|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2008)|
|Published in||Four Past Midnight|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Publication date||September 24, 1990|
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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 realize 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 irritable Craig Toomy.
Upon arrival, they find the airport to be 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 he feared as a child that go after those who are lazy and waste time. He stabs Dinah, a young blind girl with psychic powers, 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 the monsters arrive. Numbering in the hundreds, they resemble giant meatballs with chainsaw-like teeth and leave trails of black nothingness in their wake. They initially head for the plane, but Craig's presence on the runway distracts them long enough to allow Engle enough time to get the plane to take off. As they turn to the west, the passengers watch the rest of the land below falling into a formless, black void.
Bob offers the idea that the Langoliers' purpose is to clean up what is left of the past by eating it. Dinah succumbs to her injuries and the other characters realize 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 all but Nick, breathing through an emergency oxygen mask, fall into a deep sleep.
The survivors awaken unharmed, with the exception of nosebleeds caused by the air pressure drop. 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 soon-to-appear human traffic in the airport. 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 ) during the summer of 1995. King himself, echoing Alfred Hitchcock's famous numerous cameos, made a cameo appearance in the film as Craig Toomey's boss during Toomey's hallucination.
Connections to other works
When Brian looks on the fuel port of the other airplane in Bangor he notices a round smiley face sticker, similar to the one Randall Flagg wears in The Dark Tower book 7.
While on their way to Bangor, Bob tells Albert that they may be part of a government experiment. His guess is that it is The Shop.
Similar themes were explored decades earlier in the 1961 Twilight Zone episode The Odyssey of Flight 33, i.e. airliners flying through time rifts, the fuel crisis on the plane, and the return to the rift, etc. Also in the 1985-89 revival of the series in the episode "A Matter of Minutes" based on the short story 'Yesterday Was Monday' by "Theodore Sturgeon", i.e. people stuck outside of present time, that each moment in time is a separate creation that is constructed beforehand then discarded after.
- King, Tabitha; Marsha DeFilippo. "Stephen King.com: Biography". Retrieved 2008-03-04.
- Stephen King (1995). Stephen King's The Langoliers (DVD). Artisan.
- The Langoliers title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The Langoliers at the Internet Movie Database