17. "Quitters, Inc." (Short Story)
Original publication date: 1978
Included in: Night Shift (1978)
The best horror fiction comes from the most relatable of set-ups, and "Quitters, Inc." is no exception. Dick Morrison, the story’s main character, can’t stop smoking, so, on the advice of an old friend, he visits a mysterious organization promisingly called Quitters, Inc.; among the company’s unconventional practices are 24/7 surveillance monitoring and the handing over of a pistol (along with the cryptic guarantee that you’ll “never smoke again”) if their client fails to resist his or her cigarettes.
Looking to keep his life-changing ways going, Dick follows up his successful tobacco detox with the Quitters’ weight loss regime, which boils down to “lose the pounds or we’ll cut off your wife’s fingers one by one.” Ten chances are definitely better than one.