After his wife's death, Ralph Roberts begins to suffer from insomnia. He comes aware that something is wrong with his neighbor, Ed Deepneau, after several disturbing incidents, including the beating of his wife, Helen. Ralph begins questioning his sanity after he starts seeing auras around people and "little bald doctors". Meanwhile, Ed has joined forces with a pro-life group to protest a speech given in Derry by noted-pro-choice activist, Susan Day.
Ralph discovers that a similar thing has been happening to his sweetheart, Lois Chasse. Together, they confront the little bald doctors. They name the two that they talk to Clotho and Lachesis and the other one, Atropos. Clotho and Lachesis want to preserve the natural order of death while Atropos brings chaos. They reveal that Atropos is serving as an agent of the Crimson King to bring about the death of everyone who attends Susan Day's speech through the person of Ed Deepneau.
Ralph and Lois venture into Atropos' lair in order to thwart his part of the Crimson King's plan. They are partially successful, but Atropos promises revenge. Ralph uses his powers to enter Ed's plane that he intends to crash into the Derry Civic Center. Ralph intends to defuse Ed's bomb, but the Crimson King himself arrives to prevent this. Ralph stands tall in the face of the King and is able to defuse it. Lois rescues him from the plane. It is revealed that only one person in the Civic Center was of cosmic significance, Patrick Danville.
Ralph and Lois get married and live together for many years. Ralph gives his life to save Helen's daughter, Natalie, from Atropos.
Connections to the Dark Tower Series
- At one point in the novel it states that a man named Roland rolled over in his sleep while in a desert
- Ed Deepneau is a distant relative of Aaron and Nancy Deepneau.
- Patrick Danville also appears in the novel. He dreams of the Crimson King, Roland Deschain, and of the Dark Tower. At one point, he draws a picture of them.
- Ralph at one point says, "Does that sound more or less on the beam to you?"
- Here we get a different version of the different levels of the Dark Tower. Instead of each level representing a different universe, each level is another plane of existence/level of consciousness in the same universe.
Role in the Dark Tower Series
Insomnia also appears as a book in the series. It is given to Roland by Moses Carver. The connection to his quest was un-earthed by the Calvins and they believed that it would help him on his journey concluding it was the keystone book to The Dark Tower Series. Roland, however, threw the book away because he thought it would mislead him and that it felt a bit like a thinny.