I haven't participated in Short Story Monday since I finished the last of Neil Gaiman's. So it seemed fitting, if I was going to continue, that I should fall back on an old favorite: Stephen King. Actually, I kind of fell into this one as well. I went to the library looking for collections of short stories. I just wasn't sure where to begin. I spent a while searching for something recent. My library isn't exactly the most up-to-date library there is. It's only a small branch of the Peoria Public Library. But they try. What the lack in actual books, they make up for in customer service!!
Anyhoo, what I did find was an older book of 13 Short Horror Novels, by authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, HP Lovecraft, George R. R. Martin.....and yes, Stephen King. Jerusalem's Lot was originally published in 1978 for the collection Night Shift. I really don't think I ever read this before. I do know that I didn't read one of his earlier collections, and it must be this one, because this story was brand new to me. Now we all know the story of 'Salem's Lot. It was actually the first King I ever read. A town filled with vampires. But this story is actually quite different, and yet, equally frightening.
Jerusalem's Lot isn't so much as story as a collection of letters and journal entries from a man named Charles Boone in October of 1850. Mr. Boone inherited the old family estate in Maine from a cousin. Since he was the last of the bloodline, Chapelwaite was his. Mr. Boone and his friend (and servant) Calvin moved into the old mansion. Most of the people in the small village of Preacher's Corner felt the men were mad for moving into the place. Chapelwaite had a very bizarre and sinister history for the Boone family, and no one wanted to go near it. Things went bump in the night behind the walls and in the basement.....sounding like very large rats.
Then, one day, Calvin discovers some old papers and a map to the deserted town of Jerusalem's Lot. The two men set off for the town, only to find that no one has set foot there in many years. Everything is just abandoned....even by the animals of the area. At the center of this deserted village is a church, but unlike any church either man has ever entered. The cross in inverted and there is a sacrilegious picture of the Madonna and Child. On the pulpit is a book, written in Latin entitled De Vermis Mysteriis (The Mysteries of the Worm). When Charles touches the book, the entire church starts to shake, and it feel like something is moving in the ground beneath.
Reading a story by Stephen King is like coming home to an old friend. He is truly a talented storyteller. Is there really something going on? Is his family really cursed? Or is Charles Boone just mad?? The history of the Boone family is strange, disturbing, and a touch frightening. And as with all things Stephen King, the bump in the night is never truly vanquished. He always leaves you with that last little tidbit just to let you know it really isn't safe to be near Jerusalem's Lot!!
Hmmmm.....once I finish this collection, maybe it's time to dig out my old Stephen King books for another go!