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Mile 81: Includes bonus story 'The…
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Mile 81: Includes bonus story 'The Dune' (edition 2012)

by Stephen King, Thomas Sadoski (Reader), Edward Herrmann (Reader)

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4242224,938 (3.43)21
Member:wtoomey
Title:Mile 81: Includes bonus story 'The Dune'
Authors:Stephen King
Other authors:Thomas Sadoski (Reader), Edward Herrmann (Reader)
Info:Simon & Schuster Audio (2012), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:own, ebook, horror, coming of age, Main, thriller

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Mile 81 by Stephen King

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One of the best things about e-books is that many more novella-length works get stand-alone publication. You don’t have to search them out in magazines, or wait for the author to write several of them and combine them in a collection, or spend a large chunk of change for a special printing from a small press. As I’ve always thought that the novella was the form best suited for short science fiction, I’m pleased with this advance; it almost makes up for not being able to hold a real book in my hands, turning real pages.

One of the worst things about e-books, though, is that they disappear on one’s Kindle (or Nook, or tablet; whatever). You can’t really search through them the way you can scan a bookshelf. When you’re an inveterate collector of books, those e-book deals fill up your reader until you’ve forgotten you bought that cool novella by one of your favorite writers that you couldn’t wait to read. Which explains, I hope, why I’ve only read Stephen King’s Mile 81 now, even though it was first published in 2011.

I have always particularly likes the way Stephen King inserts a horrific element into the mundane world, often without explanation. In “The Raft” (from the collection Skeleton Crew), for instance, probably my favorite of his short stories, a malign entity simply appears in the water as four teenagers are swimming in a Pennsylvania lake. I won’t tell you what happens from there, but I will tell you that this story has haunted me ever since I first read it. I also like the way King seems able to capture how children think, almost regardless of their age or gender, though he’s best at boys who are just at the stage of puberty; you can see this in works like “The Body,” from the collection Different Seasons, which became the movie Stand by Me.

In Mile 81, King has combined these two strengths into one frightening novella. The title refers to an abandoned rest stop near the Mile 81 road marker on a freeway. The buildings that used to house a fast food restaurant and other typical roadside conveniences have been boarded up, but that doesn’t stop the local teenagers, who have turned it into a place to drink, have sex, and otherwise act up. Pete Simmons is only ten years old, but he’s at loose ends on spring break. His older brother, who is supposed to be watching him, has gone off with his own gang of friends, and all of Pete’s buddies seem to have gone to Disney World. On his way there, Pete finds a partially full bottle of vodka, which seems to offer a pretty cool option for his time in the rest stop.

While Pete is sleeping it off inside the rest stop, a car pulls into the entrance lane of the rest area, striking four of the arrange barrels blocking it off. It looks sort of like a mud-covered station wagon, but it’s no recognizable make or model. The driver’s side door opens, but no one gets out. An insurance salesman named Doug Clayton sees the car as he’s driving from Bangor to Portland to attend a conference, and he decides to stop and help. After all, his favorite bible story is of the Good Samaritan, and he wants to live up to it. So Doug pulls in, walks up to the station wagon, and peers inside, which is just as covered with muddy goo as the outside is. He can’t see anyone, so he grabs the open door, the better to lean in and look into the back seat. And that’s when he discovers that this car contains no injured Levite.

The story goes on from there pretty much as you’d expect a Stephen King story to go, but that’s no criticism. This is vintage King, where lots of bad things happen to good people. And, as is often the case in King’s writing, it is those who still have imaginations, who still believe in the unbelievable, who figure the whole thing out. King’s characters ring true, and, as his characters so often do, they say and do the things that you don’t find in most writing — the everyday talk to one’s self, the odd little things people do when they think no one is looking — which makes them all the more real. The plot may be predictable, especially because King plants hints at the beginning of the story, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is how much fun it is to read this work. You’ll find yourself swiping at your e-reader because you can’t get the pages to turn fast enough to learn how things turn out.

Originally published at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/mile-81/ ( )
  TerryWeyna | Apr 19, 2015 |
Great short story, fun listen. However, this one ended with no answers. Maybe, the kids in the story don't know anything more...but a hint would have been enchanting.. ( )
  buffalogr | Mar 21, 2015 |
Interesting short story by Stephen King. This is a very short read in under an hours but worth the little it cost. This is only in ebook format. But it is Stephen King. Yes, it is weird. But it is Stephen King what more can I say? This ebook has a teaser of the new novel 11/23/69 that is coming out soon. ( )
  kybunnies | Oct 19, 2014 |
10-year old Pete breaks away from his older brother, George, when George ditches him for his own friends. Pete goes down to the deserted roadside turnout, Mile 81, to snoop around the deserted area. While there, he falls asleep. Outside, an old muddy station wagon pulls up and the door opens... Others pull up to see if there's someone who needs help, but this turns out to be at their own peril.

This was really good. It's a short story, so it goes quickly and ends just as fast. I would have liked to know more at the end – what happens to the characters next? Other than that, though, I quite enjoyed it. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 5, 2014 |
I don't know exactly what King was going for here. At the end, he throws out a dedication to a few people who supported his earlier work, so I'm guessing he was going on nostalgia?

This thing reads like a really bad B-movie. Not in a good way. I could've done without the blatant and unnecessary plug for AT&T wireless internet. Also, all the mentioning of an ongoing series that he's working on (American Vampire) and a film adaptation from his previous work (Christine) was kind of distracting and pulled me out of the story.

I don't know what I expected. I loved Blockade Billy (his short story I read last summer).. but this just bothered me way too much.

Gah. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
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Dedication
For Nye Willden and Doug Allen, who bought my first stories.
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"You can't come," his older brother said.
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...when Pete thought of this, his heart filled with envy and jealousy - a vile brew, but strangely tasty.
Nothing is as piercing as a child's scream; it's one of nature's more efficient survival mechanisms.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded up rest stop, 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.

With the heart of Stand By Me and the genius horror of Christine, Mile 81 is Stephen unleashing his imagination as he drives past one of those road signs...
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Young Pete Simmons just wanted to have some fun and explore when he stumbled onto the old abandoned rest stop at Mile 81 on the Maine turnpike. Instead, he discovers a scene of bloodshed and carnage. A car has pulled into the boarded-up service station, a run-down, muddy station wagon without any plates; and without a driver. As the car claims the lives of one would-be good Samaritan after another, Pete decides that it's up to him to stop the evil car before he becomes its next victim.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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