Literature: Just After Sunset
Original coverJust After Sunset
is Stephen King
's fifth collection of short stories, published in 2008. It contains many stories that appeared in magazines before, and some previously unpublished ones.Stories in Just After Sunset:
- Willa: A man goes to great lengths to find his missing fiancee after an apparent train crash.
- The Gingerbread Girl: After her baby daughter dies, a woman takes up running to deal with her pain.
- Harvey's Dream: A middle aged married couple discuss a dream the husband had which seems to be coming true.
- Rest Stop: An author overhears a fight between a man and a woman in a rest stop.
- Stationary Bike: A man desperate to lose weight sets up a stationary bike in his basement, which seems to transport him to alternative realities.
- The Things They Left Behind: An insurance salesman who worked in the Twin Towers but was absent on 9/11 is shocked to find various items from his dead colleagues turning up in his apartment.
- Graduation Afternoon: A young girl enjoying her high school graduation in Connecticut sees the destruction of New York City by an atomic bomb.
- N.: Takes the form of an email/doctor's notes. A man suffering from OCD believes he has found a gateway to another reality in a field in Maine.
- The Cat from Hell: A professional hitman is offered $12,000 to take out an unusual target — a cat. This story was adapted in the anthology Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.
- The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates: A widows receives a phone call from her husband who died two days before in a plane crash.
- Mute: A middle-aged salesman vents his frustration at his wife's infidelity to a sleeping deaf mute hitch-hiker he has picked up.
- Ayana: A man recounts his father's battle with pancreatic cancer and the miraculous intervention of a blind seven-year-old girl named Ayana.
- A Very Tight Place: A man is trapped inside a portable toilet by his neighbour, with whom he is having a legal dispute.
Just After Sunset contains examples of:
- Bench Breaker: The Gingerbread Girl features a version of this. Emily is duct taped to a chair by a psycho who will return in a little while to kill her. She's unable to get free of the tape, so she ends up breaking the chair instead to free herself. This later comes in handy when the psycho returns, as she's able to use the splintered remains of the chair to fight him off.
- Cats Are Mean: The Cat from Hell. It kills the hitman by first surprising him while driving, causing him to get temporarily paralyzed by the crash, and before it wears off the cat leaps into the hitman's mouth, causing the hitman to choke to death as the cat crawls down his throat. Then the cat leaves by doing a Chest Burster through the stomach.
- Circle of Standing Stones: "N" has one in a field which an OCD man thinks is a gateway to another world.
- Dead All Along: The protagonists of Willa.
- Downer Beginning: The Gingerbread Girl begins with Emily's grief over her baby daughter's cot death.
- Electrified Bathtub: Curtis in A Very Tight Place uses this trope when he confronts Grunwald, tossing an electric hair-dryer into the man's lap while he's sitting in his jacuzzi. It turns out to be just a psychological attack, as the dryer's not plugged in.
- Eldritch Location: The standing stones on Ackermann's field in N.
- Hellgate: Ackerman's field in N., which keeps back a terrifying monster called Cthun.
- Phone Call From The Dead: This is the premise of The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates. A husband who died in a plane crash was trying to call his wife just before impact; she gets the call two days later, and gets to talk to him in the afterlife (which, apparently, is a bus station). She gets to say goodbye, and he warns her about a future disaster, which she manages to avoid.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: A Very Tight Place — The room? A steel-plated, overturned, and uncleaned port-a-toilet located on a long-abandoned construction site.
- Serial Killer: Jim Pickering in The Gingerbread Girl.
- Slap Yourself Awake: In The Gingerbread Girl, Emily bites down on her injured lip to keep herself from passing out when she should be trying to untie herself.
- Straight Gay: Curtis from A Very Tight Place seems to be.
- Survivor Guilt: In The Things They Left Behind, Scott is unable to shake his guilt at having called in sick and survived 9/11. He is able to start overcoming this guilt by returning the supernatural items of his dead coworkers (which keep appearing in his apartment) to their families.
- Super OCD: The eponymous character in N..
- His doctor, Johnny Bonsaint eventually becomes like this as well, due to the influence of the field.