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130 Stephen King Short Stories

Wednesday, Apr 03

Did you know that there are over 130 Stephen King short stories in existence? There’s no doubt that the man’s publishing career is impressive, but King was perhaps most prolific with his short stories: starting with "The Glass Floor" in 1967, he continued to write many short stories thereafter to pay the bills.

So if you want a taste of King's horror but don't have time to sit down and read a whole novel, we've got you covered. This list will take you through all of Stephen King’s short story collections, from the 1978 Night Shift to his most recent 2015 collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. Read on… if you dare.

Night Shift (1978)

This was King’s first collection of short stories, and let’s just say he entered this realm of literature not with a whimper, but with a bang. If you’ve ever watched an 80s zombie movie and found the low-budget, unrealistic gore scarier than the high-quality effects of today’s horror films, you’ll be a fan of Night Shift: its stories might lack the finesse of some of King’s later works, but they are the stuff of nightmares nonetheless. So rest assured: from deeply emotional stories — such as “Last Rung on the Ladder,” which is about a man who blames himself for his sister’s suicide — to gruesome post-apocalyptic tales like “Night Surf,” Night Shift has something for all horror lovers.

Number of stories: 20

Fun facts: Six of the stories in this collection have been made into feature-length films: "Children of the Corn," "The Lawnmower Man," "Graveyard Shift," "The Mangler," and "Sometimes They Come Back.”

  1. "Jerusalem's Lot"
  2. "Graveyard Shift"
  3. "Night Surf"
  4. "I Am the Doorway"
  5. "The Mangler"
  6. "The Boogeyman"
  7. "Gray Matter"
  8. "Battleground"
  9. "Trucks"
  10. "Sometimes They Come Back"
  11. "Strawberry Spring"
  12. "The Ledge"
  13. "The Lawnmower Man"
  14. "Quitters, Inc."
  15. "I Know What You Need"
  16. "Children of the Corn"
  17. "The Last Rung on the Ladder"
  18. "The Man Who Loved Flowers"
  19. "One for the Road"
  20. "The Woman in the Room"

Different Seasons (1982)

King's first collection of novellas has a more dramatic than horrific bent. Indeed, its first story inspired the popular film (and an obsession with Morgan Freeman’s voice): The Shawshank Redemption. And while “Apt Pupil” and “The Breathing Method” could still very much be considered scary, Different Seasons stands out for the lack of sinister supernatural beings or luridly horrific images that have become staples of some of the other Stephen King short stories.

Number of stories: 4

Fun facts: King wrote each of these four stories at different times and left them unpublished for a while because his editors had expressed concern that readers wouldn’t buy non-horror fiction from King. Eventually, King and his editor decided to publish all four stories together, positioning the book as “something different” — hence the title of the book.

  1. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: Hope Springs Eternal
  2. Apt Pupil: Summer of Corruption
  3. The Body: Fall From Innocence
  4. The Breathing Method: A Winter's Tale

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Skeleton Crew (1985)

Sometimes the best type of horror is the kind that turns the seemingly normal and innocuous into something sinister and downright terrifying. This is the rallying cry of Skeleton Crew. In one tale, a word processor — an otherwise boring and practical tool — becomes a deadly device in the hands of a man ("Word Processor of the Gods"). In another story, a supermarket becomes the site of a life-or-death face-off between an ever-growing mist consuming a town (“The Mist” — technically a novella, and one of King’s most famous shorter works).

Number of stories: 22 (including a novella and two poems)

Fun facts: “For Owen” is a poem King wrote for his son. And here’s a warning while we’re at it: of “Survivor Type,” King wrote that, while he prefers his stories grisly, this one might have gone too far even for him.

  1. "The Mist"
  2. "Here There Be Tygers"
  3. "The Monkey"
  4. "Cain Rose Up"
  5. "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut"
  6. "The Jaunt"
  7. "The Wedding Gig"
  8. "Paranoid: A Chant"
  9. "The Raft"
  10. "Word Processor of the Gods"
  11. "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands"
  12. "Beachworld"
  13. "The Reaper's Image"
  14. "Nona"
  15. "For Owen"
  16. "Survivor Type"
  17. "Uncle Otto's Truck”
  18. "Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)"
  19. “Big Wheels: A Tale of The Laundry Game (Milkman #2)"
  20. "Gramma"
  21. "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet"
  22. "The Reach"

Four Past Midnight (1990)

Do you keep wishing that Stephen King’s short stories would last just a little longer? Rejoice: here’s another collection of novellas! Unlike Different Seasons, this book stays true to King’s quintessential flare for supernatural horror — also blending in elements of psychological and cosmic horror

Linking the four stories of Four Past Midnight is the theme of, well, midnight: a time fragmented between two days, inviting reality to fragment as well. Thus the stories feature people desperately attempting to clutch their sanity, while being pulled further and further from it.

Number of stories: 4

Fun facts: Secret Window, Secret Garden features a thinly veiled version of King himself.

  1. The Langoliers
  2. Secret Window, Secret Garden
  3. The Library Policeman
  4. The Sun Dog

Nightmares and Dreamscapes (1993)

Jumping from horror genre to horror genre, incorporating a gamut of scary tropes, and inspired by a number of King’s favorite authors, Nightmares and Dreamscapes is a funhouse of a horror novel — in fact, it doesn’t take much effort to picture a real funhouse at an old-timey fair boasting this very title atop its unsettling doors. It’s said to be one of his stranger collections, and one doesn’t have to look much further than the freaky "Chattery Teeth" to be convinced: it’s a story about a pair of killer joke teeth on the hunt for blood.

Number of stories: 24

Fun facts: Crack open the novel and you will find mention of a “Thomas Williams” in the dedication. Who is he? A writing instructor and author of one of King’s favorite books, The Hair of Harold Roux.

  1. "Dolan's Cadillac"
  2. "The End of the Whole Mess"
  3. "Suffer the Little Children"
  4. "The Night Flier"
  5. "Popsy"
  6. "It Grows on You"
  7. "Chattery Teeth"
  8. "Dedication"
  9. "The Moving Finger"
  10. "Sneakers"
  11. "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band"
  12. "Home Delivery"
  13. "Rainy Season"
  14. "My Pretty Pony"
  15. "Sorry, Right Number"
  16. "The Ten O'Clock People"
  17. "Crouch End"
  18. "The House on Maple Street"
  19. "The Fifth Quarter"
  20. "The Doctor's Case"
  21. "Umney's Last Case"
  22. "Head Down"
  23. "Brooklyn August"
  24. "The Beggar and the Diamond"

Hearts in Atlantis (1999)

This book features five sequential stories that take place during the 1960s-1990s, all connected to the horrifying events of the Vietnam War that continue to haunt well past its end in 1975. Despite the intended connection between each story, some reviewers still feel that each work better as part rather than a whole. However, other reviews claim that while this certainly isn’t King’s scariest work, it is one of his deepest, reflecting on the very real terrors that can stay with people for a lifetime. We invite you to read Hearts in Atlantis and to let us know what you think! 

Number of stories: 5

Fun facts: Hearts in Atlantis features a number of connections and references to King’s Dark Tower series.

  1. Low Men in Yellow Coats
  2. "Hearts in Atlantis"
  3. "Blind Willie"
  4. "Why We're in Vietnam"
  5. "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling"

Everything’s Eventual (2002)

This one has been called one of the “lighter” collections in King’s repertoire. This is perhaps because many of the stories provoke a sense of unease more than actual terror. But, as we all know, a deep sense of anxiety can stay with you much longer than an intensely frightening moment. The book’s most popular entry is “1408” — a story about a non-fiction writer who writes about the supernatural, despite not believing in it. Now, room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel is on a mission to prove him wrong in a fantastic meta take on the classic ghost story.

Number of stories: 14

Fun facts: In the introduction of Everything’s Eventual, Stephen King explained how he picked the order of the stories: “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.””

  1. "Autopsy Room Four"
  2. "The Man in the Black Suit"
  3. "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away"
  4. "The Death of Jack Hamilton"
  5. "In the Deathroom"
  6. "The Little Sisters of Eluria"
  7. "Everything's Eventual"
  8. "L. T.'s Theory of Pets"
  9. "The Road Virus Heads North"
  10. "Lunch at the Gotham Café"
  11. "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French"
  12. "1408"
  13. "Riding the Bullet"
  14. "Luckey Quarter"

Just After Sunset (2008)

Not sure whether this book will leave you with that deliciously disturbing sensation that so many of King’s other works do? Well, take one look at that holographic book cover and we guarantee that your stomach will turn, proving right from the outset Just After Sunset’s ability to provoke unease. For a truly weird read, check out “The Cat from Hell.” Or if you’re looking for an excuse to avoid exercise, give “Stationary Bike” a try — it’s a story about a man whose efforts to reduce his cholesterol levels turn into the stuff of nightmares. Whichever of these Stephen King short stories you read, you’re sure to be left with that feeling that can only occur right after sunset, when the day gives way to night and sun gives way to darkness: that something is lurking in the shadows.

Number of stories: 13

Fun facts: The title of this book went through many iterations, including Pocket Rockets and Unnatural Acts of Human Intercourse

  1. "Willa" December 
  2. "The Gingerbread Girl"
  3. "Harvey's Dream"
  4. "Rest Stop"
  5. "Stationary Bike"
  6. "The Things They Left Behind"
  7. "Graduation Afternoon"
  8. N.
  9. "The Cat from Hell"
  10. "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates"
  11. "Mute"
  12. "Ayana"
  13. "A Very Tight Place"

Full Dark, No Stars (2014)

A collection of four novellas that’s not for the faint of heart. Not because of splattering blood or graphic violence, but because of the emotional turmoil readers are put through: each story burns slowly, with a twist for the grim bubbling away all the while. Readers know things will eventually go wrong, but they don’t know how or when — or what the consequences will be. Each story leaves you with the bleak sense that nothing is as it seems, and that we are all constantly teetering on the brink of chaos.

Number of stories: 4

Fun facts: “1922” is set in Hemingford Home, Nebraska — a name you might recognize from a few other King works: the novels The Stand and It, as well as the short story “The Last Rung on the Ladder.”

  1. 1922
  2. Big Driver
  3. Fair Extension
  4. A Good Marriage

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015)

Do you love watching movies with the “director’s commentary” cranked up? If so, King’s latest collection will likely be one to add to your list, as each story is accompanied by a brief autobiographical passage that reveals the how the story came to be. 

Many see it as one of King’s more “polished” collections — mourning the freaky, pulpy tones of some of his earlier books like Night Shift. However, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams celebrates King’s years of experience, showing his ability to adeptly switch between themes of life, death, morality, guilt, and regret — all with his trademark spine-tingling, bone-chilling overtone.

Number of stories: 20

Fun facts: Stephen King addresses readers directly a number of times in this book. In one instance, he creepily writes, “I made these stories especially for you. Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

  1. Mile 81
  2. "Premium Harmony"
  3. "Batman and Robin Have an Altercation"
  4. "The Dune"
  5. "Bad Little Kid"
  6. "A Death"
  7. "The Bone Church"
  8. Morality
  9. "Afterlife"
  10. Ur
  11. "Herman Wouk Is Still Alive"
  12. "Under the Weather"
  13. Blockade Billy
  14. "Mister Yummy"
  15. "Tommy"
  16. "The Little Green God of Agony"
  17. "That Bus Is Another World"
  18. "Obits"
  19. "Drunken Fireworks"
  20. "Summer Thunder"

Can’t get enough horror? Check out some of our other posts to lead you to even more scary reads:

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