One of Steven King's better short stories and an unusual variation on the classic haunted hotel room, 1408 tells the story of Mike Enslin, a professional supernatural investigator/debunker and horror writer who stumbles on something much worse than a ghost . . .
1408 contains examples of:
- Alien Geometries: The door to 1408 is first crooked to the left, then it's straight, then to the right, then both. Each time, it changed when he looks away. And the room itself also take on some extremely alien geometries near the end. Mike finds "Moorish" the closest thing he could come up with to pinning a word to it. King's text calls it "a convex, rotting cave full of swoops and mad tilts."
- Downer Ending: The room melts and distorts near the end, and is about to consume Enslin. Enslin sets himself on fire, and the room lets him leave. Enslin is saved by another hotel guest who happened to be walking by with a bucket of ice water. Enslin doesn't publish his story, the recordings are useless, and he has third degree burns, scarring him for the rest of his life. He retreats to a house in Long Island where he lives out a lonely life, has health problems, and is completely traumatized by his 70-minute stay in room 1408.
- Eldritch Abomination: The room doesn't have ghosts. Whatever's wrong with it was never human.
- Eldritch Location: It's a room that warps, melts, threatens you over the phone and may or may not want to eat you.
- Evil Phone: The phone shout numbers at him in a voice that sounds like 'an electric hair-clipper that has learned how to talk.'
"This is nine! Nine! This is nine! Nine! This is ten! Ten! We have killed your friends! Every friend is now dead! This is six! Six! Eighteen! This is now eighteen! Take cover when the siren sounds! This is four! Four! Five! This is five! Ignore the siren! Even if you leave this room, you can never leave this room! Eight! This is eight! Six! Six! This is goddamn fucking six!"
- Genius Loci: The room doesn't have anything evil in it. The room itself is evil.
- Considering the larger King canon, there's a good chance that it's a thinny.
- Paranoia Fuel: Discussed in King's notes. King states that hotel rooms are inherently creepy due to the fact you have no idea who else has come and gone from them before you came, and who will come and go after. Any number of those people could have been sick or insane at the time they stayed, and several of them have probably already died.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Enslin becomes totally paranoid after his experience. He cannot sleep in strange places, he can't answer the phone, he can't allow any light from the sunrise or sunset into his room (as it reminds him of the colors in the room), and he is an all-around broken individual.
- Talkative Loon: Enslin becomes this while in the room, blithering about the turnpike wolves and fuming oranges.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: 1+4+0+8=13. And because of the way floors are numbered in the West, it's actually on the 13th floor.