Mile 81

Written by: Stephen King

Published By: Simon and Schuster

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                I have read almost all of Stephen King's earlier works with the exception of Salem's Lot (just never got to that one) and The Dark Tower Series (never wanted to).  But my infatuation with Mr. King's works has waned over the years as I have tried to add a little variety to my reading list.  This close to Halloween, however, I could hardly resist reading a spooky tale and who better to give one a fright than the master of horror?  To that end, I decided to check out the short story, Mile 81, touted as being much like Christine (loved that one) and From a Buick 8 (never read).

                The tale starts off with Pete, who at the age of ten is eager to show off his skills to his older brother George and his friends so he can join in the gang's fun.  But, seen as too young to engage in their death defying stunts, Pete is left to fend for himself.  He decides to go on an adventure, checking out a little known teenage hangout, the abandoned rest stop at Mile 81.  Wouldn't that make for a great tale...one that might gain Pete some acceptance among the bigger boys.

                While traveling to the rest stop, Pete comes across a bottle of vodka.  Entering the old rest stop through a loading dock, Pete partakes in some fun while drinking and ends up passing out drunk.  Thus, he misses out on much of the action when a station wagon, covered in mud, breaks through the Mile 81 ramp barriers and parks near the ramp with its door ajar.

                Drivers on I-95 mostly pass this by, not wanting or willing to get involved, but some Good Samaritans do stop, with the idea of helping whoever is inside the car.  They not only discover that the car is empty, but that the car is anything but.  Pete comes to just in time to hear the screams of two younger children and to witness the "car" in action.  He wants to help the kids, but what can a ten year old do against a monster like that?

                Mile 81 is classic Stephen King.  I wouldn't quite say it was like Christine - that Plymouth Fury was possessed- but it is a lot like King's earlier works, pitting young kids against impossible odds and/or monsters (Stand By Me, It, Children of the Corn).  Mile 81 is a thriller/horror that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering just how this monster will be stopped and how many will succumb before the tale is done.


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