Gray Matter (short story)

"Gray Matter" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the October 1973 issue of Cavalier magazine, collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift. The story is set in the same area as King's novel Dreamcatcher. It's set in the universe of It. "Gray Matter" takes place in Maine during a snow storm. The characters move from inside a convenience store to an apartment building; the story, told from the perspective of an older "local" man, begins as he is sitting around at a convenience store with a group of his friends during a heavy snowstorm. A young boy runs in, deathly afraid; the men recognize him as the son of Richie Grenadine, a local man, injured some time ago in a work accident, was given lifetime workers' compensation. With no need to support himself, Richie became a recluse seen outside the confines of his apartment except to purchase the cheapest of beer, although he had been sending his son out to purchase his beer for him. After speaking with Richie's son, a group of men including the narrator and store owner Henry decide to take the beer to Richie personally.

On their way, Henry relates some of the terrifying experiences the kid had told him — of how one day his father drank a "bad" can of beer, implied to carry a mutagen, since has been transforming into an inhuman blob-like abomination that detests light and craves warm beer. Spying on him one night, the boy saw his father eat a dead cat, causing him to seek help. Arriving at Richie's home, the men confront Richie from behind his closed door, demanding that he come out; the odor pouring out from behind the door convinces the group that Richie was eating more than dead cats, speculating that he may be responsible for a recent rash of missing people. The men are horrified when Richie opens the shambles out, resembling more fungus than man; the rest of the men run off. The story ends with the narrator recalling how his brief glimpse of the creature made him realize it was in the process of dividing in two, calculating the exponential growth the creature is capable of, as they sit at the convenience store, waiting to find out whether Henry or the creature survived.

The first episode of the 2019 Shudder anthology web series Creepshow is based on the Gray Matter story. The original movies involved Stephen King as he was a writer on Creepshow and Creepshow 2. Stephen King short fiction bibliography King's official site Gray Matter 2017 adaptation trailer


Miliaria called "sweat rash", is a skin disease marked by small and itchy rashes due to sweat trapped under the skin by clogged sweat gland ducts. Miliaria is a common ailment in hot and humid conditions, such as in the tropics and during the summer season. Although it affects people of all ages, it is common in children and infants due to their underdeveloped sweat glands. Symptoms of miliaria include called papules, which are irritated and itchy; these may occur at a number of areas on a sufferer's body, the most common including the upper chest, elbow creases, under the breasts and under the scrotum. Other areas include skin folds, areas of the body that may rub against clothing, such as the back and stomach. A related and sometimes simultaneous condition is folliculitis, where hair follicles become plugged with foreign matter, resulting in inflammation; the symptoms relating to miliaria should not be confused with shingles as they can be similar. Shingles will restrict itself to one side of the body but has a rash-like appearance.

It is accompanied by a prickling sensation and pain throughout the region. Those who suspect they have shingles and not miliaria should seek medical advice as the sooner antivirals are taken, the better. Miliaria can be classified according to the top level at which obstruction occurs in the sweat glands; the most superficial obstruction, is known as miliaria crystalline. Miliaria crystalline is known as "Miliaria crystallina," and "Sudamina"; the superficial vesicles are not associated with an inflammatory reaction. The most encountered form of the illness is miliaria rubra, in which obstruction causes leakage of sweat into the deeper layers of the epidermis, provoking a local inflammatory reaction and giving rise to the typical appearance of redness and larger, blister-like lesions; this form of the illness is accompanied by the typical symptoms—intense itching or "pins and needles" with a lack of sweating to affected areas. There is a small risk of heat exhaustion due to inability to sweat if the rash affects a large proportion of the body's surface area or the sufferer continues to engage in heat-producing activity.

Miliaria rubra is known as prickly heat and heat rash. Differential diagnosis should be used to rule out polycythemia vera, a rare hematological disorder and appears more in males than females not before the age of 40. Both disorders share the common denominator of appearing after taking a hot shower; the most severe form of miliaria, miliaria profunda, sometimes referred to as "wildfire" due to the rapid spread and severe burning sensations occurs as a complication of repeated episodes of miliaria rubra. The obstruction is deep in the structure of the sweat gland, causing the gland's secretions to leak between the superficial and deep layers of the skin; the rash, associated symptoms, tend to appear within hours of an activity provoking sweating but fade within hours when the stimulus for the sweating is removed. Miliaria profunda is characterised by flesh-coloured, deep-seated, whitish papules; the rash tends to be flesh-coloured as opposed to the prominent redness of miliaria rubra, the risk of heat exhaustion is larger.

Miliaria profunda is less-commonly known as "mammillaria" Miliaria pustulosa describes pustules due to inflammation and bacterial infection. Miliaria pustulosa is preceded by another dermatitis that has produced injury, destruction, or blocking of the sweat duct. Postmiliarial hypohidrosis is a skin condition that results from occlusion of sweat ducts and pores, may be severe enough to impair an individual's ability to perform sustained work in a hot environment. Tropical anhidrotic asthenia is a skin condition, a rare form of miliaria, with long-lasting poral occlusion, which produces anhidrosis and heat retention. Occlusion miliaria is a skin condition, accompanied by anhidrosis and increased heat-stress susceptibility, all after the application of extensive polyethylene film occlusion for 48 hours or longer. Colloid milium is a skin condition characterized by a translucent, flesh-colored, or yellow 1- to 5-mm papule. Miliaria occurs when the sweat gland ducts get clogged due to dead skin cells or bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis, a common bacterium that occurs on the skin, associated with acne.

The trapped sweat leads to irritation, itching and to a rash of small blisters in a localized area of the skin. Prickly heat can be prevented by avoiding activities that induce sweating, using air conditioning to cool the environment, wearing light clothing and in general, avoiding hot and humid weather. Frequent cool showers or cool baths with mild soap can help to prevent heat rash; the primary remedy for prickly heat or rash is to wear lighter clothing, or otherwise avoid overheating one's body. The immediate treatment of the involved skin areas involves the use of a soothing ointment such as calamine lotion. Talcum powder may be used in some cases. Medical assistance should be sought for the first episode of a rash with the appearance of miliaria; the differential diagnosis includes several conditions that an experienced practitioner should be able to recognise and may require treatment distinct from the usual measures taken for miliaria. In most cases, the rash of miliaria will resolve without intervention.

However, severe cases can cause significant disability. General measures should be