Mrs. Todd's Shortcut

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"Mrs. Todd's Shortcut"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Short story
Published in Redbook (1st release),
Skeleton Crew
Publication type Magazine (1st release)
Media type Print (Paperback)
Publication date 1984

Mrs. Todd's Shortcut is a story by Stephen King, first published in the May 1984 issue of Redbook magazine, and collected in King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew.

Plot summary[edit]

David, friend of a caretaker named Homer, is an older man who is spending his later years hanging out at the local gas station in a small town. He narrates a tale about Mrs. Todd, who is obsessed with finding shortcuts. Homer admires her persistence but begins to have doubts, as there are only so many shortcuts someone can find. Mrs. Todd's habit of resetting her odometer shows remarkable evidence that something weird is going on. He also discovers evidence that her shortcuts are taking fewer miles than are in a straight line between the trip origin and its destination, something that would be impossible in reality. Mrs. Todd compares the shortcuts to folding a map to bring two points closer together, suggesting she has discovered a warped version of reality, like a worm hole.

Mrs. Todd finally convinces Homer to take one of the special 'shortcuts'. Homer loses his hat to the grasping arms of a living tree and sees road signs and strange, unnatural animals that he cannot explain. Frightened, Homer does not wish to take any more rides. Nonetheless, Mrs. Todd is changing and growing younger with each trip she takes, and the appeal of this overwhelms Homer, despite his having found a smashed, horrifying rodent-like creature on the grill of her car. She brushes this off, seeing the creature as an unfortunate yet normal animal. In the end, Homer, who is looking younger himself, gets into Mrs. Todd's car in front of his friend. It is implied that Mrs. Todd (who by this time is considered to be a missing person together with her car) will now take him into whatever new world to which she has found a shortcut.

Reference To Other Works[edit]

A reference to Cujo is made when story mentions Joe Camber getting killed by his own dog.

The roads that Mrs. Todd discovers bear a strong resemblance to the "highways in hiding" in The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla. Father Callahan, introduced in Salem's Lot, travels these roads through todash space, discovering parallel versions of The United States.

See also[edit]