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Literature: Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Original cover

Nightmares and Dreamscapes is Stephen King's third collection of short stories, published in 1993. It contains many stories that appeared in magazines before, and some previously unpublished ones.

Stories in Nightmares and Dreamscapes:

  • "Dolan's Cadillac": A schoolteacher plans an extravagant revenge on the mob boss who killed his wife.
  • "The End of the Whole Mess": In the form of a journal. A genius discovers the cure to humanity's aggressive tendencies — but at a price...
  • "Suffer the Little Children": Oldest story in the collection (1972). A schoolteacher discovers that her class has been taken over by monsters.
  • "The Night Flier": A journalist goes in search of a serial killer who has apparently been committing the murders flying between airports.
  • "Popsy": Linked to the previous story. A gambling addict kidnaps a young boy in order to pay off his debts. But this one is a little bit strange.
  • "It Grows on You": A house seems to take on a life of its own as new wings are added. Set in Castle Rock and somewhat of an epilogue for Needful Things.
  • "Chattery Teeth": A travelling salesman buys a novelty pair of chattering teeth, which come to life and help him when he needs it.
  • "Dedication": A hotel maid ingests a famous author's semen in the hope that his talent will be transferred to her unborn son.
  • "The Moving Finger": An ordinary man is confronted by the bizarre sight of a human finger poking out of his bathroom sink.
  • "Sneakers": A recording studio executive notices a pair of sneakers in the same position in the same stall every day at work.
  • "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band": A married couple lost in Oregon comes across a strange town that seems to be stuck in the 50s and is populated by famous dead musicians.
  • "Home Delivery": An woman wants to give birth safely whilst an alien plague causes the world's corpses to come back to life. The story was originally published in a collection of Romero homages called The Book of the Dead.
  • "Rainy Season": A married couple choose to stay on vacation a small town in Maine despite being warned to leave and are attacked by an unusual rain that night.
  • "My Pretty Pony": An elderly man brings his grandson up onto a hill behind his house and gives the boy his pocket watch.
  • "Sorry, Right Number": Takes the form of a teleplay. A woman receives a strange phone call from a sobbing and traumatised unknown caller and tries to get to the bottom of who it was.
  • "The Ten O'Clock People": A smoker is able to see inhuman monsters everywhere due to the chemical imbalance of trying to quit.
  • "Crouch End": King's tribute to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, written in the Cthulhu Mythos genre.
  • "The House on Maple Street": Four children discover that their house has been converted into an alien spaceship and send their abusive stepfather away on it. Based on one of the illustrations in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
  • "The Fifth Quarter": A crook is trying to avenge the death of his friend who died at the hands of his own accomplices after taking part in a caper.
  • "The Doctor's Case": King's tribute to the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, using the characters of Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes, originally written for a separate Holmes anthology.
  • "Umney's Last Case": A Pastiche of Raymond Chandler in which a private investigator called Umney discovers that his life is falling apart.
  • "Head Down": A real life essay about King's son Owen's Little League baseball team, Bangor West.
  • "Brooklyn August": A poem about the baseball team Los Angeles Dodgers in their days as the Brooklyn Dodgers under the management of Walter Alston.
  • "The Beggar and the Diamond": Not listed in the contents; a re-telling of a Hindu parable.

Nightmares and Dreamscapes contains examples of:

  • Action Dad: Woe betide whoever dares to abduct Popsy's grandson.
  • Alien Sky: In Crouch End, Doris Freeman looks up at the sky and sees "crazed stars in lunatic constellations."
  • Best Served Cold: The theme of Dolan's Cadillac.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Dolan initially in Dolan's Cadillac, although he figures out who the perpetrator is quite quickly.
  • Brainy Baby/Child Prodigy/Teen Genius: Bobby Fornoy, the main character Howard's brother in The End of the Whole Mess.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: In The Night Flier, the eponymous Night Flier pays a visit to the elderly Sarche couple. The following day, the husband shuts down the airfield and the wife visits the beauty parlour. The husband is found with his head torn off on one end of the trailer. The wife is found, her blood completely drained, in bed; with new lingerie, a peaceful expression, and a copy of The Vampire Lestat.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In Dolan's Cadillac, the wife of the protagonist/narrator (Robinson) is killed by a crime lord she was going to testify against (Dolan). For a few years or so, Robinson follows Dolan to learn his habits and routine, all while plotting his revenge. During one harrowing incident, however, Dolan's car breaks down on the road, and Robinson is forced to pass him. He's angered when Dolan doesn't even recognize the man whose wife he had ordered blown to smithereens in her car. This is then subverted when, after Robinson says the first few words of his Best Served Cold speech, Dolan immediately identifies him.
  • Buy Them Off: In Dolan's Cadillac, Dolan tries to offer Robinson millions of dollars and protection from his mob in return for being set free from his car. It doesn't work.
  • Bystander Syndrome: The residents of the town in Rainy Season, including Laura and Henry Eden. They intentionally allow the married couples to stay there and do the least amount possible to warn them off. This is because they are afraid of what would happen if the rain of frogs came and there was no bait for them there, since it always happens every set number of years and always kills a young married couple from outside of the town.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: The Ten O'Clock People had monsters that appeared as human but could only be identified by people who smoke a certain amount (roughly a couple a day, but not heavily).
  • Camping a Crapper: In Sneakers, the men's room is haunted by a drug dealer who was murdered in one of the stalls.
  • Cool Old Guy: Popsy in the eponymous story. He is the little vampire boy's grandfather and kills Sheridan for trying to abduct his grandson.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Rock n' Roll Heaven of "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" seems like an idyllic paradise, a humble little town right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, populated by people resembling classic rock stars. Only, they're actually monstrous corpses that lure and entrap new people in this "idyllic" town, giving them meaningless jobs and keeping them as a literal captive audience forever.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Jannings, John Tell's boss in Sneakers who killed the ghost in the bathroom stall.
  • Didn't Think This Through: On The End Of The Whole Mess, this is Bobby Fornoy's Fatal Flaw. He has never planned a project without overlooking ways in it could backfire, anything from possibly crashing into a tree and losing his sneakers and some teeth up to The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Directionless Driver: In You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band, Clark Willingham and his wife are trying to drive to Toketee Falls and find themselves lost on a completely unfamiliar road. Mary wants to turn back, but Clark refuses to admit that they're lost and says they'll reach Toketee Falls very soon, so he ignores her suggestion. This ends very badly for them.
  • Dirty Old Man: The Turk in Popsy, who commissions Sheridan to kidnap children for him so that he can 'send them on a boat ride' — whatever this might mean is unclear to the reader but it probably involves selling them into slavery overseas.
  • Distress Call: Sorry, Right Number adds a Karmic Twist Ending to this trope.
  • Eldritch Abomination: In Home Delivery, a thing best described as a gigantic ball of crawling worms decides to camp over the South Pole's hole in the ozone layer... and causes a worldwide Zombie Apocalypse just by being there.
  • Everytown, America: Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon in You Know They Got a Hell of a Band. It is described as looking exactly like a Norman Rockwell painting.
  • Evil Phone: Sorry, Right Number, in which the phone isn't precisely evil, but creepy.
    INT. THE PHONE — It lies on the carpet, looking both bland and somehow ominous. CAMERA MOVES IN TO ECU — the holes in the receiver once more look like huge dark chasms. We HOLD, then FADE TO BLACK.
  • Eye Scream: In Sneakers, the ghost haunting the men's room is the spirit of a drug dealer who was killed by one of his customers "making a pencil disappear."
  • Excrement Statement: In Dolan's Cadillac, every year after he buries Dolan alive in a hole on the highway, Robinson urinates on the spot.
  • External Combustion: In Dolan's Cadillac, it's how Robinson's wife was killed.
  • Fingore: The Moving Finger has Howard Mitla try to get rid of a finger living in his bathroom drain by dissolving it with industrial drain cleaner (it intentionally doesn't make sense in context), before cutting it off with an electric hedge trimmer.
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: In The End of the Whole Mess, Bobby Fornoy, a young genius discovers how to rid everyone in the world of their violent impulses. He and his brother Howard complete the task in a few years, but they were unaware of a terrible side effect — early onset Alzheimer's. The story is narrated by the brother as the effects catch up to him.
  • Gasshole: Henry Eden's dog Toby in Rainy Season, to the point where Laura threatens to turn right around and leave unless the dog goes inside.
    Laura: "My head hurts like a bastard, and the last thing I need this morning is listening to that dog play Hail Columbia out of its asshole".
  • Glamour Failure: In The Ten O'Clock People only very light smokers can see the 'bat people' who are steadily taking over. Non-smokers and heavier smokers alike simply see humans where the titular group sees the monsters.
  • Groin Attack: In Chattery Teeth, the eponymous wind-up novelty toy ends up biting the car-jacker to death. Guess whether it goes for the balls.
  • Hate Plague: Inverted in The End of the Whole Mess.
  • Hearing Voices: Robinson in Dolan's Cadillac hears the voice of his wife (of the Unknown type of this trope) throughout. It stops when he finally kills Dolan.
  • I Ate What?: The hotel maid in Dedication eats some semen left on the sheets by a talented author in the hopes that her unborn child will inherit his talent as part of a black magic spell.
  • I'm Your Biggest Fan: The telephone operator in Sorry, Right Number when she hears that the caller is her favourite author.
  • It's for a Book: In Dolan's Cadillac, Robinson claims that he's writing a Sci-Fi story and asks someone how much dirt the characters would have to excavate in order to trap the alien's vehicle. The person who gives Robinson this information comments something to the effect of "It's funny, the dimensions of that vehicle are almost exactly the same as a Cadillac."
    • King himself had to ask his brother how he'd go about burying a Cadillac, and got extensive details (even down to how to hotwire a digger). Of course, King had spent years preparing the alibi of being a best-selling writer by this point. He also claimed (in the author's notes) that details of the crime were changed in the story so that it wouldn't actually work, just in case anyone reading it got ideas.
  • It's Personal: In Dolan's Cadillac, Robinson wants revenge on Dolan for killing his wife a number of years beforehand (as she was going to testify against Dolan in a trial).
  • Jack Up With Phlebotinum: The Ten O'Clock People involves a relatively mild example: a certain level of nicotine and withdrawal symptoms found in smokers trying to quit — and only in smokers trying to quit — gives them the power to perceive that humans are being replaced by a race of disguised bat-like monsters.
  • Last Name Basis: In Dolan's Cadillac, the main character's first name is never revealed and the only time his surname is mentioned — even though the story is told in the first person — is when Dolan (once he's trapped in his car in revenge for the murder of the narrator's wife Elizabeth) asks "Is your name Robinson?"
  • The Last Title: "Umney's Last Case".
  • Laughing Mad: In Dolan's Cadillac, Dolan starts laughing madly once he realises Robinson is not going to set him free.
  • Locked Room Mystery: The Doctor's Case, which is the major reason why Holmes becomes so interested to begin with.
  • Made of Iron: Averted in Dolan's Cadillac — Robinson collapses and needs surgery for his back soon after spending ages out in the desert digging a massive hole in the highway.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: In The Night Flier, in the final scene, Dees is unable to see the Night Flier in the restroom mirror, since he is a vampire.
  • Mugging the Monster: In Popsy, Sheridan, who has been abducting and selling children to pay off his gambling debts, kidnaps a young boy from a shopping mall. Unfortunately for him, the boy is a vampire and manages to break his restraints and turn the tables on his kidnapper just in time for his grandfather, the eponymous Popsy, to come pick him up. The two vampires exsanguinate Sheridan.
  • Mysterious Mist: In Rainy Season, the morning after it rains killer frogs, there is a strange mist in the air until the frogs' bodies explode and disappear.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The boy and Popsy in Popsy and the vampire from The Night Flier. King suggests that the two adult vampires are the same man.
  • Papa Wolf: Woe betide whoever dares to abduct Popsy's grandson.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: The ghost in Sneakers died from being stabbed in the eye with a pencil.
  • The Perfect Crime: In Dolan's Cadillac, Robinson stalks Dolan until he gets a good idea of the mobster's habits and finds out that Dolan regularly drives back and forth between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Robinson successfully buries Dolan alive in a hole in the highway. He speculates that one day the road will collapse on top of the Cadillac because of the open space inside it and the pressure of heavy vehicles driving over it, but as far as the reader knows, Robinson got his revenge and got away scot-free.
  • Phlebotinum Induced Stupidity: An example where the change is permanent, The End of the Whole Mess, is about some Phlebotinum applied to the world's water supply in order to make everyone less aggressive. It worked, but it caused the end of the world anyway, because a side-effect was rapid onset dementia/Alzheimer's.
  • Phone Call From The Dead: Sort of the premise of Sorry, Right Number. Averted in that the voice she hears is not dead — she is talking to herself five years in the future. However, her first husband does die, and her future self could have saved him had she stopped crying long enough to get the message through.
  • Renaissance Man: Bobby Fornoy in The End of the Whole Mess. He studies in various different research areas including archaeology and zoology.
  • Revenge: In Dolan's Cadillac, the main character, Robinson digs up a hole in a highway that is frequented by mob boss Dolan. He places a canopy over it and once the Cadillac drives over it, it falls into it and becomes trapped. Robinson then refills the hole while Dolan pointlessly begs for mercy down in his car. He does this to avenge his wife's death, who was blown up by Dolan with a stick of dynamite attached to the ignition of her car.
  • Road Sign Reversal: In Dolan's Cadillac.
  • See-Thru Specs: The Ten O'Clock People has the Weirdness Censor become broken by, of all things, moderate smoking. For some reason the chemicals in cigarettes let people see through the monsters' disguises, but only if you ingest them at a rate somewhere between 'smoke occasionally' and 'chain smoking'.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Doctor's Case.
  • Shout-Out: For the love of God, Robinson!
    • Maddie Pace from Home Delivery says that the only famous writer from Little Tall Island is Selena St. George.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: Home Delivery — Type II.
  • Stylistic Suck: In The End of the Whole Mess, Howard Fornoy's skill deteriorates as his mental capacity does.
  • Technology Marches On: Good thing Dolan didn't have a cellphone!
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: In Suffer the Little Children, neither Miss Sidley nor the readers are sure if her students are 'something else' or not. They seem to confirm their identity to her, but who knows if the words the teacher hears are what was really said?
    • This comes up again in The Moving Finger, in which Howard Mitla believes that he sees a finger sticking up out of his bathroom sink's drain. Things get increasingly weird (and he gets increasingly unhinged), until the reader isn't sure what's really going on. The ending suggests one possible 'mundane' explanation, but leaves it ambiguous.
      • This story can also be read without doubting him, and either way the very end seems to be designed to suggest that it was all real.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: In Rainy Season, the small town experiences a rain of deadly frogs every seven years which always ends up killing a young married couple.
    • In You Know They Got a Hell of a Band, Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon. A weird town straight out of the 1950s inhabited by deceased musicians such as Janis Joplin, Ricky Nelson and Buddy Holly.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: This is how Sheridan winds up kidnapping children, including one lethally bad choice in Popsy.
  • The Undead: In Home Delivery the dead are resurrected due to an alien worm plague.
    • In You Know They Got a Hell of a Band there are several famous (un)dead musicians.
  • Wicked Stepfather: A rare male example in The House on Maple Street — fortunately he gets blasted into space when the house/spaceship launches off the street.
  • Witness Protection: Robinson's wife had this in Dolan's Cadillac before she was set to go to trial to be a witness against Dolan. He finds her anyway and attaches dynamite to her car and kills her.
  • Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: You Know They Got a Hell of a Band begins with the Willinghams making a wrong turn and ending up in the little town of Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon where things aren't quite as bucolic as they appear.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In Dolan's Cadillac, when Dolan is trapped in the hole, he calmly and thoughtlessly shoots his injured bodyguard/driver to shut him up so that he can try and negotiate with Robinson to be released.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Home Delivery, an object orbiting the Earth (either an asteroid covered with seriously weird worm-like creatures, or it's worms all the way down...) is somehow causing the dead to reanimate.
  • Zombie Infectee: Near the end of Home Delivery, itself an homage to the films of George Romero, a member of a group of zombie hunters who help protect a small island community realizes he's having a fatal heart attack, and demands that his fellow hunters shoot him in all vital organs simultaneously (after he completes the Lord's Prayer) so that he doesn't rise immediately after he dies.

TrucksWorks By Stephen KingPet Sematary
The Nightmare PeopleLiterature of the 1990sThe Night's Dawn Trilogy
The Nightmare PeopleHorror LiteratureNight of the Living Trekkies

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