Stephen King Short Stories & Collections

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive volume of King’s short stories. If you’re interested in a book, Night Shift (Amazon) is his first collection and contains several of his best-known stories. Many of the selections on this page can be found in it.

“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)

“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)

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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”

“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”

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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 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 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.

“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.

“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.

“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”

“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.

“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”

“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 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.