Everything’s Eventual, a collection of 14 short stories written by Stephen King, has a couple of tales I couldn’t read before bed.
Title: Everything’s Eventual
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror Anthology
Publisher: Gallery Books
Date published: May 2007 (first published 2002)
Page Count: 464
“Whether writing about encounters with the dead, the near dead, or about the mundane dreads of life, from quitting smoking to yard sales, Stephen King is at the top of his form in the fourteen dark tales assembled in Everything’s Eventual. Intense, eerie, and instantly compelling, they announce the stunningly fertile imagination of perhaps the greatest storyteller of our time.”
The short stories in Everything’s Eventual slowly build suspense, layering dread, until you start to feel like you simply can’t take anymore. A series of occurrences contingent upon some uncertain event.
“We’re in it together, after all. This is a date we’re on. We should have fun. We should dance.” Stephen King to his “Constant Readers”
Autopsy Room Four ✩✩✩✩
About a man awaiting his eventual autopsy, laying on the table, awake, and unsure if he’s really dead. I may have broken the world record for breath holding while reading this one.
“There’s a harsh ripping sound and all at once I am in white light; it is blinding, like the sun breaking through a scrim of clouds on a winter day. I try to squint my eyes shut against it, but nothing happens. My eyelids are like blinds on broken rollers.”
- Adapted to TV in Nightmares and Dreamscapes, 7th episode
The Man in the Black Suit ✩✩✩✩✩
A man who hasn’t told anyone that as a child he met the devil in the woods eventually tells this story.
“…the terrible stranger turned his burning eyes on me again, his thin lips pulled back from tiny rows of sharp teeth in a cannibal smile.”
- Adapted to Short Film in 2004
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away ✩✩✩✩
A man has felt lonely for too long and has eventually planned his suicide. I have read an entire sad novel and not shed a tear, yet this story made me cry three times in 15 pages.
“Alfie drew the book back to throw it, then lowered his arm. He hated to let it go, that was the truth of it.”
- Adapted to 6 different Short Films
The Death of Jack Hamilton ✩✩✩
This one is about a real American gangster, John Dillinger, the eventual death of his pal Jack.
“I suddenly thought of Jack standing in the street after the Mason City bank job. He was firing his tommy gun and covering me and Johnnie and Lester as we herded the hostages to the getaway car. Bullets flew all around him, and although he took a flesh wound, he looked like he’d live forever.”
In the Deathroom ✩✩✩
When you’re naming names it’s inevitable that a reporter named Fletcher finds himself in a South American interrogation room fearing for his life.
“He thought his chances of ever leaving this basement room in the Ministry of Information were perhaps one or two in thirty, and perhaps that was optimistic.”
The Little Sisters of Eluria ✩✩✩✩
A novella set in the world of The Dark Tower series about the gunslinger eventually discovering the nurses helping him to recover are vampires.
“The five were dressed in billowing habits as white as the walls and the panels of the ceiling. Their antique crones’ faces were framed in wimples just as white, their skin as gray and runneled as droughted earth by comparison. Hanging like phylacteries from the bands of silk imprisoning their hair (if they indeed had hair) were lines of tiny bells which chimed as they moved or spoke.”
Everything’s Eventual ✩✩✩✩
A Fantasy novella about 19-year-old Richard who was once broke and bullied, and is now living a life where he can have whatever he wants because of his special power, but eventually learns that this life comes with much sacrifice.
“I’ve always had something, some kind of deal, and I sort of knew it, but not how to use it or what its name was or what it meant. And I sort of knew I had to keep quiet about it, because other people didn’t have it. I thought they might put me in the circus if they found out. Or in jail.”
L.T.’s Theory of Pets ✩✩✩✩✩
A short story about how a dog and a cat, given as gifts, eventually led to a divorce and disappearance of a woman.
“My friend L.T. hardly ever talks about how his wife disappeared, or how she’s probably dead, just another victim of the Axe Man, but he likes to tell the story of how she walked out on him.”
The Road Virus Heads North ✩✩✩✩✩
This one made it hard for me to fall asleep after reading it. It’s a short story inspired by a picture King has in his home about a man who buys a creepy picture at a yard sale that changes and eventually comes to life.
“Richard Kinnell wasn’t frightened when he first saw the picture at the yard sale in Rosewood…the painting was a watercolor…it showed a young man behind the wheel of a muscle car…he was grinning, and his parted lips revealed teeth which were not teeth at all but fangs.”
- adapted to Short Film and TV
Lunch at the Gotham Café ✩✩
A husband and wife agree to meet for lunch to discuss their eventual divorce when their waiter loses his mind.
“Time ceased to exist for me at the moment Alfalfa the maître d’ brought his left hand out from behind his back and I saw the butcher-knife.”
That Feeling, You Can Only Say What it is in French ✩✩
A woman on a plane repeatedly wakes from a nightmare about the death of her and her husband eventually learns the truth of what the visions are trying to tell her. As someone who often experiences déjà vu this story made me feel uneasy, but I’m not a big fan of “groundhog day” plots.
“Besides, it wasn’t just love that held people together. There were secrets, and the price you paid to keep them.”
Stephen King admitted he scared himself with this story about a haunted hotel room. It gave me the eebie jeebies. Goosebumpies. Hair standing on the back of your neck. You know, the good stuff. It’s about a man who doesn’t believe in ghosts, who makes a living researching and writing about haunted places, eventually stays at a place that’s really haunted.
“Olin was really afraid of room 1408, and of what might happen to Mike there tonight…digital wristwatches don’t work in room 1408…”
‘You know the history of the room, beginning with the suicide of its first occupant.’
‘Five men and one woman have jumped from that room’s single window, Mr. Enslin. Three women and one man have overdosed with pills in that room…A man hanged himself in the closet…’
- Adapted to a film by the same name starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson
Riding the Bullet ✩✩✩
A novella (according to Wikipedia, the world’s first mass-market e-book) about a university student hitchhiking home after getting a call that his mother had a stroke. He learns that all life is eventual.
“I wasn’t just afraid, I was terrified. Everything was wrong, everything, and I didn’t know why or how it could possibly have happened so fast.”
- Adapted to Film, starring Jonathan Jackson and David Arquette
Luckey Quarter ✩✩
A short story about a single mom with two kids working at a hotel struggling to get by, and is eventually left a lucky quarter as a tip.
“She sat down in the chair beside the rumpled, abandoned bed with the quarter in one hand and the envelope it had fallen out of in the other, looking back and forth between them and laughing until tears spilled from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.”
I give Everything’s Eventual 3.6 ✩ overall.