A Possible Inspiration for The Mist?

by Chris Calderon

I don't know what influenced Stephen King to write his much liked novella The Mist.  By his own word, the idea almost seemed to spring whole in his mind while he was out shopping one day and wondered what would happen if a pterodactyl were suddenly to come flying over the food aisles.
However that hasn't stopped some from speculating.  For instance, an earlier entry in Wikipedia once noted "The Mist bears resemblance to the earlier H.F. Arnold short story "Night Wire," in which a radio operator details how a malevolent mist falls over a city, containing creatures that consume townspeople "piecemeal."  The page also contains a link to a copy of the Arnold story.
Whether or not there is any truth to those speculations, I don't know.  This is just something I ran across from someone I don't know and is probably just a wild guess on their part in the first place.  That said, even for a wild guess, I have to admit, it's pretty entertaining.
As it happens, the H.F. Arnold story was anthologized as part of a YouTube audio series called Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, a series of narrated (sometimes dramatized) short stories in a similar vein to those quasi-camp fire stories from the golden age of the audiobook era.  Watch and listen to Arnold's story in the clip below, and judge for yourself whether or not King may have subconsciously remembered such a story from his past.  Even if such an idea is unlikely, I have to admit, the Arnold story still makes for a very entertaining October read.


  1. I wouldn't be surprised if King had read that and then used the bare bones of the idea to write his own story. I haven't read or listened to the Arnold story, but it seems like it's probably worth checking out.

    King might have also been influenced by James Herbert's novel "The Fog" (which has nothing to do with the John Carpenter movie of the same name). Or, heck, he might have been influenced by that movie (I think it came out the same year as the novella, or maybe a year or two before).

    1. I think I remember King mentioning Herbert at some point in Danse Macabre.

      From what I recall, his verdict on Herbert was "good, not great". Although that could just as well serve as source material as any other.

      I think King also once mentioned in "Skeleton Crew" that he always saw "The Mist" as an homage to all those 50s Bug-Eyed-Monster-Movies and films with Giant Insects run amok, so who knows.

      Far as I can tell I still haven't the foggiest idea.

      ....Someone had to make that joke sooner or later.