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Literature / Nightmares & Dreamscapes

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Nightmares & 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 It contains many stories that appeared in magazines before, and some previously unpublished ones.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 & Dreamscapes:

  • "Dolan's Cadillac": A schoolteacher plans an extravagant revenge on the mob boss who killed his wife. Later adapted into film.
  • "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. Later adapted into film.
  • "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.
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  • "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 tells the story of how one of the hotel's regular high-profile guests, a famous writer, passed on his talent to her unborn child — without the two ever meeting outside of her job.
  • "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.
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  • "Home Delivery": A 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 in 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. Originally a chapter in an unfinished novel.
  • "Sorry, Right Number": Takes the form of a teleplay. A woman receives a strange phone call from a sobbing and traumatized 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.

A television series of the same name was produced in 2006, which adapted several of the stories.

Nightmares & Dreamscapes contains examples of:

  • Action Dad: Woe betide whoever dares to abduct Popsy's grandson. He's a vampire, and not very forgiving.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "The Doctor's Case," in which Watson for once has the edge on Holmes.
  • The Alcoholic: Peter Jeffreys from "Dedication", to the point that it eventually destroyed his liver and killed him. Even then, he kept drinking right up until he couldnt move under his own power and was confined to a wheelchair.
  • Alien Sky: In "Crouch End", Doris Freeman looks up at the sky and sees "crazed stars in lunatic constellations." The sky also began taking on unnatural shades of blood red and deep purple as nightfall approached.
  • And I Must Scream: Doris comes face-to-face with the Horror of Crouch End and catches a brief glimpse of her husband's face taking form in one of Its tentacles, implying that he was devoured by the Horror and became part of it.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • It's very hard to feel sorry for Sheridan in "Popsy" when he gets eaten by a vampire Papa Wolf, except inasmuch as he's trapped in his debt by his gambling addiction and is perfectly aware of the fact but can't stop. It still doesn't justify kidnapping children to sell them off to sex traffickers.
    • Likewise, you don't feel too much sympathy for mob boss Dolan in "Dolan's Cadillac", "Bryan Adams" in "Chattery Teeth", Johnny Rosewall in "Dedication", Lew Evans in "The House on Maple Street", or Lord Albert Hull in "The Doctor's Case".
  • Bad Boss: Dolan, possibly. After his car gets stuck in the protagonist's hole, he calmly and thoughtlessly shoots his injured bodyguard/driver. The narration isn't explicit on wether this was a Mercy Kill or just a way to shut him up before negotiating with Robinson.
  • Best Served Cold: The theme of "Dolan's Cadillac". The main character waited nine years before being able to enact his revenge.
  • Bewildering Punishment: Dolan initially in "Dolan's Cadillac", although he figures out who the perpetrator is quite quickly.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "The Ten O'Clock People". The group is betrayed by their leader and all but Pearson, Cam and Moira are slain by the bats, but the remaining three fight their way out of the trap and go on to begin staging a successful resistance.
  • Brainy Baby: Bobby Fornoy, the main character Howard's brother in "The End of the Whole Mess".
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: In "The Night Flier", the eponymous vampire 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.
  • Brown Note Being: In Crouch's End, Leonard Freeman (Lonnie) hair turns grey and seems mentally unhinged (according to his wife) after encountering some groaning creature behind a hedge.
  • Buried Alive: Dolan's eventual fate, as part of Robinson's revenge.
  • 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 several years, 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.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: "Crouch End" and "Home Delivery".
  • 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.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: The vampires in both "The Night Flier" and "Popsy" are said to dress like one, wearing a black tuxedo and billowing cape lined with red. According to King's notes at the end, it's quite possible they are the same person.
  • Cover Album: If Stephen King were a musician (as something other than a side project, anyway), Nightmares & Dreamscapes would have been his album of covers, with stories paying salient homage to H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Edgar Allan Poe, and even delving into sports writing and poetry(!).
    • In addition to all of that, "The Ten O'Clock People" reads like a riff of John Carpenter's "They Live".
  • 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 evil spirits (or something...) that lure and entrap new people in this "idyllic" town, giving them meaningless jobs and keeping them as a literal captive audience forever.
  • Dark World: "Crouch End" is about a couple who get lost in an unfamiliar part of London. The neighborhood looks almost normal with shops, restaurants, etc., and yet there's something off about it; its inhabitants include a couple of scary children and an ugly cat with a disfigured face. The mundane appearance of the place somehow makes it all scarier; in fact, it gets even somewhat less creepy when the actual monsters appear.
  • Daylight Horror: The climax of "Crouch End" takes place during late evening, but the majority is set just before twilight, with the late afternoon sun illuminating the disturbing horrors of the city.
  • Determinator: The main character of "Dolan's Cadillac" goes from a meek, out of shape schoolteacher to a muscular construction worker and works himself half to death setting up his trap, all to avenge his beloved wife. It costs him too — he ends up hospitalized with a back injury due to the extertion.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Paul Jannings, John Tell's boss in "Sneakers", who killed the ghost in the bathroom stall.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In "The End of the Whole Mess", this is Bobby Fornoy's Fatal Flaw (as well as being incredibly sensitive to the world's plights). He has never planned a project without overlooking ways 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 ozone layer at the South Pole... and causes a worldwide Zombie Apocalypse just by being there. Also, the titular street in "Crouch End" essentially turns into one.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: "The Ten O'Clock People": Duke Rhinemann is said to have a look of sadness and confusion on his face after his group is betrayed and he's shot to death by their leader. This pisses off Brandon Pearson fiercely enough to grab a gun and start fighting back.
  • Everybody Did It: The victim in "The Doctor's Case" was killed by his entire family.
  • 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", a year or so after he buries Dolan alive in a hole in the desert, Robinson comes back and urinates on the spot.
  • External Combustion: In "Dolan's Cadillac", it's how Robinson's wife was killed.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: One of the few things Doris can recall about the entity she encountered in the abyss beneath Crouch End was that "there was something else down there...something like eyes".
  • 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", young genius Bobby Fornoy 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.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The people, or whatever they really were, that Doris and Lonny encounter in Crouch End before things get really bad.
    • Implied with the grandson and grandfather from "Popsy".
    • The rock legends from "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band".
    • The "bats" in "The Ten O'Clock People".
  • 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. It works. To her credit, she does describe it as being more like an irresistible urge rather than an active choice on her part.
  • Idiot Ball: Though an incredibly gifted genius, Bobby of "The End of This Whole Mess" has the crucial flaw of keeping a small one in his grip at all times that causes him to overlook proper testing methods and neglect possible variables in his research. Using multiple types of live test subjects, for instance, could have revealed that his docility formula wasn't nearly the perfect solution he was hoping for.
  • I'm Your Biggest Fan: The telephone operator in "Sorry, Right Number" when she hears that the caller is her favourite author.
  • Inheritance Murder: The victim in "The Doctor's Case" was murdered to destroy his revised will - the deceased had used the fact that his family was dependent on him for money to make them submit to his abuse for years, and upon learning that he would be dead within the year, declared that he would change his will to strip them of any inheritance and leave the entire estate to a pet shelter out of spite.
  • 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 the size of 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.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: The premise of "Dolan's Cadillac". Mob boss Dolan has been able to avoid karma for nine years after ordering the murder of the protagonist's wife. The protagonist hatches a plan to make sure that Dolan finally gets his comeuppance, and succeeds.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Jerry of "The Fifth Quarter" had every intention of sparing Keenan's life until he sees that one of the pieces of their map has blood on it, and realizes that he was the one who pulled the trigger on Jerry's friend. He shoots Keenan dead on the spot.
  • 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.
  • Let Off by the Detective: What ultimately happens in "The Doctor's Case."
  • 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.
  • Magic Mushroom: A rather dark variety in "Dedication"; it's part of how Mama Delorme works her mojo. She sneaks one onto Peter Jeffries' breakfast plate; it gives him a burst of inspiration for a new war story and he extends his stay at the hotel. Later, Martha squeezes blood out of a similar mushroom to "witch" Johnny Rosewall's handgun.
  • Mama Bear: A posthumous example, but in "Battlefield" a hitman assassinates the owner of a toy making company. His Chinese mother was a witch who then sends a group of Living Toys after him to avenge her son's death.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never made clear in "Suffer the Little Children" if Miss Sibley is delusional or if the children are actually monsters.
  • Missing Reflection: 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.
  • Mundane Horror: In "Crouch End", a family couple drives into an unknown district of London. Initially it appears almost normal, but with some minor unsettling details (a strange newspaper headline, a cat with a mutilated face, three bikers who appear to have rat heads). These are the first indications that they are in a Dark World.
  • Mythology Gag: Richard Dees, protagonist of "The Night Flier", is the same reporter for the tabloid Inside View that Johnny Smith throws off his porch in The Dead Zone.
  • 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.
  • Nobody Poops: Umney's fictional setting never took into account things like using the bathroom, so it's only when he's sent to the real world that Umney finds out the messy way that food and drink have to go somewhere once the body's done with them.
  • 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.
  • Plot Allergy: In "The Doctor's Case," the reason Sherlock Holmes doesn't immediately spot the clue that unravels the mystery is that he's allergic to cats, of which Lord Hull had many.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Mr. Sheridan in "Popsy" is just trying to pay off Mr. Reggie, and doesn't enjoy abducting children.
  • Refugee from TV Land: Umney of "Umney's Last Case" learns that he's a fictional character when his own author usurps Umney's place in the narrative, and forces him out in the the real world.
  • Renaissance Man: Bobby Fornoy in "The End of the Whole Mess". He studies in various different research areas including archaeology and zoology. Too bad due diligence isn't among his many talents...
  • 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", although it's removing the signs so that Dolan and Co. unknowingly drive into a construction zone; the protagonist notes that Dolan wouldn't fall for the more traditional version.
  • Scary Scarecrows: The original cover art (shown above) depicts one of these, mounted in the middle of a country road and sporting a Castle Rock Rockets baseball jersey.
  • 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.
    • Most of "Crouch End" is a shoutout to Lovecraft, but more specifically, one of the names Doris sees on the old warehouses is Alhazred, as in Abdul Alhazred, the author of the Necronomicon. (There are also intentionally-scrambled references to Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth and Nyarlathotep.)
    • The family's surname from "The House on Maple Street" is Bradbury.
    • The premise of "The Ten O'Clock People" is so similar to They Live (and by extension, the Ray Nelson short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning") that it can't be anything other than a deliberate homage.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: "Home Delivery" — Type II.
  • Something Completely Different: Near the end of the book, after short stories involving the usual fare from King, we have "Head Down," a non-fiction piece focused on his son Owen's little league team and their championship quest.
  • Spin-Off: "The Night Flier" focuses on Richard Dees, a supporting character from The Dead Zone.
  • The Spook: The finger in "The Moving Finger". It is never explained what it is or why it appeared to Howard. As King says in his notes at the back of the book, he enjoys it when things like this happen without explanation in his stories.
  • Stable Time Loop: In "Sorry, Right Number", Katie Weiderman receives a phone call from a strange, hysterical woman gasping out a bizarre phrase between sobs: "Take...please take..." The voice sounds familiar, so she spends some time trying to track down the caller's identity, but fails. We later find out that the caller was herself five years in the future—she was somehow able to contact the past briefly in an attempt to warn her younger self that her husband was to die of a heart attack the night of the call. Because she's so overwhelmed by this, she's only able to say "Take...please take...", setting the events of the story in motion and closing the loop.
  • Stylistic Suck: In "The End of the Whole Mess", Howard Fornoy's skill deteriorates as his mental capacity does.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: "Umney's Last Case" sees Umney forced into swapping places with his own author. But the story ends with Umney learning to write, and planning to copy the author's technique to take back his rightful place as main character of his stories.
  • 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.
  • Toilet Horror: "Sneakers" had the protagonist noticing that one specific stall of his office building's bathrooms was always occupied by a man with a distinctive pair of sneakers and trying to find out who he is he discovers the hard way that the man was the ghost of a drug dealer who was killed some years prior by being stabbed through one of his eyes with a pencil.
  • 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 from out of town.
    • 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 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.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: "The End of the Whole Mess", happening on The 2000s (the characters are mentioned to have been born in the early Eighties) and with mention of such horrors as a Middle Eastern terrorist nuclear strike on London (and mention of an attempted attack on Egypt with airborne AIDS) and the Doomsday Clock (which represents the possibility of nuclear exchange by superpowers) being set on fifteen seconds to "midnight".
  • Villains Out Shopping:
    • The vampire in "Popsy" lost track of his grandson while they were at the mall, looking for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures.
    • Dees has his up-close and personal encounter with the vampire in "The Night Flier" (suggested to be the same one from "Popsy") after he tries to hide in the terminal restroom and discovers the vampire already inside with him, and he's using the urinal.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Dolan's Cadillac" is basically a reworking of the Edgar Allan Poe story The Cask of Amontillado. Both are about the protagonist burying someone alive who has harmed them (though King's character has a very definite reason for revenge, and Dolan is clearly deserving of his fate, while Poe's are left open). The victim in both stories even screams "For the love of God!" when they realize how utterly screwed they are.
  • Wicked Stepfather: A rare male example in "The House on Maple Street", though he's more uncaring and supremely self-centered than outright evil — either way, 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. (Arguably a mix of this trope and Mercy Kill, since the man had had an engine block land in his lap, and likely wouldn't have lasted very long in any case without the immediate emergency care he wasn't going to get.)
  • Zombie Apocalypse: In "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 A. 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.

Alternative Title(s): The Night Flier


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