"The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" is a short story written by Stephen King. It was first published in the June 1984 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and later included in King's own 1985 collection Skeleton Crew.


Henry is the fiction editor for Logan's, a struggling magazine. Henry receives an unsolicited short story from up-and-coming novelist Reg Thorpe, and considers the story to be a masterpiece. Through his correspondence with Thorpe, Henry learns of – and, due to Henry's own alcoholism, eventually begins to believe in – Thorpe's various paranoid fantasies. Most notably, Henry and Thorpe believe that their typewriters serve as homes for fornits – tiny elves who bring creativity and good luck. The story, told from Henry's perspective as he relays it in anecdotal form at a barbecue, concerns Henry's descent into Thorpe's madness. Meanwhile, Henry also struggles to get Thorpe's story published, despite the fact that "Logan's" is in the process of closing its fiction department.

See also

Henry refers to part of his correspondence with Thorpe as a "paranoid chant"; Paranoid: A Chant, a previously unpublished King poem, also appears in Skeleton Crew. Specific images and ideas in the poem imply that it's "written" by Reg Thorpe, or written from a similar perspective.

"N." similarly deals with the inheritance of madness, in that case from patient to doctor.

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