Popsy (short story)
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|Genre(s)||Horror short story|
|Published in||Nightmares & Dreamscapes|
|Media type||Print (Paperback|
Sheridan, a gambling addict, has taken to abducting children for a man known as Mr. Wizard in order to pay off his enormous debts to a mobster who has threatened Sheridan with grievous bodily harm; Wizard has told Sheridan only that the children go "on a boat ride" (implicitly for human trafficking overseas), and Sheridan wants no further information. While lurking in a mall parking lot in his modified van, Sheridan spots his newest probable target of opportunity - a child standing near the entrance, obviously separated from his parents and distressed. Sheridan approaches him, convincing him that he has seen the child's Popsy (as the boy calls him).
After luring him into the van, Sheridan handcuffs him and drives off to make his delivery. On his way to the drop-off point, the boy shows unusual strength, biting the main character hard enough to leave two deep marks on his hand, as well as nearly ripping out the steel bar he is handcuffed to. In addition to these demonstrations of strength, the boy makes odd comments about his Popsy, such as his ability to find him and his ability to fly. By the time they are nearing their destination, night has fallen, and Sheridan sees an odd shape swoop by. The boy claims this is his Popsy, and although Sheridan doesn't immediately believe it, he becomes nervous. Moments later, a wing covers the windshield and the door is ripped off, revealing a horrific, bat-like creature which slits Sheridan's throat and feeds the blood to the child.
Relation to other works
King states, as written in the notes section of Nightmares and Dreamscapes, that the Popsy of the title could be the very same air pilot vampire from "The Night Flier", a novella in the same collection.
Janet C. Beaulieu of the Bangor Daily News called it "simply wonderful". Cedric Cullingford compares the story to the Point Horror adolescent horror novels and questions whether the ending is supposed to be happy, given that a child abductor is killed.
- King, Stephen. "Nightmares & Dreamscapes". Official page. Stephen King. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
- Beaulieu, Janet C. (1993-09-14). "King's Short Stories to Be Savored". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Cullingford, Cedric (1998). Children's Literature and Its Effects. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 9781847140470.