I nicked one of my brothers Stephen King books when I was 11. I was a bright kid so the words and descriptions flowed over me with instant understanding. What I wasn't prepared for was the indelible impression his words would have on me as I read the first 100 pages of Salem's Lot, a novel about vampires living in a modern American small town.
I was full of bravado about all the minor scares up to that point, but the scene where the gravedigger is filling in the grave of a 12 year old boy who was found dead with most of his blood removed, stayed with me forever: the chap was working alone and dusk was rapidly spreading over the empty graveyard. He couldn't shake the feeling someone was watching him from inside the coffin. The feeling grew as strong and as fast as night was creeping in. Unable to bear it anymore, he throws away the dirt of the half filled grave, busts the lock open on the coffin and lifts the lid. And looks directly into the wide-eyed, smiling boy who was indeed watching him all along.
I slammed the book down and fled the room, despite it being the middle of the day! Couldn't sleep with the light off for weeks, was terrified of going to the toilet alone in the night and generally prayed for a time machine where I could revisit a world where I didn't read that chapter. Its a testament to how talented the man is to describe scares so skilfully and vividly but ill never forget how scared it made me!!!