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Tittle............: The Ten O'Clock People
Author............: Stephen King
Country...........: United States
Genre(s)..........: Short story
Published in......: Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Publication type..: Anthology
Publisher Viking..: Adult
Media type Print..: (Hardcover)
Publication date..: 1993
Ten O'Clock People is a short story by Stephen King published in the Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection. Unlike many of King's stories that which place in fictional places like Castle Rock, Maine, "Ten O'Clock People" takes place in the distinctly recognizable Boston, Massachusetts.
The main character, Pearson, is a smoker trying hard to quit for health reasons. He discovers a horrible aspect of reality that only those attempting to quit like him are capable of seeing - that many of the people living among us in positions of power, including many police officers and political figures and even the Vice President of the United States, are in fact inhuman monsters disguised as people. A unique chemical balance, caused by his smoking only on his morning break (thus the reference to Ten O' Clock in the title) makes him able to see the true nature of these creatures through their disguises. When Pearson first notices one of them, a young black man named Dudley "Duke" Rhinemann stops him from screaming.
Dudley later explains that if Pearson wants to live, he must go about his day as usual and meet him at 3 o'clock after work. Pearson does as he is told and discovers that his boss is also one of the "batmen". He leaves work a bit shaken, meets Dudley and goes to a bar with him. After explaining that smokers trying to quit are the only ones who see them, Dudley invites Pearson to a meeting of those who can see the "batmen".
Shortly after arriving, the leader of the group says he has "big news" for them all. Pearson, who already had some suspicion about the idolized leader, notices nearby batpeople and says they all need to get out of there. The leader then says the batmen have granted them amnesty, but soon after a horde of them attack those in the meeting. Pearson along with two others manage to escape the meeting, while the others are presumably killed. The survivors flee to Omaha and form a new resistance group of 'Ten O'Clock People' and successfully kill many 'bat-men'.
 See also
The story has many similarities to John Carpenter's film They Live. The movie is based in the short story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning", by Ray Nelson. Dean Koontz's novel Twilight Eyes also features protagonists who are able to perceive others as monsters in human form. A still-earlier comic book story, "Dungeon of Doom" from Chamber of Chills 6 (March 1952), prefigures key elements of the plot: protagonists who alone among humankind can see the true nature of monsters hiding among the population..
In the book's ending notes, King relates that this story had one of the shortest gestation periods of any of his pieces—he conceived and wrote it feverishly over a mere three days.