Skeleton Crew

Skeleton Crew is King's second collection of short stories. Bizarrely, at the time of writing, none of them have been filmed, AFAIK (although The Mist is being made, I believe). Compare this to the number of Night Shift stories filmed, and you might be tempted to think SC was full of rubbish. Not true. Here's a list of the stories with a few words about each:

The Mist
More of a novella than a short story, this is a quarter of the book, involving a group of people trapped in a store by strange creatures residing in the eponymous mist. Just the right length for the story (I'm glad King didn't try to turn this into a novel), this is a fairly straightforward story good for passing time with the occasional thrill and scare. I'm not amongst its greatest fans, but I still rate it fairly highly - but don't try comparing it to King's other novellas, which are almost all masterpieces! :)

Here There Be Tygers
A miniscule story about a tiger in the bathroom. Very strange. Quite amusing. Drug-induced? You may wonder that, I couldn't possibly comment.

The Monkey
A bad luck charm from Hal Shelburn's youth comes back to haunt his family with it's cymbal-clashing warning of death. Fairly traditional in style, this still packs enough punch to be interesting.

Cain Rose Up
A boy starts shooting people. That's it. Interesting only in its brevity and single-mindedness, this is not one of King's best.

Mrs. Todd's Shortcut
Way cool story. Mrs. Todd has a passion for finding the shortest route between places, and sometimes achieves the apparently impossible. But what kind of landscape does she need to cross to cut off those extra few miles?

The Jaunt
One of my favourites, this reminds me of Asimov, but with better story-telling. Hyperspace has been utilised, but no-one quite understands it, despite tests using convicts. On a jaunt to Mars, one boy decides he wants to find out what's going on. Humorous, shocking, and oozing vitality, this could easily have been by Bachman, had he released any short stories.

The Wedding Gig
A band plays at the wedding of a small time gangster's sister's wedding. Everything goes horribly wrong when a rival sends in an inflammatory message, infuriating the gangster into walking to his death. There's more, but it doesn't make much sense on its own (like the rest of this paragraph, probably). A prime example of where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Flicking through this story didn't do much for me just now, but I still remember it with pleasure - read this carefully. Savour it. Reading it this way lifts it out of the ordinary - or did for me, anyway.

Paranoid - A Chant
A bizarre poem. I don't know if I've ever actually made it all the way through this - I rarely enjoy King's poetry much. See what you think though...

The Raft
Two couples decide to take an impromptu night-time swim, but once they reach the Raft of the title, they discover there's more in the lake than just water. Tense and highly reminiscent of The Mist, this is pretty fun.

Word Processor of the Gods
King at his most humorous, this is tale of a word processor which reminds me of the computer I'm facing now - pretty homegrown, and likely to explode at any stage. It can do something this one can't though - it can alter reality.

The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands
A story loved by many readers as much for the club in which it is told (the same as in The Breathing Method) as the tale itself, this concerns a man strangely cursed, who, as the title suggests, refuses resolutely to shake hands. After a tense game of poker which he wins, he takes his leave before collecting his winnings. A search for him reveals a bizarre suicide...

A strange science fiction story about a world which one enormous beach. Difficult to describe, this is quite different from King's normal style, but still good when you get into it.

The Reaper's Image
The story of a cursed mirror which shows the Reaper behind some people - people who aren't seen again after looking into the mirror. This story appeals to my mind, although for no particularly good reason. The plot is relatively mundane, but it's told in a way that just about makes you nervous.

I guy hitch-hiking is encouraged into a killing spree by something called Nona - girl, ghost, rat, illusion - who can say? One of the best things about this story is all the Castle Rock references - specifically to Vern Tessio, Charlie Hogan, and Ace Merrill.

For Owen
Another poem I'm not terribly keen on. Maybe I'm just not in tune.

Survivor Type
Possibly scariest short story King's written, this is about a drug-smuggling doctor whose ship sinks, leaving him on a desert island with no food. He does have a lot of heroin and his surgical bag. And after all, we are what we eat... To borrow Dani's terminology, this story has an extremely high squick-factor. It's also superb.

Uncle Otto's Truck
This story concerns an eccentric (Uncle Otto) and a creeping truck, which finally kills Otto. Reminiscent of Christine, but not nearly as good, this didn't leave enough of a lasting impression on me to give me anything else to put :)

Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1)
A nice quick tale of a milkman delivering lots of nasty stuff in with the milk. Witty and concise.

Big Wheels: A Tale of The Laundry Game (Milkman #2)
Strange but interesting, this involves the milkman from the previous story, as well as some guys intent on two things only: getting drunk, and getting a car licensed before midnight. They succeed, but things start getting a bit strange... put it this way, after a very quick flip through, I've no idea what actually happened at the end...

A nod to the Cthulu mythos, this involves a kid who really doesn't enjoy being left alone in the house with his grandmother. With the good reason, it's worth stating, that his grandmother is a witch. When his grandmother dies, he does pretty well for a kid his age. Of course, things get a bit hairier when Gramma comes alive again, but all she wants is a hug...

The Ballad of The Flexible Bullet
A delightful story about Fornits, magical creatures who might or might not live in authors' typewriters, spreading Fornus around the place and making their "owners" write some damned good stuff... I don't know what's so pleasing about this one, but it always makes me smile.

The Reach
A touching story of a woman living on an island, who misses her dead husband. When her husband calls her, she is more than willing to go to meet him. There are lots of stories around with a similar theme, but few of them match the peaceful nature of this one.

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