The Raft (short story)

The Raft (short story)

Infobox short story |
name = The Raft
author = Stephen King
country = United States
language = English
genre = Horror short story
published_in = "The Twilight Zone Magazine" (1st release),
"Skeleton Crew"
publication_type = Magazine
publisher =
media_type = Print (Periodical & Paperback)
pub_date = 1983
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Raft" is a horror short story by Stephen King first published in "The Twilight Zone Magazine" in May/June 1983, and collected in the 1985 "Skeleton Crew" anthology.

Plot summary

"The Raft" is about four college students, two young men (Randy and Deke) and two young women (Rachel and LaVerne), who go out to swim on a remote Pennsylvania lake during the autumn, when nobody is around. After they swim out to the raft in the middle of the lake, a mysterious oil slick-like creature appears in the water beneath them. Deke ridicules Randy's suspicions that the "oil slick" was chasing the girls, refusing to take the situation seriously until Rachel touches it. The creature instantly wraps around her arm, pulling her into itself and gradually dissolving her. After the initial panic, Deke decides he could make a swim to the shore, but as he prepares to jump into the lake he steps on a crack on the raft and the creature grabs him by his foot. Unable to free his friend, Randy watches as Deke is slowly consumed by the creature. Now unwilling to risk swimming for shore, Randy and LaVerne take turns watching the creature (which changes positions every now and then - it is either under the raft, or out of it). One stands while the other one sits. During the course of the night, LaVerne convinces Randy that they should sit together and keep each other warm. He eventually touches one of her breasts, and they end up having sex. During intercourse, LaVerne's hair falls off through the cracks of the raft and the creature absorbs her. Now alone, Randy spends the rest of the night and the following day on the raft, standing most of the time. By the next sunset he is raving, and wondering if the creature can ease his pain.

Film adaptation

"The Raft" was adapted to film as a segment of the 1987 horror anthology movie "Creepshow 2", directed by Michael Gornick with a screenplay by George Romero.

The ending was changed slightly for the film. As soon as the creature eats LaVerne, Randy makes a swim for shore and is quickly pursued. Crawling a few feet from the water's edge in apparent safety, he yells "I beat you!" but the creature becomes a wave and envelopes him. Ironically, as the creature quietly returns to the lake, the screen pans over a no-swimming sign near the now-abandoned Camaro which was hidden in overgrown reeds.


In the intro to the story in The Twilight Zone Magazine and in afterword to the book "Skeleton Crew", King relates an anecdote about the story's possible 1969 publication in "Adam" magazine in different form, under the title "The Float". He explains that the story was accepted for publication by "Adam" magazine. A short time after that King was arrested in the town of Orono, Maine for removing a number of traffic cones from the street after one of them had damaged his car. He was unable to pay the two hundred and fifty dollar fine handed down by the court and was about to be jailed for thirty days when the payment check for "The Float" arrived in the mail, an event King referred to as akin to "having someone send you a real Get Out of Jail Free card." Despite the fact that King received payment for the story he has never been able to locate a copy of the magazine with the published story in it.

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