My favorite short scary stories

Horror always works best in short form. Which isn’t to say that I don’t love a good scary movie or novel. I do. But there’s something about a short horror story.

A good short story creeps into your brain and lodges there. You might not even know it at the time. It’s only when you’re letting your mind wander. It’s when something is waiting to remind you of its existence in the dark of night when all you want to do is pee and go back to sleep.

Today I want to share with you my nine favorite short horror stories. Some of them are classic horror shorts, some are creepypastas. All are chilling.

The Snowman, from The Wrong Station

This is a recent find for me, this podcast. I wrote a review about this podcast on Haunted MTL, you should check it out. 

But this one story managed to get on my list. It starts as a conversation between good friends who haven’t seen each other in a while. They’re just catching each other up about what’s been going on in their small town. That’s all it seems like until suddenly it’s not.

The Monkey’s Paw, by W. W. Jacobs

There’s a good chance you’ve seen this story redone or parodied somewhere. Even if you have, you should read the original. It’s spooky. The premise is simple. A couple who just lost their child makes a wish to have him home. This, of course, goes awry. 

Scary Stories, by Alvin Schwartz 

I’m not going to list a specific story here, because they’re all awesome. The missing toe and Harold are probably my favorite. Yes, I know these are technically for children. No, I don’t give a damn. 

Rap Rat, Creepypasta

Try as I might I can’t find an author to credit for this story. But it’s one of the first CreepyPasta stories I ever heard, and it’s what got me hooked.

Rap Rat is an old board game that came with an eerie VHS tape. After watching the tape, people report having horrible nightmares. And that’s just the start.

Welcome to Dead House, By R.L Stine

Goosebumps was my introduction to the horror genre. And while this is technically a standalone book, it’s still short enough to warrant being on this list. 

Welcome to Deadhouse has a twist that we can all see coming now. But as a child, it messed with me. I’d never read anything like it, never seen anything like it on tv. And it hooked me as a horror fan for life.

Laughing in The Dark, Are you afraid of the dark

I remember this being the second episode, but Wikipedia says it’s the third one. Oh well, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the episode is scary as hell and well-acted. The clown stalking the boy is horrifying, but not as much as the realization that some things can’t be made right. Some things are done and a price must be paid.

It’s the most fun in the park when you’re laughing in the dark. Damn, that line. 

The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe

This poem has been told and retold a thousand times. But my favorite version is the one from the first Treehouse of Horror. It’s read by the astounding James Earl Jones and Dan Castellaneta. This is one of those times you remember that Dan Castellaneta has professional acting training and a hell of a good voice. It shines in this as he reads the classic horror tale. 

The Mist, Stephen King

Hear me out. If you saw the movie, I’m very sorry. That movie sucked so, so hard. But the short story it’s based on is wonderful. It’s still about a neighborhood stuck in a grocery store while who knows what is waiting outside. But the ending, my goodness the ending is so good. I won’t ruin it for you if you’ve never read it. But it is so worth the read. 

The Lottery, Shirley Jackson

I don’t know that anyone doesn’t know the premise of this story. The chilling casualness of the town, as they stone an innocent woman to death. There’s no reason for it but tradition. A tradition that no one even remembers who started it or why.

Think about that. This town kills someone every year for no other reason but tradition.

I did a whole podcast about this over on Haunted MTL with my fellow Bloody Marys, which you should give a listen to. You should also take some time and read The Lottery. It’s a chilling tale that is more relevant now than ever.

So now I want to hear what you think. What’s your favorite horror short? Let us know in the comments. 

I also want to let you know that there won’t be a post next week. I’m going on vacation and will be as offline as possible. Peace out, see you in November. Happy Halloween. 

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