Halloween is only a few days away! At this point, I’m sure all of us have been thoroughly steeped in spooky content, but nonetheless, there is no such thing as an over-saturation of Halloween festivities, and we’ve got to get it in while we can, before the dreaded Christmas cheer approaches.
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Perhaps it’s a bit too close to Halloween to get through a whole book, but there is definitely plenty of time to get through a few short stories! Here are five short stories perfect for getting in the right spooky mood.
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This one is a classic. This story, which maintains suspense all the way through until the final moments when you realize the startling twist, was published in 1948 by The New Yorker. The story initially received such a negative response that readers cancelled their subscriptions to The New Yorker in protest. The story is widely known as one of the most famous in American literature, and was even the inspiration for a Marilyn Manson music video.
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This story, which plays on the old “three wishes” trope, is a perfect take on the phrase “be careful what you wish for.” The story was originally published in the collection The Lady of the Barge in 1902, and has since been adapted numerous times in various forms of media, including film, television, comics, and radio. The story’s author, W. W. Jacobs, was— surprisingly— known primarily for his comedic work, which made up the bulk of his literary produce.
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While not necessarily a scary story in the traditional gothic macabre sense, it does present a frightening vision of a future in which society is made perfectly “equal” by handicapping those with exceptional talents and abilities. Vonnegut published the story in 1961, (in October!) in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It has been adapted for the screen a few times, but no adaption has been particularly successful. The story is also unique for having one of the best villain names of all time: Diana Moon Glampers.
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Before you ask, this is not the aliens-invading-earth type of body-snatching situation. This short story is about the snatching of human bodies by human hands, and is somewhat based on the Burke and Hare murders of 1828, in which two men murdered people in order to sell their bodies for use in medical dissections. The story was adapted into a movie starring Boris Karloff in 1948.
Image via Black Gate Magazine
This short story, published by the author of Conan the Barbarian, has been called “one of the finest horror stories of our century,” by none other than Stephen King. The story was published in 1938, but written in 1934. Howard himself died in 1936, and the story was posthumously published in the American horror/fantasy magazine, Weird Tales.
Featured Image Via Spectral Illusions, Vulpes Libris, Feedbooks, Hayley Wells Illustration, Robert Louis Stevenson, Black Gate Magazine.