The Night Flier
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|"The Night Flier"|
|Genre(s)||Horror short story|
|Published in||Prime Evil: New Stories by the Masters of Modern Horror (1st release),
Nightmares & Dreamscapes
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
"The Night Flier" is a horror short story by Stephen King, first published in the anthology Prime Evil: New Stories by the Masters of Modern Horror, and then in King's own 1993 Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection.
The story was made into a 1997 film of the same title.
The story centers on Richard Dees, a deeply cynical reporter from a trashy supermarket tabloid called The Inside View. Dees' current subject of investigation is the Night Flier, an apparent serial killer who travels between small airports in a Cessna Skymaster, gruesomely killing people in a way that leads Dees to think the man is a lunatic who believes himself to be a vampire.
After only a few days of interviewing witnesses and following the killer's trail in his own Beechcraft Bonanza, Dees overtakes the Night Flier during a violent thunderstorm at Wilmington International Airport, and quickly learns that he is badly mistaken about his would-be quarry: it is, indeed, a vampire that is doing the killings. After Dees watches the Night Flier casually empty the bloody contents of his bladder into an airport urinal (or as much of this act as he can see reflected in a mirror), the creature warns off his "would-be biographer", destroys his photographic evidence, and leaves the mortally shaken reporter amidst a scene of carnage to explain himself to police, and watch as the Night Flier's plane takes off.
The movie adaptation follows the original plot fairly closely (and maintains Dees' deeply unsympathetic nature), except for adding a rival in the form of up-and-coming female reporter, and changing Dees' ultimate fate.
Connections to other works
Dees previously made a brief appearance in King's novel The Dead Zone. In the notes of Nightmares and Dreamscapes, King states that the Night Flier could also be the titular character of his short story "Popsy".
The character of the Night Flier is used by Kim Newman in his short story, "You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings". In it, he is paired with the character Rainbird from Firestarter, with both working for The Shop. Newman gives the Night Flier the name of Andrews.
The Inside View tabloid is a sensationalist publication pushing blood, gore, and mystery stories about alien abductions and the like, and has also been mentioned in other of King's stories and novels, such as Desperation, Insomnia, The Waste Land, Bag of Bones, Needful Things, and Doctor Sleep
Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the story "King's jeremiad against the tabloid press", though he states that there is a degree of hypocrisy to the satire, given that King himself makes a living selling sensationalistic stories. George Beahm called it "prime King" that "eschew[s] Anne Rice-type vampires".
- Wiater, Stanley; Golden, Christopher; Wagner, Hank (2006). The Complete Stephen King Universe: A Guide to the Worlds of Stephen King. Macmillan. p. 259. ISBN 9780312324902.
- Thomas, Kevin (1998-02-06). "'Night Flier': Stephen King's Story Is a Fine Fit for Ferrer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Beahm, George (1998). Stephen King from A to Z: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Work. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 9780836269147.