10 Best Scary Short Stories

Posted on Jan 29, 2024

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Written by Chandler Bolt

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Scary stories don’t have to be full-length novels. There have been plenty of scary short stories written and published throughout the years.

Short stories can be more difficult to write than full-length novels. You have to convey a lot of information in a small amount of words and pages. Some can be as many as thirty pages, others even as short as a couple paragraphs, two sentences, or even six words or less.

Check out the list below for my opinion on ten of the best scary short stories:

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson 

I remember reading this back in high school. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but…I remember thinking as I started reading it, that would be an awesome prize to win. I mean who wouldn’t want to win a lottery? Well, trust me with the twist ending that was quite shocking, you wouldn’t want to win this one.

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs

Another great, scary short story. The owner of the monkey’s paw gets three wishes just like you would from rubbing a lantern and a genie. But remember to be careful what you wish for, things go awry as they always do and the characters have to make things right. But do they? Something to find out for yourself when you read the story.


This is a collection of very short, aka flash fiction stories. Some of them are quite creepy which is what you want in a scary story. These go to show that you can write a compelling story in a format of far less than a thousand words. Some of them are only a couple paragraphs long. It takes a lot of creativity to do that. And the great thing about writing that type of story is that it helps a writer with brevity in their writing.


In keeping with the theme of extremely short stories, this collection of scary stories are all six words or less. One of them was great, “Feel them crawl beneath your skin.” Again it takes a lot of skill on the writer’s part to come up with that in so few words. Both this and the previous one are great practice for every writer while waiting for an appointment, on the bus, or you have a few minutes to spare.

Check out this post for more flash fiction writing prompts.

The Moving Finger by Stephen King

Of course, there would be a story in this list by Stephen King. This is from his collection of short stories, Nightmares & Dreamscapes. That whole collection is great, but this was my favourite of the stories. Some poor man driven crazy by a finger. The finger first showed up sticking out of the sink drain and as the story went on, the main character kept trying to get rid of it using every way he could think of. But it kept popping up. The whole thing takes place with the game show Jeopardy playing in the background.

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

Another master of the macabre. As always, Poe wrote a classic story that could chill the bones.

The main character told of a murder he committed, without going into any details of the crime. But, upon the arrival of the police, he invited them into his house to convince them that nothing happened. Things take a turn, and well…check out the story and all of Poe’s others to find out what happened.

Two Sentence Horror Stories Collection from Reddit

Another collection of extremely short stories, as the title says, each are two sentences long. There’s a total of seventy-two there, each creepy in its own way. To write a story this short, you come up with something innocuous and think of how it could be turned scary or creepy. Take a pen for example, how to make that terrifying? How about, have the pen start dancing around the desk, or attacking its owner? That could be something. One of the stories in this collection (number 67) talks about a picture in someone’s phone. So how did it get there? Read it and find out.

The Doom That Came To Sarnath by H.P. Lovecraft

This story can be found here.

Another classic story from one of the origins of the genre. It tells also of a cautionary tale of how misdeeds can come back to haunt us. Sometimes not us though, but perhaps our progeny might have our sins visited upon us. The citizens of one city state defeated those of another in a war. Celebrating through the years until it finally came back to them.

Do Flamethrowers Belong In The Library? by Kenz Ross

A fantasy/horror short story. A magical library where people are not supposed to go down a certain hallway past caution tape. A librarian’s assistant guided by watchers and listeners to find a lost visitor who got “stuck” in a book. A very fun read.

Humans Can Lick Too

Another flash fiction type of short story that’s one paragraph long. A serial killer on the loose, a young girl at home alone with only her dog to keep her company. What could possibly go wrong? Check it out along with the other fourteen on the website in the link. All are great fun to read.

I hope you enjoy all these scary short stories as you read them. Perhaps, you shouldn’t read them alone.

This guest post was written by Ian Worrall. Ian is the author of the vigilante justice books No Remorse No Regret and No Rest For the Vengeful, as well as the novelette Witness Unprotection. The third book in the series, No Mercy For The Guilty, is being revised as of the writing of this post.

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