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Literature: Insomnia
It's a long walk back to Eden, sweetheart, so don't sweat the small stuff.

Insomnia is a novel written by Stephen King.

Ralph Roberts, an elderly widower, is suffering from insomnia. Soon he begins to see things that are invisible to others—auras that represent people's life forces and little bald men who are present at the homes of the dying. Soon Ralph discovers that the fate of the universe is resting on his shoulders.


This story provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Human: The Little Bald Doctors.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Or level of the Tower for Ralph and Lois.
    Clotho: Remember that these things exist on a different level of reality from the one where you are now!
  • Ax-Crazy: Atropos and Ed Deepneau.
  • Balancing Death's Books: Thanks to Atropos, Natalie Deapneau is set to be killed by a car. Ralph bargains with Clothos and Lachesis to exchange his life for hers.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Patrick Danville is destined to die saving two people, one of whom is very important.
  • Big Bad: The Crimson King
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Ralph thwarts the Crimson King's plans and later ends up sacrificing his live to save a little girl.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: Insomnia allows Ralph to see the aura of people as well as higher powers that influence the world.
  • The Cameo: Mike Hanlon from IT has a small scene at the library. Ralph also drives by the giant statue of Paul Bunyan that came alive in IT.
  • Catch Phrase: "Hey hey, Susan Day! How many kids did you kill today?"
  • Canon Discontinuity: In the final Dark Tower novel, it's revealed that Insomnia is not meant to be taken at face value. For example, while Patrick Danville appears and plays an important role, he does not die saving two people—something that was foretold that he would do.
  • Canon Welding: Quite a bit. In addition to taking place in the fictional town of Derry, Maine and featuring assorted references to IT, the book also ties into The Dark Tower and introduces two major characters, the Crimson King and Patrick Danville. Ralph also makes a small appearance in Bag of Bones that takes place before his death.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ralph.
  • Cosmic Horror Story
  • Creepy Souvenir: Atropos takes an item as a souvenir from the people he 'kills'.
  • Diving Save: The main character pulls the Heroic Sacrifice version at the climax, to save his friend's daughter from a speeding car.
  • Domestic Abuse: Ed Deapneau to his wife.
  • Don't Fear The Reaper: Clotho and Lachesis treat the dying with respect; Ralph becomes convinced that they're not evil after he sees them ending the life of one of his old friends. Atropos, on the other hand...
  • Door Stopper
  • The Dragon: Atropos
  • Ear Ache: Ralph cuts off one of Atropos' ears.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Crimson King.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ed Deapneau still loves his family to the point when he plans to crash his plane into the civic center he has a photo of them on the cockpit so they can be the last thing that he sees before he dies.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: One of the Bald Men actually says that "Purpose" prefers to have people deal with the problems instead of taking care of them itself.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Little Bald Doctors.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: A large chunk of the novel deals with Ralph dealing with his insomnia and serves as a rumination on age and death. The cosmic plot only picks up a couple of hundred pages into the book.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ralph makes a deal with Clotho and Lachesis to die in the place of Natalie Deapneau.
  • The Insomniac: Ralph, which allows him to see people's auras and supernatural entities. Lois is revealed to be one too.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Atropos repeatedly sings a skipping song, while skipping with a skipping rope that he stole:
    Three, six, nine
    The goose drank wine...
  • Mythology Gag: Several. Notably, Raplh finds a pair of shoes belonging to the little boy who died from Pet Sematary.
  • Painting the Medium: Certain characters' telepathic thoughts fade out and back in, signifying that something is wrong with them. The text of their thoughts actually fades into illegibility, then becomes clear and readable again.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: The story culminates in the main characters racing against time to save the life of a young boy named Patrick...whom they've never met, never actually meet during the course of the novel, and whose importance is never quite fully explained in the book either. All they know is that the fate of the universe depends on them saving this one boy. The boy later grows up and becomes a pivotal character in The Dark Tower.
  • Soul Cutting Blade: The Little Bald Doctors' scissors. For Clothos and Lachesis, at least; Atropos uses a rusty scalpel.
  • Straight Gay: Bill Mc!Govern.
  • Suicide Attack: Ed Deepneau tries to crash a plane into the Derry Civic Center to kill Patrick Danville.
  • Tragic Monster: Implied with Ed Deepneau.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Atropos throws a tantrum whenever his plans are thwarted.
  • Weirdness Search and Rescue: The Three Bald Doctors. Two of them, Clothos and Lachesis, were benevolent; the third, Atropos, was decidedly not.
Hearts in AtlantisWorks By Stephen KingIT
In Fury BornScience Fiction LiteratureInstrument of God
Infinite JestLiterature of the 1990sAn Instance of the Fingerpost

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