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Riding the Bullet

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"Riding the Bullet" is a short story written by Stephen King. It was first published by King in 2000 as an e-book, and later included in his 2002 collection Everything's Eventual.

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.

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 next where his head had been sewn on after being severed and wearing a button saying "I rode The Bullet at Thrill Village, Laconia."

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.

Adaptation

The story was adapted into a 2004 film.

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