Skeleton Crew – Stephen King

The Mist

After a huge storm that downs trees and destroys property, a strange mist descends on a small Maine town.  Most people disappear, but some are trapped in a grocery store for several days.  Huge octopus like creatures, bugs, and particularly vicious spiders are on the loose and eat up anyone who dares leave a building.  People go crazy, take to religion, and some try to escape.  Some dare to hope even though there may be none left.

The psychological aspects of this story are very interesting.  The monsters are not.  Although humans are the biggest monsters of all, of course.

Here There Be Tygers

This is the perfect child’s story: a tiger lounging in a bathroom who may or may not have eaten his least favorite teacher.  Talk about a fantasy.  Personally I wish there was such magic that worked in real life to vanish intolerable people.   Would there be anyone left?

The Monkey

Another example like Thinner, where Mr. King makes a seemingly innocent item into a tool of misery.  Although in this case, a cymbal toting monkey seems evil of its very nature.  Such objects that exist in our world don’t kill people.  Or do they?

Cain Rose Up

As i write this I have not finished the complete Skeleton Crew stories, but this far this is my least favorite.  It is like a much shorter version of Rage.  It feels like there are a thousand such stories out there, more than a few of which have been written by Mr. King himself.

Mrs Todd’s Shortcut

I take offence to the title of this story.  it seems ridiculous.  And frankly, the idea that someone would be obsessed with taking the shortest route possible really seems like something from the gas strapped seventies (when this story might have been written).  In the end, however, it is pretty interesting.  What isn’t interesting about parallel worlds that warp our own?  And the draw to Faery is almost impossible to ignore, as we see at the end.

The Jaunt

Science Fiction?  That was unexpected.  I don’t know that I agree with the premise of this story, but the ending is awesome.

The Wedding Gig

I suppose when you produce as large a body of work as Stephen King, there are very few subjects that are not touched on.  A mobster’s sister’s wedding seems one of the least likely things that King would write about.  Part of me wants to think that the mobster is very caricature, but the fact that he was defending his sister to his death is pretty awesome.  A female mob boss is needed.  Paging Meadow Soprano.

Paranoid: A Chant

I feel like this is a precursor to the Ballad of the Flexible Bullet.

Word Processor of the Gods

This is my favorite story.  Who would not love to be able to delete those people in their lives who are most annoying?  It is sort of funny that we think as children that we can wish things away, but it is as adults that we really need that power.  A computer mulligan allows this man to change his life, and in the end give him a happier ending.  A happy ending without too much destruction?  This seems like a non-Stephen King story.

The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands

Back to the super-exclusive New York Club.  And another curse upon this man.  It is sort of a reverse Midas touch where everything he touched died.  Come to think of it, I’m sure that anything live that Midas touched probably died, too.

Beachworld

Another quasi-Sci Fi story.  Sand, sand everywhere.  Sand monsters show up and try to prevent them leaving.  One man decides to stay and join the sand.  Talk about a mirage.

The Reaper’s Image

What?  What is up with this story?  People look in a mirror and then just disappear.  Looking at Death, were they?

Nona

Totally called this story from the start.  Nona was far too perfect to be real.  This story, too, reminds me of another in Different Seasons: Apt Pupil.  People going on killing sprees with guns or whatever . . .

For Owen

If feels to me as though this is the sweetest thing Stephen King has ever published (though I am still reading stuff published in the eighties).

Survivor Type

What is it with this period of King’s writing and the mobbed up Italians?  There was Richard in Thinner, The Wedding Gig from this book, and now our doctor who is a little too comfortable outside of the law.  I admit that it is interesting to read about a doctor who has gone over to the dark side, especially the gory idea of him eating himself.

Uncle Otto’s Truck

The imagery in this story is pretty freaky.  Think about that: a vehicle peering in a bedroom window as though staring down a dying man.  That’s pretty freaky.  And the twist of Otto being the murderer, didn’t see that coming at first.  Well played, Mr. King.

Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)

This and the next story are both just strange.  A milkman who is poisoning his customers?  That seems to me to be at least one of the reasons that door to door milk delivery has stopped.

Big Wheels: A Tale of the Laundry Game (Milkman #2)

With the amount of published work that he has, it is understandable that there would be a certain amount of repetition on King’s part.  This seems to be one of those stories.  I like that it tied into the first Milkman story in the end, but the rest of it seems like a rehash of all the bullies that King had written about up to this point.  And it is really rather tiring to read about the flabby wife who goes to bingo all the time and who eats too many sweets.  I am not doubting the veracity of such women, but it seems that every woman is like that if she’s not to be a likable character.

Gramma

I do not not think that I could have read this story at night.  Even reading it in perfectly lighted cubicle at work, I was sort of shivering.  This is the perfect story to reflect why Stephen King is called the master of horror.  Being home alone, particularly as a child with a sick elder would be frightening to anyone.  This combined with the fact that the elder is a witch who is passing on her evilness to the next generation . . . EEEKKK.  Demonic sort of stories have always been my favorite as they are the freakiest.  Thus far, this story and Word Processor of the Gods have been my favorite of the anthology.

The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet

What an interesting way to answer the question of where writers get their ideas from.  this is not the only time that King writes about this, as I believe he addresses the same question in Lisey’s Story, and in Bag of Bones to a degree.  This particular story has the air of almost sci-fi to it, though it is of course dealing with madness, and  not any well understood scientific phenomena.  I am not qualified to answer this question, not having read any of his work, but does this story have an almost Philip K Dick feel about it?

The Reach

This is like the old lady from The Stand if she’d never come off her island.  It was the second weirdest story in this collection of weird stories.

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