WMG / The Langoliers

The Langoliers eat Acceptable Targets in their eyes.
There's an Urban Legend in Washington state about the "Being Eater", a face drawn on the wall eating people or things that shouldn't exist in the first place (this is somewhat old, so some minorities are involved), though not much information can be searched about them. Anyone knows this thing? Is it related to King's idea?

The "must be asleep" condition is meant to keep the Langoliers out of the present.
Lacking a vehicle of their own, or arms in which to carry sleeping ones, there's no way they can possibly travel through the rip unconscious.
  • Who's doing the meaning?

While their job appears to be eating the past, the Langoliers appear to be attracted to things from an "active" timeline.
Note how quickly they home in on Toomy and the plane when they arrive. Yes, they're eating everything along the way, but they take a special side-trip to munch on Toomy and the airport where he'd been, and then try to take out the plane.
  • Perhaps they rush to eat time travelers in order to prevent the kind of disaster seen in 11/22/63.
  • It could be possible that they're attracted to Toomy not because he's from an active timeline, but because he was winding down like everything else there, but to a major degree more than the others.

The entire purpose of the dead past is to provide Langolier-food.
...as opposed to saying the entire purpose of the Langoliers is to eat the past. These are eternally-hungry eldritch abominations, and they must eat something - more to the point, they must eat everything. If Some Force didn't keep the dead past around for them to eat, they might catch up with our active timeline (see above) and start eating that, and we'd all be boned. It just so happens that time keeps moving forward, leaving dead time behind, just fast enough that they never catch up.
  • Welp.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, I think this theory has just achieved Lovecraftian levels of cosmic paranoia.
  • If that's how it works, then why do they eat the planet and leave the sky? If they eat everything, just taking off shouldn't have been nearly enough to get away from them.

Toomy's father genuinely knew about the Langoliers, but he only knew half the story.
Every legend starts with a grain of truth. Toomy Sr. might have known about these creatures that ate the past (by some means; this is the King-verse, after all), but he interpreted that to mean they ate up people who wasted time. Keep moving forward in time, don't get left behind, and they won't eat you up.

Toomy Sr. did this before.
How else would he know about the Langoliers? He seemed genuinely scared for young Craig's life rather than simply delusional. Who knows, he and a couple friends have probably went back in time, and witnessed it barely escaping with their lives. His warped mind from the experience led him to believe that they constantly follow those that stay still until the active timeline becomes dead past.
  • The problem with this is that if Toomy Sr. did something like this before, he would know that simply wasting time isn't a problem. Nor is it a metaphoric "stuck in the past" that is a problem. It is getting stuck literally in the past, which doesn't happen unless some freak accident occurs. There is Properly Paranoid and then there is the abusive parenting instigating Mind Rape For the Evulz that Toomy Sr. does.
  • Then again, how many of Our Intrepid Heroes are going to be necessarily completely mentally stable now that they know what happens to the past? Different people cope in different ways, and it's plausible that Toomy Sr.'s brain broke more than most.
  • Leaving aside the implausibility of this theory in light of even a cursory reading of the relationship: "Sixteen consecutive on-bases." It's only happened once in over a century of baseball, and the odds of it happening at all are on the order of one in two billion. What you're suggesting is about as likely as John Henry Williams, Ted's son, managing to pull it off, too.
  • "Why, then," I hear you asking, "are the langoliers so similar to what Toomy pere told Toomy fils they were?" Well...

The langoliers are only langoliers because Craig Toomy knows they are.
What happens to the past, once it ceases to be the present, is totally beyond human comprehension, and what we see and hear happening (i.e. everything being eaten by Clock Roaches) is just the best our senses can do with the input they're being given, and which the human brain is totally unequipped to process. Ordinarily, there'd be nothing more to it than that. But, unbound from time, ordinary reality is falling apart, so the ordinary rules increasingly no longer apply. As they cease to do so, any sufficiently forceful thought or personality becomes more and more, and within the limits of the extraordinary rules that obtain outside the present, a Reality Warper.
Toomy's mind is, and has long been, utterly consumed by his terror of the langoliers, a condition only intensified by his sudden and unaccustomed lack of control over his circumstances. While everyone's increasingly afraid of the thing they sense coming, Toomy is the only one who knows exactly what's coming for him. He knows it with every fiber of his being, beyond any possibility of doubt. So that's the form it takes.
  • In which case, both Dinah and Toomy might have an even larger role in the escape than the narration explicitly gives them. Dinah's shown to be perceptive in ways that most people, including the rest of the passengers, aren't; she's the first not only to sense what's coming, but to grasp the nature of the threat it presents. She's in and out of Toomy's head throughout the story, and she's present when Toomy talks about the langoliers and how terrified he was of his father, who told him about them.
    If the Clock Roaches were only Clock Roaches, why would she imagine that using Toomy to bait them away from the plane would work? But if she could tell that Toomy's terror had pressed its shape onto them, she'd know that they'd chase him first if he were running away, and thus that he'd make an effective decoy. The story's clear on the point that she did know that; she tells Nick not to kill Toomy, because, she says, they need him. Had Nick finished him off instead of leaving him alive to act as bait, the langoliers would've headed straight for the plane, and no one would have made it out. And, had Toomy and his head full of crazy not been along from the start, the langoliers wouldn't have been langoliers; the final collapse of reality would instead have taken some form not so amenable to distraction, and no one would have made it out.
  • Of course, the only reason any of this is really in question in anyone's mind is because the film, by nature, has a hard time conveying any of it. The novella, with the benefit of a narrator who tells the reader more about what's going on than the characters in the story can know, doesn't suffer such structural problems.

Dinah has the Shining.
  • Given King's propensity for Canon Welding, this would make a surprising amount of sense. Doctor Sleep establishes a few things about the Shining that would actually reinforce this theory, particularly its propensity to manifest most strongly in children around the ages of ten through thirteen - in other words, Dinah's age.
The awakened passengers were actually sent into the future.