Originally only available in e-book, the short story “Riding the Bullet” was published this year in Stephen King’s latest collection of short stories, Everything’s Eventual. It has now been released for the first time in audiobook.
It is the story of a college boy in Maine who discovers that his mother has had a stroke and is ill in the hospital up north. Without hesitation he leaves school and starts making his way north in the only way he knows how, since he doesn’t have a car: hitchhiking. He’s done this before, and while it is illegal, he knows when to look out for cops, which guys are good to get rides with, and which are bad.
But this time he hitches a ride with an unexpected driver: one who is already dead. This driver poses an ultimatum to him: to let his mother live he must sacrifice himself, or let his mother die while he continues to live. Ultimately it is a decision he will have to think about for a long time, but time is what he doesn’t have. Once his decision has been made he finds himself on the roadside, his head dripping with blood from a knock on a tombstone in the cemetery he’d been passing through. Was it all a dream? Or is the decision he made coming true at this very moment? All will be revealed when you ride the bullet!
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Originally published on November 11th, 2002.
Originally published in the Long Beach Union.