It’s October, or at least it is at the time of this publication. Is it not October for you? Please don’t go. I’m lonely here in the past. Read my article.

If you find that it is currently October while you’re reading this, then you should know that you are obligated to partake in some manner of spooky-horror-type activities. Does your country not celebrate Halloween? Do you feel that Halloween has barged into your society and taken root by force, leaving a hot pumpkin spice in the mailbox of your culture? Then suck it up and deal with it, because you’re going to be finding this shit all over the Internet throughout the month.

Anyway, all I am doing here is providing you with a list of some potentially interesting sources for short horror stories, with a few from each source which I have personally selected to feature. You don’t even have to read this stuff during October. I read this stuff all year long, pretty much (When I need a break, I often read horror stories of incredbily wavering quality instead of talking to people like a well-adjusted human being).

So without further ado, in no particular order, let’s move on to the list…

NoSleep

NoSleep is a subreddit with a gimmick that, honestly, can get kind of old fairly quickly. The idea is that people post horror stories and everybody has to pretend that they’re true, including the author. I suppose that it’s meant to instill a sense of realness, but most often it just leads to commenters who sound seriously uneducated and stories that feel like they’ve been forced into the mould so that the authors can sound like there’s a reason they’re posting their harrowing experiences on a fucking subreddit for ghost stories.

Surprisingly, though, if you browse through regularly, you should be able to find a lot of really interesting and well-crafted stories amidst the tripe. Though there is the occasional author who will show up and post huge, fairly professional stories, you have to remember that most of these writers are hobbyists or are likely practicing their craft – many of them post under throwaway accounts with no apparent desire for credit, and yet some of them still manage to deliver solid work. Even keeping that in mind, the poorer offerings can be rather amusing at times as well. The biggest problem the community suffers from is probably the compulsive need that many feel to extend their stories to multiple posts upon achieving success, at which point they generally become worse and worse (the midi-chlorian effect, if you will). Anyway, I feel that it’s a neat little place, and certainly worthy of your attention if you’re into this sort of thing.

Here are some picks I dug up from my reading history over the past year or so:

  • I found something in the camp lake twenty years ago… – This is a good example of a story that skirts along the edges of the believable. NoSleep isn’t just for stories about demons and ghosts and shit (though there’s a lot of that in there). The writing seems a bit off in some places (mainly near the end), but for the most part it’s welll-written.
  • My Brother died when I was a child. He kept talking. – I only encountered this one recently, but it’s quite good.  “Lovecraftian” is the word everybody was using to describe it in the comments, and I would concur on that assessment. I personally found it more interesting than terrifying… which, coincidentally, is also how I generally regard Lovecraft’s works (in a very good way).
  • I’m not supposed to tell anyone this – Now here’s a pretty decent, old-fashioned campfire-style ghost story. I was having trouble deciding between this and some of the higher-rated posts (you can check the all-time top posts here), but this one just felt right for this article. The dawning realization after the end is pretty amusing.

Let’s Not Meet

Let’s Not Meet is another subreddit (it’s the only other one I’m linking to), but this one is only meant for true stories. Of course, the moderators can only do so much to ensure that people aren’t just bullshitting, but even so, if there are fictional stories that make it through undetected, they’re believable. These are stories about individuals’ personal encounters with creepy, creepy people in real life situations – hence the title. As such, most of the accounts probably aren’t coming from aspiring writers, but if you ask me, that makes them potentially more interesting because these things happened to random, regular people.

I haven’t browsed through Let’s Not Meet that often, but here are some tales that stood out to me:

  • The Smiling Man – I’m not sure what to say about this that won’t spoil the whole thing. It’s such a simple but bizarre… thing. On the plus side, the person who posted it took extra care in its presentation, writing it colourfully so that it reads more like a story than the stream of consciousness one might expect from these sorts of things.
  • Bed Bath and Almost Beyond… – Roughly paraphrased, the moral of this story is “walk with your head up, remember the people you meet, and always be aware of your surroundings.” There is a good reason for this, and it is because humans are terrifying, even in public places.
  • Stranger in the Attic (?) – This one seems unbelievable, but these sorts of things do happen sometimes. The lack of a satisfying conclusion actually might make it a bit more unsettling.

Ichor Falls

Unfortunately, it seems that the old Ichor Falls website has been removed at some point, waved away in favour of a related comic or something. You may have heard of one of the stories that came from the site, Candle Cove. Ichor Falls was much more than that, though. Now, only an incomplete collection of the stories is available on this portion of the site, and you can only otherwise obtain an 80-page collection in book form, through Amazon or, if you’re cheap, as a free PDF download on Gumroad. This stuff is actually really good. It’s fiction of the paranormal and eldritch variety. Check these out:

  • Curious Little Thing – A man meets a strange girl at a creepy old hotel. There’s no use in trying to talk about this without spoiling it. You just have to read it.
  • Three Miles Up a Narrow Dirt Road – Despite the author’s note at the bottom, I found, and years later still find, this piece to be very well-crafted. An old man wishes to be left alone. The result is quite horrifying.
  • Lemon Blossom Girl – I saw a warped and disfigured corpse, mummified in a bog, in a museum in London some years back. That was actually before I read this story, to my recollection. Amongst other things, this story does a fantastic job of ruminating on the unsettling nature of such things, particularly when we unearth them and place them in clean little glass display cases.

Creepypasta

Some people write short stories. Some people write horror stories. Some people claim to write creepypasta. Those last people are a special breed. You know when somebody puts time and effort into a piece of art and then gives it an inane tag like “creepypasta” that they’re either really misguided or deliberately ironic. I’m not saying that there aren’t good “creepypasta” stories out there, as there are quite a few (in my personal opinion, good authors shouldn’t be degrading their work by releasing it unto that community). I’m just stating that most of them are downright terrible, likely because they’re probably written by people who have largely exposed themselves to other creepypastas, and thus are mimicking ridiculous tropes and generally bad storytelling/writing. Fortunately, if you are like me, you can sometimes take pleasure in bad fiction, intentional or otherwise. Here are some good bad ones:

  • The Land Before Time – Oh, man. FernGully showed me this some weeks ago, and it’s priceless. Between the atrocious writing and the absolutely silly premise (a bizarre, “dark” The Land Before Time VHS tape), the real horror here is the possibility that somebody may have written this and legitimately thought it was scary. Still, I have to thank the author for the laughs that were had, for they were plenty and satisfying.
  • Lavender Town Disaster – Ohhh, this is so bad. It’s SO BAD. To understand the basis of this story, you should probably read Lavender Town Syndrome, which is also really stupid but not quite to this degree. I couldn’t stop smiling and snickering from the moment the kid went into a seizure to the end of the story. If your piece of fiction has me laughing about a child dying from a seizure, it’s a really terrible piece of fiction.
  • Holder of Wisdom – I couldn’t figure out which one of these things to link, so I just picked a random weird one. Maybe I’m a little biased because I’m fond of undefinable colours. Anyway, there’s a huge list of these “Holder” stories, and they all follow the same trite format: a step-by-step guide to performing some inane ritual that can go wrong in all kinds of hilarious Sierra-adventure-game-esque ways, all in order to obtain some (probably) demonic item that generally might cause you more misfortune in the future. They’re absurd, often nonsensical, more silly than scary, and if you’d spend an hour or so with a dumb, goofy grin on your face while you try to understand what kinds of minds put these things together, there are 253 pages of them. Be my guest.

That’s all I’ve got for you this time, but if you like any of this stuff, check out the websites they came from. There are a lot more stories like these, and even more stories that are completely different from them. If you’ve got some downtime, it might be a nice diversion.

h/t: Header image by coombesy.

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