Night Shift is Stephen King's first collection of short stories, published in 1978. It contains many stories that appeared in magazines before, and some previously unpublished ones.Not to be confused with the 1982 comedy film directed by Ron Howard and starring Michael Keaton or with the 1990 LucasArts videogame.Stories in Night Shift:
Graveyard Shift: Workers cleaning up the basement of an old textile mill meet giant rats.
Night Surf: Post-apocalyptic story, where nearly all humans have died in an influenza pandemic. Precursor to The Stand.
I Am the Doorway: Former astronaut discovers that an alien lifeform inhabits his body, and eyes appear on his fingers.
The Mangler: A folding/pressing machine in an industrial laundromat is possessed by a demon.
The Boogeyman: A man tells how his children were killed one by one by the eponymous monster.
Gray Matter: A man turns into a Blob Monster after drinking a can of contaminated beer.
Battleground: A professional hitman is attacked by living toy soldiers.
Trucks: Trucks and other big machines revolt against humanity. Basis of the film Maximum Overdrive, later filmed again under the original title.
Sometimes They Come Back: A teacher's brother was killed by teenage greasers when they were kids. Many years later, they appear in his class, still as teenagers. Made into an instantly-forgotten movie followed by two sequels.
Strawberry Spring: A story about a serial killer with a Twist Ending.
The Ledge: A crime boss blackmails a man into circumnavigating a 5-inch ledge surrounding a multistory building.
Alien Geometries: Inverted in I Am the Doorway, where the alien eyes see a sieve as "a device constructed of geometrically impossible right angles".
Apocalyptic Log: Jerusalem's Lot is told through the diary entries of aristocrat Charles Boone, returning to his neglected family mansion in Preacher's Corners, Maine, and the horrors he uncovers in the nearby abandoned colonial village of Jerusalem's Lot. It also has another Apocalyptic Log in-story, when Charles finds the diary of his grandfather, Robert.
Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In Jerusalem's Lot, Boone manages to destroy the book, De Vermis Mysteriis. But the evil is not destroyed (Boone notes, "The burning of the book thwarted...it, but there are other copies"), and to cut his family's ties to the evil, he dives into the ocean. Unfortunately, that doesn't work either, as a descendant of the Boone line takes up residence in the ancestral home, and events begin again.
Corrupt Church: In Jerusalem's Lot, the dominant cult of the colonial town practiced witchcraft and sacrifice and worshipped an Eldritch Abomination known as "the Worm". It is said to have begun as a offshoot of the Puritans.
Creepy Cathedral: The church in Jerusalem's Lot. It has a picture that is an obscene parody of a madonna and child and a large inverted cross.
Also the church of The Children of the Corn, which has a mural with a Jesus with vulpine features.
Cruel Twist Ending: In Jerusalem's Lot, our heroes have successfully fought back the undead and prevented the summoning of an Eldritch Abomination, at great personal loss. Charles Boone is left with no choice but to commit suicide to prevent his accursed family line, of whom he is the last, from ever reviving the cult and trying to resummon the Worm. He does so ... but his estate winds up in the hands of an unknown bastard relative who receives Charles's diary but dismisses it as superstitious nonsense.
Cthulhu Mythos: Jerusalem's Lot is not just a pastiche of the style, but deliberately set within the Shared Universe, and using several of its trappings.
Cult: The aforementioned Corrupt Church in Jerusalem's Lot, whose leader charmed the protagonist's ancestor into joining.
Jerusalem's Lot ends with our protagonist, Charles Boone, dashing himself to death on the rocks at the foot of Chapelwaite; he believes himself to be the last link in a chain of familial evil. This turns out not to be true, however, because the presenter and editor of this epistolary story is a man named James Robert Boone, a distant relative of Charles. In the last line of the story, James says he can hear huge rats in the walls as well.
Driven to Suicide: The protagonist in I Am the Doorway, after the eyes appear on his chest.
Forced to Watch: In Quitters, Inc. the titular firm's method to make smokers quit is this: they keep them under constant surveillance, and if they smoke, they torture their family members and force them to watch it.
The Last Rung on the Ladder, a melancholic story with no supernatural or horror elements.
The Woman in the Room is much like The Last Rung on the Ladder in that it's more a tragedy than a horror story. It's painfully realistic, being about a man agonizing over the decision to euthanize his elderly, terminally ill mother.
The Lawnmower Man has an unusually comedic style for a Stephen King story (though the protagonist still gets slaughtered by an autonomous lawnmower).
Ghost Town: Jerusalem's Lot is this at the time the eponymous story takes place (1850). It seems to happen a lot to the place.
I Am A Humanitarian: Richie Grenadine in Grey Matter, after turning into a Blob Monster, starts eating humans. (Though it could be argued that this is not cannibalism, because he isn't really a human being anymore).
In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Stan Norris, the protagonist in The Ledge falls in love with the wife of Cressner, a crime boss. Cressner offers him a deal; if he can walk the ledge all the way around his apartment building, he's free to go with Cressner's wife. If he refuses, he'll be framed for heroin possession.
Jerusalem's Lot has little similarity to 'Salem's Lot. That novel takes place over a century later, the town itself is unrecognisable, and it is a Gothic horror/vampire pastiche in the style of Dracula while the short story in this collection is a Cosmic Horror Story and pastiche of H. P. Lovecraft. Vampires do appear, but have little in common with the depictions in the novel.
In the Blood: The dark history of the Boone family and its connection to the evils of Jerusalem's Lot. Charles Boone is convinced that the only way to prevent the nightmare from happening again is to kill himself, the last member of the dynasty.
The Killer In Me: The twist at the end of Strawberry Spring; Springheel Jack is the narrator himself.
Life or Limb Decision: In a way. In I Am the Doorway, the protagonist eventually soaks his hands in kerosene, and puts them into fire to kill the alien lifeform inhabiting his body. It turns out that this was only a temporary solution.
Locked into Strangeness: The protagonist's hair at the end of The Mangler. In Grey Matter, the protagonist mentions that a sewer worker that he knew once saw something horrible in the sewers, which caused his hair to turn white in fifteen minutes.
The Mafia: Quitters, Inc. was founded by a gangster named Mort "Three-Fingers" Minelli, after he got lung cancer from smoking.
Mercy Kill: In The Woman in the Room, the protagonist gives painkillers to his mother who is dying of cancer. He knows that they will kill her, and so does she, but neither of them say it openly.
Mordor: Venus is portrayed like that in I Am the Doorway. The protagonist says that his expedition around it was like "circling a haunted house in deep space."
Nameless Narrative: Trucks, The Man Who Loved Flowers and The Woman in the Room. In the last, we know that the protagonist's name is John, because other characters call him on his name, but the narrative never does.
Next Sunday A.D.: In Strawberry Spring, written in 1968, the narrator recalls events happened in 1968 from the then-future year of 1976.
No Name Given: The narrators in Trucks and Strawberry Spring, the protagonist (and everybody else) in The Man who Loved Flowers. In several other stories, only the first or last names of the main characters are given:
Hall and Warwick in Graveyard Shift.
All the characters in Night Surf.
Arthur and Richard in I Am the Doorway.
Cressner in The Ledge.
Kitty and Larry in The Last Rung on the Ladder.
Johnny in The Woman in the Room.
Our Vampires Are Different: The vampires (or nosferatu) in Jerusalem's Lot are never seen drinking blood, and serve primarily as zombie-like cultists.
Sequel Hook: The Cruel Twist Ending to Jerusalem's Lot certainly qualifies, but despite the fact that there actually are two sequels to this story, it's never really utilized. Both 'Salem's Lot and One for the Road go in very different directions with the concept.
Serial Killer: The protagonists in Strawberry Spring and The Man Who Loved Flowers.
In Jerusalem's Lot, repeated complaints by the main characters about "The Rats In The Walls" of the mansion and the whip-poor-wills that have taken to nesting on the building. The latter may be a Continuity Nod, alongside the presence of De Vermis Mysteriis, but the former probably isn't since it isn't actually rats, but the undead.
Spell My Name With An E: The Boone family in Jerusalem's Lot appears to have picked up the trailing vowel sometime between the birth of distant ancestor James Boon and his descendants Philip and Robert Boone.
Teens Are Monsters: The children of Gatlin in Children of the Corn and the teenage killers in Sometimes They Come Back.
Therapy Is For The Weak: In The Boogeyman, the principal character is indeed seeing a therapist. And yet, he insists that he doesn't actually need therapy and sneers disdainfully at what he imagines the doctor's other patients are like (gays, crossdressers, and people who "strut around thinking they're Napoleon").
In Strawberry Spring, the narrator describes the murders committed at his college community by a Serial Killer nicknamed "Springheel Jack". At the end he realizes that the killer is his Split Personality.
The Man Who Loved Flowers describes a young man bringing flowers for his girlfriend. When he gives them to her it turns out that they never met before, and the man is actually the insane hammer murderer, who kills women.
In The Boogeyman, the protagonist tells to a therapist how his three kids were murdered by the titular monster. At the end it turns out that the therapist is actually the boogeyman in disguise.