Quitters Inc, is a short story by Stephen King that appears in Night Shift.
I’ve always loved short stories. I’m a book addict, and if I really like a book, I have a hard time doing anything else until it’s done. Luckily for me, I have an understanding husband. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve snapped at him, “Are you doing talking yet?” so that I can go back to reading.
Short stories work really well for me in that I can stop reading at the end of each story, thereby allowing me to be a sane-ish and productive human being.
This story has stuck with me for many years, and I’m not sure why. That’s the hallmark of good writing though, right? When something sticks with you over time.
When I was looking for books that influenced me, I couldn’t come up with anything for “Q.” I almost went with an author, but while I do have a “Q” writer I read, I would have had to stretch the truth to say she influenced me.
This story popped into my head, and when I did an online search for it, I found out it was written by Stephen King. I’m sure I read Night Shift in its entirety, but I don’t remember any of the other stories.
The story is about a man who wants to quit smoking, and he goes to Quitters Inc, where they take extreme measures to guarantee his success. What made this story creepy is that it’s such a mundane thing: quitting a bad habit. Habits are difficult to break, and this guy agrees to some awful stuff to help him break it.
Who wouldn’t at least consider it? If someone guaranteed that they could break your worst habit, wouldn’t you think about it? I would.
I’m not often envious of other writers when they write an amazing story, but this is one that I wish I’d written. I love the idea, the execution, and that it’s so powerful in such a short form.
This is one of the stories that taught me that short stories can have just as big of an impact as novels.
“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”