badly mistaken

The Night Flier

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 and Dreamscapes collection.

The story was made into a 1997 film of the same title.

Plot summary

The story concerns a deeply cynical and jaded reporter and photographer named Richard Dees, who works for a fictional tabloid magazine called The Inside View. Dees' current subject of investigation is the Night Flier, an individual 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 Cessna, Dees overtakes the Night Flier during a violent thunderstorm, 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 be arrested by the police.

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.


Dees previously made a brief appearance in King's novel The Dead Zone.

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. In describing the tabloid's stated market position of supplying thrilling blood and gore stories to the audience of the aging baby-boomers, King seems to self-consciously satirize his own craft of horror writing.

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