|Originally published in 1975|
"We keep coming back to my mental health," Matt said.
John was sitting in a hospital waiting room in Lincoln, Nebraska. His father was having a battery of tests done, which, in the long run, would show he was in perfect health. To keep himself distracted and entertained, John brought along a book that he had been reading. 'SALEM'S LOT by Stephen King, as John would realize, was definitely a distraction.
The waiting room was taking on the soft glow of evening, which caused John to glance up from the seriously disturbing tale of vampires in a small Maine village. He looked out of the large window and took note of the sun's position above a distant row of trees. Sundown was steadily approaching and there was nothing to be done about it.
This fact filled John with a palpable uneasiness. Yes, the literary vampires before him were the main cause of this growing tension, but being inside a hospital, surrounded by the sick and terminally ill, accelerated the dreadful sensation within him. An irrational fear gripped his heart. John felt, no, he knew that he had to finish reading SALEM'S LOT before sundown or something unspeakable would occur.
The race was on! John started reading Stephen King's words as if his life depended on it. Page after page was turned as the suspense mounted in the book and in the waiting room. Every so often, John would steal a glance out of the window, keeping track as the sun continued its unstoppable descent.
As the room grew dimmer and dimmer, John continued reading faster and faster. His heart was pounding with every word until at last he closed the book and looked around. The waiting room was in a hazy dream state of fading light and growing shadows. Out of the window, John could see the sun barely filtering behind the distant row of trees, daring to sink completely out of view.
John had won the race between nature and literature, so nothing unspeakable would happen that night. He left the waiting room with a sense of relief and checked on his father, who had more tests scheduled for the next morning. John soon found his way to a Super 8 Motel on the outskirts of Lincoln, Nebraska, where the vivid terror of SALEM'S LOT would haunt his thoughts until a happy, rainy music video caught his attention later that night.
Though, many years later, John would still shudder at the horror of that vampire-infested Maine village, and tell anyone who asked, that SALEM'S LOT was one of the scariest books he had ever read.
(Please click 1995 to read about that happy, rainy music video.)
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