Mile 81 (Kindle Single)
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With the heart of Stand By Me and the genius horror of Christine, Mile 81 is Stephen King unleashing his imagination as he drives past one of those road signs...
At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded up rest stop on a highway in Maine. It's 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 tenth 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.
telling her that a certain American defector who had changed his mind about Russia was shortly going to move in across the street from where I now lived, along with his Russian wife and their baby girl? By telling her that the Dallas Texans—not yet the Cowboys, not yet America’s Team—were going to beat the Houston Oilers 20–17 this fall, in double overtime? Ridiculous. But what else did I know about the immediate future? Not much, because I’d had no time to study up. I knew a fair amount about
police even know a crime has been committed. He could see himself explaining to the drop-jawed Raiders that it had actually been pretty easy. Elementary, my dear fucksticks. Bullshit, of course, but it would be fun to pretend. He lifted his bag onto the loading dock (being especially careful on account of the half-full vodka bottle), then climbed back up. The corrugated metal door leading inside was at least twelve feet high and secured at the bottom with not one but two humongous padlocks, but
sucked, and he had a brief, nightmarish image of chewing on one of the Colonel’s chicken wings. Get it all before you put that down, his mother used to say, the meat’s sweetest closest to the bone. Then he was yanked forward again. The driver’s door opened to welcome him: hello, Doug, come on in. His head connected with the top of the door, and he felt a line of coldness across his brow that turned hot as the station wagon’s roofline sliced through his skin. He made one more effort to get away,
brothers. They had little to say about such issues, but teaching by example is always the most powerful teaching of all. If you saw a guy lying by the side of the road, it didn’t matter if he was a Samaritan or a Martian. You stopped to help. Nor had she ever worried much about being robbed, raped, or murdered by someone who was only pretending to need help. Julie was the sort of woman who would supposedly make a good wife because—in the parlance of the old Maine Yankees, of whom there are still
optometrist, she’d read the whole damn eye chart, bottom line and all. Dr. Stratton had been amazed. “She could qualify for jet fighter training,” he told Johnny and Carla. Johnny said, “Maybe someday she will. She’s certainly got a killer instinct when it comes to her little brother.” Carla had thrown him an elbow for that, but it was true. She had heard there was less sibling rivalry when the sibs were of different sexes. If so, Rachel and Blake were the exception that proved the rule. Carla