Four past Midnight

Four past Midnight is a collection of novellas by Stephen King. It is his second book of this type, the first one being Different Seasons. The collection won the Bram Stoker Award in 1990 for Best Collection[1] and was nominated for a Locus Award in 1991.[2] In the introduction, King says that, while a collection of four novellas like Different Seasons, this book is more strictly horror with elements of the supernatural.

Four past Midnight
First edition cover
AuthorStephen King
Cover artistRob Wood-Stansbury
CountryUnited States
GenreSupernatural fiction
Publication date
September 24, 1990
Media typePrint (hardcover)


The four novellas contained in the collection are described here:

The Langoliers

"The Langoliers"
AuthorStephen King
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)dark fantasy


On a cross-country red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston, ten passengers awaken to find that the crew and most of their fellow passengers have disappeared, leaving the airliner under the control of the autopilot. They realise that only those who were sleeping are now left on the plane. Off-duty airline pilot Brian Engle takes control from the autopilot and lands the plane in Bangor, Maine despite protests from the irritable Craig Toomy, who is obsessed with going to Boston.

Upon arrival, they find the airport abandoned with no signs of life. Hearing an approaching sound like radio static, the group agrees to leave before it arrives. Based on the belief that they have flown through a "time rip" into the past and that flying back into the rip will return them to their own time, the passengers work together to refuel the plane as the noise gets louder. Having lost touch with reality, Craig believes the others to be manifestations of the Langoliers, monsters his now-deceased father described when Craig was a child, chasing and devouring those who are lazy and waste time. He stabs Dinah, a young blind girl with psychic powers, and kills Don Gaffey, before being subdued. Dinah insists that Craig must not be killed as the group needs him alive.

While the plane is in its final preparations to depart Bangor, Dinah telepathically communicates with Craig and persuades him that an important board meeting is being held on the runway. Craig hallucinates arriving at the meeting and even confronts his fear of disappointing his father. Then hundreds of monsters arrive, floating spheres with chainsaw-like teeth, which leave trails of black nothingness in their wake. They initially head for the plane, but Craig's presence on the runway (which also results in them erasing Craig) distracts them long enough to allow Engle to start the plane. As they turn to the west, the passengers watch the rest of the land below falling into a formless, black void.

Bob proposes the idea that the Langoliers' purpose is to clean up what's left of the past by eating it. Dinah succumbs to her injuries and the other characters realise that the trip through the rip has allowed them to come to terms with their regrets. Because they need to be asleep to survive the rip again, another passenger, Nick Hopewell, volunteers to fly the plane through, knowing that this will cost him his life. The cabin pressure is decreased, and everyone falls into a deep sleep, except for Nick, who is wearing an emergency oxygen mask. He flies through the rip and disappears.

The survivors awaken, unharmed except for nosebleeds caused by the drop in air pressure. Seemingly, nothing has changed. The plane lands in a deserted Los Angeles. Concluding that now the time rift has brought them a short distance into the future, the group takes shelter against a wall to avoid the airport's human traffic. A flash hits them and they find themselves in the present again.

Television film adaptation

The Langoliers was adapted for a two-part TV movie in 1995. The TV movie starred Kate Maberly, Kimber Riddle, Patricia Wettig, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Frankie Faison, Baxter Harris, Dean Stockwell, David Morse, Christopher Collet, and Bronson Pinchot.

The movie version of The Langoliers, produced for broadcast on ABC-TV, was filmed almost exclusively in and around the Bangor International Airport in Bangor, Maine (where author Stephen King attended college [3]) during the summer of 1995. King himself, echoing Alfred Hitchcock's famous numerous cameos, made a cameo appearance in the film as Craig Toomy's boss during Toomy's hallucination.[4]

Secret Window, Secret Garden

"Secret Window, Secret Garden"
AuthorStephen King

Secret Window, Secret Garden is similar to King's earlier novel The Dark Half. Both are about authors who are thinly veiled analogues of King himself—Thad Beaumont in The Dark Half and Mort Rainey in Secret Window, Secret Garden.


Mort Rainey is a successful novelist in Maine. One day, he is confronted by a man from Mississippi named John Shooter who claims Mort plagiarized a story he wrote. Mort vehemently denies ever plagiarizing anything. Shooter leaves, but not before leaving his manuscript, "Secret Window, Secret Garden". Mort notices that Shooter left without his story then drops it in the trash can. When Mort's housemaid recovers the manuscript—thinking it belongs to Mort—he finally reads Shooter's story, discovering that it is almost identical to his short story "Sowing Season". The two differ but only slightly in that they share the same plot elements. The only differences are the title, the character's name, the diction, and the ending. Mort becomes disturbed by these findings.

Shooter returns a few days later. Having learned that "Sowing Season" was published two years before Shooter claimed to have written "Secret Window, Secret Garden", Mort confronts Shooter with this information. An enraged Shooter accuses Mort of lying and demands proof, giving Mort three days to show him his published story. Overnight, he kills Mort's cat and burns down the house of Mort's ex-wife, which contained the magazine issue in which "Sowing Season" was published. Mort orders a new copy of the magazine. He also asks his caretaker Greg Carstairs to tail Shooter and to talk to a man named Tom Greenleaf, who drove past Mort and Shooter. Shooter, angry that Mort has involved other people in their business, kills both men and plants evidence framing Mort for the murders. Upon receiving the magazine and returning home, Mort finds that "Sowing Season" has been removed.

Mort realizes that John Shooter is really his own split personality. 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. Tom had not seen Shooter while driving by—he saw Mort, by himself. Mort realizes he burned down his own home, killed his own cat, and murdered two people. He blacks out. Fifteen minutes later he awakens, only to hear who he believes to be Shooter pulling into his driveway, at the time they'd arranged to meet. Desperate for any sign of his own sanity, he rushes outside only to find his ex-wife, Amy. Devastated, he loses control of his body and mind to Shooter. Amy discovers that Mort has gone insane, having written the word "Shooter" all over the house. She goes to Mort's study, where "Shooter" attempts to kill her in an ambush. She manages to escape. "Shooter", chasing Amy outside, is shot by her insurance agent. Mort becomes himself again, addresses Amy, and dies.

Later, 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.


A film adaptation called Secret Window was made, starring Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello and Timothy Hutton. The storyline of the movie differs from that of the novel, most notably in their respective endings. In the movie Mort kills his wife and her lover, while in the novel he is killed before he has a chance to do so. In the movie, after months it is shown that Mort grew corn in his wife's garden, where it is implied that he buried her and her lover, thus removing any proof that he murdered them. Another difference is the titles of the short stories: in the movie, Mort Rainey wrote a story called "Secret Window" and John Shooter wrote "Sowing Season". The story in the movie version is set in upstate New York instead of Maine. [5]

A 3-episode radio adaptation was broadcast in 2003 on BBC Radio 4 starring Henry Goodman, William Roberts, Barbara Barnes, Lee Montague and Kerry Shale. [6]


King has been the subject of unfounded accusations of plagiarism. A woman claimed that King stole several of her story ideas and based characters from his books on her. All of her cases have been dismissed.[7] In another incident a deranged man broke into King's home, and when discovered by King's wife, claimed that King stole the plot of Misery from the intruder's aunt and that he had a bomb in the shoebox he was holding and was going to blow up the house. The fake bomb was made of pencils with paperclips wrapped around the erasers.[8]

The Library Policeman

"The Library Policeman"
AuthorStephen King

The Library Policeman tells of Sam Peebles and his battle against an age-old fear.

Peebles is asked to give a speech to the Rotary Club. An office assistant (Naomi Higgins) directs him to the public library to check out books that might help with his speechwriting. At the library, he receives a library card and assistance in finding books from an elderly librarian, Ardelia Lortz. 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."

The speech is a success, but Naomi informs Sam that Ardelia Lortz has been dead for many years. Ardelia, as a young woman, committed suicide in 1960 after murdering two children and a local deputy sheriff. The books are accidentally destroyed and a menacing Library Policeman terrorizes Sam at his house. Through Naomi, Sam meets Dave "Dirty Dave" Duncan, an alcoholic former sign painter and a former lover of Ardelia's. From Dave's recollections, Sam discovers that Ardelia is not a person but a being which feeds on fear, and that Duncan was a sometimes unwilling companion/conspirator in helping her feed from the fear of children. Dave believes Ardelia is seeking revenge and a new host. While the trio attempt to stop Ardelia's resurrection, Sam recalls a repressed memory: a man claiming to be a "Library Policeman" raped and threatened Sam when he was a young child in St. Louis. However, the new Library Policeman is not just a recreation of the man from Sam's past, but also an embodiment of Ardelia, who wants Sam as her new host.

Dave dies defending Sam and Naomi from Ardelia. Sam and Naomi defeat the Library Policeman/Ardelia, only to discover that Ardelia has already attached to Naomi in the form of a blistery growth, "covered in a spiderweb skein of crisscrossing white threads ... a lump of pinkish jelly that throbbed and pulsed with the beat of her heart." Sam removes the creature from Naomi's neck and destroys it under the wheels of a passing train.

The Sun Dog

"The Sun Dog"
Polaroid Sun 660 (2167122493)
A Polaroid Sun 660
AuthorStephen King

Kevin Delevan receives a Sun 660 Polaroid camera for his fifteenth birthday. He soon notices that there is something strange about the camera: the only pictures it produces are of a malicious black dog which seems to move closer with each shot as though to attack the photographer. On a recommendation, Kevin seeks help from Reginald "Pop" Merrill, the wealthy and unscrupulous owner of a junk shop in the town of Castle Rock, Maine. While just as unsettled by the phenomenon as Kevin, Merrill sees an opportunity to further his own interests; namely, selling the camera to a paranormal enthusiast for a great deal of money. He manages to switch out the camera for another of the same model, which Kevin destroys. Much to his dismay, however, Merrill cannot rid himself of the Sun as his customers either dismiss it outright as a fake or decline to purchase it due to the discomfort and unease they feel upon viewing the photographs. Furthermore, Merrill finds himself increasingly compelled to use the Sun – the dog slowly advancing as it transforms into something more savage and monstrous with every picture he takes.

In the meantime, Kevin is plagued by recurring nightmares about the dog. Realizing that Merrill tricked him and the Sun was never destroyed, he sets out to prevent Merrill from taking any more pictures for fear that the dog will "break through" into the real world. By this point, the camera's influence over Merrill has caused him to lose his grip on sanity. After waking up one night to find himself holding the Sun and repeatedly pressing its trigger, Merrill resolves to smash it in the morning. However, he hallucinates that one of the cuckoo clocks hanging on the wall of his store is really the camera. So, Merrill smashes it instead. Guided by the illusion that he's repairing a clock at his workbench, Merrill starts taking pictures again. At this moment, Kevin and his father arrive to confront Merrill, but they are too late to stop him. The dog begins to tear its way out of the final photograph, killing Merrill in the process. Inspired by a scene from one of his nightmares, Kevin has brought another Sun along with him, and just as the dog is about to release itself, he takes its picture, trapping it once more in the "Polaroid world".

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."


Josh Rubins in Entertainment Weekly graded the anthology a "C+" and considered it formulaic with "enthusiasm" and contemporary setting. Rubins compared a novella "The Langoliers" to—quoting characters of the novella—a "stupid disaster [movie]" and a "bad [television] movie." He found "Secret Window, Secret Garden" bearably suspenseful with a "gimmicky, least convincing [finale]." He called "The Sun Dog" the "simplest, most distinctive story" and praised it as mostly "a delicious black comedy."[9] Andy Solomon in The New York Times commented that King's mass appeal comes "ironically from his cliched diction," referring to the anthology's reliance on popular culture for descriptions.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Bram Stoker Awards 1991". Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  2. ^ "Locus Awards 1991". Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  3. ^ King, Tabitha; Marsha DeFilippo. "Stephen Biography". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  4. ^ Stephen King (1995). Stephen King's The Langoliers (DVD). Artisan.
  5. ^ Koep, David (Director) (Audio Commentary) (2004). "Secret Window" (DVD)|format= requires |url= (help) (Motion Picture). Columbia Pictures.
  6. ^ "Stephen King Radio Drama's". Talk Stephen King, February 13, 2010
  7. ^ "Stephen King - King Sued By 'The Real' Annie Wilkes". 8 June 2005. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  8. ^ Rogak, Lisa; "Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King", macmillan
  9. ^ Rubins, Josh (September 21, 1990). "Four past Midnight". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  10. ^ Solomon, Andy (September 2, 1990). "Scared but Safe". The New York Times. Retrieved November 3, 2015.

External links

Castle Rock (Stephen King)

Castle Rock is part of Stephen King's fictional Maine topography and provides the setting for a number of his novels, novellas, and short stories. Castle Rock appeared first in King's 1979 novel The Dead Zone and lately in the novels Doctor Sleep (2013) and Revival (2014) and the novella Elevation (2018). (See list of works below.) The town name is taken from the fictional mountain fort in William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies.King, a native of Durham, Maine, created a trinity of fictional Maine towns— Castle Rock, Derry and Jerusalem's Lot — as central settings in more than one work.

Charlie the Choo-Choo (book)

Charlie the Choo-Choo: From the World of The Dark Tower is a children's book by Stephen King, published under the pseudonym Beryl Evans. It is based on a fictional book central to the plot of King's previous novel The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands. It was published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 11, 2016.

Dunwich (Lovecraft)

Dunwich is a fictional village that appeared in the H. P. Lovecraft novella "The Dunwich Horror" (1929). Dunwich is found in the Miskatonic River Valley of Massachusetts, part of the region sometimes called Lovecraft Country. The inhabitants are depicted as inbred, uneducated, and very superstitious, while the town itself is described as economically poor with many decrepit and abandoned buildings.

Elevation (novella)

Elevation is a novella by American author Stephen King, published on October 30, 2018, by Scribner. The book contains chapter-heading illustrations by Mark Edward Geyer, who previously illustrated King's first editions of Rose Madder and The Green Mile.

Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars, published in November 2010, is a collection of four novellas by American author Stephen King, all dealing with the theme of retribution. One of the novellas, 1922, is set in Hemingford Home, Nebraska, which is the home of Mother Abagail from King's epic novel The Stand (1978), the town adult Ben Hanscom moves to in It (1986), and the setting of the short story "The Last Rung on the Ladder" (1978). The collection won the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Best Collection and was nominated for the 2011 British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Also, 1922 was nominated for the 2011 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

Gwendy's Button Box

Gwendy's Button Box is a novella written by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. It was announced by Entertainment Weekly on February 28, 2017..

The American edition published by Cemetery Dance included illustrations by Keith Minnion. The French edition released by Le Livre de Poche in september 2018, reproduced those illustrations with brand new ones by the same artist.

Hearts in Suspension

Hearts In Suspension is a non-fiction book by Stephen King, edited by Jim Bishop. The book focuses on King's time as a student at the University of Maine.

List of awards and nominations received by Stephen King

Stephen King is an American author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, crime fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television shows, and comic books. King has published 54 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman and six non-fiction books. He has written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections.

King has received multiple awards and nominations for his work, including multiple Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and British Fantasy Society Awards as well as the National Medal of Arts, Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the O. Henry Award. He has also received awards for his contribution to literature for his entire oeuvre, such as the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (2004), the Canadian Booksellers Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America (2007).

Nightmares in the Sky

Nightmares in the Sky: Gargoyles and Grotesques is a coffee table book about architectural gargoyles, photographed by f-stop Fitzgerald with accompanying text by Stephen King, and published in 1988. An excerpt was published in the September 1988 issue of Penthouse.

Secret Window

Secret Window is a 2004 American psychological thriller film starring Johnny Depp and John Turturro. It was written and directed by David Koepp, based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King, featuring a musical score by Philip Glass and Geoff Zanelli. The story appeared in King's collection Four Past Midnight. The film was released on March 12, 2004, by Columbia Pictures; it was a moderate box office success and received mixed reviews from critics.

Secret Windows

Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing is a collection of short stories, essays, speeches, and book excerpts by Stephen King, published in 2000. It was marketed by Book-of-the-Month Club as a companion to King's On Writing. Although its title is derived from a King novella (Secret Window, Secret Garden), it is not otherwise related to that novella or the film adaptation, Secret Window.

Secret Windows is a collection of stories and essays written by King that are primarily concerned with writing and the horror genre. Several of the entries have been published elsewhere, including introductions King had written for other authors' novels, as well as introductions and essays from King's previous books. This volume also includes several short works that had not been previously published elsewhere, including lectures given by King, an interview with King conducted by Muriel Gray, a never-before-published short story by King, titled "In the Deathroom," and an introduction written by Peter Straub.


Shawshank is a fictional New England state prison that is alleged to be in the state of Maine (the actual building used for filming was the Ohio State Reformatory) that serves as the primary location in the eponymous story by Stephen King and its subsequent film adaptation, as well as being mentioned in several other King novels.

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, a 1982 novella originally published in Different Seasons

The Shawshank Redemption, a 1994 motion picture based on the novella.References to Shawshank Prison are also found in many of King's other works, including:

The Fifth Quarter (1972 short story)

Apt Pupil (1982 novella), also published in Different Seasons

The Body (1982 novella), also published in Different Seasons

It (1986 novel)

The Sun Dog (1990 short story), published in Four Past Midnight

Needful Things (1991 novel)

Dolores Claiborne (1992 novel)

Bag of Bones (1998 novel)

Blaze (2007 novel)

Under the Dome (2009 novel)

A Good Marriage (2010 novella) published in Full Dark, No Stars

Haven (2010 TV series)

season 1, episode 13

season 3, episode 5

11/22/63 (2011 novel)

Castle Rock (TV series)A reference to Shawshank Prison can also be found in the novel NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (King's son) and The Flash, season 1, episode 12 (2014 TV series).

Six Scary Stories

Six Scary Stories is a horror anthology edited by Stephen King published by Cemetery Dance Publications on August 25, 2016. A hardcover edition followed on October 31.

Stephen King Goes to the Movies

Stephen King Goes to the Movies is a short-story collection by Stephen King, first published on January 20, 2009. It contains five previously collected pieces of short fiction that have been adapted into films, each with a new introduction by the author.

In an appendix, King lists his ten favorite film adaptations of his work.

Stephen King bibliography

The following is a complete list of books published by Stephen King, an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many of them have been adapted into feature films, television movies and comic books. King has published 59 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has written over 200 short stories, most of which have been compiled in book collections. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.

Stephen King short fiction bibliography

This is a list of short fiction by Stephen King (b. 1947). This includes short stories, novelettes, and novellas, as well as poems. It is arranged chronologically by first publication. Major revisions of previously published pieces are also noted. Stephen King is sometimes erroneously credited with "nearly 400 short stories" (or a similarly large number). However, all the known published pieces of short fiction are tabulated below. In all, 203 works are listed. Most of these pieces have been collected in King's six short story collections: Night Shift (1978), Skeleton Crew (1985), Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993), Everything's Eventual (2002), Just After Sunset (2008), and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015); and in King's four novella collections: Different Seasons (1982), Four Past Midnight (1990), Hearts in Atlantis (1999), and Full Dark, No Stars (2010). Some of these pieces, however, remain uncollected.

The Bachman Books

The Bachman Books is a collection of short novels by Stephen King published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman between 1977 and 1982. It made The New York Times Best Seller List upon its release in 1985.

The Langoliers (miniseries)

The Langoliers is a horror miniseries consisting of two episodes of 1½ hours each (two hours each with commercials). It was directed and written by Tom Holland and based on the novella by Stephen King from the four part anthology book Four past Midnight. The series was produced by Mitchell Galin and David R. Kappes. The miniseries originally aired May 14–15, 1995 on the ABC network.

The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 1990

This is a list of adult fiction books that topped The New York Times Fiction Best Seller list in 1990.

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