Happy Friday the 13th! If you’re like me, then you are already getting into the Halloween spirit. I LOVE All Hallows Eve – from the dressing up to the atmosphere – and I’m kicking off this holiday with some ghoulishy frightening short story recommendations.
Check ‘em out below:
The Tell Tale Heart
Edgar Allen Poe
“The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.”
This short forever holds a place in my heart – it was the very first Poe story I ever read. What makes this story truly frightening is the tone and atmosphere, and how calm the narrator is (even though he’s clearly insane). It keeps your heart pumping, and your throat dry. What is scariest about Poe’s works, is that most of his stories are about the criminality and insanity of human beings themselves. And that is truly frightening.
The Moving Finger
“A moment later that sound – the sound of the nail clipping lightly against the porcelain as the questing finger twisted and turned – began again.”
A marvelously creepy short story, “The Moving Finger” was featured in King’s “Nightmares and Dreamscapes,” which I highly recommend giving a read (especially around this time of year). Like the best King works, this story gives just enough detail to get you into the head (and the paranoia) of the character, keeping that feeling of uncomforted dread hanging over your head for the whole read.
John William Polidori
“When the glare of many torches penetrating through the hole that gave light in the day, disturbed him;—he instantly rose, and, leaving his prey, rushed through the door, and in a moment the crashing of the branches, as he broke through the wood, was no longer heard.”
Long before there were vampires that sparkled and went to high schools in Oregon, there were the terrifying creatures of European folklore that could feed off of your blood and had no soul. Way creepier. Enter: “The Vampyre.” This short story is usually regarded as the introduction of the “romantic” vampire stories we know today – with a lot more atmospheric spookiness and old-world flourish.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
“His eyes were two soft, moist pools of pus-like jelly. AM had blinded him. “
This 1960s cult classic science fiction horror short rings even more disturbing (if that’s possible) in today’s digital age. A tale about the last few members of the human race as they fight for survival in a grim future run by a supercomputer named AM, this will have you second-guessing that new iPhone purchase …
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“But I am securely fastened now by my well-hidden rope—you don’t get ME out in the road there! I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard!”
Presented as a collection of diary entries written by a woman whose been locked away in a room with yellow wallpaper by her husband – due to “temporary nervous depression” and “hysteria,” this short chronicles her slow slipping descent into true madness driven by her isolation. Widely regarded as an early story of feminism, just bearing witness to the narrator’s descent is enough to make you fume – and fear being alone.
The Monkey’s Paw
“The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement. It got so vivid that, with a little uneasy laugh, he felt on the table for a glass containing a little water to throw over it. His hand grasped the monkey’s paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat and went up to bed.”
You know the saying … be careful what you wish for. This classic tale serves as a warning for just that. A magical mummified monkey’s paw grants its owner three wishes; but each at a terrible cost.