Ben Mears, a successful novelist, returns home to ’Salem’s Lot, a two-hundred-year-old Maine town of thirteen hundred residents. He is fascinated to discover that the old Marsten house still dominates the Lot. He meets Susan Norton, a young painter, and while on dates, he tells her of his horrifying experience there when he was nine years old. Hubert Marsten had murdered his wife, booby-trapped the house, and hanged himself in an upstairs room. Several years later, on a dare, young Ben had climbed the stairs, entered the room, and found Hubert, a green, puffy-eyed corpse hanging by his neck. Then Hubert opened his eyes, sending the terrified Ben screaming from the house. Ben tells Susan that he nevertheless had hoped to buy the Marsten house but learned it had been sold.
As the narrator relates the workaday schedules of ’Salem’s residents, four ominous events occur. Cemetery groundskeeper Mike Ryerson finds Win Purington’s beloved cocker spaniel hanging on the high spikes of the cemetery gate. An outsider, Richard Throckett Straker, and his partner buy the Marsten house and an old laundromat from realtor Larry Crockett on the condition that the deal remain secret. Danny Glick and his brother Ralphie are terrified by something while passing through a woods, and Ralphie disappears. Finally, in the cemetery, a dark figure makes a sacrifice of Ralphie’s desecrated body to the Lord of Flies.
Straker orders a huge box delivered to the...
(The entire section is 415 words.)