"Obits" is a short story first published in the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. In the foreword, Stephen King claims he got the idea for the story from a horror movie he saw as a child: I Bury the Living.
Michael "Mike" Anderson, a beginning journalist, gets a job at a satirical website called Neon Circus, where he is put in charge of the column “speaking ill of the dead”, which involves writing snarky obituaries about recently deceased celebrities. When one day his boss, Jeroma Whitfeld, refuses to give him a raise, Mike decides to quit and writes a joke obit about her to vent his rage. Later that day, his coworker Katie Curran calls him and reports that Jeroma Whitfeld has died; she choked on an eucalyptus drop.
Shocked, Mike decides to write another obit about a living person to convince himself that it was all just a coincidence. He picks Peter Stefano, a record producer who killed his girlfriend, a talented singer named Andi McCoy. When the next morning Stefano also turns out to have died, Mike realizes he somehow has the power to kill people through his obits. He shares this with Katie, who encourages him to perform 1 more test. She chooses Kenneth Wanderly, a convicted serial rapist. Indeed, Wanderly also dies.
Katie, who has taken over Jeroma’s position at Neon Circus, promises to keep this secret, but is quick to tell their co-worker Penny Langston about Mike’s gift. Both women know each other from a rape support group. Penny has frequently been raped as a child by her uncle, Amos Langford, and ask Mike to use his talent to kill him. Mike agrees and finds to his shock that he is starting to like writing these obits, like it's an addiction.
The next day however, it turns out Mike’s obits have far more severe consequences than first thought. Not only do they kill the person Mike wrote them for, but also everyone else who happens to have the same name as the intended victim and lives within a certain radius from said victim. His obit about Peter Stefano killed at least 3 other Peter Stefano’s, and the Amos Langford obit has cost at least 17 Amos Langford’s their lives. This last one even reached as far as Florida while the intended Amos Langford lived in Amityville. Katie deduces that Mike is getting stronger, and his powers will impact a larger area each time, as well as impact people whose names strongly resemble that of the victim.
Confronted by this revelation, Mike really does quit his job at Neon Circus and moves to Laramie, Wyoming, leaving his laptop behind in New York. He hopes that Katie and especially Penny will keep their mouth shut about his powers, but doubts if Penny will do so. He now lives his life doing various jobs around town. His urge to write obits is still strong however and he frequently dreams about it. Katie meanwhile becomes a successful editor of Neon Circus.