Four Past Midnight – Stephen King

A collection of stories that all have a twist

King has published a few of these collections. Different SeasonsHearts In AtlantisFull Dark No Stars, even the Bachman Books – each features pieces that, for many writers, would be published as individual books. Four Past Midnight is no exception: four stories that cover many different facets of King’s writing, but all intrinsically tied to this stage of King’s career.

4 Past Midnight is a collection of short stories by Stephen King.

The Langoliers

This is the story of the survivors of a mysterious phenomenon which had made 90% of an airplane (crew + passengers) disappear because they happened to be awake. The suvivors find themselves on a colourless alternate universe where everything is lifeless.
Not even the matches would light up. The apathy is caused by a set of creatures who feed on the life essence itself and find madness super sweet.
They decide to fly back through the same worm hole they came in but a few problem arise when the fuel won’t flow, then when it might not light, then the creatures are coming for them and at last, they can’t fall asleep again.
It’s a very good story and it got me thinking once I finished it … because it just happened that I was on an airplane.

It’s a great idea, with the execution both grounded and terrifying. Several of our natural fears are preyed upon – flying, being alone, creatures with scary teeth – but there’s a great second level of terror being worked into the story: the fear of losing (or wasting) time. (The concepts of wasting time and losing control are almost the primary antagonists in this story.)

The secret window

Yes, this 60 page novel has been turned into a 2h boring movie with Johnny Depp.
The difference between the book and the novel is the fact that the endings are completely different! In the movie, Johnny, after going mad (and having a split personality caused by the writer’s block), kills his wife and buries her under some corn in his back yard. In the book, the wife is saved by the sheriff who come to see him as he was acting odd.

Mort had created “Shooter” out of guilt for stealing a story early in his career titled “Crowfoot Mile” and had recently been suspected of another act of plagiarism, although he was innocent the second time.

http_%2F%2Fcdn.bloody-disgusting.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F07%2Fsecret-window-3.jpgLater, Amy and Ted Milner—a man she had an affair with before divorcing Mort—discuss her ex-husband’s motives. She insists that Mort had become two people, one of them a character so vivid it became real. She then recalls something Tom witnessed; when he drove past Mort alone, he took a look in his rear view mirror…and saw Shooter with Mort, although transparent. Amy then reveals that while digging through Mort’s house, she found Shooter’s trademark hat. She took it out to the trash, and planted it right-side up on a trash bag. When she returned, she found a note from Shooter inside the overturned hat, revealing that he has traveled back to Mississippi with the story he came for, “Crowfoot Mile.” Amy remarks that Mort had created a character so vivid, he actually came to life.

It’s a good novel, too bad they made that horrid movie from it..

The Sun Dog

sundogA Castle Rock-set prelude of sorts to the grotesquely underrated Needful Things (coming up in a few weeks’ time,), it features a camera that, whenever it takes a photograph, shows an unsettling black dog (another of King’s recurring themes, especially relevant in his post-addiction times)

The dog comes closer and closer to the camera with each new picture, until it eventually breaks free of the camera itself.

Again, it’s material that King had played with before, and would do again – the possession (no pun intended) that gives the user more than they ever wanted, exposing them to a terror that they push themselves to explore through their own curiosity – but it’s done succinctly here, and with real control. The inevitability is what pushes the story along – we want to see the dog escape, as horrifying as we know that will be.

In the epilogue, Kevin gets a computer for his following birthday. In order to test its word processor function, he types “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Rather than a printout of this text, the page reads, “The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It’s coming for you, Kevin. It’s very hungry. And it’s very angry.”

 

The Library Policeman

Four Past Midnight - 03 The Library Policeman title page [illustration by Lars Hokanson]Set in Junction City, Iowa, The Library Policeman is the story of Sam Peebles, a middle-aged businessman who happens to have some overdue books. It seems a minor offense—but not to Junction City’s malevolent monster of a librarian. What follows is spine-tingling suspense as only Stephen King can deliver it.

Having noticed disturbing posters in the children’s library, including one featuring a frightening “Library Policeman” character, he discusses their appropriateness with Ardelia. After being rebuffed by her, Sam checks out the books with the warning that they must be returned on time or else “I’ll have to send the Library Policeman after you.”

Non fuimus, non sumus, atque numquam obliti erimus.

The source of this cannot be found, but the translation appears to be: “We are not, we have never been, and we will never be forgotten.” Perhaps this a reference to the distortions of memory upon which this entire story is based.

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