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Authors: Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

BOOK: Doctor Sleep
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In 1977, Stephen King's
The Shining
gave us a new kind of horror novel—one that played out in the mind of a psychically gifted young boy, Danny Torrance, and his alcoholic father, in the corridors of a snowbound hotel.

Now, Dan Torrance has grown up. So have his demons. . . .

“Almost 40 years later, I've changed, the world has changed, the planet has changed—and Stephen King is still scaring the hell out of me. . . . I could hardly find the courage to turn the page.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR



The acclaimed sequel to
The Shining

“King's inventiveness and skill show no sign of slacking:
Doctor Sleep
has all the virtues of his best work. . . . King is right at the center of the American literary taproot that goes all the way down . . . to Hawthorne, to Poe, to Melville, to the Henry James of
The Turn of the Screw
, and then to later exemplars like Ray Bradbury. What will King do next? Perhaps Abra will grow up, and become a writer, and use her ‘shining' talents to divine the minds and souls of others. For that, of course, is yet another interpretation of King's eerie, luminescent metaphor.”

—Margaret Atwood,
The New York Times Book Review

“King at his best . . . thoroughly terrifying. It's impossible to close the cover on
Doctor Sleep
and not immediately yearn for a sequel to this sequel.”

New York Daily News

“A gripping, taut read.”

Publishers Weekly

“King found there was indeed a reason to revisit Daniel Torrance in adulthood. . . . The temptation toward the bottle that destroyed his father—and the Overlook Hotel—remains at all times, adding remarkable tension. . . .”

The Toledo Free Press

“Chilling scenes. . . .
Doctor Sleep
has its own trajectory and cast of characters, and they come fully alive. As with so many of King's characters over the years, we root for them, love them, hate them, fear them, and remember them. . . . It's not simple horror King is after, but thematic resonance: the manacles of the past, the fear of death, the brutality of alcoholism, and the remorse that lingers from bad choices. King offers hope that good can outweigh evil, with some work, commitment, and a little (
lots and lots of
) blood and guts.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Doctor Sleep
has its own vivid frightscape . . . the red mist secreted by the dying is terrifying to imagine. And the steam of those who shine is one of Mr. King's best surreal inventions.”

—Janet Maslin,
The New York Times

Doctor Sleep
doesn't disappoint.”

The Wall Street Journal

“Like Poe, King works at the blurry boundary between supernatural horrors and psychological ones. King is excellent on addiction and its attendant dysfunctions: deception, self-justification, disregard of others, new-leaf fantasies and their near-instant collapse, the next fix as the North Star. . . . As for
Doctor Sleep
: It refers to Dan Torrance, hospice worker—who, in his sober, shining kindness, comforts his elderly patients as they're dying. Stephen King has given us a work of horror that promises, of all things, a good night's sleep.”

New York Magazine

Praise for

“A master storyteller.”

Los Angeles Times

“The most wonderfully gruesome man on the planet.”

USA Today

“Stephen King knows exactly what scares you most. . . .”


“An undisputed master of suspense and terror.”

The Washington Post

“King probably knows more about scary goings-on in confined, isolated places than anybody since Edgar Allan Poe.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Peerless imagination.”

The Observer

“America's greatest living novelist.”

—Lee Child

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When I was playing my primitive brand of rhythm guitar with a group called the Rock Bottom Remainders, Warren Zevon used to gig with us. Warren loved gray t-shirts and movies like
Kingdom of the Spiders
. He insisted I sing lead on his signature tune, “Werewolves of London,” during the encore portion of our shows. I said I was not worthy. He insisted that I was. “Key of G,” Warren told me, “and howl like you mean it. Most important of all,
play like Keith

I'll never be able to play like Keith Richards, but I always did my best, and with Warren beside me, matching me note for note and laughing his fool head off, I always had a blast.

Warren, this howl is for you, wherever you are. I miss you, buddy.

We stood at the turning point. Half-measures availed us nothing.

—The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. [It is] the dubious luxury of normal men and women.

—The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous


FEAR stands for fuck everything and run.

—Old AA saying


On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado's great resort hotels burned to the ground. The Overlook was declared a total loss. After an investigation, the fire marshal of Jicarilla County ruled the cause had been a defective boiler. The hotel was closed for the winter when the accident occurred, and only four people were present. Three survived. The hotel's off-season caretaker, John Torrance, was killed during an unsuccessful (and heroic) effort to dump the boiler's steam pressure, which had mounted to disastrously high levels due to an inoperative relief valve.

Two of the survivors were the caretaker's wife and young son. The third was the Overlook's chef, Richard Hallorann, who had left his seasonal job in Florida and come to check on the Torrances because of what he called “a powerful hunch” that the family was in trouble. Both surviving adults were quite badly injured in the explosion. Only the child was unhurt.

Physically, at least.


Wendy Torrance and her son received a settlement from the corporation that owned the Overlook. It wasn't huge, but enough
to get them by for the three years she was unable to work because of back injuries. A lawyer she consulted told her that if she were willing to hold out and play tough, she might get a great deal more, because the corporation was anxious to avoid a court case. But she, like the corporation, wanted only to put that disastrous winter in Colorado behind her. She would convalesce, she said, and she did, although back injuries plagued her until the end of her life. Shattered vertebrae and broken ribs heal, but they never cease crying out.

Winifred and Daniel Torrance lived in the mid-South for awhile, then drifted down to Tampa. Sometimes Dick Hallorann (he of the powerful hunches) came up from Key West to visit with them. To visit with young Danny especially. They shared a bond.

One early morning in March of 1981, Wendy called Dick and asked if he could come. Danny, she said, had awakened her in the night and told her not to go in the bathroom.

After that, he refused to talk at all.


He woke up needing to pee. Outside, a strong wind was blowing. It was warm—in Florida it almost always was—but he did not like that sound, and supposed he never would. It reminded him of the Overlook, where the defective boiler had been the very least of the dangers.

He and his mother lived in a cramped second-floor tenement apartment. Danny left the little room next to his mother's and crossed the hall. The wind gusted and a dying palm tree beside the building clattered its leaves. The sound was skeletal. They always left the bathroom door open when no one was using the shower or the toilet, because the lock was broken. Tonight the door was closed. Not because his mother was in there, however. Thanks to facial injuries she'd suffered at the Overlook, she now snored—a soft
sound—and he could hear it coming from her bedroom.

Well, she closed it by accident, that's all

He knew better, even then (he was possessed of powerful hunches and intuitions himself ), but sometimes you had to know. Sometimes you had to
. This was something he had found out at the Overlook, in a room on the second floor.

Reaching with an arm that seemed too long, too stretchy, too
he turned the knob and opened the door.

The woman from Room 217 was there, as he had known she would be. She was sitting naked on the toilet with her legs spread and her pallid thighs bulging. Her greenish breasts hung down like deflated balloons. The patch of hair below her stomach was gray. Her eyes were also gray, like steel mirrors. She saw him, and her lips stretched back in a grin.

Close your eyes,
Dick Hallorann had told him once upon a time.
If you see something bad, close your eyes and tell yourself it's not there and when you open them again, it will be gone

But it hadn't worked in Room 217 when he was five, and it wouldn't work now. He knew it. He could
her. She was decaying.

The woman—he knew her name, it was Mrs. Massey—lumbered to her purple feet, holding out her hands to him. The flesh on her arms hung down, almost dripping. She was smiling the way you do when you see an old friend. Or, perhaps, something good to eat.

With an expression that could have been mistaken for calmness, Danny closed the door softly and stepped back. He watched as the knob turned right . . . left . . . right again . . . then stilled.

He was eight now, and capable of at least some rational thought even in his horror. Partly because, in a deep part of his mind, he had been expecting this. Although he had always thought it would be Horace Derwent who would eventually show up. Or perhaps the bartender, the one his father had called Lloyd. He supposed he should have known it would be Mrs. Massey, though, even before it finally happened. Because of all the undead things in the Overlook, she had been the worst.

The rational part of his mind told him she was just a fragment of unremembered bad dream that had followed him out of sleep and
across the hall to the bathroom. That part insisted that if he opened the door again, there would be nothing there. Surely there wouldn't be, now that he was awake. But another part of him, a part that
knew better. The Overlook wasn't done with him. At least one of its vengeful spirits had followed him all the way to Florida. Once he had come upon that woman sprawled in a bathtub. She had gotten out and tried to choke him with her fishy (but terribly strong) fingers. If he opened the bathroom door now, she would finish the job.

He compromised by putting his ear against the door. At first there was nothing. Then he heard a faint sound.

Dead fingernails scratching on wood.

Danny walked into the kitchen on not-there legs, stood on a chair, and peed into the sink. Then he woke his mother and told her not to go into the bathroom because there was a bad thing there. Once that was done, he went back to bed and sank deep beneath the covers. He wanted to stay there forever, only getting up to pee in the sink. Now that he had warned his mother, he had no interest in talking to her.

BOOK: Doctor Sleep
8.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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