By no means is this a definitive list, but these are some of the stories I return to time after time.
10. The Running Man
If you’ve only seen the movie version, do yourself a favor and pick this up. So much better the total of what that film was. Is the film a guilty pleasure? Sure. But it took from what was a great idea and story (which is completely different from the film) and turned it into an Ahn-uld vehicle. A great vision of the future that was way ahead of its time.
9. The End of the Whole Mess
I feel like the makers of Rise of the Planet of the Apes read this short before they wrote their script. A story of a cure, a genius, and the end of everything we know. Not so much a horror story as it is a tragic piece.
8. The Raft
I wanted to put this higher, but I couldn’t. But this is nothing more or less than a straight monster story. You don’t know what it is, you don’t know why it does what it does, and it features probably one of the most grotesque death’s I’ve ever read or seen.
One of King’s newest shorts in his last collection ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ is one of his best in years. The best tale in the book and a terrifying story of guilt without redemption. This story features some amazing description and really feels like a mix between Poe and Lovecraft. Definitely a good read on a stormy night.
I don’t know what it is about this story. The story of a boy left alone with his sick grandmother, who’s appearance alone causes him nightmares. And what happens when she dies. And what happens when she comes back. Definitely guaranteed to send chills up your spine and racing toward the closest phone to set up a retirement center visit for your folks.
5. Jerusalem’s Lot
Jerusalem’s Lot is the prequel of sorts to Salem’s Lot. Kind of a view of the curse on the town. This is King channeling Lovecraft in the best way possible. Written in a series of letters detailing the horror of this town, any fans of the Old Ones will eat this up.
4. Survivor Type
A doctor. Stuck on an island. With loads of drugs. Nothing to eat. Fill in the blanks and you get a gore-filled story to make you squirm.
3. The Road Virus Heads North
This story reminded me so much of one of my favorite episodes of Night Gallery. This is King writing fast and loose and still holding the reader in his grip the whole time. It was made into a terrible short during the Nightmares and Dreamscapes miniseries. Don’t watch it. Just read it
2. The Long Walk
I wanted to put this at number one. I really did. But I just couldn’t bring myself to it. But that by no means says you shouldn’t read this novella right away. A story of a terrible game featuring children. This is a story I’ve read countless times and it never fails to have the same impact on me. Not only one of the best shorts by King, but one of his greatest pieces of writing ever. Don’t look for spoilers just get into the book and you will probably read it all at once.
1. The Mist
This was one of the first shorts of King’s that I read. And it spoke to everything that I love about horror. It has monsters, claustrophobia, mysterious events, FOG, religious fervor, did I mention monsters from another dimension? This story is features everything great about horror and at the same time can be read into as well. It’s pulp horror at its absolute best. If you get the chance check out the movie and the audio-drama. This is a must read for any King fan.
Honorable Mentions: Children of the Corn, The Monkey, The 10 ‘o Clock People, The Jaunt, All that you Love will be Carried Away, Suffer the Children, Rainy Season, and too many more to name
Let me know some of your favorites and why!