The Long Walk
After Michelle's comment about the novella in the comments on Misery, I went over to Wikipedia to read the summary, because I've always wondered if I interpreted the ending correctly. Spoilery discussion after the jump.
The Wikipedia entry mentions that the dark figure at the story's end is perhaps Randall Flagg, a recurring character in King, apparently, who I must confess I don't remember although I've read most of '70s and '80s King and King-as-Bachman. This and other analyses of the story refer to the "fact" that previous winners of the Walk have died shortly thereafter as a result of the mental and/or physical stressors of the experience.
I had always just assumed that the figure is Death, that Garraty dies of shock/over-exertion or that he too gets a ticket — that there is no "winner," not merely because surviving the Walk when 99 of your comrades just got shot is a mixed blessing at best, but because I kind of got the sense from the dystopian bent of the novella as a whole that even the "winner" would not just die, but get killed. Which means that the rumors of the previous winners' demises were just that, rumors — propaganda to encourage the belief that anyone survives the Walk. Certainly if the Wikipedia entry is correct and Stebbins is a ringer (I don't remember this aspect, but I haven't re-read the book in some time), Garraty is not supposed to survive, and given that Stebbins is the Major's son (allegedly), it would follow that Garraty gets killed at the end.
I don't know from Randall Flagg; I've just always thought that everything past the penultimate boy's death was an "Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge"-type fakeout that we were meant to interpret as Garraty's dying hallucination — that the whole thing is a set-up and he gets shot too in the end, as all the other winners in fact may have.
…Dammit, now I'm going to have to go back and read it again.