What’s it all about?:
It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?
What did I think?:
This is the first short story in my “short stories challenge,” please see my previous post HERE. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, usually his novels rather than his short stories, but I sometimes feel that I don’t give short stories much of a chance, hence this challenge. And who better to start it off than the “master of horror?.” The Mist is a beautifully written and eerie novella, that perfectly sets the scene for the supernatural elements and Armageddon. The story is the longest in the collection Skeleton Crew, published in 1985, and appeared as a stand-alone paperback in 2007 to coincide with the film release.
It begins with a storm ravaging the small town of Bridgton, Maine followed by the appearance of an extensive, unnatural and dense mist which contains blood-thirsty creatures beyond our imagination. The characters in the story become trapped in a supermarket, as it becomes too dangerous to venture outside. Among the trapped townspeople include our narrator David Drayton and his son Billy, a young woman Amanda Dumfries (who becomes a love interest for David, despite having a wife at home), and a religious doomsayer, Mrs Carmody.
The creatures in this story are particularly imaginative, some with long, probing tentacles, pterodactyl-like flying birds referred to as “Pterobuzzards” who are nocturnal and scoop up bug-like creatures that smash against the store windows, and spiders the size of a large dog whose webbing is acidic, burning through flesh. Being an arachnophobe, the latter were particularly frightening to read about, and having seen the film, I think the creatures were perfect for King’s and my own imaginings.
I loved this story, and highly recommend it as an introduction to Stephen King, or for his loyal fans. Creepy, atmospheric and supernatural, it will stay with you long after you turn the final page. The only slight issue I have is David’s love interest Amanda. It added absolutely nothing to the story, and didn’t feel believable that he would forget his wife, not knowing if she is alive or dead, so quickly, without much remorse. Apart from that, a great novella and decent film adaptation, even with a changed ending.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander, from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.