Story or Dream?
June 1, 2013 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend, who wants to know if the tale she remembers is from a story she read, or a dream she had. Details follow.

Characters: Two children, one boy (10-ish), one girl (eight-ish), I think. Also, parents ... maybe just one parent. I'm not clear on that part.

Plot: The family lives in an older Victorian home, one with some unused rooms. Somehow, one of the children (the boy, I think) gets the idea that there is something growing inside the walls. I think he does this by tapping the walls and noticing that there are spots where they no longer sound hollow. Eventually, he hammers into the plaster at a few discreet places and finds that behind the plaster, there is a shell "growing." It seems to be a kind of metal. He tells his sister about it, and it stays in the back of their minds, but it's less urgent than the problem of their ... father, I think? Yes. Their father is pretty horrid, so that occupies a lot of their energy and time.

Still, the boy keeps track, and he notices that the shell is slowly growing up and up, all through the walls, and he realizes that what is happening is that the house is becoming encased in a metal membrane. Finally, one day, he cannot find any spots where the wall sounds hollow anymore. That day, shortly after his father leaves for work and shuts the door behind him, the house begins to rumble and move ... and then it lifts off. Because it wasn't a house at all, really. It was a spaceship.
posted by ronofthedead to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
She was not dreaming, that is a real story that I will now rack my brain and scour my library to find.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:59 PM on June 1, 2013

It's The House on Maple Street, a short story by Stephen King, published in his collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes.
posted by theatro at 7:08 PM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Although I must add, without getting spoilery, that her memory of the conclusion is not quite correct. (Also, it's their stepfather.)
posted by theatro at 7:09 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey, guys, I am the friend. I just couldn't post yet as a new MFer (I've only lurked before).

And yes, it is "The House on Maple Street." Thanks. I was really having trouble deciding if I was remembering a story or a dream—because that is the kind of thing I dream (sometime I'll tell you all about the one with moths peeling off the yellow wallpaper in strips).

Yes, I didn't remember it exactly right for sure, but definitely that was the story. I know I read it because I've read Nightmares & Dreamscapes. (I think probably I did have a dream about it after, with the ending sort of reversed, which is probably why I couldn't remember if it was a dream or not.)

WHEW. That was an itch that has now been successfully scratched. Thanks again.
posted by CheekyEv at 7:16 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

King's story is based on one of the pictures in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, my very favorite picture book and one you should read immediately if not sooner.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:03 PM on June 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nice to see some love for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick! Do what Flannery Culp says.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:57 PM on June 1, 2013

I was going to say how much that sounded like that picture in Harris Burdick, so thanks, Flannery, for connecting it to King's story.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:43 AM on June 2, 2013

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