Mile 81 is Stand by Me meets Christine - the story of an insatiable car and a heroic kid.
At Mile 81 on the Maine turnpike is a boarded-up rest stop, a place where high-school kids drink and get into the kind of trouble high-school kids have always gotten into. It’s the place where Pete Simmons goes when his older brother, who’s supposed to be looking out for him, heads off to the gravel pit to play “paratroopers over the side.” Pete, armed only with the magnifying glass he got for his 10th birthday, finds a discarded bottle of vodka in the boarded up burger shack and drinks enough to pass out.
Not much later, a mud-covered station wagon (which is strange because there hadn’t been any rain in New England for over a week) veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that says “closed, no services”. The driver’s door opens, but nobody gets out.
Doug Clayton, an insurance man from Bangor, is driving his Prius to a conference in Portland. On the backseat are his briefcase and suitcase and in the passenger bucket is a King James Bible, what Doug calls “the ultimate insurance manual”, but it isn’t going to save Doug when he decides to be the Good Samaritan and help the guy in the broken down wagon. He pulls up behind it, puts on his four-ways, and then notices that the wagon has no plates.
Ten minutes later, Julianne Vernon, pulling a horse trailer, spots the Prius and the wagon, and pulls over. Julianne finds Doug Clayton’s cracked cell phone near the wagon door - and gets too close herself. By the time Pete Simmons wakes up from his vodka nap, there are a half a dozen cars at the Mile 81 rest stop. Two kids - Rachel and Blake Lussier - and one horse named Deedee are the only living left. Unless you maybe count the wagon.
©2012 The Storyville Company, LLC. (P)2012 Simon & Schuster
I always recommend Stephen King to my friends. King, to me, is one of our most critically underrated American storytellers, even though he is a massive commercial success.
I've read a lot of King's body of work, but, I have come to get more and more excited with what he's written at this point in his life. Unlike some popular authors, he really seems to try to constantly improve his skills as an author and storyteller, always trying new ground rather than resting on his laurels. This was yet another crisp, well constructed short story by a short story master. Maybe what I liked best his how, in this short space, he surprised me. Without being specific as to spoil it for other readers, I'll just point out that you cannot take anything for granted. He'll pull the rug out from under your feet ... then do it again. And you can imagine him laughing at his keyboard while writing it.
Pete Simmons is the heart of the story. Not unlike Steven Spielberg, King does the perspective from a child's view very well. He never talks down to Pete, yet also does not idealize him. He's a real kid, but King finds in him his moment to shine.
I cannot imagine missing a new King creation, no matter what form it is, but a short story? Never. This is HIS format, no modern popular author can compete with King on this.
Putting books on the back burner.
From a constant reader of Stephen King (I have read all of King's/Bachman's books up to date), King's best work is not his short stories because there is not enough pages/audio for classic Stephen King's character development.
Mile 81 is just okay. If you are looking for a darker and more gore, check out, "The Breathing Method" and "Survivor Type".
The Breathing Method can be found in Different Seasons (4 novellas).
Survivor Type is in Skeleton Crew (22 short stories).
These are better short stories from SK.
The narration was fine, no complaints there. Like most short horror stories, this one ended with no questions answered. I expected that, but my only real complaint is the language. I have no moral stance with it - it has it's place - I just can't take it seriously when used in excess. It takes me out of the foreboding atmosphere it's trying to create and puts me back in middle school where vulgarity was used as a pretense to maturity. Imaging putting the word "car" at the end of every other sentence. It has no meaning.
This actually contains two short stories. Mile 81 and The Dune. The Dune was much shorter, but I think I liked it much better. Like early 20th century horror, it was more subtle, slowly sneaking up instead of trying to shock you.
love to read ,but when i cant i love to listen to audible.....
It's a Stephen King story....
It is just what you would expect from him.
A good story with some very weird stuff in it.
Have a renewed interest in books after falling in love with audio books. I am listening to all different genres and exploring different authors.
Really enjoyed how Stephen King created the scene and details he puts into his stories. This audio recording also included The Dune.
From The Onion Book of Knowledge, A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information: "Literature, written works considered to be of lasting artistic merit that represent humankind's struggle to understand its essential nature and also there is Stephen King. Literature generally takes the form of fiction, nonfiction, and Stephen King's fiction..."
Well said, Onion, well said.
Mile 81 could be tucked into any collection of King's short stories, very classic King, including his familiar shout-outs to some of his previous works. He had me already smiling when the "station wagon" pulls into the closed rest stop; and when the first Samaritan, with the King James Bible as his co-driver, "the ultimate insurance manual," pulls over to help the stranded vehicle, I was doing that wicked chuckle of the absurd mixed with macabre that only King can inspire. Just like his demon station wagon, King ignores boundaries and rules; nothing is off-limits, safe or sacred. This isn't the more demure or sophisticated King--it is *Classic Stephen King Fiction*. Station Wagon 6; Good Samaritans 0.
Were these two of King's best novellas? Certainly not. Were they true to his addictively unique voice and full of fantastic character portraits as always? Of course. Certainly worthwhile for any King fan. The two tales within, Mile 81 and The Dune, are both engrossing and well-told - if a tad derivative - and I doubt you'll be left with regrets.
In a small, peaceful town on the Equator, the sun always sets at 6, and a good audiobook is always the perfect evening companion.
With all the eerie scene-setting of a Stephen King work, and more than a few horrifying events, this little story never really goes anywhere.
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