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Literature / Everything's Eventual

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"What I did was take all the spades out of a deck of cards plus a joker. Ace to King = 1-13. Joker = 14. I shuffled the cards and dealt them. The order in which they came out of the deck became the order of the stories, based on their position in the list my publisher sent me. And it actually created a very nice balance between the literary stories and the all-out screamers. I also added an explanatory note before or after each story, depending on which seemed the more fitting position."
Stephen King

Everything's Eventual is the fourth short story collection by American Speculative Fiction writer Stephen King. As the title implies, many of the collection's stories center around the theme of death and span multiple genres. In a departure from the norm for most anthologies, Everything's Eventual actually has the stories set in a specific order. As a side note, "The Little Sisters of Eluria" is part of King's The Dark Tower series and chronologically predates the events of the first novel.

The stories include:

  • "Autopsy Room Four": A man is completely (but only for a short time) paralyzed by a snake bite and presumed dead, but must somehow warn the workers at an autopsy room that he is still alive.
  • "The Man in the Black Suit": A nine year old boy meets the devil while he's out fishing. But he manages to escape the first time. Now the boy is an old man and is worried that he'll be powerless to escape the devil if he appears again.
  • "All That You Love Will be Carried Away": A man Driven to Suicide becomes obsessed with the graffiti he finds in bathroom stalls.
  • "The Death of Jack Hamilton": Homer Van Meter, a member of John Dillinger's gang, describes the circumstances surrounding the death of fellow gang member Jack Hamilton.
  • "In the Deathroom": A New York Times reporter is taken prisoner by a South American dictatorship and hatches a desperate plan to escape them and the titular "Deathroom".
  • "The Little Sisters of Eluria": A prequel to The Dark Tower series where Roland encounters a strange group of nuns.
  • "Everything's Eventual": A high school dropout works for a mysterious and powerful organization who give him anything he wants in exchange for the continued use of his very special talents against certain people the company wants dead.
  • "L.T's Theory of Pets": A man relates the story of his coworker L.T and what happened to his wife after both of them purchased pets.
  • "The Road Virus Heads North": A man picks up a very creepy painting at a yard sale and finds out that the man in the painting takes very special interest towards people who own it.
  • "Lunch at the Gotham Café": A man meets with his wife and her lawyer in the titular Café to discuss their divorce. On the same day the maitre'd has gone insane.
  • "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French": While on vacation, a woman is trapped in a stable time loop.
  • "1408": A paranormal investigator makes the mistake of spending the night in a haunted hotel room.
  • "Riding the Bullet": A hitchhiker trying to get his dying mother gets picked up by a dead man.
  • "Luckey Quarter": A single mother hotel maid finds a quarter that will supposedly bring her good luck.

Tropes appearing in Everything's Eventual:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: Room 1408 is on the thirteenth floor, even if the hotel calls it the fourteenth, and the numbers add up to it, too.
  • Action Survivor: Fletcher in "In the Deathroom". Against all odds, by listening to the little voice in his head he refers to as "Mr. Maybe-I-Can", he manages to kill his captors and escape back to the United States.
  • Artistic License Biology: The snake in "Autopsy Room Four" is identified as a Peruvian boomslang, which is not a real snake (there is a snake called the boomslang, but it is found in Africa). Stephen King has said he just liked the sound of the word "boomslang", and that he "doubted like hell" that a Peruvian one existed.
  • Asshole Victim: In "Everything's Eventual"; the protagonist is told that all of the people he's killed had it coming, in order to keep him from quitting his employers out of guilt. Then he finds out that's not the case, and decides to go after his employer.
  • Banana Republic: "In the Deathroom" sets in one.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: The central focus of "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away". The main character is a traveling salesman who's about to commit suicide, but he reconsiders because he has collected so much toilet graffiti over his years of traveling that he could write a good book on the subject and better his meaningless existence. Not to mention that if he did kill himself, he wouldn't be around to explain the notebooks full of graffiti to his family.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: Inverted in "Riding the Bullet", where the hitchhiking hero gets picked up by a ghost.
  • Black Comedy: "Autopsy in Room Four" ends with this; the man in question starts dating the coroner who nearly cut him up. He said they had to break it up because he can only become horny around her if she wears surgical gloves.
  • Black Speech: In "Everything's Eventual," Dinky Earnshaw uses symbols with names like mirk, fouder, and sankofite to form the language in his Brown Notes.
  • Blatant Lies: The main character from "The Man In the Black Suit" knew that everything the Devil told him, such as his mother dying from a bee sting while he was away, or his father planning on molesting him, was all lies, but The Man was Lucifer, the Father Of Lies, who could make you believe the most obvious falsehood to be the gospel truth. It's not until he runs home and sees his mother alive and well that he can stop beliving.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: The lawyer in "Lunch in the Gotham Cafe" is stabbed in the mouth, which leads to the blood falling in his glass of water. Featured on the cover art, at that.
  • Brown Note: Dinky Earnshaw's drawings can mentally influence people or animals to kill themselves.
  • Buried Alive: "Autopsy Room Four" has live but paralyzed autopsy.
  • Clingy Macguffin: The painting in "The Road Virus Heads North" is very attached to whoever makes the the mistake of buying it. Even going the Kill It with Fire route has no effect.
  • Covers Always Lie: Not lying exactly, but the cover's illustration has nothing to do with the title story, and instead belongs to another.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: "The Road Virus Heads North"
  • Deus Angst Machina: Inverted. In the afterword to "In the Deathroom", King says that he set out to create a Kafkaesque situation from which the protagonist normally would not escape (specifically, being taken prisoner and brutally interrogated by a dictatorship), but wanted a happier ending. Therefore, everything that could go right for the protagonist does, even if it isn't realistic.
  • Death of a Child: From "The Man In The Black Suit", a child dies from a bee sting allergy, then the youngest silbing is almost killed by the Devil.
  • Driven to Suicide: The protagonist of "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" is planning to kill himself in the beginning.
    • Dinky in "Everything's Eventual" can force people to do this through his drawings.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: In "Little Sisters of Eluria", one of the sisters betrays the others to help Roland, The Lone Gunslinger. After they have gotten away and believe they are safe, they rest in a cave. But during the sleep, Roland hears tiny bells and awakes to find only the empty clothes of the woman who helped him. She was turned into a bunch of tiny bugs by the sound of the bell.
  • Evil Is Petty: Along with all the truly evil things The Man In the Black Suit says, and tries to do, he laughs at the main character (a terrified 9-year old at the time) for wetting his pants in fear and comes up with a childish rhyme about it.
  • Eye Scream: "In the Deathroom".
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: In "Autopsy Room Four", it's not the protagonist's finger that twitches, but same idea.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Played with in the epilogue for "Autopsy Room Four" - he and the coroner briefly dated afterward, though it fell apart due to personal differences and the fact that he was only able to "rise to the occasion" if she wore latex gloves.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Guy is knocked out with one in "Lunch At The Gotham Café".
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: What "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French"'s Bill and Carol are caught in.
  • Guile Hero: The boy who meets the Devil gets away by feeding him his fish and then running in the other direction.
  • Here We Go Again!: "Lunch At The Gotham Café" concludes with Steve alone, injured, loathed by his ex-wife, and pondering on the life of the insane waiter who has just killed several people in a restaurant. Under his breath, he begins mimicking some of the man's ululations. Eeee. Eeeeee.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Devil from "The Man In the Black Suit", who doesn't even try to make his human guise convincing. He's got awful, orange eyes that look like hellfire, and he reeks of burning match heads. He also doesn't leave any footprints in the forest underbrush. When he opens his mouth, he's shown to have teeth like a shark.
  • Improvised Weapon: Steve in "Lunch At The Gotham Café" manages to fight off the Ax-Crazy maître d' with a boiling pot of water.
  • Ironic Hell: Turns out that this is what "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French" has as the basis of its plot. The couple is doomed to relive their violent deaths for eternity.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The protagonist of "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" waffles on writing one about the graffiti he finds - the ending is left deliberately ambiguous as to whether he does this or carries through with his suicide.
  • Kitchen Chase: In "Lunch at the Gotham Café", two characters flee the insane maitre d' by going through the kitchen.
  • Kitsch Collection: "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away", a short story about a traveling salesman who collects graffiti.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: "Luckey Quarter" isn't a horror story. Arguably neither is "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away", although it's considerably more gloomy.
  • Loveable Rogue: John Dillinger in "The Death of Jack Hamilton". He's always optimistic, polite even to those he robs, and utterly refuses to believe that Jack is going to die from the gunshot wound he received while covering him and Homer, and he did everything he could to keep Jack alive.
  • Mood Whiplash: "L.T.'s Theory of Pets" starts out as a study in how two pets can comically ruin a marriage by preferring one partner to the other. The narrator himself finds it Actually Pretty Funny. Then L.T.'s wife and dog die by a random killing, and L.T. is sobbing as he finishes the tale about how he and his cat drove her away. The narrator's wife in the meantime theorizes that L.T. actually killed his wife, despite the fact that he has an alibi.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Man In the Black Suit. As an old man, the narrator went to an aquarium and saw a shark in real life for the first time, and states that the sharks teeth were exactly like the Man's had been.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: It's a Stephen King book, at least several of the protagonists had to be writers of some kind.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Escobar in "In the Deathroom". His day job is Chief Minister of information, and he sometimes gives the English portion of the weather report on the city's television station, often hamming it up and acting like a buffoon. In actuality, he personally oversees torture sessions of his government's enemies like "a Central American Himmler", according to the protagonist.
  • Off with His Head!: The fate of the woman who sells the protagonist the painting in "The Road Virus Heads North."
  • One Crazy Night: In "Riding the Bullet", a young man goes on hitchhiking through the night to visit his mother in the hospital, and has a number of bizarre encounters on his way.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: "Riding The Bullet".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "The Little Sisters of Eluria" has a very different example. The "Sisters" drain blood using strange insects they control and can't go near a person who is holding a talisman that Roland finds in the village.
  • Raging Stiffie: How does the (female) autopsy performer figure out her charge is still alive in "Autopsy Room Four"? He gets an erection while she's examining his penis.
  • Satan: "The Man in the Black Suit"
  • Parasol of Pain: Steve fights off Guy in "Lunch At The Gotham Café" with an umbrella.
  • Parting-Words Regret: L.T.'s story, as the narrator recounts, ends with this. From what we hear, L.T. tried to make it work with his wife when their pets started destroying the marriage, but eventually, they got into a bad fight and she left. She and their dog Frank were later found murdered in a car. L.T. cries Tears of Remorse that he was never able to reconcile with her.
  • Pets as a Present: Deconstructed in "L.T.'s Theory of Pets." In fact, the story came about because King was amused that Dear Abby advised against this type of present, owing to the Surprisingly Realistic Outcome that a live animal is unpredictable and not every person would be willing to handle the surprise. (In real life, he says that he and Tabitha avoided this scenario despite gifting each other with pets.) L.T. explains how his wife got a dog for him named Frank, but Frank came to hate him and love his wife. Then he got his wife a cat named Lulu, and Lulu couldn't even pretend to be civil. Not to mention Siamese kittens are energetic and very chatty, which didn't help. Their marriage starts disintegrating due to the pets causing trouble.
  • The Renfield: Downplayed with Ralph, the Slow Mutant who the "Little Sisters of Eluria" hire to remove John Norman's medallion becaause they can't. He is willing to do their dirty work, but demands a bribe and has to be coerced at gunpoint. He's openly defiant to the nurses, knowing his radioactive blood is poisonous to them.
  • Serial Killer: The "Axe-Man" in "L.T's Theory of Pets."
  • Spooky Painting: In the story "The Road Virus Heads North", a writer buys a painting of a intensely creepy man in a car, but the picture keeps changing...
  • Torture Technician: Heinz in "In the Deathroom". Turns out that his Soft-Spoken Sadist shell begins to crumble at the sight of real brutality, and he is overcome with terror when Fletcher manages to grab a gun and kill the other three interrogators. Fletcher then kills him with his own torture device.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "Lunch at the Gotham Café", Steve's chain-smoking habit, perceived lack of support, and refusal to let his wife access their shared holdings all drive her to file for divorce. Still, when he's busy defending them both from a psychotic waiter, her kicking him into the path of a knife strike is probably uncalled-for.
  • Unreliable Expositor: The narrator's wife in "L.T.'s Theory of Pets" believes that L.T. is this. She theorizes that he must have killed her ex-wife and Frank and made up the story of their pets breaking them up so people would pity rather than suspect him. The narrator is amused by this theory but also gives her a This Is Reality and What the Hell, Hero? speech: there isn't any proof of foul play, L.T. has a rock-solid alibi, and no one has an emotional breakdown about their ex-wife unless they really cared. If she really thinks that is the case, then she should go to the cops. His wife doesn't.
  • Villains Want Mercy: In "In the Deathroom", the protagonist thinks that "in the end there might only be one way to tell the thugs from the patriots: when they saw their own death rising in your eyes like water, patriots made speeches. The thugs, on the other hand, gave you the number of their Swiss Bank Account and offered to put you on-line."
  • What You Are in the Dark: The narrator of "Riding the Bullet" is given a Sadistic Choice: either his terminally ill mom dies, or he does. He chooses to let her die. While she hangs on for a long time, the guilt stays with him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Unsurprisingly, The Man In The Black Suit, who's really the Devil himself, tried to eat the main character alive when he was a child. Even on his death bed almost a century later, the main character doesn't know for sure if the Devil was out looking for him, or just saw an opportunity for a victim.
  • You Got Murder: Dinky in "Everything's Eventual" delivers his Brown Notes by E-Mail.