1408 (short story)

1408 (short story)

Infobox short story |
name = 1408
author = Stephen King
country = United States
language = English
genre = Horror short story
published_in = "Blood and Smoke"
publisher = Si & Schuster Audio
media_type = Audiobook anthology
pub_date = November 1999
preceded_by =
followed_by =
"1408" is the second in the audiobook collection titled "Blood and Smoke", by Stephen King, released in 1999. In 2002, it was reprinted in written form as the twelfth story in the compilation "". In the introduction to the story, King says that "1408" is his version of what he calls the "Ghostly Room at the Inn", his term for the theme of haunted hotel or motel rooms in horror fiction. He originally wrote the first few pages as part of an appendix for his non-fiction book, "On Writing", to be used as an example of how a story changes from one to the next. King also noted how the numbers of the title add up to the supposedly unlucky number 13.

Plot summary

As in many of King's works, the protagonist of the story is a writer, Mike Enslin, who writes non-fiction works based on the theme of haunted places. His book series, "Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Houses", "Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Graveyards" and "Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Castles", prove to be best-sellers, but Enslin internally reveals some guilt and regret at their success, privately acknowledging that he is a believer in neither the paranormal nor the supernatural elements he espouses in these books.

Nonetheless, he arrives at the Hotel Dolphin on 61st Street in New York City intent on spending the night in the hotel's infamous room 1408, as part of his research for his next book, "Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Hotel Rooms". At first Enslin is unfazed by 1408's morbid history. According to the hotel's manager, Mr. Olin (who has purposely left it vacant for over 20 years), room 1408 has been responsible for at least 42 deaths, 12 of them suicides and at least 30 "natural" deaths, all over a span of 68 years. While remarking that he doesn't believe there are ghosts in 1408, Olin insists there is "something" that resides inside, something that causes terrible things to happen to people who stay within its walls for anything but the briefest periods of time, something that affects various electronic devices, causing digital wristwatches, pocket calculators, and cell phones to stop functioning or to operate unpredictably. Mr. Olin also reveals that due to the superstitious practice of never recognizing the 13th floor (the room is listed on the 14th), it is a room cursed by existing on the 13th floor, the room numbers adding up to 13 making it all the worse. Mr. Olin pleads with Enslin to reconsider, believing that a skeptic such as he is even more susceptible to the room's curse. Enslin is shaken, but his determination to follow through with his research and to not appear frightened before Mr. Olin wins out. Olin reluctantly leads him to the 14th floor, unwilling to accompany him farther than the elevator.

Enslin's problems with Room 1408 begin before he even sets foot through the door; in fact, the door itself initially appears to be crooked. He looks again and the door appears to be straight - then again, and it appears to be crooked again (though this time leaning to the right instead of the left).

As Enslin enters and examines the room, and begins dictating into a hand-held tape recorder, his train of thought immediately takes unwelcome and chaotic turns - he compares it to "being stoned on bad, cheap dope". He begins experiencing what may or may not be hallucinations; the breakfast menu on the nightstand changes languages and finally turns into a woodcut of a boy being eaten alive by a wolf, pictures on the walls shift into disgusting perversions, and Enslin's thoughts become bizarre and incoherent.

Enslin finds a book of matches and sets himself on fire, which breaks the spell of the room long enough so that he can escape. As he collapses, on fire, outside the room, another hotel guest who is getting ice from the ice machine sees him and is able to put out the fire. The other guest looks inside the room and something about it is tempting him to enter, but Enslin warns him not to.

In the aftermath, Enslin gives up writing. He has various problems stemming from his night in the room. These include sleeping with a night light "so I always know where I am when I wake up from the bad dreams", removing the houses phones and closing the curtains at sunset, because he cannot stand the shade of yellow-orange that reminds him of 1408 before he saved himself.

Allusions/references to other works

* Part of the drafts to the story were included in "On Writing" as a study of how King edits his work.

* The story briefly connects to King's Dark Tower series. In "1408", Enslin hears a gravelly voice on the other end of the phone reciting numbers and luggage unpacking itself. These sounds reference a scene from the second book in the series, in which Eddie Dean smuggles cocaine past airport security with the help of Roland Deschain.

Film adaptation

The Swedish film director Mikael Håfström developed a movie, "1408", based on the short story, starring John Cusack as Michael Enslin and Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Olin. It was released June 22, 2007 and was a financial success in its opening weekend, taking in $20.1 million.cite web
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450385/releaseinfo
title = "Release dates for "1408" (2007)"
work = Internet Movie Database
accessdate = 2008-01-01
] cite web
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450385/business
title = "Box office / business for "1408" (2007)"
work = Internet Movie Database
accessdate = 2008-01-01


External links


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