Neil Diamond Munster is a fictional character appearing in Nathaniel J. Nelson's 2017 horror novel Quantum Flight 888. As one of the point of view characters, his life is explored in flashbacks, laid out in backwards chronological order.
Neil was born in 1963 or 1964 in the fictional Bowditch, Maine. His parents were fans of singer/songwriter Neil Diamond, and named their son in his honor. Since Diamond's first major hit wasn't until 1966, Neil Munster surmises that his parents may have known him personally.
When Neil Diamond Munster turned sixteen, his father gave him a copy of Gulliver's Travels. Although Neil didn't originally appreciate the gift, he decided to take it along when he left for Bowdoin College. His junior year of college, his "heart [was] ripped in half by a careless young redhead", and Gulliver's Travels apparently convinced him not to commit suicide.
Neil planned on becoming a professor at Bowdoin, but after graduation, he was asked to teach for a semester at the sup-par Lydia Dunn High School in Bowditch. After discovering how much he loved teaching high school, Neil decided to stay as a permanent fixture.
When Neil was thirty-six, he was asked by one of his English students – Maryanne Poore, then fifteen – to meet her and her parents for dinner. He accepted, and the four of them had a pleasant night. The Poore parents insisted Neil stay the night, as he had been drinking. When they had both fallen asleep, Maryanne snuck out of her room and seduced Neil. The two began having sex regularly, and Neil started imagining a grand romance between them.
One night, after having sex in a hotel room, Maryanne subtly asked Neil to raise her grades. Neil insisted that this would be a breach of his ethics, but he offered to personally coach her.
As it turned out, Maryanne had only seduced Neil thinking he would give her better grades; she had been told that if she failed his class, she would have to repeat her sophomore year. Realizing that he wouldn't raise her scores, Maryanne ratted Neil to the police. He was sentenced to fifteen years in Cumberland County Jail.
In 1999 or 2000, Maryanne gave birth to Neil's child, Caleb Munster. Soon after, she killed herself. When Neil was released, he tried to reconnect with Maryanne, but her mother revealed that Maryanne was dead. While Annette Poore wanted to kill Neil, he insisted she didn't need to: he would do it himself. He visited Maryanne's grave and almost shot himself, but realized he would have to continue living as penance for his crime.
Aboard Flight 888
Soon after going to live in a cheap hotel, Neil was offered discounted tickets aboard Quantum Airlines Flight 888. Wanting to escape the ghosts of his past, Neil accepted, and boarded the plane to Los Angeles late on June sixth, 2016. A few minutes into the flight, a woman died suddenly, blood pouring from her face. Despite initial panic, the passengers eventually settled down. Neil tried to ignore the dead woman, but began feeling anxious and paranoid. When a second woman died, Neil began experiencing visions of Maryanne, seeing her in the corpses' faces.
After accidentally ripping the pages out of Gulliver's Travels, Neil began experiencing a total mental breakdown, believing the lavatory walls were closing in on him and hearing the corpses speaking. After becoming violent, he was restrained by stewardess Eva Van Savage.
Later on the flight, after several more passengers dying and the survivors descending into chaos, Neil's restraints were removed and used by Joshua Teller and Craig Bennecker to tie up antagonistic flight attendants. Neil returned to the premium economy cabin, where he confronted the passengers in the middle of their debate. Apparently totally resigned to insanity and paranormal forces, Neil pretended to shoot several people with his hand, the last of which was Eva, who was actually shot and killed, despite no gun being present.
Neil stayed in the premium economy cabin as the passengers panicked and the paranormal forces grew in strength. He wandered into the vestibule to find Jessi Gibson confronting a young boy, Caleb Munster, really Neil's son. Caleb, a powerful psychic, had telepathically drawn Neil to Flight 888 at the behest of his mother, Maryanne, who had been haunting him for months. Maryanne appeared visibly to Neil and Jessi, killing the former before Caleb sent all the passengers into their fantasy worlds.
Although the other passengers descended deep into their own psyches due to Caleb's powers, Caleb himself experienced a vision of what appeared to be the afterlife. Finding himself in a cemetery with headstones for all the passengers, Caleb was approached by the spirit of his father, now with his mind and memories restored. Neil confessed his crime, telling Caleb that he is "special," and admitting that his low intelligence comes from his incredible psychic powers. Neil lamented that he didn't lead a better life, but told Caleb he was proud of him before walking away to meet Maryanne. Caleb almost warned Neil that Maryanne intended to punish him for causing her suicide, but realized that Neil had every intention of paying for his crimes.
In his thirties, Neil was handsome and well-built, with black hair and striking brown eyes. After leaving prison, he discovers that he has aged more than fifteen years in appearance: he looks like an old man, with gray hair, heavily wrinkled skin, and yellowed eyes. On Nathaniel J. Nelson's website, Neil is depicted with a full beard, though this is never mentioned in the book.
Personality and traits
In his thirties, Neil appeared upbeat and happy, proud of his position in life and happy with his job at Lydia Dunn High School. He has no moral qualms about sleeping with fifteen-year-old Maryanne Poore, only keeping their relationship quiet for fear of legal action. He imagines a grand romance between them, similar to those found in classic fiction, and believes they will go public once she turns eighteen. He seems unable to comprehend when Maryanne turns him in to the police, shattering his dreams.
After leaving jail, Neil is chronically depressed and suicidal. He elects not to kill himself, so as to keep punishing himself, but still prays for death, particularly aboard Flight 888. Over the course of the flight he descends into insanity, mainly because of his son's psychic powers. His mind is restored after his death, and he has a heartfelt conversation with Caleb before moving on to the afterlife.
- Nathaniel J. Nelson, Quantum Flight 888, pg.138