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10 Scary Short Stories to Read for this Spooky Season

Spooky season is finally here, and there are plenty of activities you can do to celebrate it. Be it throwing a horror movie marathon, baking some treats, dressing up, or pulling up a trick on someone. But this one is for all you book junkies who want to celebrate the season turning pages and sipping coffee. There are so many amazing horror stories out there! However, if you’re interested in a quick scary read, here is a list of ten scary short stories to inspire the thrilling mood of the season.

William Wilson (1842)

Why not start the list with the master of gothic horror stories? Edgar Allan Poe it is! The image of Poe itself has become a timeless icon of fright. Any short story written by Poe leaves an unnerving feeling, whether you read about the prisoner chained under a descending pendulum blade (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), the raven that refuses to leave the narrator’s chamber (“The Raven”), or the vulture eye of an old man and the narrator’s plot to end it (“The Tell-Tale Heart”). All of Poe’s stories are filled with the macabre and bizarre. 

William Wilson” is one of Poe’s least popular works, but it is psychologically brilliant. This unsettling story introduces a man who is haunted by a figure that keeps following him. Like most of Poe’s stories, the narrators are completely unreliable, but at the end of the story, you might be left breathless by the narrator’s discovery of his follower’s identity.

After Supper Ghost Stories (1891)

After Supper Ghost Stories” is a small collection of comic horror stories by Jerome K. Jerome that showcases the author’s wit and brilliance in the genre. The story is set on Christmas Eve (as the narrator will vexedly remind you that it is), when a group of men gather to relax after dinner by taking turns on telling their encounters with ghosts. These supernatural accounts range from melancholic to humorous, and get increasingly strange as the men get drunker and start talking about spirits residing under the very roof they are gathered in, until one of them decides to discover whether these tales are true or mere superstitions.  

“After Supper Ghost Stories” is a perfect combination of sarcasm and the gothic. A fun and spooky read for all.

The Yellow Wallpaper (1892)

Charlotte Perkins Gillman delivers a stunning diary entry of a woman that simply stares at her wallpaper… well, it gets more complicated than that. The narrator is initially accused of delirium and she is to be locked in her room until she gets better. Rejected from any kind of social encounter and outdoor environment, the protagonist writes down what captures her attention in the room— her wallpaper. Eventually, she starts seeing things behind it: creeping silhouettes that want to claw their way out of the wall. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a solitary thrill with a twisting and mad ending that will make you want to re-read it once you’re done.

Plus! “The Yellow Wallpaper” has also been widely reviewed for gender studies and as a reflection about mental illnesses. If you’re interested in any of these as well, then this is the story for you.

The Monkey’s Paw (1902)

The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs is a classic “three wishes” tale that delves stunningly in suspense and delivers a cautionary message to all who read it. It’s a popular classroom story that starts with a great phrase by an anonymous writer that foreshadows and hints the mood of the plot: “Be careful what you wish for, you may receive it.” 

The story opens up on a dark and stormy night with three members of the White family. In the midst of the terrible weather, the family receives a friendly visitor that shows them a mummified monkey paw. He explains the dire consequences regarding fate when wishing upon the paw. Although the visitor insists on getting rid of it, Mr. White keeps it and the consequences that follow are dreadful…

A masterpiece of horror, “The Monkey’s Paw” is a must-read during this season.

The Decapitated Chicken (1917)

The Decapitated Chicken” (La gallina degollada) is proof of Horacio Quiroga’s fascination and genius for the macabre and madness. The story presents a couple and their four sons. The couple feels raw about their kids’ demeanors and constantly blame each other in terms of genetics, until they finally have a beautiful and healthy baby girl. Everything was going right for the family, the girl was kept from her brothers and was always close in sight, until one day, she wasn’t. Horror at its finest, “The Decapitated Chicken” is jaw dropping until the very end.

The Outsider (1926)

Walking alongside Poe, H.P. Lovecraft is an outstanding master of horror. Any story of Lovecraft will surely uplift the Halloween spirit. However, in his vast and trembling volumes, “The Outsider” is a must. In the middle of a dark wood, an ancient castle stands far from sunlight and noise. We are introduced to a mysterious man that notifies the reader of his lonely state within the castle. He says that he’s been residing with himself for as long as he can remember. Tired of interacting with the humans in his antique books, he decides to wander in search of real human contact and light, but what he ends up finding might just leave him pleading back for his solitude. 

“The Outsider” is chilling! Bringing forth Lovecraft’s own quote: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

The Lottery (1948)

Shirley Jackson delivers a classic story of mystery and suspense in the “The Lottery.” It depicts a small town’s annual lottery, in which the townspeople must gather at exactly 10:00 a.m. in the town square, in which everybody must draw a paper from a black box. Papers are drawn one right after the other, the mystery expands as the characters dialogue unsettlingly about this “lottery.”

Impacting! “The Lottery” is a classic read for Halloween. 

The Landlady (1959)

Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady” is a twisted and terrifying story that will not disappoint you. Settling in classy Bath, 17-year-old Billy Weaver is dropped off on a dark street. He asks the porter for a lodging recommendation and proceeds to the porter’s mentioned local. As he walks he is hypnotized by the entrance of a bed and breakfast, and decides to stay there instead. He shortly meets his landlady, a strange old woman who seems good-natured on the surface, but has a dark secret skill that she wants to work over on Billy. 

Suspenseful, strange and magnificent! Billy’s experience might just leave you traumatized with boarding houses for good. 

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? (1966)

Author Joyce Carol Oates introduces us to fifteen-year-old Connie’s summer experience. Connie spends her hot days lounging around her house, visiting friends, talking to boys, and constantly looking at herself in the mirror. On one of those summer days, Connie goes to a drive-in with her friends and meets Arnold Friend. When Connie is alone in her house once more, she might just get a surprise on who followed her home.

A contemporary and thrilling read: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Selfies (2014)

Tiny story, but a big scare! “Selfies” by Lavie Tidhar, is a creepy horror tale about a young girl whose fate turns awry when she purchases a new phone that showcases her own tragedy. Told through the perspective of pictures and unsettling smiles, this fragmented story gives audiences a terrifying discovery through a fast and chilling read. 

There are a bunch of horrifying texts that can uplight the chilling mood for you. These are a couple of stories throughout history that might just leave you with a certain thrill. Have a great Halloween my spooky readers, and read through those ghostly nights away. 

Claudia Colon is an English Literature and Biology major and a National Feature writer for Her Campus. When she isn't overwhelmed with the study of cells and chemistry formulas, you can find her watching movies, playing video games or journaling. She aspires to make a living and establish a meaningful connection between art and science.
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