s not crazy, and he hears everything now. He became obsessed with his room mate, and old man with a bulging, pale eye. (This story parallels Edgar Allan Poe‘s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

The beginning can be read in the preview of Dark Screams: Volume Six(40% in)

“The Glass Floor”

Charles Wharton’s sister Janine has just died. He visits her widowed husband, Anthony Renard, at his Victorian mansion. Charles gets the story of his sister’s tragic death—she fell off a ladder while dusting in the East Room. He wants to see the room, but that’s not possible now.