Four Past Midnight by Stephen King


Stephen King writes an introductory note in his book, “Four Past Midnight” explaining how he came up with the ideas for the four stories that covered 935 pages. He tells us, “Well look at this-were all here. We made it back again. I hope your half as happy to be here as I am. Just saying that reminds me of a story, and since telling stories is what I do for a living (and to keep myself sane), I’ll pass this one along.”

The first story is “The Langoliers” and is about ten people who get on a plane and fall asleep. When they wake up, everyone else has disappeared. It turns out they have flown through a time hole into the past and they wind up landing in another dimension where they must try to figure out how to get home before “The Langoliers” get them.

The second story is “Secret Window, Secret Garden”. In this story Mort Rainey is an accomplished writer living in a small town in Maine. He is in the middle of a divorce and has moved out of town to his cabin in the country.  John Shooter is a farmer who shows up at his door claiming that Rainey stole a story he wrote and had it published and he wants a replacement written or he threatens to kill him. As Rainey denies the claim terrible things happen and Rainey just plays into Shooters trap.

Since King has had his share of plagiarism claims over the years, as many writers do, you wonder how much of a statement the story is making about this?

“The Library Policeman” is the third story and King tells us that it came to him as he and his son Owen were watching Willard Scott on the television and talking about a book. His son told him he didn’t like going to the library because he worried about the library policeman.

In the story Sam Peebles, who lives in a small town is trying to write a speech for a Rotary Club meeting. It is a last-minute invitation and he wants to do well so he goes to the library for a book of jokes and stories to help him. The speech is a big success, but he forgets to return the books on time. This leads to his been pursued by a library policeman and monster librarian as well as a haunted library, a chase through a corn field, and a romance sparked at an AA meeting.   

“The Sun Dog” was intended to be an end of King’s Castle Rock stories. Young Kevin Delevan gets a Polaroid camera for his birthday but when it is damaged in a fall the only pictures it spits out show a dog approaching the camera where in every picture taken the dog comes a little closer. It doesn’t matter what the camera is pointed at the picture turns out always of the dog just step close to whoever is holding the camera. The dog seems to exist in another dimension, but It is clear before long that when the dog reaches the edge of the picture, where whoever is shooting the picture is, that it will find its way in the real world, bite him and maybe kill him

King wrote these during a two-year period when he was supposed to be retired. Happy that he did so.


I still believe in the resilience of the human heart and the essential validity of love;I still believe that connections between people can be made and that the spirits which inhabit us sometimes touch. I still believe that the cost of these connections is horribly, outrageously high... and I still believe that the value received far outweighs the price which must be paid. (From introductory notes.)”

“And didn't they say that, although curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought the beast back?” 

“Never believe a writer. Listen to them, by all means, but never believe them.” 

“Then his lids closed slowly over his slightly bloodshot eyes, and Mort Rainey, who had yet to discover what true horror was all about, fell asleep.”

  “while the road of good intentions might end in hell, the people who tried to fill the potholes along the way deserved at least some credit.”