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Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

Terrifying Tales: 10 Best Scary Short Stories

Graphic by Zach Ross
Zach Ross

October has been reserved for all things spooky and just down right horrific. But a good scare doesn’t wait for any specific month to wreak havoc. 

Whilst movies and novels are the main form of sending shivers down a horror-enjoyers spine, the art of a short story is a quick way to terrify yourself. This list of ten top-tier scary short stories are apt to do the job, regardless if it is “spooky season” or not! 

From talismans to omens to wallpaper to cheesecake, these stories pack a punch that will leave you on the edge of your seat (and maybe sleeping with a night light for a few days.)

The Monkey’s Paw by WW Jacobs

Published in 1902, The Monkey’s Paw is a short story that addresses the deadly consequences of power, specifically the power of being granted three wishes. A talisman, the monkey’s paw, was presented to the family, along with a warning: They mustn’t use the paw’s power to grant wishes unless they have a death wish.

WW Jacobs writes a shocking story of consequences and dangerous talismans. Though published originally over a century ago, this story encaptures a specific sense of wishful thrills that horror-readers crave. 

Read the short story here:  read here 

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper was originally published in 1892, and tells a story of insanity. The narrator, a woman left at home all day, starts journaling the thoughts she has to keep from her husband. As the summer progresses, she begins to notice a woman who appears to be trapped in the cage of the wallpaper.

Including some real life experiences of her own, Charlotte Perkins Gilman captures the horror staple that is insanity, as the narrator drives herself to a point of mental breaking. 

Read the short story here:  read here

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe

Hitting a little too close to home in recent years, The Masque of the Red Death tells a story of a ravaging illness that takes thousands of lives. To create a shield from this sickness, Prince Prospero invites many of his closest friends and nobles to his castle to live in isolation. 

Probably the most prolific horror writer of all time, Edgar Allen Poe represents many layers of fear through the multi-colored rooms of Prince Prospero’s castle in this story.

Read the short story here: read here

Happy Birthday by Zach Ross

Sometimes birthdays are the scariest day of the year, and the people at the party in Happy Birthday are definitely nightmare fuel. This story, told entirely in second person POV, is enough to confuse and startle any reader. 

Zach Ross tells a story about when it’s best to avoid eating cheesecake, and maybe keep an eye out for your friends. Through confusion and gore, Happy Birthday will make you want to avoid listening to that celebratory song. 

Read the short story here:  read here

Graveyard Shift by Stephen King

Inside a large textile mill, the employees who work ‘the graveyard shift’ (midnight to dawn) find some disturbing secrets. Graveyard Shift is a story about a stern foreman, a rat infestation, and a basement full of secrets.

Originally published in 1970, Stephen King delivers a story that does not stray from the monstrosities of his overall body of work. The alleged King of Horror warns readers about the dangers of working a graveyard shift in this chilling tale. 

Read the short story here: read here

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Originally published in 1948, The Lottery is a story of a town who gathers one day each year to participate in ‘the lottery.’ However, this isn’t the lottery we may think of, but instead one that involves the entire town stoning one of their own.

Shirley Jackson has created a classic horror short story, one that has made rounds both in classrooms and through literary groups. The Lottery is sure to make every reader glad they do not live in that village.

Read the short story here:  read here

Willa by Silas Coogle

Chickens are seemingly harmless creatures… or so we think so. In Willa, a vengeful chicken that is blind in one eye comes back from beyond the grave to haunt her owner, Owen, in his own home. 

Silas Coogle manages to create a horror story centered around one of his favorite animals: chickens. Written in 2022, Willa may encourage readers to head down to KFC, just to make sure dead chickens stay that way. 

Read the short story here:  read here

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

A wealthy man and a young woman seem to be joined in holy matrimony, but the woman doesn’t realize the secrets he is hiding behind closed doors. In particular, what happened to her new husband’s past wives?

The Bloody Chamber was originally published in 1979, and describes the cunningness a young woman must use to save herself from a gruesome fate. Angela Carter, influenced by Bluebeard and Marquis de Sade, was able to write a cult-classic horror story that’ll leave readers begging for more.

Read the short story here:  read here 

The Room in the Tower by EF Benson

Everyone seems to have experienced the fateful terrors that are nightmares, and the narrator in The Room in the Tower is no different. Having a dream everyday for fifteen years, starting at the age of 16, he starts to notice the terrors of a certain tower seem to be creeping into his regular life. 

EF Benson writes of a spooky house in which a terrifying tower resides. Originally published in 1912, this old tale has proven to be a horror classic. 

Read the short story here:  read here

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

An absolute Halloween staple, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow follows schoolteacher Ichabod Crane in his battle for Katrina Van Tassel’s hand in marriage. One night on his way home, the Headless Horseman, the legend of Sleepy Hollow, presumably follows him home.

While most readers have no doubt heard of this story’s decapitated antagonist, the overall story of Ichabod Crane is a frightful frenzy of fun and fear. Washington Irving’s timeless classic is sure to satisfy any reader’s appetite for thrills.

Read the short story here: read here


So while Halloween may be year-round, stories that scare, confuse, and thrill readers are able to be enjoyed anytime. From this list of both timeless classics and newer stories created by up-and-coming writers, these tales are pure nightmare fuel.


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About the Contributor
Zach Ross
Zach Ross, Features Editor
Once upon a time, a baby was introduced into the world. Fast forward 17 years, and you may find that this baby has grown into being a very talented, amazing, and awesome Features Editor. That baby grew up to be Zach Ross. In those 17 years of life, Zach has experienced the joys of dinosaurs, Broadway, Backyardigans, and Smoke Signals. And though he was once a baby, uncertain of the world ahead of him, he found a signal in the smoke and everything became clear. With every good story, there is a beginning and an end. The beginning was birth, and the end is Smoke Signals.

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