Sometimes They Come Back

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For the song of the same name by Sadist, see Above the Light.
"Sometimes They Come Back"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror
Published in Night Shift
Media type Anthology
Publication date 1974

"Sometimes They Come Back" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the March 1974 issue of Cavalier and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.

Plot summary[edit]

In 1957, nine-year-old Jim Norman and his twelve-year-old brother, Wayne, are off to the library to drop off Jim's books when they are attacked by a gang of local greasers. Wayne is stabbed to death by two of the greasers while Jim escapes.

Now in 1974, Jim is married and has accepted a job as an English teacher at Stratford High School in Stratford, Connecticut. All seems to go well until after the Christmas holiday when Jim finds out one of his students is killed in a hit and run. When a new student arrives, Jim recognizes the boy as Robert Lawson, one of the greasers who killed his brother. Lawson appears to be the same age now as he was in 1957.

Another student falls to her death a week later, and another of the greasers, David Garcia, joins Jim's class, also appearing to be the same age as he was in 1957.

When a third student disappears - after expressing his concerns about the suspicious new arrivals to Jim - the third greaser, Vincent 'Vinnie' Corey, is added to the group. Now terrified, Jim calls an old acquaintance, a policeman who knew him and his brother, named Donald Nell, for information on the greasers. It is soon revealed that the three boys died in a car accident soon after Wayne's murder; they were electrocuted when they crashed the car into a telephone pole.

Not long after Jim finds this out, he attempts to protect his wife Sally while not telling her about the greasers. When taking a cab, Sally and the taxi driver are killed by the greasers ramming the taxi into a ditch. Jim takes justice into his hands by calling forth a demon to defeat the dead greasers. Before the greasers can try to kill Jim, Jim's dead brother arrives and proceeds to vanquish the greasers.


A TV movie adaptation aired in 1991, starring Tim Matheson as Jim. The story was originally planned to be part of the 1985 film, Cat's Eye (which included two other stories adapted from Night Shift: "The Ledge" and "Quitters, Inc"). However, producers thought the segment would do better on its own.[citation needed]

In the film adaptation, Jimmy's brother Wayne comes back to help after Mueller (one of the original greasers who had fled and survived) sacrifices himself, having heard his former friends state that somebody could come back when somebody else died. Jim's wife also does not die in the film version, and Wayne's return does not appear to be nearly as sinister, and in fact allows him a chance to gain closure and move on as a spirit.

The TV movie was followed by two straight-to-video sequels in 1996 (Sometimes They Come Back... Again) and 1998 (Sometimes They Come Back... for More).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]