The feeling soon becomes mutual. The man works with other large crews of temporary workers, drifters who can be exploited and abused as slave labor, and they are trying to clean out the dark, dank levels of the local Mill. There are rooms of furniture that haven’t been touched in years, stacks upon stacks of reams of moldy, mildewing paper and inside these, are the rats. Hundreds and hundreds of them.
The rats in Graveyard Shift are not the harmless mice of the normal world. These are aggressive, evil even, and the man’s loathing of the rodents continues to grow when some of his fellow workers are bitten and then escorted off the property by the heartless foreman who orders the lower, basement levels to be cleared next. He does not care about the injuries, only the money and promotion behind getting the Mill ready and the man begins to challenge their employer almost openly, feeling very angry about the injustices. Like with most Stephen King novels, the reader is quickly drawn into the fray, unable to keep from sympathizing with the main character.
The end of Graveyard shift has all the workers, the man, and the supervisor in the basement, where they have discovered a crawl space that runs under the entire Mill. They assume that the huge infestation of rats must be coming from there and that the nest has to be cleaned out. It is at this point that the man finally confronts the Foreman in front of the other workers, insisting he go down into the dark hole with the hundreds of rats. The other workers back him up and the supervisor is forced to go along with the cleaning out crew. Once down there, they find the nest and the momma. The Foreman meets her up close and the Man barely escapes with his life. Stephen King novels are meant to scare and Graveyard Shift is a chilling addition to his immense resume. It is a gripping tale of justice and horror. One of Mr. King’s best short works. Three and half stars.