First edition cover
|Cover artist||Gerry Grace|
|Publication date||April 29, 1983|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (June 2013)|
Christine is a horror novel by Stephen King, published in 1983. It tells the story of a vintage automobile apparently possessed by supernatural forces. Later that same year, a film adaptation, directed by John Carpenter and starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, and Harry Dean Stanton, was released. In April 2013, PS Publishing released Christine in a limited 30th Anniversary Edition.
While riding home from work with his friend Dennis, nerdy teen Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham spots a dilapidated red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury parked in front of a house. Arnie makes Dennis stop so he can examine the car, despite Dennis' attempts to talk Arnie out of it. The car's owner, Roland D. LeBay, an elderly gentleman wearing a back supporter, sells the car—named "Christine"—to Arnie for $250. While waiting for Arnie to finish the paperwork, Dennis sits inside Christine. He has a vision of the car and the surroundings as they were twenty years ago, when the car was new. Frightened, Dennis gets out of Christine, deciding he dislikes Arnie's new car.
Arnie brings Christine to a do-it-yourself auto repair facility run by Will Darnell, who is suspected of using the garage as a front for illicit operations. As Arnie restores the automobile he becomes withdrawn, humorless, and cynical, yet more confident and self-assured. Dennis is puzzled by the changes in both his friend and Christine; the repair work proceeds haphazardly, and the more extensive repairs do not appear to be done by Arnie. Arnie's appearance improves in tandem with Christine's. When LeBay dies, Dennis meets his younger brother, George, who reveals Roland's history of violent behavior. George also reveals that LeBay's small daughter choked to death on a hamburger in the back seat of the car, LeBay's wife was so traumatized that she apparently committed suicide in its front seat by carbon monoxide poisoning. As time passes, Dennis observes that Arnie is taking on many of LeBay's personality traits. He also notices that Arnie has become close to Darnell, even acting as a courier in Darnell's interstate smuggling operations.
When Arnie is almost finished restoring Christine, an attractive girl named Leigh Cabot transfers to his high school. She is regarded as the school beauty, and her decision to go out with Arnie puzzles everyone. While on a date with Arnie, she nearly chokes to death on a hamburger and is saved only by the intervention of a hitchhiker who uses the Heimlich maneuver. Leigh notices that Christine's dashboard lights seemed to become glaring green eyes, watching her during the incident, and that Arnie tried to save her by ineffectually pounding her on the back. She realizes that she and Christine are competing for Arnie's affection and vows to never get into the car again.
Arnie's mother refuses to let him keep Christine at home. After several arguments, Arnie's father purchases a 30-day pass for the airport parking lot, helping to restore peace in the family. Soon afterward, Buddy Repperton, a bully who frequently targeted Arnie before being expelled from high school, and his gang of thugs vandalize the car. As Arnie pushes Christine through Darnell's garage/junkyard, the car repairs itself. Arnie strains his back in the process and begins wearing a brace all the time, as LeBay did. His relationship with Leigh declines.
A number of inexplicable car-related deaths occur around town, starting with Buddy's and all but one of his accomplices' in the vandalism and ending with Will Darnell's. The police find evidence linking Christine to the scene of each death, although none is found on the car itself. A police detective named Rudy Junkins becomes suspicious of Arnie, and his suspicions are not allayed even though Arnie is able to produce an airtight alibi for each death. It is revealed that Christine, possessed by LeBay's vengeful spirit, is committing these murders independently and repairing herself after each one.
Arnie becomes obsessed with Christine, forgetting Leigh entirely, and Leigh and Dennis begin their own relationship, unearthing details of Christine and LeBay's past. Dennis speculates that LeBay may have deliberately sacrificed his daughter to make Christine a receptacle for his spirit, after learning that he deliberately took her into the car when she started choking (an incident strongly paralleling Leigh's near-fatal experience).
One evening, Arnie stumbles upon Leigh and Dennis intimately close in Dennis' car, sending him into a rage. Then, Rudy Junkins falls victim to a gruesome death. Knowing they are now at the top of LeBay and Christine's hit list, Dennis and Leigh devise a plan to destroy the car and, hopefully, save Arnie. While Arnie is out of town, they lure Christine to Darnell's garage and batter her to pieces using a septic tanker truck. Dennis briefly witnesses LeBay's spirit attempting to order him to stop. The remains are put through a car crusher, and Dennis learns that Arnie and his mother were both killed in a highway accident, while Christine killed Arnie's father earlier. Witness accounts lead Dennis to believe that LeBay's spirit, tied to Arnie through Christine, tore itself away and caused the wreck.
Four years later, Dennis reflects on these events. He and Leigh parted after attending college together, and he is now a junior high school teacher. He learns about a freak car accident in Los Angeles, in which a movie theater employee - possibly the last surviving member of Buddy's gang - was struck and killed by a car that smashed in through the theater wall. Dennis speculates that Christine may have rebuilt herself and set out to kill everyone who stood against her, saving him for last.
- Christine, a 1983 film adaptation
- The Car, a 1977 film about a killer car
- From a Buick 8 (2002), another novel by Stephen King about a mysterious car
- "You Drive", an episode of The Twilight Zone
- Route 666, an episode of Supernatural about a possessed truck.
- "Black Cadillac", a 2003 film about a car that stalks its victims relentlessly.
- "Sally", a 1953 short story by Isaac Asimov.