Blood and Smoke is an audio book published by Simon & Schuster Audio and commercially released in November of 1999. The audio book is an anthology containing three short stories by famed horror novelist Stephen King. The stories are read by King and it is the first media in which the respective stories are presented. The context of the stories centers around the habit of smoking and as such, Blood and Smoke is packaged to represent a pack of cigarettes, including a flip-top lid. The outer design of the package is patterned after the cigarette brand Marlboro, with Stephen King's head serving as illumination on the front.

Plot Edit

1408 Edit

Main article: 1408 (short story)

As in many of King's works, the protagonist of the story is a writer, Mike Enslin, who writes non-fiction works based on the theme of haunted places. His book series, Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Houses, Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Graveyards and Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Castles, prove to be best-sellers, but Enslin internally reveals some guilt and regret at their success, privately acknowledging that he is a believer in neither the paranormal nor the supernatural elements he espouses in these books.

Nonetheless, he arrives at the Hotel Dolphin on 61st Street in New York City intent on spending the night in the hotel's infamous room 1408, as part of his research for his next book, Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Hotel Rooms. At first Enslin is unfazed by 1408's morbid history. According to the hotel's manager, Mister Olin (who has purposely left it vacant for over 20 years), room 1408 has been responsible for at least forty-two deaths, twelve of them suicides and at least thirty "natural" deaths, all over a span of sixty-eight years. While remarking that he doesn't believe there are ghosts in 1408, Olin insists there is "something" that resides inside, something that causes terrible things to happen to people who stay within its walls for anything but the briefest periods of time, something that affects various electronic devices, causing digital wristwatches, pocket calculators, and cell phones to stop functioning or to operate unpredictably. Mister Olin also reveals that due to the superstitious practice of never recognizing the thirteenth floor (the room is listed on the fourteenth), it is a room cursed by existing on the thirteenth floor, the room numbers adding up to thirteen making it all the worse. Mister Olin pleads with Enslin to reconsider, believing that a skeptic such as he is even more susceptible to the room's curse. Enslin is shaken, but his determination to follow through with his research and to not appear frightened before Mister Olin wins out. Olin reluctantly leads him to the fourteenth floor, unwilling to accompany him farther than the elevator.

Enslin's problems with Room 1408 begin before he even sets foot through the door; in fact, the door itself initially appears to be crooked. He looks again and the door appears to be straight - then again, and it appears to be crooked again (though this time leaning to the right instead of the left).

As Enslin enters and examines the room, and begins dictating into a hand-held tape recorder, his train of thought immediately takes unwelcome and chaotic turns - he compares it to "being stoned on bad, cheap dope". He begins experiencing what may or may not be hallucinations; the breakfast menu on the nightstand changes languages and finally turns into a woodcut of a boy being eaten alive by a wolf, pictures on the walls shift into frightening visions, (a still life of orange fruit becomes Enslin's severed head), and Enslin's thoughts become bizarre and incoherent. He tries to make a phone call, but only hears a nightmarish voice chanting bizarre phrases, for example, "This is nine! Nine! This is nine! Nine! This is Ten! Ten! We have killed your friends! Every friend is now dead! This is six! Six!"

Enslin finds a book of matches and sets himself on fire, which breaks the spell of the room long enough so that he can escape. As he collapses, on fire, outside the room, another hotel guest who is getting ice from the ice machine sees him and is able to put out the fire. The other guest looks inside the room and something about it is tempting him to enter, but Enslin warns him not to.

In the aftermath, Enslin gives up writing. He has various problems stemming from his night in the room. These include sleeping with a night light "so I always know where I am when I wake up from the bad dreams", removing the house's phones and closing the curtains at sunset, because he cannot stand the shade of the yellow-orange hue that reminds him of 1408. [1]

In the Deathroom Edit

Main article: In the Deathroom (short story)

Fletcher, an ex-reporter from the New York Times, has been captured by members of a South American government. The story begins as he is brought into the titular "deathroom" as he realizes that his captors, after interrogating him about a Communist insurgency he has been supporting, due to the government's killing of a group of nuns which included his sister, will not let him leave this room alive, despite their claims that he will be set free.

During the course of his interrogation, Fletcher manages to keep calm, and hatches a desperate plan to save his life, which, to his surprise, actually works. He fakes an epileptic seizure, and in the captors struggle to save him he steals a gun. After killing three of his captors and maiming one, he escapes "the deathroom." Fletcher, having no way of knowing if the gunfire was heard, starts up the stairs to see if he can escape.

The story ends with a man, almost certainly Fletcher, buying a pack of cigarettes at a newsstand kiosk in New York. [2]

Lunch at the Gotham Café Edit

Main article: Lunch at the Gotham Café (short story)

A man named Steve Davis comes home one day to find a letter from his wife, Diane, coldly stating she has left him and intends to get a divorce. He has no idea what events lead to this, and over time he becomes increasingly depressed. Diane's departure prompts him to give up cigarettes, and he begins to suffer nicotine withdrawal. Diane's lawyer, William Humboldt, calls Steve with plans to meet with the two of them for lunch. He decides on the Gotham Cafe and sets a date. Steve's lawyer is unable to attend due to a family crisis.

Before entering the Cafe, Steve impulsively buys an umbrella. Upon entering, he finds that the maître d', eventually revealed to be named Guy, is talking senselessly about a dog. When Steve attempts to seek reconciliation with Diane, things begin to fall apart. Much to Steve's consternation, she regards him with a mixture of contempt and apprehension, and spurns his requests for explanation. The maître d' then makes a surprise reappearance, drunkenly insane, chanting "Eeeee!", and stabs Humboldt through the head with a knife. Steve briefly fends off the lunatic with his new umbrella, then drags the helplessly terrified Diane into the kitchen. Guy gives chase, and after giving the cafe's cook a grisly injury, proceeds onward. Desperately struggling to hold off the lunatic, Steve implores Diane to unbolt the rear entrance door so they can escape, but she remains in a state of shock. He is able to incapacitate Guy by dousing him with scalding water and whacking him with a metal frying pan.

After finally escaping both the Cafe and Guy, Steve attempts to make sure Diane is all right. Diane recoils from him and rants at him venomously. Devoid of any shred of gratitude for his protection, she has construed the events of the last few minutes to conform to her perception of Steve as a cowardly, bullying, control freak, and decides it is time to stand up to him. When he tries to point out that he just saved her life, she flatly denies that he did. Overwhelmed with incredulous fury, Steve loses interest in reconciliation; Diane's self-empowering harangue is interrupted by a much-deserved slap across the face. This only reinforces her embittered villification of her husband, and after attempting to hurt him with claims of extramarital lovers, she leaves him for good. As Steve sits on the curb and watches ambulances haul away both the victims and the heavily-restrained Guy, he is left wondering about Guy's private life, and the nature of insanity. [3]

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Blood and Smoke was re-released in 2000.

External Links Edit

References Edit

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This article relates to the works of Stephen King.
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