Nightmares and Dreamscapes

Nightmares and Dreamscapes is King's third collection of short stories. In his introduction, he says that after this collection, he has used up all the short stories that were lurking in his trunk, as it were - any from now on will be new. Personally, I'm not bothered, as these stories are just as good as those in Skeleton Crew and Night Shift. Here's a brief synopsis of them :

Dolan's Cadillac
The widower of a woman killed just before giving evidence against a gangster decides to take revenge. After years of planning, he manages to bury Dolan (the gangster) alive in his car - at the price of serious physical injuries whilst setting the trap. Superbly empathetic, you will feel every ounce of the hate against Dolan and every wince of agony in this... good stuff.

The End of the Whole Mess
More comedy than anything else, this is the story of two brothers - one is a scientific genius, the other is a freelance writer. The genius discovers something in the water in a certain area that calms people down, discouraging violent crime etc. After persuading his brother it was a good idea, they managed to distill this substance, got it to the top of a volcano which was about to blow, and settled back to watch the results. The results were these : people became much calmer, and everything was great for a while. Unfortunately, the genius hadn't discovered something else about the first "calm" area - it had a huge rate for Alzheimer's disease. Yup, the entire world dies in a happy but mentally unsound state. Doesn't sound funny, I know, but it's the way King tells it...

Suffer The Little Children
A teacher begins to see her pupils occasionally turn into monsters. After killing as many as she can, she is obviously locked up. Um, not much more to be said, really...

The Night Flier
Dracula with a pilot's license and a journalist with keen instincts means a chase is on... but who is the cat, and who the mouse?

Another vampiric story, this time a babysnatcher is the victim when the child he grabs has a very odd relative, and very long teeth.

It Grows On You
An odd story, one which I never particularly got to grips with, about a house that was constantly being extended. Confused? Yeah, I was too.

Chattery Teeth
The eponymous novelty toy in question has a vicious bite, and will use it to full effect when its owner is in danger. Handy little thing, and one of King's more bizarre stories.

A maid tells a colleague just what she had to go through in order for her son to be a great writer. This is more than a touch disgusting, as involves licking what another famous author leaves in his bed at the hotel where the maid cleans. Not for the clean-minded, but a good story nonetheless.

The Moving Finger
Howard Mitla leads a pretty normal life, until he discovers a finger coming out of his bathroom sink plughole. It grows rather fast, but fortunately, Mitla has the perfect weapon - hedge-trimmers. Of course, the police don't entirely believe his story, which is quite possibly a dangerous thing to do...

A ghost appears to John Tell, an employee of a music studio - although John initially only sees a pair of sneakers under the stall door in the bathroom. After finding out the history of the ghost, he confronts it, and finds out that his own employer was the original murderer.

You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
A couple get lost in a strange town here rock and roll lives on for eternity, Janis Joplin is a waitress, Roy Orbison strolls around quite happily, and it's impossible to leave.

Home Delivery
Another darkly humorous story, here the dead start rising from the grave, a spacecraft is invaded by what look like worms, and one woman on an island whose graveyard has been thoroughly cleared makes damned sure her baby will be safe when it's born.

Rainy Season
A couple leasing a house near the small town of Willow, Maine, are warned on their arrival that they should spend the evening elsewhere, or else close all the shutters in their house. They are told that eery seven years, there is a rain of toads in Willow. Obviously, they feel they are the butt of a joke, and pay no attention to the warning... until they hear the thumps of fairly heavy objects landing on their roof. At first they believe the locals are pushing the joke even further - too far, in fact, and investigate, only to find the toads are really there. With big teeth. The couple put up a brave fight, but to no avail...

My Pretty Pony
An almost absurdly touching story about a grandfather giving instruction to his grandson on the peculiar nature of time. This is one of the most sensitive King stories I've ever read. This is an adaptation of a story released (under the same title) as a limited edition.

Sorry, right number
A screenplay about a woman ringing her past to avoid her husband's death. Hard to explain in a small amount of space... hell, just read it!

The Ten O'Clock People
Similar to "Suffer the Little Children", this is again about an infiltration of beings looking like humans into our society. These are only visible to people with a certain intake of nicotine - that of someone who has tried to quit smoking and settled down to a small but regular amount. The "aliens" have heads similar to bats, and so are called Batmen by the resistance movement set up by the eponymous semi-smokers. However, this is a tale of politics and betrayal - and damned good it is too!

Crouch End
Crouch End is an area of London, and the setting of this story - one of the few King stories based outside Maine, let alone the USA! Anyway, this story owes a lot to Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos, and is mainly the account given to the police by a woman driven nearly mad when she gets lost in a part of Crouch End which is very strange...

The House On Maple Street
Another humorous one, this story concerns the discovery by the children of a family that their house is in fact a spaceship - and how this discovery can aid them in getting rid of their annoying step-father...

The Fifth Quarter
A gangster style story one might almost expect George Stark to have written, "The Fifth Quarter" is a tale of revenge, buried treasure, treachory, and lots of violence.

The Doctor's Case
In my humble opinion one of King's weaker stories, this is a Sherlock Holmes story where Watson is the man with the answer, however infeasible I may consider it.

Umney's Last Case
First published on the Web, this is a story not dissimilar to The Dark Half, except this time it is a character who comes to life... and the author is transported to the world of fiction. This story can be difficult to follow if you're not awake enough, but is pretty good when if you are!

Head Down
A piece of non-fiction, and quite possibly my favourite title in this book, this is the account of Bangor West's Little League baseball team and their progression through tournaments. It's difficult to explain why it's so wonderful, but, to be horribly sentimental, it really warms the heart.

Brooklyn August
Following "Head Down", this is a poem on baseball. Unfortunately, a lot of it goes right over my head, as I know nothing about baseball (although more than I did before reading "Head Down"!)

Jon Skeet

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