Pandora’s Pick of the Week: “Survivor Type”

This week I’m recommending quite possibly the most disturbing story I’ve ever read.


By Stephen King

Background: First published in 1982, then again in 1985 in King’s Skeleton Crew, where he wrote some notes on the creation of the story. King says it came about one day when he was thinking about cannibalism and his muse “evacuated its magic bowels” upon him. His thoughts wandered to the question of whether a person could eat himself—a revolting enough idea to capture his imagination and make him chuckle while eating a hamburger. He consulted a doctor about this possibility and received what ended up being the beginning of the story:

“Sooner or later the question comes up in every medical student’s career. How much shock-trauma can the patient stand? Different instructors answer the question in different ways, but cut to its base level, the answer is always another question: how badly does the patient want to survive?”

What it’s about: “Survivor Type” is the diary of a surgeon, Richard Pine, whose extracurricular activities involve selling heroin, which he has smuggled onto a cruise ship. When the ship crashes, he is stranded on a deserted island barren of possible food sources. His starvation is stymied somewhat by the drugs he decides to take, but he is left incapacitated and unable to hunt birds for sustenance when he breaks his ankle.

The swollen appendage needing to be amputated, Pine, intent on surviving, goes to work. But he still has no food—so he eats it. Yes, that’s right. He eats his own foot. And the next time he gets hungry, he decides to perform another amputation. Pine slowly goes insane as he eats himself bit by bit, and by the end of the story, we are left with a raving lunatic intent on eating his own left hand.

Why it will keep you up at night: Need I say anything more? This story is about a man who fucking eats himself, and it is every bit as twisted and disturbing as you might imagine. Just thinking about this is enough to keep you up for days. What sort of state would you have to be in to want to eat yourself? Not to mention this story, like my previous Pick, is about the descent into insanity. Read this story, and you’ll probably never want to take a cruise ever again. Or eat lady fingers (trust me on this one).

Read Skeleton Crew now!

Categories: Recommendations


  1. This is a truely disturbing story and one of the reasons I read almost everything King writes. He is a master horror storyteller.

  2. I actually kind of want to read it after studying about insanity at school lol

  3. and why is the picture next to my name a purple christmas tree?!

  4. While I’ve often put my foot in my mouth, I’ve not gotten around to the chewing and swallowing part. Sounds like a 50s horror comic (would love to see the artwork on this one).

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