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"Riding the Bullet"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror short story
Published in Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales
Publication type Online
Media type e-book, Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Publication date 2000

Riding the Bullet (2000) is a novella by Stephen King. This work marks King's debut on the Internet. Simon & Schuster, with technology by SoftLock, first published Riding the Bullet as the world's first mass-market electronic book, available available for download at $2.50.

During the first 24 hours, over 400,000 copies of "Riding the Bullet" were downloaded, jamming SoftLock's server. [1] Some Stephen King fans waited hours for the download. [2]

With over 500,000 downloads, Stephen King seemed to pave the way of the publishing future. The actual number of readers was unclear because the encryption caused countless computers to crash. [3]

The financial success of the electronic publication was doubtful. Initially offered at $2.50 by SoftLock and Simon & Schuster, Amazon and Barnes and Noble gave free downloads. [4]

In 2002 the story was published as part of the collection Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales. A movie adaptation of the story, starring Jonathan Jackson and David Arquette, was released in 2004.

Plot summary

Alan Parker is a student at the University of Maine, Orono who is trying to find himself. He gets a call from a neighbor in his hometown, Lewiston, telling him that his mother has been taken to the hospital after having a stroke. Lacking a functioning car, Parker decides to hitchhike the 120-miles south to visit his mother. [5]

His first ride is with an old man who continually tugs at his crotch in a car that stinks of urine. Happy to escape this ride, Alan starts walking, thumbing his next. Coming upon a graveyard, Alan notices a headstone for a stranger named George Staub: "Well Begun, Too Soon Done." Sure enough, the next car to pick him up is George Staub, complete with black stitches around his neck where his head had been sewn on after being severed and wearing a button saying "I rode The Bullet at Thrill Village, Laconia." [6]

During the ride, George talks to Alan about the amusement park ride he was too scared to ride as a kid: The Bullet in Thrill Village, Laconia, New Hampshire. George tells Alan that before they reach the lights of town, Alan must choose who goes on the death ride with George: Alan or his mother. In a moment of fright, Alan saves himself and tells to "Take her. Take my Mother."

George shoves Alan out of the car, where he reappears alone at the graveyard, wearing the "I Rode the Bullet at Thrill Village" button. Alan eventually reaches the hospital, and King ends the ghost story after several plot twists.

  1. ^ "eBooks are Here to Stay", by Karl De Abrew, Adobe.com 2000-04-24. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  2. ^ "The Business of EBooks", News Hour by Jim Lehrer transcript, PBS 2000-03-16. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  3. ^ "What is Stephen King trying to prove?" New York Times Magazine, 2000-08-13. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  4. ^ "For Softlock, the Rights Stuff Wasn't Good Enough", by Kevin Ferguson,Business Week, 2000-12-26. Retrieved on 2009-12-15
  5. ^ "Click if You Dare: It's the Cybercrypt" by Christopher Lehmann-haupt New York Times, 2000-03-20. Retrieved on 2009-12-15.
  6. ^ "Click if You Dare: It's the Cybercrypt" by Christopher Lehmann-haupt New York Times, 2000-03-20. Retrieved on 2009-12-15.

Template:Everything's Eventual

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